[JPL] AT&T, Comcast may help RIAA foil piracy
drjazz at drjazz.com
Wed Jan 28 11:30:54 EST 2009
AT&T, Comcast may help RIAA foil piracy
Posted by Greg Sandoval
CNET staff writer Marguerite Reardon co-authored this report.
AT&T and Comcast, two of the nation's largest Internet service
providers, are expected to be among a group of ISPs that will cooperate
with the music industry in battling illegal file sharing, three sources
close to the companies told CNET News.
The Recording Industry Association of America, the lobbying group
representing the four largest recording companies, said last month that
it had enlisted the help of ISPs as part of a new antipiracy campaign.
The RIAA has declined to identify which ISPs or how many.
"We have also consistently said that automatic cutoff of our customers
is not something we would do."
--Spokesman for AT&TIt's important to note that none of the half dozen
or so ISPs involved has signed agreements. The companies are "skittish"
about negative press and could still back out, said the sources. But as
it stands, AT&T and Comcast are among the companies that have indicated
they wish to participate in what the RIAA calls a "graduated response
Typically, ISPs have stayed away from getting involved in copyright
enforcement. The ISPs working with the RIAA will forward take-down
notices to network users accused of illegal file sharing and in an
unprecedented move, will establish a series of responses for chronic
copyright violators.These responses will gradually grow in severity as
the number of violations go up and may include suspension of service or
even service termination. Each ISP will decide its own response.
An RIAA spokesman declined to comment, and a Comcast representative said
he wouldn't confirm the company's participation. An AT&T spokesman said
this: "While I'm not in a position to comment on the RIAA announcement,
we believe that consumer education is a key component to enabling
customers to find and use legal methods to access the content they
want...we have also consistently said that automatic cutoff of our
customers is not something we would do."
There are still plenty of details left to work out, the sources said.
The RIAA has yet to address how it would help ISPs make up for the
revenue they would lose by kicking people off their networks or who
would pay the costs of sending take-down notices. The RIAA may disclose
participating ISPs as soon as next month, according to a music industry
source, adding that AT&T and Comcast are expected to be part of the group.
If AT&T and Comcast do join, the RIAA will have plenty of muscle to wage
a new assault on piracy. The music industry said last month that it
would no longer battle piracy by filing lawsuits against individuals.
Instead, the big recording companies seek to create a new line of
defense at the network level. And at least on paper, the plan is a
"Certainly (the ISPs) rolled out broadband based on movie and music
downloads, legal and illegal and claimed (exemption from any legal
responsibility), but at this point I think they realize being good
partners with the content industry is a better idea."
--Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters Guild of AmericaBroadband
providers are the gatekeepers of Internet access and have their hands on
all the controls.
News that Comcast and AT&T would likely join the fight against illegal
file sharing was greeted warmly by Rick Carnes, president of the
Songwriters Guild of America.
"Perhaps we have a chance to rebuild the music business after a period
of tremendous looting," Carnes said. "You can't have a marketplace
without property rights. Certainly (the ISPs) rolled out broadband based
on movie and music downloads, legal and illegal and claimed (exemption
from any legal responsibility), but at this point I think they realize
being good partners with the content industry is a better idea. I really
want to salute them for doing that."
The move is part of the music industry's global campaign to sway
broadband providers to join in protecting copyright material.
The entertainment industry has been trying to get laws passed throughout
the world that would force ISPs to implement a "three strikes" policy.
Under such a policy, repeat offenders would be given three notices to
stop infringing on copyright before a service provider cuts off Internet
Such a "three strikes" policy was implemented in France in 2007. The way
it works is that ISPs issue warning messages to customers downloading
files illegally. And if users ignore those messages, their accounts
could be suspended or closed altogether.
Italy is considering a similar policy, according to the blog
TorrentFreak. But in the U.K. a "three strikes" law appears to be losing
support. The The Times of London reported Monday that passage of such a
law is unlikely given that ISPs there don't want the added regulation.
The newspaper reported that David Lammy, the intellectual property
minister, said a law that requires ISPs to disconnect users had too many
legal issues surrounding it. That said, ISPs in the U.K. have agreed to
work with the movie and music industries to help stop piracy. In July
last year, ISPs agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the music
and film industries in which ISPs agreed to send 1,000 letters a week
for three months to combat users caught sharing files illegally, The
Here in the U.S. ISPs have been reluctant to send letters or cut off
service. And so far only in a couple of isolated agreements has an ISP
agreed to help content owners police and enforce copyright infringement.
In 2005, Verizon struck the stealth deal to win favor with Disney
management. Verizon is building out a TV network and is striking content
deals with movie studios and TV networks. In exchange for forwarding
notices to suspected illegal file sharers, Disney gave Verizon the
rights to transmit 12 of Disney's TV channels over its broadband network.
The problem with these agreements is how to enforce them. If notices are
sent automatically, there's no way to tell if a user has received it.
Representative of the Electronic Frontier Foundation have reserved
judgment until they hear the RIAA's plan detailed. They want to know how
ISPs will protect users from being wrongly accused and whether ISPs will
blackball users who have been kicked off other networks.
Another big question that EFF asks is how far will the policing efforts
eventually go? Will network operators be responsible for identifying
illegal content on their networks and then be asked to stop it from
traversing its broadband pipes?
AT&T has previously stated that it's been testing technology that does
just that. The company hasn't announced plans to use the filter
technology. But the company has been working with members of the Motion
Picture Association of America and the RIAA over the past year to figure
out ways in which it can curb the flow of illegal content on its network.
Sources told CNET News that the RIAA hasn't asked any ISP to peer into
packets or be responsible for monitoring their networks for piracy. The
RIAA will continue to identify alleged copyright violators and report
them to their ISPs
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