Entertainment giants and broadband providers team up on piracy effort

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A coalition comprised of movie and television studios, cable and phone companies and record labels are launching a wide-ranging initiative aimed at cracking down on Internet piracy.

The effort will brings together Internet Service Providers -- the companies that are the gatekeepers to to the worldwide web -- and content creators in the fight against the theft of intellectual property. It will be overseen by the newly created Center for Copyright Information whose backers include the Motion Picture Association of America, whose members include all the major Hollywood movie and televison producers, the Recording Industry Association of America and Internet Service Providers Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Verizon and AT&T.


Specifically, the initiative will target households whose Internet usage indicates that pirated content is either being uploaded or downloaded. As many as six ‘copyright alerts’ will be sent to those homes in an effort to let subscribers know that their Internet accounts have been used in an illegal fashion. Subscribers will get a series of warnings in the form of emails or pop-up messages.

While the ISPs will not shut down a subscriber’s broadband service as punishment for piracy-related activity, there will be repercussions to users including the potential for having the speed in which they access the Internet reduced, which would hinder piracy. Repeat offenders may also be required to contact their ISP provider to discuss the matter.

In the past, there has been tension between Hollywood and broadband providers on the issue content theft. The former has wanted ISPs to be more aggressive in fighting piracy and the latter has been reluctant to go after its customers for uploading or downloading stolen content.

Content providers would prefer for ISPs to adopt the model in France which has a three strikes approach that terminates Internet access for people who refuse to heed warnings to stop engaging in illegal activity online.

Still, both the content companies and ISP providers praised this push as an important step in eliminating piracy.

‘We hope that it signals a new era in which all of us in the technology and entertainment value chain work collaboratively to make the Internet a more safe and legal experience for users,’ said Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America.

‘This is a sensible approach to the problem of online content theft and, importantly, one that respects the privacy and rights of our subscribers,’ added Verizon General Counsel Randal S. Milch.

Part of the goal of the coalition is to get parents to pay more attention to what their their kids are doing on the Internet and to start to monitor how their accounts are being used and abused.

‘We are confident that, once informed that content theft is taking place on their accounts, the great majority of broadband subscribers will take steps to stop,’ said James Assey, executive vice president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

-- Joe Flint


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