MPAA Urges ISPs To Help Fight Piracy

By J. Sperling Reich | September 20, 2007 7:08 am PDT

The Motion Picture Association of America has been hinting for some time now that internet service providers should prevent copyrighted material such as movies and televisions shows from being distributed illegally through their high speed broadband networks. Back in July of this year, the MPAA filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission over the “net neutrality” issue, warning the agency that any laws put into place should allow providers to monitor their network traffic to detect the transmission of pirated intellectual property.

On Tuesday MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman pulled no punches in speaking about the issue at a seminar titled Legal Risk Management in the Web 2.0 World . (Try saying that seminar title five times really quickly). quoted Glickman as saying:

“Their [ISPs] revenue bases depend on legitimate operations of their networks and more and more they’re finding their networks crowded with infringed material, bandwidth space being crowded out. Many of them are actually getting into the content business directly or indirectly. This is not an us-versus-them issue.”

The reality is, in the United States ISPs are relatively immune from the liability of their networks being used to distribute pirated material. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act established in 1998, an ISP is not held responsible for the illegal activity of their subscribers as long as they “they don’t condone copyright infringement, that they remove infringing material when notified and that they aren’t deriving financial benefit from it.” So, don’t look for your internet provider to boast that they have the fastest bit torrent downloads any time soon.

What it seems Glickman is suggesting is that ISPs either prevent pirated material from being transmitted over their networks or that they throttle the bandwidth speed way back when illegal content distribution is suspected. Such throttling, known as traffic shaping, has been a real hot button topic among hard core techies of late given that Comcast (in the U.S.) and other ISPs around the globe have been caught limiting the bandwidth of heavy internet users.

Ironically Glickman may get his wish in having ISPs join the MPAA in fighting movie piracy, though not due to the efforts of his organization. More so because internet providers find it is in their best interest to optimize their network by curtailing bandwidth speeds to non-commercial users generating the most traffic. In techie language. . . that means those using file sharing programs to distribute pirated copies of the latest blockbusters.

J. Sperling Reich