Internet providers to act against online pirates

LOS ANGELES Thu Jul 7, 2011 6:07pm EDT

A sign of Verizon Wireless is seen at its store in Westminster, Colorado April 26, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A sign of Verizon Wireless is seen at its store in Westminster, Colorado April 26, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

Related Topics

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Consumers who illegally download copyrighted films, music or television shows might see their Internet speed slowed or access restricted under an industry anti-piracy effort announced on Thursday.

U.S. Internet service providers, including Verizon Communications Inc, Comcast Corp, Time Warner Cable Inc, Cablevision Systems Corp and AT&T Inc agreed to alert customers, up to six times, when it appears their account is used for illegal downloading. Warnings will come as e-mails or pop-up messages.

If suspected illegal activity persists, the provider might temporarily slow Internet speed or redirect the browser to a specific Web page until the customer contacts the company. The user can seek an independent review of whether they acted legally.

Internet access will not be terminated, according to a statement from the industry partners behind the effort. The coalition includes groups representing movie studios, independent film makers and record labels.

The group argues that content piracy costs the U.S. economy more than 373,000 jobs, $16 billion in lost earnings and $3 billion in tax revenue each year.

Industry officials said they thought most people would stop copyright violations once they were warned about illegal activity. The warnings also might alert parents unaware of their children's activity.

"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 it," James Assey, executive vice president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, said in a statement.

Two consumer groups said the effort had the "potential to be an important educational vehicle" to help reduce online copyright infringement, but voiced concern about the sanctions.

"We are particularly disappointed that the agreement lists Internet account suspension among the possible remedies," the Center for Democracy & Technology and Public Knowledge said in a statement.

The groups said it would be "wrong for any (Internet service provider) to cut off subscribers, even temporarily, based on allegations that have not been tested in court."

The Obama administration welcomed the industry effort.

"We believe it will have a significant impact on reducing online piracy," Victoria Espinel, the U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator, wrote on the White House blog.

The administration expects the organization that implements the program to consult with advocacy groups "to assure that its practices are fully consistent with the democratic values that have helped the Internet to flourish," she added.

(Editing by Andre Grenon)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (55)
cm.haiden wrote:
I guess I will vote with my feet and find a ISP that respects my privacy. Because today its the movie industry. Tomorrow its the US morality police getting pissed because I like to visit the “I Dream of Genie” swimsuit gallery.

Take your censorship and find someone who gives a crap. The Internet is free and the powers that be hate that.

Jul 07, 2011 7:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
dabu wrote:
There are many copyright issues that exist outside
music and movies. Are they saying the law is only for
rich music and movie execs? I think so!

Jul 07, 2011 8:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
zentropy wrote:
obama. yea. democrats have only one ally left, unions.

Jul 07, 2011 9:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.