U.S. Internet providers to act against online pirates

LOS ANGELES Fri Jul 8, 2011 1:22pm 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

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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)

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Comments (6)
M.C.McBride wrote:
I think pirating is wrong. However, I think having the government or private companies monitoring my internet activity without a warrant as even worse.

Jul 08, 2011 4:00pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
takeapill wrote:
There really does need to be some regulation on internet, and even other digital device, uses. Since the digital revolution we’ve seen all kinds of new abuses and violations of peoples’ and entities financial, privacy, social and reputation related boundaries that were previously protected not only by law, but by physical boundaries and a more sophisticated social collective conscience. Apparently we have failed socially, and allowed our generations to devolve into thoughtless apes really fast.

Inhibiting services based on an assumption that high bandwidth use indicates piracy is too simplistic.

Is there more to this story about the criteria that would be used?

Surely ISPs would be guided by critieria according to the type of site that a user downloads from.

There would have to be some sort of standards, monitoring, identification and vetting of a guiding list of high risk sites in order for service inhibition to be legally enforceable.

Standards would have to be established to ensure judicious discernment – because left to themselves, monkey-brained technicians, or ma and pa owners at ISPs could create some really unjustifiable disruptions.

For example, online distance students can have extremely high usage rates simply due to downloading course materials and training software that allows simulation of on-the-job experiences. Combine that with other activities outside of their coursework the bandwidth can really skyrocket.

There’s probably a whole lot more that is being considered than is reported here. Putting some restraints in place will ensure that those in the entertainment industry are reimbursed for their efforts.

It might even stimulate better quality productions (I’m thinking movies here). If people have to pay for things then they think more carefully about what they mentally consume.

It may increases pressures that filter out the junk producers and support the really fine productions.

Just a few thoughts on a topic that has a whole lot more to it than written of in the article.

Jul 09, 2011 10:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
JohnWH wrote:
ISPs have greatly oversold their bandwidth this plan allows them to throttle all their top users in a “cat & mouse” game…It goes like this: “Hello…ISP??…er…yes my internet isn’t working right….
I’m paying for 10mbit and only getting 1mbit…..O yeah…I do a lot of streaming and stuff….WHAT I’M A PIRATE????….NO I’M NOT!!!…O…
I got to prove it by letting you examine all my hard drives????????
How long is that gonna take?…6 MONTHS!!!!!!!!…but I’m paying for 10mbit and now I’m gonna have to wait 6 months of 1mbit….I want to terminate my service!….O….I have to pay a penalty fee for early contract termination….I see….How much is that….6 months of service fees….I see how this is going….”

Jul 09, 2011 3:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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