* Illegal downloading could lead to temporary restrictions
* Movie studios, record labels back effort
By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES, July 7 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 (VZ.N), Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O), Time Warner
Cable Inc TWC.N, Cablevision Systems Corp CVC.N and AT&T
Inc (T.N) 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
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
"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
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
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)