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Big US ISPs agree to cut off filesharers

Major internet service providers align themselves with the music and film MAFIAA
Fri Jul 08 2011, 16:10

A NUMBER of major US internet service providers (ISPs) have sold their souls to the devil by creating the Center for Copyright Infringement (CCI) aligned with the RIAA and MPAA cartels.

This 'partnership' aims to both hand down punishment by tormenting internet subscribers and supposedly lead re-education efforts aimed at alleged repeat copyright infringement offenders.

The CCI isn't an effort that requires added government support, but it will likely be applauded by the pro-industry US government. As part of the agreement, AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and Cablevision will voluntarily send out 'copyright alerts' to accused so-called 'pirates'.

These new "mitigation measures" will start with a type of digital warning and then additional alerts will become more insistent and overbearing.

Repeat allegations of offences could lead to ISPs throttling subscribers' internet speeds, forced communication with ISPs, or even internet service termination after multiple alleged offences. ISP subscribers accused of illegal filesharing will be able to challenge the music and film industries' allegations and ISPs' actions, presumably in private arbitration that will be weighted overwhelmingly in favour of the media cartels, after paying a mandatory $35 fee.

This power grab by big media companies in the United States appears to be a version of the so-called 'three strikes' laws that are already in place in the UK, France and other parts of Europe. These established 'three strikes' laws in some EU nations have largely been ignored by internet subscribers, and trying to teach internet users not to fileshare copyrighted media content has proven to be ineffective.

Suing individual filesharers has also been largely ineffective in suppressing filesharing. In addition to punishing only a small number of so-called 'pirates', the RIAA and MPAA members have also found John Doe lawsuits to be expensive and relatively inefficient as technologies changed.

Sympathetic big media industry observers have applauded the effort, but they also have very serious concerns related to the actual effectiveness and enforcement of the CCI's programme.

Critics claim that actual oversight will be difficult to enforce, making it a less effective solution against filesharing, with many filesharers slipping through the cracks. It's likely that a confusing mess will develop in the future, with both big media firms and these major ISPs inefficiently notifying users of alleged offences, arbitrary punishments imposed, and the proper steps users can take to resolve problems.

The Center for Democracy & Technology and Public Knowledge is rightly worried about internet users' rights when they could lose internet service without being found liable in any court of law. There is a quite legitimate concern that the CCI's intended draconian tactics will wrongfully ensnare alleged filesharers, who will then have to fork over a fee to try to prove their innocence in what will amount to an extra-judicial, corporate sponsored kangaroo court.

Internet users will largely ignore the possibility of any punishment as filesharing services modernise with higher levels of anonymity. Only time will tell if this joint effort between big ISPs and the music and film industry cartels will actually lead to any decrease in filesharing. µ



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