Hollywood and the music industry have been trying for years to convince ISP’s to get tough with those who pirate copyrighted material, often through file-sharing venues. In the legal world there are few precedents, since the Internet itself is still a relatively new entity, but it has become apparent that something needs to be done about the problem. Here are some of the options and problems that go along with the situation..
- Throttle Down – One method of combating piracy would be to “throttle down” the bandwidth speed of an accused transgressor
- Limit Access – Another ploy to thwart piracy is to limit web access; for example, someone accused of piracy may find they can only access a small number of websites until the file sharing is halted.
- Education – Similar in approach to sending speeders to driving school, offenders who continued to pirate copyrighted material would have to go to classes to be educated about copyright law.
- Filters – There has been pressure from diverse sources pushing for the ISP’s themselves to filter copyrighted material. Limewire, a music file-sharing site that has long been under attack from the music industry for allowing piracy of copyrighted music, is trying to place responsibility for piracy on the ISP’s, but there may be legal ramifications that will not allow the ISP’s to filter the content.
- Internet Enforcement Group – The Internet Enforcement Group (IEG) is described as a cross-industry group, with representative investigators from various entertainment industries (books, music, games, film, etc.) that are working to cooperate with ISP’s to combat piracy.
- Enforcers? – ISP’s have been understandably reluctant to take on the role of enforcing copyright law, in part because it would open up these providers to a potential legal backlash.
- Meep Meep – The Time-Warner Cable ISP, Road Runner, takes an unusual approach to battle piracy. The provider unilaterally opens an unsolicited pop-up window (with content similar to a cease & desist order) when it suspects a user of piracy.
- Digital Millenium Copyright Act – The 1998 Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) was designed to fight all internet copyright piracy. ISP’s are still working to find their sphere of responsibility in the situation, though, in general, ISP’s have not been held accountable for users who use their services to download protected materials.
- Google – Google announced recently that it would not support a bill working its way through Congress that would require ISP’s to terminate Internet service to copyright infringers
- Cost Effective? – Small ISP’s have real economic difficulties to overcome in efforts to curtail piracy. Entertainment industries want ISP’s to enforce compliance with copyright laws, but the costs that it would entail have been a major stumbling block.
Copyright infringement does not rise (sink?) to the level of theft, at least in legal terms, but it is still wrong, and slowing the practice down, if not actually stopping it, remains a priority for ISP’s as well as other involved groups.