Rights Holders Team With ISPs To Fight Piracy

Copyright holders have teamed with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to fight copyright infringement via illegal downloading. A first-of-its-kind plan for notifying those accused of stealing copyrighted material was announced today (7/7).

The RIAA, Motion Picture Association of America and others have paired with the country’s biggest ISPs including Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Verizon and AT&T to form the Center for Copyright Information (CCI). Today’s announcement is the result of negotiations that began in December 2008.

Under the new agreement, illegal downloaders will receive emails and pop-up alerts warning them that their Internet accounts are possibly being used for illegal activity. These “copyright alerts” will include educational messages designed to let the file-sharer know that they are engaging in unlawful behavior. The notifications would be sent by the ISP, after receiving notice from a copyright holder.

Under the new arrangement, the offender’s Internet service would not be shut off, but could be slowed. Also, the illegal downloader might be forced to discuss the situation with his or her ISP.

According to today’s report, content theft is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $58 billion, 373,000 American jobs and $16 billion in lost employee earnings every year.

Steve Bogard, songwriter and Pres. of the NSAI Board of Directors, reiterates the importance of today’s news. “Over the past decade, songwriters, as the wellspring of music creation in America, have seen their incomes decimated and their numbers dwindle by more than two thirds,” he says. “Illegal file sharing has caused much of this devastation. This agreement will drastically reduce illegal file sharing and help law abiding Americans realize that this country can’t make the world’s greatest music and movies unless the creators are compensated. This loss of income is not just to rich recording and movie stars. It hurts all the support industries and occupations that employ hundreds of thousands of hard working Americans.”

This program is designed to provide a common framework of “best practices” for the industry. No new laws or formal legal procedures have been created. However, under current law, copyright owners were already allowed to seek remedies for infringement. ISPs will not share subscribers’ personal information with content owners except under court order.

Data from the CCI suggests that most users (up to 70%) would stop content theft once alerted that it is occurring, that it is illegal and that there are consequences associated with continuing to engage in it.

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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