ISPs Not Thrilled that New Copyright Infringement Rules will Turn Them into Piracy Police

By Tracey E. Schelmetic July 12, 2011

While the White House has confirmed it is commitment to stopping intellectual property theft in the form of copyright infringement, not everybody is thrilled by the Obama administration’s methods, which some feel are turning Internet Service Providers (ISPs) into the Internet police.

Turns out, the ISPs aren’t all that happy about it, either, even if entertainment companies that provide the music, films and television content are thrilled to pieces.

“The joining of Internet service providers and entertainment companies in a cooperative effort to combat online infringement can further this goal and we commend them for reaching this agreement. We believe it will have a significant impact on reducing online piracy,” said the White House in a statement.

To enforce the White House’s new plan, U.S.-based ISPs such as Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner Cable have grudgingly agreed to notify suspected copyright violators though a series of escalating warnings, reports PaidContent.org. It’s unclear what the “escalation” will lead to, since the new law does not require that ISPs suspend the service of repeat offenders, nor does it require that the ISP reveal your name and address to the copyright holders. (It’s hardly in the ISPs best interest to give you an incentive to leave them and choose a competing provider.)

While many of these larger ISPs – such as the cable providers – have an interest in protecting content, some smaller ISPs without a dog in the race may find their new responsibilities onerous.

This is apparently the way it’s going to work. As they already do now, entertainment content copyright holders will scan the Internet looking for incidences of infringement and “sniff out” suspect IP addresses from peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, reports ars technica. If the content providers see your IP address doing something it ought not to be doing with their material, they will look up your IP address to see which ISP controls it, then “tattle” on your to your ISP, which will then begin to send you “you’ve been naughty” messages. 

Presumably, if you’ve been caught dipping into content you didn’t pay for properly too many times, while the ISP need not rat you out, the content providers can start legal proceedings against you...if they can find you.

So be nice.

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Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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