Content industry promotes conservation by recycling old news stories about ISPs acting as copyright cops

Today’s news brings this item via CNet:

RIAA chief: ISPs to start policing copyright by July 12

The country’s largest Internet service providers haven’t given up on the idea of becoming copyright cops.

Last July, Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable and other bandwidth providers announced that they had agreed to adopt policies designed to discourage customers from pirating music, movies and software over the Web. Since then, the ISPs have been very quiet about their antipiracy measures.

But during a panel discussion here at a gathering of U.S. publishers, Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, said most of the participating ISPs are on track to begin implementing the program by July 12.

The reference to “last July” harks back to the previous announcement about a deal between ISPs and the content industry:

Top ISPs agree to become copyright cops

Some of the top ISPs, including Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable, have officially agreed to step up efforts to protect the rights of copyright owners, a move first reported last month by CNET.

Leaders from the movie, television, music and Internet service provider communities today announced a landmark agreement on a common framework for “Copyright Alerts”. Copyright Alerts “will educate and notify Internet subscribers when their Internet service accounts possibly are being misused for online content theft. This voluntary landmark collaboration will educate subscribers about content theft on their Internet accounts, benefiting consumers and copyright holders alike.”

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the respective trade groups for the four major record companies and six top Hollywood film studios, have labored for years to persuade ISPs to take a tougher antipiracy position. The RIAA, led by CEO Mitch Bainwol, said in December 2008 that the group would cease filing lawsuits against individual file sharers and would instead enlist the help of the large bandwidth providers. These companies are recognized as some of the Web’s most powerful gatekeepers. It took nearly three years to convince the ISPs to agree.

See the comment about 2008? Here’s that news item:

Music Industry to Abandon Mass Suits

After years of suing thousands of people for allegedly stealing music via the Internet, the recording industry is set to drop its legal assault as it searches for more effective ways to combat online music piracy.

Instead, the Recording Industry Association of America said it plans to try an approach that relies on the cooperation of Internet-service providers. The trade group said it has hashed out preliminary agreements with major ISPs under which it will send an email to the provider when it finds a provider’s customers making music available online for others to take.

Depending on the agreement, the ISP will either forward the note to customers, or alert customers that they appear to be uploading music illegally, and ask them to stop. If the customers continue the file-sharing, they will get one or two more emails, perhaps accompanied by slower service from the provider. Finally, the ISP may cut off their access altogether.

Let’s take one more stop in our journey down memory lane, this time to January, 2004:

ISPs Ignore RIAA’s New P2P Ploy

After an appeals court ruled that Internet service providers (ISPs) do not have to hand over names of suspected music pirates to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), ISPs are showing no interest in the RIAA’s latest effort to enlist them in its fight against music piracy.

The RIAA now wants ISPs to notify its customers that are suspected of illegal downloading but not yet targeted for a lawsuit by the music industry.

“We would like to work with you to supplement our efforts by arranging for ISPs to notify their subscribers who are engaged in infringing activity that this conduct is illegal,” the RIAA wrote to most of the nation’s 50 largest ISPs in a Dec. 16 letter. “We are asking you to do this without providing us any identifying information about the subscriber.”

Under the proposal, the RIAA would supply an identifying IP address of a suspected infringer to its ISP, which would then send a notice of infringement to the subscriber.

According to industry officials contacted by, not one ISP has agreed to cooperate with the music industry.

A sample of some other headlines that have appeared along the way:

So the content industry and Internet providers are not exactly natural allies. When the RIAA announced its new strategy in 2008, I noted:

After 5 years and 35,000 lawsuits, the music industry has apparently figured out that it’s neither cost-effective nor good business to pick fights with your customers. Instead, the RIAA wants ISPs to pick fights with their customers.

In that same article I described a variety of legal and technical problems ISPs will encounter if they do start processing DMCA notices, problems that will cost them money, customers, and some difficult court cases. And yet we have Cary Sherman telling us everything is going to change in a few months. I guess we’ll see.

Oh, and about that July 12 date, consider:

  • “Most of the participating ISPs are on track to begin implementing the program by July 12.” (CNet)
  • “The music industry’s Copyright Alert program, will begin operation in the second quarter of the year, by July at the earliest.” (paidContent)
  • “Some ISPs could have these measures in place as early as July.” (The Stream Report)

My calendar is marked.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s