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RIAA tells FCC: ISPs need to be copyright cops

By Grant Gross
January 15, 2010 11:59 AM ET

IDG News Service - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission should avoid adopting strict net neutrality rules that would limit broadband providers' flexibly to "address" illegal online file sharing, the Recording Industry Association of America said in comments filed with the FCC on Thursday.

Internet service providers should have authority to block subscribers from sharing music and other files without permission of the copyright owner, the RIAA said. "ISPs are in a unique position to limit online theft," the RIAA said in its comments. "They control the facilities over which infringement takes place and are singularly positioned to address it at the source. Without ISP participation, it is extremely difficult to develop an effective prevention approach."

The FCC should not only avoid rules prohibiting ISPs from blocking illegal file trading, but it should actively encourage ISPs to do so, the RIAA said.

The deadline for a first round of comments in the FCC's net neutrality/open Internet proceeding was late Thursday. The FCC's Web site received 150 electronically filed comments in the net neutrality/open Internet proceeding on Thursday alone, while the commission has received tens of thousands of comments since it voted to launch the rulemaking proceeding in October.

Groups on both sides of the issue said more than 10,000 individuals supporting their side have filed comments in the proceeding.

Several large ISPs have rejected an RIAA suggestion that they kick subscribers out after three copyright violations. The FCC launched its net neutrality proceeding prompted in part by Comcast's decision to throttle subscribers' use of the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing service, although Comcast said its reason was related to network congestion, not illegal file trading.

The FCC, however, suggested that broadband providers be allowed to engage in "reasonable network management," including preventing the "lawful transfer of content," in a notice of proposed rulemaking released in October.

Illegal filing sharing and congestion are closely related, said the RIAA, which was among the dozens of groups that filed comments in the net neutrality/open Internet proceeding before a midnight Thursday deadline for the first round of comments. P-to-P networks make up about 20 percent of Internet traffic, the group said.

"Piracy, particularly piracy conducted by high-volume users, notoriously hogs bandwidth," the RIAA said. "Piracy wastes scarce network resources and crowds out legitimate uses of the network. It costs more to bring broadband to additional areas because of this inflated bandwidth usage."

Other groups called on the FCC to stay out of the copyright enforcement business. If ISPs are required to check for copyright infringement, they could interfere with legal online activities, said six digital rights and business groups, including Public Knowledge, the Consumer Electronics Association and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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