Security Advisor

ISPs Hunting Illegal Copyright Distribution

Redmond columnist Brien Posey recently wrote a piece on the upcoming act of Internet service providers (ISPs) policing U.S. user traffic for the distribution of copyright material.

According to the new act, which was reached in agreement with (or threatened by) the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and  the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), ISPs who monitor illegal activity can issue warnings to users, and, if similar acts continue, can throttle down a user's bandwidth to a crawl.

In Posey's piece, he argues that there "are about a million different ways that doing so could backfire." (I think this number is a bit of an underestimation.)

How are ISPs supposed to differentiate between legal and illegal activity without violating your privacy? (Answer: they won't be able to.) While Posey focused on cloud-based storage in his argument, what about torrents, which is the No. 1 way in which copyright material is illegally spread?  How do you monitor all Internet activity to distinguish that a torrent being downloaded is either last week's episode of Mad Men or your own intellectual property you decide to share?

You can't. And with news that this system that the ISPs will enact in July will be automated, I have a hard time believing they will take the due diligence to decide what is and isn't legal for sharing.

Instead, look for ISPs to err on the side of caution and throw a wet blanket over a large area of peer-to-peer sharing. Pissing off the average user is less of a hassle (and less of a financial burden) than pissing off powerful Hollywood groups like the MPAA and RIAA.

What's your take on ISPs cracking down on distributing copyright material?  Is their proposed plan the only way to stem the illegal practice? Let me know your thoughts at cpaoli@1105media.com.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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