New copyright centre ready to fire on pirates

The US Center for Copyright Information (CCI) will soon make its debut. The CCI will work with internet service providers (ISPs), music labels and film studios to implement a controversial graduated-response program.

(Pirates of the Caribbean, Desert Operations image by A47, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The major film studios and music companies will soon unveil plans for a "copyright centre", an organisation designed to oversee the implementation of the controversial graduated-response program, CNET has learned.

Last July, when some of the US's top internet service providers, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, agreed to begin implementing a series of measures designed to discourage illegal file-sharing, the ISPs said they and the entertainment companies would establish a Center for Copyright Information (PDF) to "assist in the effort to combat online infringement".

The ISPs, major record labels and Hollywood film studios have named the person in charge of the CCI — Jill Lesser, managing director of lobbying and public policy firm The Glover Park Group. She is also a member of the board at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a non-profit group that advocates for free speech on the web. They also said CCI's advisory board will include a large number of privacy and technology advocates, including Jerry Berman, chairman of the Internet Education Foundation and founder of the Center for Democracy and Technology; Marsali Hancock, president of; Jules Polenetsky, director of the Future of Privacy Forum; and Gigi Sohn, president and CEO of Public Knowledge.

According to her bio, Lesser has focused on "copyright, consumer protection and telecommunications policy issues for clients in the media industry".

Some of CCI's duties will include educating the public about copyright law and the potential consequences of violations. Administrators will help evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation measures, the ability of entertainment companies to accurately identify violators and pitching the graduate response program to non-participating ISPs.

Anti-piracy experts at the studios and music labels say that the graduated-response program is vital to protecting movies and music. They believe that since ISPs are the gatekeepers of the internet, they are in best position to thwart illegal file sharing. A graduated-response program is supposed to begin with the ISPs sending a series of letters to customers who are flagged for allegedly downloading pirated songs or films. The letters will endeavour to educate the accused that downloading unauthorised content is illegal. The ISPs will then gradually begin ratcheting up the pressure for those who are alleged to have committed multiple piracy infractions. Eventually, ISPs can choose to suspend service. Graduated response, however, does not include the termination of service. Customers wrongly accused can appeal to their company and can take their case to the arbitration group for review.

The inclusion of technology and privacy advocates is an attempt by the entertainment companies to shield graduated response from criticism, according to sources from the film and music sectors.

When the Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America announced the coming program last July, they said they would eventually create a "Centre for Copyright Information", which would focus on educating subscribers on piracy and the legal ways to obtain movies and music online.

Sources in the entertainment industry say that the centre will also try to work as a liaison between the ISPs and the entertainment companies. The ISPs have not come to anti-piracy easily. They are wary of alienating customers, and a music-industry source said that people on the entertainment side are worried the ISPs don't have the stomach for a fight on graduated response.

Lesser likely faces many challenges in keeping the peace between the ISPs and entertainment companies. One thing that might help is that sources close to the planning say that CCI's advisory board will likely include some people from tech and organisations traditionally critical of the copyright stances taken by film studios and record labels.


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peter patina posted a comment   

I'm frigging sick of this. When I can rent movies on the Web as cheap as I can get them from my video store, I'll stop downloading them for free. Infact, they should be heaps cheaper than video stores due to not having to pay rent, electricity, workers wages, and having hard copies of films.Stop screwing the public and the public will stop screwing you.

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