In January, Internet service providers will begin sending notices to subscribers suspected of illegally downloading music or movies using peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. After five increasingly sternly worded warnings, subscribers’ Internet access will be slowed down or partially blocked. This new “Copyright Alert System” is bound to raise the hackles of digital rights activists—but should it?
The system is the result of a private agreement between ISPs and the recording and movie industries. The agreement is nominally voluntary, although former New York Attorney General (now Governor) Andrew Cuomo strongly suggested to ISPs that they cooperate, and the Obama Administration’s IP czar Victoria Espinel helped broker the deal.
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Those of us who seek to reform copyright should keep in mind that piracy is real, and copyright holders have a legitimate interest in enforcing their rights.
The EFF and others talk about surveillance and snooping, but in fact the monitoring in question takes place over publicly accessible networks. And while it’s true that the Copyright Alert System’s private arbitration flips the burden of proof, it’s not clear “public enforcement” is really such a great alternative.
Read the whole thing. I’m not a fan of privatized law enforcement, but this approach has many merits.