New Media Rights has been tracking recent trends in copyright legislation and enforcement. 2011 has already been filled with scores of individuals being sued in the Far Cry cases for filesharing and the rise of copyright trolls like Righthaven. Below are two more trends to watch that could weaken Internet user's rights.
The PROTECT IP Act
The PROTECT IP Act is currently awaiting action in the Senate. This would allow the Department of Justice to seek court orders requiring search engines and Internet service providers to stop sending traffic to websites accused of infringing copyright. Search engines would also be prohibited to linking to blacklisted sites. Internet engineers have already expressed their security and technical concerns with the Protect IP Act and advocacy groups are rightly suspicious of content-based blacklisting.
For more information on the Protect IP Act check out EFF’s guide to Protect IP: “The "PROTECT IP" Act: COICA Redux
Another new development worth following are the "copyrights alert" procedures that ISPs and the content industry are attempting to implement. Although New Media Rights is supportive of informal, non-litigation methods of protecting content owner's interests, these procedures that are being implemented can still be abused. TorrentFreak describes the proposal:
A third-party will monitor file-sharing networks and collect the IP-addresses of suspected infringers. These will then be added to a database and forwarded to the Internet provider who will send a corresponding copyright alert.
This alert will inform the Internet subscriber that his or her account was allegedly used to share copyrighted content, and how to prevent this from happening in the future. If the same IP-address is spotted again a similar alert will be sent, and only after 5 ‘strikes’ will the Internet provider take action.
The ISPs have several options on how to deal with repeat infringers. One of the suggestions is to slow down their connection speed, but ISPs may also temporarily redirect the customer to a landing page which offers instructions on how to engage in a friendly and educational chat with the abuse department.
While the education and notification aspects of the plan are positive steps away from slash-and-burn filesharing litigation, clear red flags are raised any time that (1) "third parties monitor" internet activity and (2) ISPs slow down users internet based on the content they view.
This process is already something the White House has endorsed. New Media Rights believes that more scrutiny are limitations are needed for this process. For example, "Third party monitoring" of infringment, and reporting of that infringment to media companies could simply be a backdoor way for these media companies to gather evidence for litigation while insisting that consumer "education" is their main goal.
Groups involved with approving and shaping this framework that you can voice your concerns to include...
- MPAA and MPAA members: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Paramount Pictures Corporation; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal City Studios LLC; and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
- RIAA and RIAA members: Universal Music Group Recordings, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and EMI Music North America.
- ISPs: AT&T, Cablevision Systems Corp., Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, and Verizon.
- IFTA: representing the Independent Producers & Distributors of Film & Television Programming.
- A2IM: representing their 283 music label members, small and medium sized businesses located across the United States representing many different musical genres reflective of the cultural diversity of our country.
2. original RIAA news release: http://www.riaa.com/newsitem.php?content_selector=newsandviews&news_month_filter=7&news_year_filter=2011&id=2DDC3887-A4D5-8D41-649D-6E4F7C5225A5