NBC Wants FCC To Force ISPs To Police Their Networks For Copyright Infringement
from the that's-a-stretch dept
NBC Universal has filed a comment with the FCC, saying that ISPs should be forced to police their networks (via Broadband Reports) for copyrighted content that’s being illegally shared. The company says that 60-70% of all internet traffic is made up of P2P activity, and copyrighted content constitutes 90% of that (he doesn’t, of course, note that all content is copyrighted — and he doesn’t seem to distinguish between authorized or fair use content and unauthorized). The lead name on the comments was that of NBCU’s lead counsel, who’s no stranger to hyperbole: he’s also the head of the “Coaltion Against Counterfeiting and Piracy”, and claimed last week that the US’ “law enforcement resources are seriously misaligned” because, he claims, intellectual property crime “costs” hundred of billions of dollars per year, more than all other property crimes in the country combined. He tries to make a similarly emotional plea in the FCC filing, saying that if three-fourths of internet traffic was child porn, the government wouldn’t sit idly by (again, equating file-sharing with child pornography isn’t a new trick either).
It’s slightly ridiculous to say that ISPs should have any responsibility to stop copyright infringement on their networks, because they shouldn’t be the arbiters of what is and isn’t legal. Since they don’t have the expertise or the technology to accurately do so, they’ll end up blocking all sorts of legal content — though it’s hard to imagine NBCU and other content companies would really care. While some companies, like AT&T, are taking this step willingly in order to buddy up to Hollywood, NBCU faces an uphill battle in convincing regulators and legislators that ISPs should be required to act as copyright police on its behalf. The safe harbor conventions of the DMCA — which protect ISPs and platform or service providers from the actions of their users serve a valuable function. Imagine if the construction companies that built roads were required to ensure that nobody drove on streets they built during the commission of a crime: it’s hard to see too many roads actually getting built. Furthermore, when content companies themselves can’t figure out what content is actually infringing upon their copyrights, how can ISPs be expected to?