AT&T Decides To Start Throwing Money Away By Attempting To Filter Copyrighted Content

from the good-luck-with-that dept

AT&T says that now that it's in the cable TV business, its interests are "more closely aligned with Hollywood", and as such, it plans to begin filtering traffic for copyrighted material that's being illegally shared. The inanity of the move is obvious, mostly because these sorts of things never work, but also because it's not particularly clear why the company would want to do something that will do little more than annoy its customers. The problem isn't so much that it will stop piracy, but that it will create all sorts of false positives and block all kinds of non-infringing uses. For instance, CBS now makes its copyrighted content available from a wide range of sites other than its own. To a system looking for copyrighted content, will legitimate traffic from Joost or AOL look any different than infringing streams from other sites? How will it know which YouTube videos have been authorized by their owners, and which are "illegal"? The likely answer is that it won't -- and if AT&T's in bed with the MPAA and RIAA, it won't likely care, either, since they continually try to undermine fair use.

Furthermore, it's worth wondering, what's the business case here? Did AT&T's new friends in Hollywood threaten it with a lawsuit, or promise it a better price on content? There must be some reason that the company would decide to go to the trouble and expense of implementing some fingerprinting and filtering system, then throwing more money at it in a futile attempt to make it work, pissing off their paying customers all the while. Whatever the motivation, the company's opening up a giant can of worms with significant legal and privacy implications. Perhaps if nothing else, this illustrates the point that pro-net neutrality groups don't need to make things up about AT&T and its executives; they do plenty of egregious things on their own. It also underlines that the issue of net neutrality is one of competition. If there was real competition in the broadband market, AT&T could never get away with a move like this, as it's basically a reason for customers to change providers. But given the lack of a truly competitive market, it can, and it will.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    donkey skills, 14 Jun 2007 @ 3:15am

    abusing your semi-monopoly is bad business. as soon as verizon ran some fiber optic up my street i switched on principle over various issues i've had with mediaone/comcast/att over the years. people may not have other options now but it never helps to annoy your customers.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Advertisment

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.