NBC, Now Owned By Comcast, Once Told FCC It Should Break Net Neutrality To Force ISPs To Be Copyright Cops

from the oh-look-at-that dept

As you surely know by now, NBC Universal is owned by Comcast. And Comcast is one of the major players in today's fight over net neutrality. Comcast, of course, likes to pretend it supports net neutrality, even as it actually supports killing it. It seems worth wondering how the NBC Universal side of the Comcast family is viewing this current debate.

If you don't recall, NBC Universal has actually been vehemently against net neutrality for a long time, in large part because it's afraid that with net neutrality, broadband access providers wouldn't be able to spy on what users were doing, and wouldn't be able to throttle things like BitTorrent, as Comcast famously did in the past. You may even recall that, back in 2008, NBC Universal more or less offered up a deal to the broadband access providers: if the broadband ISPs agreed to become Hollywood copyright cops to spy on users and cut them off for any possible infringement, it would side with them in the fight to get rid of net neutrality.

In fact, in an FCC filing on net neutrality going all the way back to 2007, NBC Universal made it clear that it more or less wanted the FCC to force broadband providers like Comcast into being copyright cops:
What is missing from this debate – and from the Policy Statement and the Commission’s own commentary – is the acknowledgment that a huge and rapidly growing proportion of Internet traffic consists of stolen property and the concomitant recognition that service providers must act to stem the overwhelming use of their broadband facilities for the distribution of that stolen property. While the number of subscribers engaging in such activity is small, the impact on broadband service is enormous. The Commission should make unmistakably clear, as part of its regulations governing broadband industry practices, that broadband service providers have an obligation to use readily available means to prevent the use of their broadband capacity to transfer pirated content, especially when such use represents huge percentages of their capacity and reduces the quality of service to other subscribers. Whether those means consist of relatively low-tech but potentially effective steps such as forwarding notices to customers who have been identified as infringers, or using increasingly sophisticated bandwidth management tools as and when they come online, the obligation to deploy such measures must be explicit.
Now, recognize that many of the same folks in leadership positions at Comcast came from NBC Universal, including the author of that comment to the FCC, Rick Cotton, who was General Counsel of NBC Universal, but last year shifted to a new role, entirely focused on "anti-piracy issues." This is the same Rick Cotton who is famous for all sorts of misleading claims over the years, including telling Congress that piracy hurt the American corn farmer because apparently pirates eat less popcorn when they watch movies (I don't get it either). He was also one of the key driving forces behind SOPA.

And he remains a senior exec at Comcast -- the company that is both trying to kill off any chance at real net neutrality reform and which is famous for one of the first net neutrality "violations" in throttling BitTorrent users. Update: Comcast PR people have told me (somewhat snarkily) that Cotton retired this year, just a few months after the press publicly announced his new role (and while his LinkedIn page still lists him as currently employed at Comcast/NBC Universal.

If the FCC follows through and allows its new rules to be put in place, effectively killing off net neutrality, does anyone want to bet how long it will take Comcast -- driven by folks at NBC Universal like Rick Cotton -- to seize upon the opportunity to "monitor" your traffic and try to "use readily available means to prevent the use of their broadband capacity" for what Comcast/NBC Universal thinks is infringing (whether or not it is)?

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 10:25am

    Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is enforced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 12:25pm

      Re:

      Or maybe he hates the idea of the same people who screwed Conan O'Brien and gave us that awful Emeril sitcom be the ones who determine what we can and can't look at online.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 29 Jul 2014 @ 10:26am

    " The Commission should make unmistakably clear, as part of its regulations governing broadband industry practices, that broadband service providers have an obligation to use readily available means to prevent the use of their broadband capacity to transfer pirated content,..."

    And road builders have an obligation to use readily available means to prevent the use of their road capacity to stop bad guys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 10:32am

      Re:

      Shitty analogy.

      No one is asking the guys that laid the fiber optic cable to police the internet.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Baron von Robber, 29 Jul 2014 @ 10:36am

        Re: Re:

        " The Commission should make unmistakably clear, as part of its regulations governing broadband industry practices, that broadband service providers have an obligation to use readily available means to prevent the use of their broadband capacity to transfer pirated content,..."

        And car makers have an obligation to use readily available means to prevent the use of their cars to stop bad guys.

        ..|..

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 12:59pm

        Re: Re:

        Nobody asks taxi cabs to police their patrons, do they?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 10:27am

    Residential ISPs want to be Gatekeepers. They're discriminating against Netflix, because Netflix has millions of customers who might be canceling live stream cable TV because Netflix is cheaper.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 10:43am

    This is all a direct result of allowing the content industry to determine the length and effect of "copyright", to the point where it is now a corporate goldmine. Of course they are going to fight, tooth and nail, to protect and extend it even further. We allowed them to.
    .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 10:46am

      Re:

      Yes, the length of copyright is why your greedy a$$ steals music. Uh huh. I'm sure everyone is totally convinced of that. Yup fo sho.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Baron von Robber, 29 Jul 2014 @ 10:52am

        Re: Re:

        Nope, asshats like you inspire me to piracy.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 10:52am

        Re: Re:

        Believe it or not, people do pirate simply because they disagree with current copyright laws and don't want their money going towards lobbying efforts to codify and expand copyright laws. The RIAA/MPAA aren't going buy out politicians with my money.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 11:05am

        Re: Re:

        It's freaking hilarious watching you shill for the content industry by calling critics greedy.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 11:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          What's hilarious is your delusional belief that anyone will believe your silly excuses for pirating music.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 11:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Bonus points for accusing me of piracy with no evidence or admission. Newsflash: I don't pirate. I get paid, legal content from direct or non-abusive sources. Painting all criticism as "pirate excuses" isn't helping your argument one bit.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 29 Jul 2014 @ 12:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            What's hilarious is that your tiny mind can only conceive of pirates having an argument against the crap you pull. 15 years after Napster, and you're still pretending that legitimate problems raised by your own customers don't exist. No wonder you're a failure.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2014 @ 1:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You want copyright law being enforced?

            How about this? DMCAed, you useless little bitch!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 12:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          They aren't greedy, just mathematically, historically, and linguistically challenged.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Cowardly Anonymous, 30 Jul 2014 @ 10:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I love posts like his! Why? Because of the motivation it takes to write all the things he does. If things were going well for him and his cohorts, there would be no motivation to post at all. I take his rantings as a good sign, that we're causing the much desired effect we want upon the greedy copyright cultists. Hoorah! :-)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 30 Jul 2014 @ 2:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Pretty much. It's also really amusing how you can tell when important legislation is coming down the pike because the number of such posts sharply increases beforehand.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 11:58am

        Re: Re:

        Copyright term is extended far beyond "a limited time" preventing things from becoming public domain.

        If its ok for the content industry to steal from the public domain then it should be perfectly fine for the public to steal from the content industry.

        So yea I could see someone being civil disobedient and using that as an excuse to obtain music illegally.

        Just because it is law that copyrights last more than "a limited time" does not mean that the law is just and proper.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 12:04pm

        Re: Re:

        I don't think the person you were replying to was a record label.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 29 Jul 2014 @ 11:57am

    I sense NBC/Comcast shills.

    *ahem*

    I wonder how is it to live with one of your spouses trying to shoot you in the face Comcast? For references watch the first Paranormal activity. Sleep well!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 12:12pm

      Re:

      Suggestion to Comcast:

      Instead of paying people to make stupid comments on websites, you might want to spend that money improving the capabilities of your support staff.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2014 @ 3:33pm

    If they are so for Net Neutrality why are they fighting against it I guess they really are morons hmm who'd of thunk it .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 29 Jul 2014 @ 4:19pm

    Updated...

    Updated to note that Cotton "retired" from Comcast/NBC earlier this year, despite big announcements a year ago about his "new role" at the company. Also, Cotton's LinkedIn still lists himself as an employee of the company, which was the basis for the claims that he was still there. Comcast PR tells us he is no longer employed there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 30 Jul 2014 @ 6:17pm

    If not for states rights the FCC could solve this.
    Force ISPs to be common carriers, use the money that we've been paying them to wire everything, and the the free market actually be free.

    It is perverse that once again, despite stupidly unbalanced laws favoring them, copyright holders are demanding more people foot the bill for their "rights".
    They have a fucking monopoly on the content for longer than the lifespan of even the oldest congress critter, and they can't seem to make the content available at any price.
    In a digital age the simple fact that someone can not purchase copyrighted content at any price, because they won't make it available, is a prime example of the law not working.
    They charge the same prices for digital as physical goods in many cases, and demand even more control of it once you purchase it. We need to stop the narrative of their rights trumping everything else because zomg lost money. They are leaving millions on the table right now in this minute by not having their catalogs available to consumers world wide. It is time that the old laws, for an age before being able to send 0's & 1's around the globe in seconds, be dropped. It is time that someone take them up on the 'poor artists' portion of the argument and audit the books, and expose how they have nickeled and dimed billions out of the hands of these artists.

    We granted them a monopoly, at what point are we going to remember all of the times we then had to smash monopolies because they were abusive and breaking the law?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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