Better Broadband & Better Lives

Will Copyright Issues Interfere With the National Broadband Plan?

in Broadband's Impact by

WASHINGTON, October 7, 2009 – A panel discussion last week about what can be done to protect copyrighted content over the Internet united discussions of intellectual property protection with the congressionally-mandated effort to create a national broadband plan.

The possibility of a national broadband plan being adopted in the coming year raised the possibility that content may be more readily available to consumers. This might mean that piracy might become more widespread, too.

Speaking at a “digital breakfast” held on October 1 by Gotham Media Ventures, moderator Paul Sweeting, a media and technology consultant, cited a French law putting consumers on notice that broadband access may be denied if they are caught downloading illegal content.

According to Michael O’Leary, executive vice president of governmental affairs at Motion Picture Association of America, there are various ways of dealing with copyright-infringing content, some more effective than others.

“By the time a law is in effect [to deal with illegal downloading], the technology has become so advance that the law becomes obsolete,” said O’Leary.

There used to be a time in which it would take people hours or even days to download any form of content from the internet, but now, “a movie will be released Friday and it will be online by 2 a.m. on Saturday,” said O’Leary.

“People want innovation faster, but they don’t want to go through the process,” said Jon Baumgarten, a partner at Proskauer Rose.

Panelists referred to the pro-innovation manta of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, who is ultimately responsible for implementing the national broadband plan.

Peter Jaszi, professor of law and faculty director of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic at American University, said that an outpouring of creativity has been wrought by the Internet.

This innovation motivates actions, all types of actions. “At the time, no one knew how to punish the people considering the advancement of technology,” Jaszi said.

Panelists differed on the effectiveness of filters designed to screen out copyrighted content.

To Bill Rosenblatt, founder of GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies, two such techniques including “fingerprinting” a digital file and appending it with a digital “watermarking.”

Digital watermarks have proven controversial over the past several years, and they are seen as easier to use with music than with movies.

“These two [techniques] have efficiency, accuracy and privacy,” said Rosenblatt.

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An intern at the National Journalism Center and a student at American University’s Washington Semester Program, Christina is a Reporter-Researcher for BroadbandBreakfast.com. She is a student at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.

3 Comments

  1. I appreciate being quoted in this article. But the quote “These two [techniques] have efficiency, accuracy and privacy,” referring to fingerprinting and watermarking, is an inaccurate fragment of what I said and misleading as to what I meant. I don’t remember my exact words, but what I meant was something like “These two techniques *differ with regard to* their efficiency, accuracy, and privacy implications.”

    Thanks,

    Bill Rosenblatt
    GiantSteps Media Technology Straegies
    billr@giantstepsmts.com

  2. A point that may have been missed in the discussion (unfortunately, I was unable to see the full transcript) is that steganography/(“watermarking” being a subset) and signal abstracts (“fingerprinting” in cryptography is a different beast) are related.

    There are more advanced techniques, however, directed at measuring the packet flow as opposed to focus on files alone (which appears to be the nexus of the discussion). These techniques too are at the heart of traceback of packets and even “eavesdropping”.

    Drew, you do a great job covering these topics, I just wish more was discussed with regards to “packet flow” & differentiated services (“QoS” is so subjective as to have lost much of its meaning) so that folks can be more transparent about how to map the *cost* of service (be it software-as-service, grid-computing, cloud-computing, et al.) by matching said packet flow to the infrastructure, including that which is there own: peering, one-to-many, etc.

    Why? In many cases peering arrangements neglect to attribute the cost and expense that the user bears in supporting what an ISP may allege to be *their* costs and *their* infrastructure. Attribution for the *members* of any given network & the ability to differentiate between services would provide a much more fruitful & actuarial measurement of just what it means to optimize the value & “security” of networks. It is also the best way forward to preserve competitive networks.

    It may be true that measurements between structured (software, protocols, formats, etc.) and unstructured data (such as images, audio, video, etc.) must be evaluated in a manner akin to utilities. Then again, not many of us know what a “kilowatt” “is”; but, we should care what bits & flow “are” …

    Just my two cents!

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