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U.S. Film Chief Revives Call for “Three Strikes” Approach to Copyright Scofflaws On the Internet

in Copyright/International by

SAN FRANCISCO, October 22, 2010 -- The interim chief of the Motion Picture Association of America on Thursday urged lawmakers in Japan to enact new legislation that would mandate the disconnection of illegal file-sharers from their internet connections after being warned about their activities several times.

"We know there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to the problem; that there are cultural and practical issues requiring different approaches from one nation or region to another," said the MPAA's President and Interim CEO Bob Pisano in a speech delivered at the Tokyo International Film Festival. "But what we do feel is that the basic belief underlying all of our efforts should be the same — that individual awareness and responsibility are essential if we are to continue to make progress."

France, South Korea and Taiwan are three countries that have enacted variations of such a scheme, but many of the details of enforcement still have to be worked out. There have so far been no reported cases of enforcement. Pls see Monday brief.

The participants of a global trade agreement called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement have tried to incorporate this enforcement idea into the recently-completed trade agreement, but the proposal proved to be too controversial.

Signatories include the United States, member countries of the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, Morocco and several others (but not China or Russia.)

Ireland's largest internet service provider Eircom earlier this year agreed to establish a three-month trial of the "three-strikes" approach to enforcing online copyrights through a legal settlement, but the entertainment industry's hope to establish a wider regime in the country were dashed in early October when a judge ruled that such a system isn't enforceable under current Irish law.

Under a 'three strikes' approach, internet service providers are tasked with sending users suspected of illicit sharing of copyrighted content warning notices to stop the behavior. If the notified internet service subscriber doesn't stop after the third notice, their ISP would terminate their service.

A 2009 report from the International Intellectual Property Alliance noted that Japanse ISPs have been willing to work with the content industry to curb online piracy. It pointed to news accounts of ISPs agreeing to cut off customers for uploading content using a file-sharing service called Winny.

During his speech, Pisano also called on lawmakers in Japan to consider the idea of blocking access to domain names of web sites that have determined to be dedicated to pirating copyrighted content.

That's an approach that has already been used by law enforcement authorities in the United States.

Editor’s Note: Don’t miss the Intellectual Property Breakfast Club Event on Tuesday, November 9th, “Approaches by Internet Service Providers Around the World to Copyright Infringement,” for FREE at Clyde’s of Gallery Place in Washington from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Register at

Sarah Lai Stirland was Contributing Editor for until April 2011. She has covered business, finance and legal affairs, telecommunications and tech policy for 15 years from New York, Washington and San Francisco. She has written for Red Herring, National Journal's Technology Daily, and She's a native of London and Hong Kong, and is currently based in San Francisco.

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