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Glushko-Samuelson IP Clinic

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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