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Is There a Role For Content Protection in the FCC's National Broadband Strategy?

in FCC Workshops/National Broadband Plan by

WASHINGTON, September 17, 2009 – Panelists with divergent viewpoints weighed in at the Federal Communications Commission workshop on September 17 on the question of whether the U.S. broadband policy should take cognizance of intellectual property issues such as copyright infringement

Moderator John Horrigan, consumer research director of FCC’s broadband initiative, said that the effort sough to discuss ways in which the content of the creative industries could be protected against piracy.

With dial-up internet access, downloading videos could take hours or even days. Then as the Internet has changed, the ability to download unauthorized content has grown easier, with audio or video clips downloadable within minutes.

A national plan to promote broadband might also end up facilitating the process of illegally downloading music or a video, some argued. That’s way some of the panelists urged that copyright be included in the national broadband plan.

“This tidal wave of piracy would hinder the innovation of broadband,” said Dan Glickman, CEO of Motion Picture Association of America.

Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, favored shaming tactics, or “service warnings,” against individuals engaged in copyright infringement.

When a person is about to illegally download a digital item, an internet service provider might trigger a pop up and say, “what you are doing is illegal and you must stop.”

“And a majority of the time, they stop,” she said.

Musical composer Alex Shapiro has a simple tactic to stop people from illegally download her music: she doesn’t upload them.

“When I put songs on the Internet, I never put the full song,” she said. “When people pirate my music, they become disappointed when they realize that song ended when it was just getting good.”

Of course, she doesn’t have the ability to stop individuals from ripping unprotected songs from compact discs and uploaded them to the internet.

Some websites allegedly engaging in copyright infringement have the appearance of being legitimate. For instance, on mininova.com, a site that some panelists considered an illegal downloading and streaming site, there was an ad for Netflix.

Frederick Huntsberry, chief operating officer of Paramount Pictures, explained that this is where the education should begin.

It would be beneficial to “reach out to these ad agencies and tell them about where their product is being advertised at,” he said.

Then these agencies could realize that they wouldn’t want to be associated with a piracy-focused web service.

Workshop presentations and video.

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