RIAA Failed To Disclose Expert’s Lobbying History to “Six-Strikes” Partners

A month before the controversial "six strikes" anti-piracy plan goes live in the U.S., the responsible Center of Copyright Information (CCI) is dealing with a small crisis. As it turns out the RIAA failed to mention to its partners that the "impartial and independent" technology expert they retained previously lobbied for the music industry group. In a response to the controversy, CCI is now considering whether it should hire another expert to evaluate the anti-piracy monitoring technology.

riaaStarting next month the MPAA, RIAA and five major Internet providers in the United States will start punishing persistent BitTorrent pirates,

The scheme is being coordinated by the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) who agreed to hire an impartial and independent expert to review the evidence that will be used to accuse suspected subscribers.

However, earlier this week the news broke that the touted independent technology expert, Stroz Friedberg, is not so neutral. In fact, the company is a former RIAA lobbying firm.

The lobbying job earned the company more than half a million dollars ($637,000), which makes it hard to view the company as “independent and impartial” as the agreement between the copyright holders and ISPs requires.

In our initial report we already noted that it was rather surprising that, of all the available companies, this one was picked. Stroz Friedberg may operate without any bias, but given the public’s skepticism CCI should have anticipated the backlash.

That is, if they knew about Stroz Friedberg’s history with the RIAA.

A source at the CCI tells TorrentFreak that the RIAA had not informed the participating Internet providers or CCI’s Executive Director Jill Lesser about this unfortunate relationship. Our report on Monday came as a complete surprise to them, and it has been the topic of a heated internal discussion during the days that followed.

While Jill Lesser appears to be unaffected by the controversy in her comments to the press, she and the board members are facing a small crisis which they plan to “do something” about shortly.

TorrentFreak was informed that behind the scenes a few options have been discussed this week.

The first option that’s being considered is to make Stroz Friedberg’s review of the BitTorrent tracking technology public. This would allow the world to see whether it was done properly, as opposed to taking CCI’s word that everything is in order.

A second option that has been discussed is to hire another independent expert, possibly an academic, to confirm that Stroz Friedberg did a proper review.

Initially some forces at the CCI pushed to deliver a quick response to alleviate the concerns about the impartiality of the review, but things appear to be moving slowly. TorrentFreak is informed that it might take a week or two before the group makes an announcement.

Ironically enough, the CCI owes most of the bad press it received over the past months to itself. The group has been very reluctant to give out information to the public, thereby allowing rumors to continue and conspiracy theories to bubble up.

This might be a good time for them to start realizing that sharing information is not always a bad thing.

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