3 Strikes Coming To The United States Via The Back Door?

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"3 Strikes" is a regime being introduced in various countries around the world to try to deal with illicit file-sharing. Already Taiwan, South Korea and France are putting their versions of the plan into action and other countries have similar proposals under discussion. In one form or another, could the same be coming to the United States?

From this year’s State of the Net Conference, Alex Curtis from Public Knowledge is reporting on a panel entitled: “Copyright Strikes: When Has a Pirate Graduated to Internet Exile?”

While the panel consisted of representatives from IFPI, Center for Democracy & Technology, Computer and Communications Industry Association and the UK government. Notably missing were representatives from the RIAA and MPAA. They were present, says Curtis, but unusually observing quietly from the audience.

Those on the panel in favor of the “graduated response” are said not to have shied away from their positions.

In a discussion on whether the punishment fits the alleged crime, Shira Perlmutter, Executive Vice-President of Global Legal Policy at IFPI said sending infringement notices just isn’t enough, adding that termination of a user’s Internet account, however, is preferable to suing them.

When asked if “3 strikes” should come to the United States, Perlmutter pointed to the existence of the DMCA (disabling access to illicit content is already provided for under the legislation) and noted that there are “many conversations going on at different levels.”

Writing on the apparent disinterest in “3 Strikes” shown by the MPAA and RIAA by their lack of participation on a panel such as this, Curtis goes on to list several filings to the FCC which contain pro-disconnection statements by the groups, indicating that they are indeed asking the government to take action. Indeed, Curtis feels that their low profile at this panel points to the existence of “back room deals” already underway and aimed at putting their plans for the US into action.

Given that the music industry has all but given up on their strategy of suing new individuals for file-sharing (the MPAA never really started) and that IFPI has put its full-blown support behind proposed “3 Strikes” legislation in several different countries (even now carefully escalating a campaign in Sweden), it seems likely that at some point the United States will follow.

If it doesn’t come via a government mandate, says Curtis, it could come via a private arrangement between your ISP and content providers. And when you think about it, with all previous plans to end online piracy having failed, there’s very little for the copyright holders left to try. At this stage there can be little doubt that Big Media wants “3 Strikes” to become the global standard.


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