Hollywood Seeks Net Neutrality Exceptions to Block Pirates

The Motion Picture Association has written to Brazil's Justice Minister seeking exceptions to the country's fledgling “Internet Constitution". In a submission to the government the MPA says that the Marco Civil's current wording on net neutrality deprives courts of the opportunity to order the blocking of 'pirate' sites.

throttleThe Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet (Marco Civil da Internet) is legislation that governs the use of the Internet in Brazil. Under development since 2009, among other key issues the Marco Civil is aimed at protecting online privacy rights and net neutrality principles.

The law, which passed last April, was fast-tracked in the wake of revelations from Edward Snowden indicating that the U.S. had been spying on President Dilma Rousseff’s emails and phone calls, those of Brazil’s biggest oil company, and the communications of millions of citizens.

After being in place for a year, Brazil is now rolling out the Marco Civil’s secondary legislation, with the Ministry of Justice announcing a public consultation process allowing stakeholders to contribute to the development of the law.

One of the organizations getting involved is the Motion Picture Association, the international big brother to the United States’ MPAA. According to the MPA, which counts all the big movie studios among its members, the Marco Civil’s net neutrality provisions present an obstacle to rightsholders seeking to protect their content online.

In a submission to Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo, the Motion Picture Association expresses concern that the legislation’s current wording is too tight and that exceptions need to be introduced in order to deal with online piracy.

“[Our] position is that the regulation should contain cases of exception to the general rule of net neutrality, enabling the judiciary to determine that traffic to a given illegal repository can be blocked,” the MPA writes.

“The aforementioned suggestion is based on the premise that an adequate service must be in harmony with the possibility of allowing the judiciary to block access to content that, based on judicial scrutiny, is illegal for any reason, from a case of child pornography and trafficking of illegal substances, to the case of systematic disregard for the consumer and violation of intellectual property rights.”

The MPA notes that due to the borderless nature of the Internet anyone can access content from any location. This presents challenges on a national level when undesirable content is made available from other parts of the world, the group says.

“For content hosted within a national territory a judge may issue a removal order, or in the case of breaches in the copyright field, the rightsholder can send a takedown notice to the ISP, requesting that the content is rendered unavailable,” the MPA states.

“However, when the content is hosted in a foreign nation, the Brazilian court order may [not have jurisdiction] or produce the expected results for months, perhaps years, after the court order has been issued.”

According to the MPA there is only one way to remedy this kind of impotence but the way the law is currently worded, the solution remains elusive.

“In these cases the Brazilian courts only have only one option: to order service providers to implement technical measures to block Internet traffic when it has been established that services are illegal,” the MPA notes.

“Without a clear provision for these techniques, in the midst of regulations, the current wording of the Marco Civil deprives courts of this possibility, leaving them unable to address such threats.”

The net neutrality debate is a sensitive one and one that has the potential to seriously affect Hollywood’s interests. With that in mind the MPA and MPAA will be keen to ensure that any new legislation, whether overseas or on home turf, won’t hinder the pursuit and monitoring of online pirates.

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