Hollywood’s Site Blocking Plans Require Net Neutrality Changes

The MPA has submitted proposals to Brazil's Ministry of Justice asking ISPs to block subscriber access to 'pirate' sites. The proposals are part of a public consultation which gave stakeholders the chance to shape legislation that governs the use of the Internet. However, the MPA's demands will require changes to net neutrality rules.

The 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 the Marco Civil aims to protect online privacy rights, net neutrality principles and other key issues.

The law was passed in April 2014 after being fast-tracked in the wake of the Snowden revelations. Last year the legislation entered its second stage with the Ministry of Justice announcing a public consultation process allowing stakeholders to contribute to the development of the law.

Of course, where legislation is available to be shaped Hollywood is rarely far behind and as a result the Motion Picture Association and its studio members quickly got involved. They believe that the Marco Civil’s net neutrality provisions present problems for rightsholders who need to be able to protect their content against online infringement.

Last year the MPA told Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo that the legislation’s wording was too tight and exceptions were needed to allow for anti-piracy enforcement. This week the public consultation came to a close and it’s now clear that the stance of the MPA is shared by many other rightsholders in the audiovisual sector.

In a proposal submitted by the MPA, the Brazilian Association of Intellectual Property (ABPI), Brazilian Association of Independent Television Producers (ABPI-TV) and Brazilian Association of Audiovisual Works Production (APRO) and others, demands for site-blocking are front and center.

In common with other regions where site-blocking measures have been introduced, the MPA wants Brazil to order its Internet service providers to block ‘pirate’ sites located outside the country, beyond Brazil’s jurisdiction. It’s expected that the existing legal system will deal with those hosted domestically.

“Although foreign [pirate site] hosts can not be forced to delete the illegal content from their servers, access to these can be hampered by technical measures implemented by Brazilian Internet service providers,” the proposal reads.

According to local media this is the first time that cinema associations, large Brazilian producers and Hollywood studios have joined together under one banner.

“We can not accept that the Internet is a free area for lawlessness,” said Edson Vismona, president of the umbrella group National Forum Against Piracy and Illegality (FNCP).

“Our mission is to set some milestones to show that illegality will not prosper. We have to respect all the principles of freedom of expression, but not actions that violate citizens’ basic rights.”

The group says that if Brazil implements the required measures it will be in good company since countries including Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, the UK, Portugal and Spain already engaged in site blocking.

Of course, the great irony here is that while the MPA demands site blocking of Brazil, there is no site blocking taking place in the United States. Nevertheless, the MPA and its colleagues want a “clear provision for site blocking techniques” and exceptions written into the Marco Civil.

Only time will tell if they will get their way.

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