MPAA Wants ISPs to Cut Off Pirates

Following on from the IFPI-inspired Italian blockade of The Pirate Bay, the MPAA's President has been in Italy offering ideas on how to deal with the 'problem' of unauthorized file-sharing. Not wanting to flirt too much with originality, Robert Pisano is backing a 3 strikes-and-you're-out policy. Just how far will the Italian government go in its currently tough anti-piracy mood?

mpaaHaving previously warmed up with the The Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA) in April and on the back of the IFPI Pirate Bay block in Italy, MPAA President, COO and donor Robert Pisano was in Venice taking part in a panel at which the heads of Italian movie producing groups were complaining heavily about the state of Internet piracy, which they claim threatens their business.

Although Pisano suggests the ‘carrot’ – encouraging file-sharers to use legal services of which he says there are dozens – the truth is they have completely failed to get into the minds of file-sharers with these services. “..our goal is not to punish anyone but rather to give them a reason to do the same downloading, but through legal channels,” said Pisano, according to a THR report.

But it seems the outcome is inevitable – the use of the ‘stick’. Like the IFPI, the MPAA now seems to be taking the line that if you can’t deal with individual file-sharers effectively through the legal system with civil action, it’s time to deal with millions all at once by pressurizing their ISPs to take measures against them instead. It’s likely the MPAA will issue complaints to ISPs about file-sharers in the same way as it has always done – except with a sting in the tail.

“Maybe the first couple of times they get a warning e-mail, then perhaps the speed on their account is reduced,” said Pisano, “and if they keep doing it then maybe their account is closed.”

The Italian Society of Authors and Editors is also calling for action against file-sharers, and wants to back this up with ‘educational campaigns’ targeted at schools. In contrast, Riccardo Tozzi, President of the National Union of Producers wants to convert pirates into paying customers by offering movies at an affordable price.

In 2003, Silvio Berlusconi’s government passed one of the harshest copyright laws in Europe, but it hasn’t really been enforced to the extent the MPAA and IFPI would like. Unfortunately for them, January 2007 saw the top criminal court in Rome announce that downloading films, music or software from the Internet is not a crime if done for no profit. Although this announcement seemed like good news for individual Italian file-sharers, it didn’t turn out particularly well for Italy’s largest BitTorrent site. Colombo.BT was shut down after it was alleged the administrators illegally profited from the site.

Although Italian Minister for Culture Sandro Bondi said the fight against piracy is a priority for the government, it seems that support for the movie industry doesn’t stop there. Bondi previously announced that the government’s movie interests department ‘General Direction for Cinema‘ had announced to the EU it will take measures to give “fiscal incentives” to movie production and distribution companies via tax shelter and tax credits.

In October a technical roundtable will get underway in Italy which will promote collaboration between the music, movie and ISPs, i.e they will discuss the possible implementation of a “3 strikes” policy. Stay tuned for an update.

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