MPAA Wants ISPs to Disconnect Persistent Pirates

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The MPAA wants Internet providers and services to take stronger actions against persistent copyright infringers. Ideally, the most egregious pirates should lose their accounts permanently, the group says. To accomplish this ISPs should be required to track the number of notices they receive for each account.

pirate-runningIn recent weeks, many groups and individuals have voiced their opinions about the future of the DMCA, responding to a U.S. Copyright Office consultation.

This includes the MPAA, which acts on behalf of the major Hollywood studios. In a 71-page submission the group outlines many problems with the current law, asking for drastic reforms.

Ideally, the group would like search engines to enforce a “stay down” policy ensuring that content can’t reappear under different URLs. In addition, it would like registrars to suspend domain names of pirate sites, such as The Pirate Bay.

Another point of concern for the movie industry group is that of “repeat infringers,” people who frequently share pirated content. This applies to users of web services such as Facebook and YouTube, but also ISPs.

“The requirement that service providers terminate repeat infringers is critical,” MPAA writes in its submission.

The MPAA points out that the percentage of persistent pirates is relatively low compared to all Internet users who ever have committed copyright infringement online, but that they do pose a significant threat.

“The serial infringers, however, account for a disproportionate share of the overall prevalence of infringing content: They upload and download infringing copies much more heavily than those who do so once or twice; and they keep infringing content online and available for others to stream or download illegally for much longer than do other users.”

In the U.S. it is currently rare for ISPs to disconnect persistent pirates, with many arguing that only a court can decide if someone can be stripped from such an essential service as Internet access.

However, citing several recent legal cases, including the Cox lawsuit, the movie studios argue that ISPs should terminate the accounts of persistent pirates even if there’s no court order requiring them to do so.

According to the MPAA Internet providers “must terminate users who repeatedly and blatantly infringe copyright, regardless of whether there has been a judicial determination that the user is liable for copyright infringement.”

To accomplish this goal service providers should keep track of DMCA notices so they can identify repeat infringers and take appropriate action in response.

“The challenge now will be to have courts consistently enforce these rules against noncompliant services. Courts should also make it clear that an effective and compliant policy must not allow terminated users simply to create new accounts on the same service,” they write.

The Hollywood group’s calls are quite different from the voluntary agreement it currently has with ISPs. Under the Copyright Alert System ISPs are required to forward up to six notices per user account, but permanent Internet connections are not part of the deal.

Needless to say, ISPs are not going to be happy with the demands. In their submission to the Copyright Office they stressed that their subscribers shouldn’t lose Internet access based solely on copyright holder complaints.

With the many conflicting positions we reported on in recent weeks, it’s going to be very hard for the Copyright Office to come up with a plan that will suit everyone. In any case, we can look forward to some heated debates.


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