Starting next month the file-sharing habits of millions of BitTorrent users in the United States will be monitored as part of an agreement between the MPAA, RIAA, and five major ISPs.
The parties launched the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) last year which will be responsible for the implementation of the plan.
To guarantee the accuracy of the evidence behind the copyright infringement accusations the parties agreed to hire an impartial and independent technology expert. However, their commitment to this promise was questioned last week when the expert turned out to be Stroz Friedberg, a former RIAA lobbying group.
The CCI is clearly well aware of the sensitivities generated by this particularly unfortunate pick.
“Recent reports that a former employee of Stroz Friedberg lobbied several years ago on behalf of RIAA on matters unrelated to CCI have raised questions about the impartiality of Stroz Friedberg,” CCI’s Executive Director Jill Lesser now states.
The CCI is convinced that despite this history Stroz Friedberg is capable of delivering an independent review. However, to reassure the public that it was carried out properly, CCI will hire a new expert to go over the evidence review.
“We are sensitive to any appearance that Stroz lacks independence, and so CCI has decided to have another expert review Stroz’s initial evaluation of the content community’s processes. We will be selecting the additional expert promptly and will make that information available,” Lesser says.
Realizing that openness is in the best interest of all parties involved, CCI has also decided to make Stroz Friedberg’s initial review public.
“In addition, we believe that the report Stroz Friedberg has provided to us speaks for itself. Therefore, we will be releasing that report this week to enable interested parties to review it for themselves,” Lesser states.
The CCI is to be applauded for gradually improving its transparency. Thus far the group has been very reluctant to share information, fueling many conspiracy theories.
A lack of transparency is also at the origin of the current controversy as TorrentFreak learned that other than the RIAA, none of the CCI partners were aware of the link between Stroz Friedberg and the RIAA. It’s not unthinkable that CCI would have picked another company to start with if the RIAA had disclosed this relationship.
However, with their decision to hire a new expert along with a promise to make the original review public, CCI will hope to quieten most critics.
It will be interesting to see how Stroz Friedberg evaluated MarkMonitor’s BitTorrent snooping system. CCI previously concluded that MarkMonitor deserved a green light, but the review is still bound to provide a unique insight into the accuracy of the company’s IP-harvesting techniques.