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AT&T Fights Copyright Infringement
June 13, 2007
Thomas Mennecke
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It appears attacking P2P networking at the ISP level has become the latest fad for the music and movie industry. Earlier this month, SafeMedia Corporation touted their P2P Dissaggregator – a device that disrupts “illegal” P2P traffic at the ISP level. A potential tool for college and university networks, SafeMedia Corporation testified before Congress and challenged schools to respect the intellectual properties of others - hopefully by using their hardware.

By and large, ISPs have been reluctant to act as the copyright police. Protected by the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), ISPs are granted safe harbor immunity to any pirated traffic that may traverse their networks. Verizon has been one of the greater champions of consumer privacy, as it has refused to work with the NSA’s wiretapping program and cooperate with the RIAA’s request to divulge the identities of alleged P2P butt pirates.

But then there’s AT&T. AT&T is another ball of wax. It has been complicit in helping the NSA (National Security Administration) conduct its constitutionally questionable wiretapping program, and today according to a LA Times article, is helping the music and movie industry eliminate unauthorized content off its networks. If ISPs are protected by the DMCA, why bother going through the ultimately futile expense of trying to thwart unauthorized P2P traffic?

Because in essence, AT&T is trying to become an entertainment giant with its Internet TV service. And who can allow unfettered P2P activity while trying to run an entertainment business? Although AT&T’s solution for filtering out unauthorized P2P traffic remains a mystery, it seems they’ve assured everyone they’re at least talking about it with the entertainment industry.

Entertainment giant Viacom was thrilled with AT&T’s decision to at least conceptualize the feat of filtering unauthorized P2P traffic.

"We are pleased that AT&T has decided to take such a strong, proactive position in protecting copyrights," Viacom said in a prepared statement. "AT&T's support of strong anti-piracy efforts will be instrumental in developing a growing and vibrant digital marketplace and will help ensure that they have a steady stream of great creative content to deliver to their consumers."

There’s little reason why the entertainment industry wouldn’t be happy with AT&T’s big idea. For the better part of 10 years, the entertainment industry has been simply unable to put an end to the growth of file-sharing or thwart its permeation in the college culture. Perhaps if the buck is passed to the ISP, some progress can be made? While AT&T’s goals are lofty, maybe someone in the entertainment industry will pass along the unfortunate fact that trying to filter P2P technology will only lead to another 10 years of misery.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Copyright Issues

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