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MPAA wants ISP help in online piracy fight

Movie industry chief Dan Glickman says the firms are "all in this together," arguing infringing content harms not only entertainment companies but Net hosts as well.

WASHINGTON--If the movie industry gets its way, then your Internet service provider may one day start playing a greater role in keeping pirated content off its networks.

Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman said Tuesday that his industry has been attempting to "deepen our relationship" with telephone, cable and Internet companies "because we're all in this together."

MPAA Chairman Dan Glickman MPAA

"Their revenue bases depend on legitimate operations of their networks and more and more they're finding their networks crowded with infringed material, bandwidth space being crowded out," Glickman told an audience composed mainly of attorneys at a daylong seminar called "Legal Risk Management in the Web 2.0 World." "Many of them are actually getting into the content business directly or indirectly. This is not an us-versus-them issue."

For awhile, somewhat of an "adversarial relationship" existed between his industry and the ISPs, Glickman said, but "that's changing." He didn't elaborate much further when asked by a reporter in the audience for more details.

Perhaps those tensions go back to Web hosts' duties under a 1998 federal law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The law says they aren't generally liable for infringing activity on the part of their users, provided that they don't condone copyright infringement, that they remove infringing material when notified and that they aren't deriving financial benefit from it.

Even before Glickman's speech on Monday, the MPAA has already hinted it would like Internet service providers to be more active on the antipiracy front. In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission a few months ago, the organization cautioned against making Net neutrality regulations that would forbid network operators from prioritizing content. Its reasoning? Such rules might needlessly prevent ISPs from filtering pirated content and inhibit attempts at development of anitpiracy technologies.

The general counsel of NBC Universal, an MPAA member, has also suggested that federal regulators require ISPs to police their networks more proactively for pirated wares.

The entertainment industry is now hoping to work with ISPs to "unlock new services and choices for consumers and see if there aren't new ways to encourage legal behavior," Glickman said. His mantra in that process: offering consumers "hassle-free, reasonable, content-protected materials."

But he indicated the movie industry may not be so willing to be flexible about using technologies to manipulate copyrighted works--for example, through mashups. "People just don't have the right to take (copyrighted works) at their pleasure," he said.