Spying as a business model. Will these guys get a clue already?

What all this demonstrates for the umpteenth time is that the RIAA and MPAA still show themselves to be in possession of quite the tin ear.

Charles Cooper Former Executive Editor / News
Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.
Charles Cooper
2 min read

Wish I could read minds because I'd love to know what the representatives from Comcast and Verizon were thinking as they listenedto lobbyists from the recording and film industries push them to snoop on their customers.

All in the pursuit of upholding the law, of course. (Naturally.)

"We need the help of ISPs. They have the technical ability to manage the flow over their pipes," Shira Perlmutter, a vice president for global legal policy at the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, said earlier Monday at a technology conference sponsored by the Progress and Freedom Foundation. "The good news is that we're beginning to see some of these solutions emerge, in particular in Europe and Asia." (IFPI is the Recording Industry Association of America's international affiliate.)

Clearly, the content industries have legitimate interests to protect, but I doubt that any of that would hold up in court. The idea strikes me as a perverse reading of the U.S. Constitution. You don't need to be a paranoid anchorite holding out in the remote hills of Montana to grasp where this policy prescription inevitably heads. But let's suspend that skepticism and momentarily assume that some ISPs would play along. Would you trust your friendly broadband provider not to monitor other prohibited items beyond pirated songs and movies? There would be no shortage of First Amendment lawyers queuing up to get a piece of this case.

Back to reality, what all this demonstrates for the umpteenth time is that the RIAA and MPAA still show themselves to be in possession of quite the tin ear. I'm not getting too exercised because broadband providers know how to count noses. While the issue got settled in court, this much is clear: we would witness the mother of all mass departures of subscribers to rival providers pledging not to monitor their customers.

The real problem facing the RIAA and MPAA is that they're still flummoxed seven years after (the original) Napster's shutdown on how to thrive in the digital world. First, they decided to unleash a legal jihad. Then it was off to use technology to disrupt high-traffic networks suspected of assisting illegal digital file swapping. Now it's pushing a Orwellian agenda where it's perfectly fine to spy because it's all serving a higher good.