How neutral can the FCC be about piracy?

    Date16 Jan 2010
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    I must confess, I thought FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski had found a clever way to keep his bid for Net neutrality regulations from getting mired in the debate over online piracy. When the FCC agreed to start the rulemaking process in October, Genachowski made it clear that the regulations wouldn't apply only to the transmission of unlawful content. That's code for bootlegged copies of "Avatar" and "The Hangover." And yet (he says, channeling Al Pacino as Michael Corleone), Genachowski can't help being pulled back into the issue. In their comments on the FCC's notice of proposed rulemaking, entertainment-industry groups argued that the rules at the very least shouldn't discourage Internet service providers from trying to stop pirated content. The RIAA urged the commission to go further:

    ISPs are in a unique position to limit online theft. They control the facilities over which infringement takes place and are singularly positioned to address it at the source. Without ISP participation, it is extremely difficult to develop an effective prevention approach. We thus urge the Commission to adopt rules that not only allow ISPs to address online theft, but actively encourage their efforts to do so. In a statement accompanying their joint filing, four entertainment-industry unions struck a similar note:

    As Guilds and Unions representing more than 300,000 workers in the entertainment and media industries, we urge the FCC to ensure that any policies laid forth to preserve a free and open Internet also strengthen the distinction between the lawful and unlawful transmission of Internet content. We encourage the FCC to take all appropriate steps to keep the Internet from becoming a haven for the theft and illegal transmission of motion picture, audiovisual and sound recording works.

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