Do ISPs Have A “Duty” To Stamp Out Piracy?

image from www.gameproducer.net Helienne Lindvall at the Guardian asserts that ISPs must play their part in stamping out piracy. Her argument is that despite the convictions against the Pirate Bay, the site is still very much online. Likewise, contrary to the efforts of the courts to shutdown LimeWire, a few vigilant souls have restored the client.

To her, this signals the need for ISPs to become more actively involved in enforcing piracy convictions. Often, this argument grows into a back and forth about how ISPs shouldn't be charged with the task of being web police. Then, there's discussion of how it gets decided which sites should be blocked and how easily that could be influenced by special interest groups. These topics are overshadowed by the notion that piracy can be magically stamped out in the first place. But, as the RIAA would contend, that's not really the point. The idea is to make it as difficult as possible to do. That way, fans would be deterred from engaging in the act. Do you think ISPs should block sites and would it turn out how Lindvall hopes? Or would there be a number of unintended consequences?

"intermediaries such as internet service providers have to take more responsibility. Once a court has established that a site is committing illegal activities, the ISPs should have a duty to block that site, using technical methods that are similar to those used to protect against viruses, so that it wouldn't be an invasion of personal privacy. Without the co-operation of the ISPs and other intermediaries, even a conviction by the supreme court is toothless when it comes to the internet." (Read on.)

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  1. This is not the way forward. If anything, ISP’s have a “duty” to start collecting money on behalf of content owners and start paying them based on what’s being downloaded. Let people download whatever they want, just add a few more dollars to their bill. Everyone wins.

  2. When is Google going to become part of this conversation? Nobody seems to discuss that their searches will lead to all the pirated content you want. Remove pirated content from Google search results!

  3. I hold the power companies responsible. If not for electricity, there would be no way for people to turn their computers on in order to pirate music.

  4. The internet and technology in general work organically in direct opposition to IP laws. The only real solution is to change the laws, not create more work for everyone involved.

  5. I’m all for holding the ISP’s being responsible … they collect big money yet have a no care, no responsibility attitude.
    Anything identified illegal, such as as the torrent sites, should be shut down. This is different from censorship … and thus the same arguments don’t apply.
    It won’t solve the problem, but will act as a deterrent for most people and thus solve a large part of the problem.
    The only good thing that has come out of the P2P’s is throwing the major labels into disarray, so we should wait until new, fairer models for record label-artist relationships have emerged before getting the ISP’s to act as “web police”.

  6. I’m with Dujon. The ISPs are the gatekeepers in this scenario and could quite easily play a part in the collection of royalties. I don’t want to see sites being shut down ,as Helienne mentioned, the risk of tyranny via special interest groups is extremely high with that option. A point that doesn’t seem to be made often enough is that the only party to benefit financially out of file sharing is indeed the ISP. File-sharing traffic is just traffic to them and they seriously collect on both uploads and downloads (a lot of plans in Australia now include data both ways). This is where it’s all wrong for me. I won’t make a dime off someone “sharing” a track of mine, but the ISP collects twice.
    I’m happy for people to freely distribute my work for the masses to hear, but not when I know someone is making money off that and not passing it on.

  7. I’m a bit confused by the comments here. How exactly do ISP’s make all this money off file sharing? If you mean the $40 or so that people pay them each month to get access to the net, then I don’t think so.
    The resources it would take to not only figure out what mp3 packets are legal vs. illegal is near impossible. I get songs sent to me every day that I don’t pay for, which an alghorithm of some sort would consider illegal, except that in all cases it comes from the artist or their rep. How would I get the songs? Would my access be shut down? What about the artist who actually wants to give away a song or two to a fan for exposure? How does an ISP know that they shouldn’t charge for that one, but the others?
    We need to rethink how IP works all together, and put the control directly into the hands of the artists and let them decide how to manage it. Currently, there are way to many people, who all have different agendas trying to make laws/policies that only end up hurting the industry and innovation.
    Piracy has always been around, and it will never go away. As an artist, it’s your job to engage with your fan base and give them reasons to buy your stuff and not pirate it.

  8. Dude ISPs even advertise “more music, movies”. It’s the MORE part, they can get you on a bigger plan if you are a FREE content fan.

  9. Is this with mobile? I’ve never seen a regular ISP advertise this. Plus, unless I’m mistaken, on the mobile side, the cost of that is included in your bill, so it’s already paid for.
    In any case, ISP’s aren’t making money on this stuff.
    Like I said earlier, it’s really not the thing we should be looking at anyway.

  10. ISPs positioned themselves as the web police when they provide technically illegal content access to people. Whether these companies passively participate in the trail of illegal downloads is not the reason they should be charged, the reason is that they knowingly don’t try to dissuade people from illegally downloading and therein is the problem. If the ISPs were charged a certain scale price for illegal downloads I think the problem with illegal downloads would be mitigated from a legal standpoint. There would still be the sociological implications of a generation raised in an era that devalues music though so the situation would still need to be addressed from that perspective.

  11. I have been trying to champion ISPs taking responsibility for a long time now! It works as a 3 strike rule (check out France and Britain’s digital economy act) and ISP’s have been profiting (deffinately more so in the past) from piracy.
    Before we got to this terrible state, ISPs were blatantly piggy backing on the packing of illegal file sharing. Broadband is the playground for bigger and faster file-sharing.
    Just like how we can attack hosting sites like limewire etc for having a central server to monitor the amount of illegal traffic, I am sure ISPs would be able to do the same.
    Strike 1) Slap on the wrist
    Strike 2) Warning to reduce their bandwidth
    Strike 3) Shut down.

  12. Defiantly in Australia the big telco’s are with National TV ads. Anyway, was just pointing out that if your a big movie or music pirate you will be looking for bigger plans and having to pay for bigger internet bills.
    I personally would like piracy controlled a lot more like the shut down of Pirate Bay. I don’t think that legal systems work as fast they need to ever catch up with piracy.

  13. This is ridiculous. Who gets to be the international gatekeeper here?
    This is all about controlling Wikileaks and information, not about controlling piracy. Once you empower the ISPs to filter (or more specifically allow a government body to order filtering), the internet will no longer be free but entirely under the control of that supernational body.
    Who is nominating him/herself for that role?
    Oh, look, here comes Captain America with trusty pooch Britain….

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