RIAA Asks BitTorrent To Block Infringing Content
In the latest attack on file sharing, the Recording Industry Association of America has requested that BitTorrent put into place a hash filter in order to block infringing content, but will it do more harm than good?
By Mike Masnick of TechDirt
Almost exactly a year ago, the Hollywood-funded and run astroturfing group "Creative Future" posted a bizarre and fact-challenged article attacking BitTorrent Inc. for copyright infringement, and demanding that the company "take responsibility" for how the BitTorrent protocol was being used. There was, as always, some apparent confusion between BitTorrent the protocol and BitTorrent Inc., the company. You would have thought that this would have been figured out by now, especially given that BitTorrent Inc., the company, has been trying repeatedly to help content creators experiment with new business models that embrace the BitTorrent protocol, with a fair bit of success.
And yet, as Andy at TorrentFreak notes in a recent post, the RIAA has now sent a letter to BitTorrent Inc., once again demanding some sort of "piracy filter." [pdf]
Attached is a subset of the list of verified hashes of files of our members' works that have and are likely continuing to be infringed via BitTorrent, Inc.'s products and services. We are willing to establish a process to share the hashes with BitTorrent, Inc. on a regular basis so that BitTorrent, Inc. can use the information to deter further infringement of those files via its goods and services. We also know of several companies that offer services to help identify infringing torrent sites and files that may be useful in helping BitTorrent, Inc. deter piracy through BitTorrent, Inc.'s products and services.
To quote Mr. Mason yet again, "We don't endorse piracy." If that is indeed your business philosophy, then we believe it is only right and proper for BitTorrent, Inc. to take steps to reduce their facilitation of infringement. We look forward to hearing from you on next steps.
Consider this is a shot fired. It's not hard to see where this is heading. The RIAA is likely looking to set the stage for a lawsuit arguing that BitTorrent Inc. is somehow "inducing" copyright infringement by not proactively blocking content. Of course, pretty much all previous lawsuits making that argument have failed (miserably) and it's even more ridiculous in this case. And, yes, while the RIAA is pointing specifically at apps, such as uTorrent that BitTorrent owns, the idea that the software needs to proactively contain a hash-based filter is unlikely to go over well in court. Nor, of course, would it stop copyright infringement.
Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the RIAA gets its way here and BitTorrent is forced to somehow insert a special "YER A PIRATE!" filter into uTorrent, two things would happen almost immediately: 1. People would quickly create slightly modified versions of works to get around the hashes and 2. people would move to other BitTorrent clients — coming from companies that aren't willing to work with the entertainment industry and aren't helping more artists learn how to embrace the technology to make more money and reach more fans.
It's the same move repeated over and over again by the industry: rather than figure out how to make use of the technology that fans like in order to do more, they attack the technology and then don't understand why people get pissed off and no longer want to give them any money any
The music industry should not have to ask. The tech companies have an ethical obligation to police themselves.
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