RIAA – FCC Ruling Means ISPs Can Filter Piracy Like Everyone Else

We already noted that there is a lot of confusion surrounding the FCC ruling to “punish” Comcast, but we have just learned that the RIAA has some of their own strange comments on the matter.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Leave it to the Recording Industry Association of America to come out with comments from left field. The Comcast ruling in the FCC is mainly about what an ISP can do on their own networks. Can they slow down and discriminate against a protocol? The FCC seems to say ‘no’ but adding to the confusion, the RIAA is saying that the ruling means that ISPs can now block file-sharing. Where this mode of thinking comes from is a bit of a mystery to us.

The RIAA press release contains the following:

“The FCC proceeding concluding today has generated a healthy and appropriate debate about how ISPs should manage their networks.

There is no longer any doubt that ISPs have the right to use network management tools to address unlawful activity — including the theft of copyrighted music.

We applaud Chairman Martin’s clear affirmation that ISPs may use technology to prevent the theft of copyrighted works.

There is a crystallizing consensus among governments around the globe that ISPs should be taking affirmative steps to address piracy on their networks. It is our hope and expectation that ISPs here will accelerate their efforts to work with us to address online piracy.”

Martin was quoted with the following:

We do not tell providers how to manage their networks. They might choose, for instance, to prioritize voice-over-IP calls. In analyzing whether Comcast violated federal policy when it blocked access to certain applications, we conduct a fact-specific inquiry into whether the management practice they used was reasonable. Based on many reasons, including the arbitrary nature of the blocking, the lack of relation to times of congestion or size of files, and the manner in which they hid their conduct from their subscribers, we conclude it was not.

We do not limit providers’ efforts to stop congestion. We do say providers should disclose what they are doing to consumers.

If the FCC ruled that blocking/throttling BitTorrent was not a violation of the law, then why did Comcast rule against Comcast for blocking/throttling BitTorrent? It’s important to note that it requires at least 3 commissioners to vote in favor or against something in order for the decision to be final first, this is just one commissioners viewpoint.

The RIAA seems to think that the ruling has to do with file-sharing that relates to unauthorized redistribution. Exactly where the FCC specifically talked about copyright infringement specifically is unclear.

We do know that there is only two countries that are even thinking about something as draconian as blocking file-sharing just because it could be used as a vehicle for copyright infringement – Britain and France. How 2 countries out of 195 constitutes a “crystallizing consensus” to block file-sharing at the ISP level is also unclear.

The only thing that is clear is that the RIAA wants ISPs to simply block file-sharing in spite of the many legitimate uses it has to offer. Perhaps this may be their next target in their crusade against their own customers and unauthorized innovation in the future. Either way, the comments are rather strange, if not, a stretch of the imagination.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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