MPAA: Voluntary anti-piracy initiatives no panacea
August 23, 2013
By Colin Mann
While the Internet industry has recommended that the US Patent and Trademark Office US take a broader view of voluntary initiatives to reduce online infringement in its inquiry to such practices, its movie counterpart has said they don’t go far enough.
It its comments to the Office, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) suggested that although voluntary initiatives to curb online piracy were good as far as they went, they were not a substitute for government action, withy the MPAA contending that search engines weren’t going far enough.
According to the MPAA, voluntary initiatives such as the so-called ‘six strikes’ copy alert system (CAS), in which it was participating allongside major ISPs (Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable) are, and will remain, a complement to – not a substitute for – other anti-piracy initiatives.
The MPAA said that when negotiating voluntary agreements, the parties are always bargaining in the shadow of the law. “In other words, a party’s willingness to commit to a particular practice will depend to a significant degree on what it perceives to be the legal consequence (or lack thereof) of continuing its current course of action, and not committing to any voluntary agreement.” The MPAA had backed anti-piracy legislation in the House and Senate, but the bills – SOPA and PIPA – were blocked by Google and other Silicon Valley interests who felt such measures were overly restrictive.
Although the MPAA noted the co-operation of ISPs inasmuch that some voluntary initiatives worked, it suggested that voluntary initiatives were not “a panacea”, and not appropriate to address all forms of piracy. “Some voluntary initiatives work well; some have more modest success; and some are simply not effective. As noted below, some players, such as major Internet Service Providers, via the Copyright Alert System, and user-generated content sites…have shown admirable willingness to enter into voluntary agreements and take concrete and effective anti-piracy measures, and should be applauded for the constructive roles they have played. Unfortunately others, such as the major search engines, have largely refused to take a proactive role in addressing the problems of illegal activity online.”
Although August 2012 Google adjusted its algorithm to demote pirate sites by taking into account how many infringement notices they had received, the MPAA told the inquiry that was an instance of a voluntary initiative that had not been effective.