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The nation’s dominant Internet service provider, AT&T, is working to develop a system to prevent the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted content according to an article by James S. Granelli in the LA Times. Consumer advocates vehemently oppose any such attempt, with IP Democracy declaring any such system is “doomed to fail.”
Senior vice president of External & Legislative Affairs James W. Cicconi suggested that AT&T’s move into providing IPTV through it’s U-Verse network made it receptive to entreaties by the Motion Picture Association of America. “We do recognize that a lot of our future business depends on exciting and interesting content,” he told Granelli.
Unauthorized distribution is certainly growing — public torrent tracker Mininova announced it’s served two billion torrents, though not all of those were illegitimate. But no technical solution has been developed that has ultimately prevented copying, and many if not all of them have served to frustrate legitimate users at some point.
That’s especially troubling since consumers don’t have much choice when it comes to broadband providers. I use AT&T’s DSL service, and the only other option in my neighborhood is from cable provider Comcast. As open Internet advocacy group Public Knowledge president Gigi B. Sohn points out in an emailed statement:
By attempting to act as the copyright police, the company is going to make its customers angry, even in a market in which customers have little choice of providers for high-speed Internet service.
The company has yet to decide on any particular technology to address the issue, reportedly meeting with Viacom and Paramount executives last week to discuss possible solutions and their implications for privacy. Cicconi, who has plenty of connections in Washington thanks to his time as George H.W. Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff, spoke this morning at Digital Hollywood on the panel “Rightsholder Options: The Cross Platform Challenge.”
AT&T is already under fire from Internet advocacy organizations over its opposition to network neutrality legislation and its collaboration with the National Security Administration to enable warrantless wiretapping.