MPAA Proposes Updates to Intellectual Property Enforcement

In the process of updating the Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property Enforcement to help combat online piracy, the government’s IP czar Vishal Amin has sent out a call for input. The Motion Picture Association of America has suggestions, chief among them that Internet service providers be forced to take more responsibility for referral traffic from piracy sites. Currently, under the law, ISPs are regarded as neutral networks, but the MPAA wants them to play a role in filtering copyright-infringing content.

TorrentFreak reports that the MPAA said that, “while there has been a lot of progress on the legal supply side, piracy remains a problem … in part due to a lack of involvement from third-party Internet services.”

“Compounding matters is the lack of accountability of some major online platforms for their failure to prevent content theft and other illicit conduct over their services,” said MPAA senior vice president Neil Fried. The group also argued that payment services and advertisers have made “voluntary agreements” to participate, and therefore “other platforms and intermediaries,” including ISPs, “should follow suit.”

“Given the central role of hosting providers in the online ecosystem, it is disconcerting that many refuse to take action when notified that their hosting services are being used in clear violation of their own terms of service prohibiting intellectual property infringement and in blatant violation of the law,” said the MPAA.

The MPAA listed concrete ways that ISPs and hosting services can comply, including automated piracy filters on their servers. They are already legally required to process takedown notices and terminate repeat infringers. The MPAA added that they should also “prevent re-registration by terminated users.” The Hollywood group also suggested that, “hosting providers should not challenge suspension court orders, when copyright holders go up against pirate sites … [and that] hosts should keep an eye on high traffic volumes which may be infringing, and ban referral traffic from pirate sites outright.”

Furthermore, said the MPAA, ISPs should “implement download bandwidth or frequency limitations to prevent high volume traffic for particular files” to “remove files expeditiously” and “block referral traffic from known piracy sites.” Blocking referral traffic would mean that the ISP would have to block entering one of their legal sites through a direct link, aimed at “stopping pirate linking sites from using legitimate storage services for infringing content, but that would result in collateral damage as well.”

The MPAA has also asked IPEC “to make sure that access to WHOIS data should be made public again, to ensure that trade agreements include proper copyright protections, and to encourage other government departments including the Department of Justice to beef up their anti-piracy efforts.”

The MPAA acknowledged that these companies will push back against its proposals, claiming a violation of free expression. But its point of view is that stopping “illegal activity promotes free expression by creating a safer environment where individuals feel comfortable to communicate and engage in commerce, and to create and lawfully access content.”