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Groups Tell FCC Copyright Enforcement Shouldn’t Be Part Of Net Neutrality January 18, 2010

Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.
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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules to ensure an open Internet should not be used to enforce intellectual property law, six public-interest and business groups told the Commission.

The Commission’s proposed definition of “reasonable network management” under its Net Neutrality rules would allow telephone, cable and wireless companies to prevent the transfer of unlawful content and prevent the unlawful transfer of content. There is no need for those copyright-related exceptions because the proposed rules already provide that ISPs must treat lawful content in a non-discriminatory manner, the groups said.

However, the rules could lead to “excusing overbroad techniques that interfere with lawful activities,” according to a filing submitted by Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Computer and Communications Industry Association, Consumer Electronics Association, Home Recording Rights Coalition and NetCoalition. A copy of the comments is here.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are “poorly placed to determine whether or not transfers of content are infringing or otherwise unlawful, a task generally reserved to attorneys, courts, and law enforcement,” the groups said: “In short, the issue raised by broadening the ‘reasonable network management’ exception to include copyright enforcement and the blocking of unlawful content is not whether ISPs may undertake these efforts, but rather whether they may inflict collateral damage on lawful traffic when they do so.”

There is “no evidence that lawful content or activities must be sacrificed in order to make headway against copyright infringement,” the groups said, noting that ISPs have other mechanisms that wouldn’t violate an open network, that content owners have their own tools and that there are stiff civil and criminal penalties for infringement.

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