Hollywood Teams With AT&T and Others In Possible Packet-Filtering Coalition

Some of you P2P fans may want to know about a new coalition called Arts + Labs. It may sound like some kind of open-source hippie think tank, but it's actually a powerful alignment of film and music copyright owners (NBC Universal, Viacom and the Songwriters Guild of America) and tech firms and ISPs (Microsoft, Cisco Systems and AT&T). It's a group that could put together a pretty serious anti-piracy system without much trouble. Saul Hansell at the NY Times says the group claims that "network operators must have the flexibility to manage and expand their networks to defend against net pollution and illegal file trafficking which threatens to congest and delay the network for all consumers." Hansell interprets this as a call to filter packets, and put the kibosh on any dubious transfers.

Although the intentions aren't yet explicit, most of the coalition members have openly opposed net neutrality legislation and are in favour of allowing ISPs to have the "freedom" to monitor their customers. But Microsoft is a little bit more squirmy on the subject. Thomas C. Rubin, Microsoft's chief counsel for intellectual property strategy, told Hansell:

We think that this is an opportunity to work with leaders across industries to put our heads together to discuss the opportunities that exist to facilitate the promotion of the availability of legitimate content on the Internet. We are not in favour of filtering at the network level.

Hopefully that is enough of a bulwark against rampant abuse of power. As the forces align, it's important for pirates and non-pirates alike to keep watch. Meantime, check out the full article. [NYT]

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