Why RIAA, ISP cooperation may deliver returns for both sides

Why RIAA, ISP cooperation may deliver returns for both sides

Summary: The Recording Industry Association of America and Internet service providers are reportedly pairing up to police illegal downloads. CNET News' Greg Sandoval and Maggie Reardon report:AT&T and Comcast, two of the nation's largest Internet service providers, are expected to be among a group of ISPs that will cooperate with the music industry in battling illegal file sharing, three sources close to the companies told CNET News.

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TOPICS: Telcos, Browser
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The Recording Industry Association of America and Internet service providers are reportedly pairing up to police illegal downloads. 

CNET News' Greg Sandoval and Maggie Reardon report:

AT&T and Comcast, two of the nation's largest Internet service providers, are expected to be among a group of ISPs that will cooperate with the music industry in battling illegal file sharing, three sources close to the companies told CNET News.

The Recording Industry Association of America, the lobbying group representing the four largest recording companies, said last month that it had enlisted the help of ISPs as part of a new antipiracy campaign. The RIAA has declined to identify which ISPs or how many. 

CNET News adds that none of the half dozen or so ISPs involved have signed agreements because of worries about bad press. ISPs will reportedly have a series of measures to deter piracy. The last response would be a service suspension or termination.  

The partnership raises a bevy of questions. Why would ISPs want to get tangled up with policing downloads? What happens when someone is falsely accused and is there an appeal process? If ISPs police downloads with the RIAA does that open a Pandora's Box of liability? 

And the biggest question of all: Why are these two groups partnering? 

The answer can be summed up in one word: Money. 

The RIAA is looking to shut the door on illegal music downloads and revive an industry. That's relatively easy to see. 

So what's in it for the ISPs? My hunch is that ISPs will get some sort of cut of any music partnerships. But the real payoff comes from forcing mass downloaders--the folks that eat up all the bandwidth--to go elsewhere. The ISPs want to be careful about outright booting customers, but they surely won't mind nudging bandwidth hogs to drop service. 

Here's a scenario:

  1. Mr. Downloadeverymovieandsong guy is identified as someone who is swiping songs illegally. 
  2. The RIAA is happy to stop him. But so are the ISPs. ISPs hate bandwidth hogs--that's why some are flirting with bandwidth caps. 
  3. The ISP and the RIAA serves notice to Mr. Downloadeverymovieandsong guy. 
  4. Mr. Downloadeverymovieandsong guy gets angry. He blogs. He forms a Twitter coalition. And as a protest move he goes to another ISP, say Comcast to Verizon. 
  5. Well guess what? Comcast is stoked that Mr. Downloadeverymovieandsong guy is gone. He was screwing up the broadband pipe anyway. And double bonus if this guy goes to a rival.
  6. The return on investment from booting Mr. Downloadeverymovieandsong guy is clear: Comcast can use that capacity on a user that provides better profit margins.

Given that scenario the ISPs partnered with the RIAA come out as winners. Sure, there may be bad press, but nudging bandwidth hogs off an ISP's network is worth it. ISPs are making a good trade: Profit margin in exchange for a little grief from customers they don't want anyway. That's a pretty good deal.

Topics: Telcos, Browser

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24 comments
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  • How do they catch you anyway?

    (For BitTorrent) They check trackers for your
    IP? I'm not sure how other peer-to-peer systems
    work, but as long as I'm using trackers that
    have "no logging IP adresses/usage" in their
    privacy policy, I'm going to be extremely quick
    to dispute any DMCA notice, proof of obvious
    invasion of my privacy.
    Anonymous Benefactor
  • Invasion of Privacy

    Does anyone else think this is an invasion of privacy?



    Come sue me guys! Until the day comes that you realize that its not all about the money, I'll be using Limewire... Local Music scene FTW!
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • So how does this help the budding Movies on Demand business model?

    I can see the logic of dumping bandwidth hogs involved in illegal activity (no issue here), but does the emerging on-line movie business model not get caught up in this tug-of-war? I'd hate to be a legitimate customer that becomes an "undesireable" because I legitimately use my ISP's service to buy on-line HD movies legally.
    Do these business models take into account the ISP's reluctance to make bandwidth available?
    kd5auq
  • It's simpler than that

    ISPs make money off of this to maybe prop up the
    slumping TV revenues that you mentioned in another
    blog, and in return, they throw some of their paying
    customers under the bus. Also, there will be at least
    one Mr. Downloadeverymovieandsong to replace each one
    that gets run over by the bus. It just didn't work
    out when the RIAA asked them to do it for free.


    Taz_z
    • RE: Why RIAA, ISP cooperation may deliver returns for both sides

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  • songs are no issue for ISPs

    I can't agree with this analysis. Songs are no big deals for ISPS. Movies are.
    patibulo
    • BUT what about streaming

      The up and coming kid on the block is streaming video, movies, TV programs, and yes, even U-tube. These are the ones that are really going to use up the bandwidth.

      However, as far as I'm concerned if I or any one else subscribes to 5 10, or even 100 Mbs service I expect to receive that 24 X 7. Otherwise it should not be advertised as a given bandwidth if there are limitations unless said limitations are stated in the adds. Caps per day, per week, per month or what ever should be stated up front. Until they do that, there are no bandwidth hogs because you can't get more band width than what you paid for.

      Having said that, the ISPs, like the airlines, overbook. They depend on people not using what they paid for. Now with TV programs and movies often in HD, being streamed to households we are going to see a lot more of the average users, using up a LOT of bandwidth that will outdo all but the most ardent P2P user.

      Music files on CDs are small. Even a BlueRay disk at roughly 8 gigs is rarely any where near full . At a couple hundred gigs a month for a cap, that is a lot of movies and music even without compression.
      If you haven't noticed there are TVs on the market with the capability for watching streaming video in HD right off the Net.

      I think we are nearing the point where the P2P users are going to be eclipsed by mom, dad, and the kids watching their favorite programs or movies on streaming video.
      rdhalsteatzd
  • Marketing agreement

    This whole scenario would probably work better as just a marketing campaign, intended to create fear around the idea of downloading content. That way there would be no need for signed agreements with ISP's. ISP's could use their existing technology to monitor/police bandwidth usage and would not need anything new to be installed and maintained. Since the ISP's would not really be policing the downloads there would be no need for an appeal process and no Pandora's Box of liability.

    If it were a real agreement, could the ISP's get a cut from a music partnership? Here's a scenario. ISP-A gets an RIAA agreement and this causes customer to drop ISP-A and move to ISP-B without the RIAA agreement, taking any other bundled services with it. Which ISP gets the benefit of the RIAA deal? ISP-B doesn't have an agreement, so that can't be it. ISP-A doesn't have the customer any more, so that can't be it. If there were an advantage for ISP-A then it would be better for ISP-A to drop all their customers immediately.

    The scenario, as presented, assumes that ISP's care more about service levels and customers than they do about a revenue stream. It makes a lot more sense for the ISP to cap downloadeverymovieandsong guy and continue to collect the revenue than it does to send him to a competitor which is going to cap him and collect the revenue.
    HooNoze
  • RE: Why RIAA, ISP cooperation may deliver returns for both sides

    How about buying a data line from Sprint, Quest, Verizon or who ever and setting up your own neighbourhood ISP. No clue what a line costs but it may be worth visiting.
    Internets
    • Been tried, still being tried.

      There are still a number of small local ISPs out there, but they are being driven out by a combination of anti-competitive tactics.

      One such is having to sign a "non-compete" agreement for any place that the carrier offers their own service, another is by regulations and ordinances sponsored by the communications companies that make it cost-prohibitive for anyone to offer a "public" service in many states and communities.

      Rest assured, the ISPs and broadband companies are on sharp lookout to jump on and strangle any possible competition to their local monopolies!
      terry flores
      • If y'wanna play, y'gotta pay

        Since the "internet" (ever heard tell of the "backbone"?) is owned by governments and corporations (including the RIAA/MPAA), they can make their own rules (and charge whatever they want, to whomever they want).

        All roads lead to Rome.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_backbone

        Overview

        The Internet backbone consists of many different networks. Usually, the term is used to describe large networks that interconnect with each other and may have individual ISPs as clients. For example, a local ISP may provide service to individual homes or business using bandwidth that it purchases from another company with a backbone network. Backbone networks are usually commercial, educational, or government owned, such as military networks.

        http://www.nthelp.com/maps.htm

        Internet Backbone Maps *(check them out)

        * AGIS
        * ANS
        * ATMnet
        * BBNplanet
        * Compuserve
        * CRL
        * CWIX
        * DataXchange
        * DIGEX



        * Epoch
        * GetNet
        * GlobalCenter
        * GoodNet
        * GridNet
        * IBM
        * Interconnect
        * InternetMCI



        * iSTAR
        * MCIWorldcom 2000 (current pdf)
        * NapNet
        * Netrail
        * NFS
        * PsiNet
        * Savvis
        * Sprint
        * UUNET
        Ole Man
  • On this side of the pond ...

    ... Mr. Downloadeverymovieandsong guy won't have to worry about such tactics in the UK. The Digital Britain summary report released today contains Article 13:

    "Our [UK Governement] response to the consultation on peer-to-peer file sharing sets out our intention to legislate, requiring ISPs to notify alleged infringers of rights (subject
    to reasonable levels of proof from rights- holders) that their conduct is unlawful. We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious
    repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be made available
    to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order."

    Unlucky for Mr. Downloadeverymovieandsong guy.

    Further, punters can expect to make extra payments for guaranteed QOS. No NET NEUTRALITY PLEASE, WE'RE BRITISH!
    jacksonjohn
  • EFF will ride any ISP with RIAA mandates that skirt the law

    and maybe the RIAA will still have to go to court, just on a less massive per person scale. On well, a nice class action suit may scare off an ISP not bought out (sold and purchased to an RIAA or MPAA member corporation), as a dodge of courts and an invasion of privacy. Maybe??
    Boot_Agnostic
  • false positives?

    Anyone doubt for even one second that this will be yet another "guilty until proven innocent" "shut down service first, ask questions later" scheme?

    simply unbelievable...
    jmelnik
    • There's a difference here:

      Shutting down service means losing a monthly revenue stream and having to write down the cost of acquiring the customer, which is not insubstantial in the broadband business. And if it means losing another $100/month in revenue from related bundled services to get a $10 kickback from the RIAA, forget it.
      terry flores
  • RE: Why RIAA, ISP cooperation may deliver returns for both sides

    What about people who don't have other internet options in their area? What does Mr. Downloadeverymovieandsong do then? In my area, Comcast is the only option, no FIOS, no DSL, nothing.

    Sure, you could say that it's his/her fault for downloading all of those things, but who's to say that everyone who gets targeted actually did something wrong? Will these people now be without internet?
    tmoney468
    • Satellite High Speed Internet....Available Anywhere in the US....

      You Have choices,You Just dont know.
      http://www.wildblue.com/
      TheCableGuyNY
      • But is it worth it?

        When I moved to my new house in September '06, DSL was still a month away from being active. My wife and I looked at WildBlue and HughesNet, and in each case we would be paying minimum $80 a month for 786K down and 56K up.

        The Verizon Wireless Broadband Access card work provides me transfers faster than that, and is cheaper.

        If somebody has to upload files for work, a fast upload speed is mandatory. Just because satellite internet is available doesn't always mean it's an option.
        MariusSilverwolf
  • RE: Why RIAA, ISP cooperation may deliver returns for both sides

    I think that this topic is rather sensitive. For some it's an invasion of privacy, others feel they should be able to download whatever they want at the expense of others. ISP's were foolish to offer unlimited options in the beginning, but it was the only way to get business. I download about 5 gigs worth of stuff monthly, namely Sundays and Tuesdays when the videos are updated. I don't use On Demand at all. The days of unlimited internet is over and Mr. downloadeverysongandmovie ruined it for the rest of us.
    sapphir8
    • re: "ruined it for the rest of us"

      "The days of unlimited internet is over and Mr. downloadeverysongandmovie ruined it for the rest of us."

      Your statement is self-contradictory; if there were any "unlimited internet" then nobody could have ruined it for you. It never existed, it was just a marketing statement. The difference now it has become public how the ISPs have been limiting things on the sly.

      As long as you keep being a good little boy or girl and only using your tiny fraction, then the ISPs will be glad to have you. You'll continue to pay whatever the market will bear, since you don't have too many options.
      terry flores