June 18, 2007 | By Derek Slater

FCC Should Make ISPs Play Copyright Cop, Says NBC

Not even a week after AT&T announced plans to adopt undefined technical measures to stop "piracy," NBC Universal has asked [PDF] the FCC to declare that "broadband service providers have an obligation to use readily available means" (emphasis added) to stop copyright infringement. On the unintentionally funny-and-scary scale of one to ten, this is easily an 11.

The comments were submitted as part of the FCC's Notice of Inquiry about broadband policy. Most of the debate in this inquiry has focused around imposing "network neutrality" rules and limiting ISPs' ability to break the Internet as an open platform for innovation by discriminating against particular content and application providers.

Remarkably, NBC's not just asking for an exception in any neutrality regime to let ISPs block unlawful uses. And it's not even asking for a loophole that would, for instance, let ISPs block or degrade a disruptive innovator like YouTube that has both unlawful and lawful uses. Instead, NBC is asking for mandatory discrimination.

In turn, NBC is essentially asking for the FCC to make copyright policy. The DMCA safe harbors clearly protect ISPs from liability for copyright infringement engaged in by users, subject to certain narrow limitations and without any obligation to monitor their networks for infringement.

Subverting Congress' copyright policy would be inappropriate but not unheard of for the FCC. That's exactly what it did -- and what the courts smacked down -- in the broadcast flag fight. Let's hope the FCC simply disregards this outlandish, hail mary request from the content industry.


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

Check out our Stupid Patent of the Month, from a company that seems to think it invented passwords. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks...

Jul 29 @ 4:19pm

Users should be informed when their content comes under threat of removal from the Internet. This tool could help. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks...

Jul 29 @ 4:05pm

"Surveillance technologies are being deployed by local police across the US, often without any oversight." http://www.alternet.org/civil...

Jul 29 @ 1:47pm
JavaScript license information