Piracy is a big issue for movie studios and music companies -- copyright infringement suits seem to be filed daily against one company or another. Some companies are trying to cut down on piracy, which is rampant due to the ease with which films and music can be copied and sent on the Internet.
In February of this year, Google was accused of helping pirates distribute stolen intellectual works by film studios. Shortly after the accusations against Google started to fly, Viacom filed a whopping $1 billion USD lawsuit against Google for distributing unauthorized movie and video clips via Google’s YouTube video service.
Google responded to the Viacom suit by saying it was protected by the Digital Millennium Copy Right Act. Google denied any wrongdoing and claimed in May of 2007 that the Viacom suit threatened the way of Internet life. Shortly after making that statement, YouTube announced it would be checking for illegal videos using digital fingerprints in an effort to curb piracy via its video service.
AT&T announced recently that it was taking anti-piracy a step further than YouTube by instituting anti-piracy measures at the Internet Service Provider (ISP) level. BusinessWeek is reporting that AT&T is considering using technology from a small company called Vobile to prevent users of its network from distributing or even viewing copyrighted works illegally.
The system could also force users to watch works from studios in a sanctioned way where the studios could capture revenue from the viewing. BusinessWeek says that AT&T is trying to create a type of “no piracy zone” where big content creators could digitally release works without having to fear revenue loss from piracy.
AT&T’s plan has raised the ire of privacy advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Lee Tien, a staff attorney with the EFF says, “They better be very careful. This is serious, serious stuff, to basically invade the privacy of all of your subscribers.” AT&T has invested money in Vobile technology, but says that doesn’t mean it has selected or endorsed Vobile’s technology.
AT&T claims that the move isn’t meant to invade privacy, but rather to cut down on network traffic. AT&T CEO Randall Stevenson told BusinessWeek, “We're doing a lot of work in this area. If you look at what's driving massive amounts of traffic on our network, a lot of it is illegal content." AT&T maintains that reducing piracy will reduce the load on its network and possibly increase network speeds for all users.
Vobile uses what’s described as video DNA, which are strings of bits extracted from clips of movies and shows by Vobile's technology. These video DNA strings would then be compared to content being sent across the network by users and look for matches. When matches are found, the content would be blocked.
quote: What happend to basic freedom of speech?
quote: Quoting a book would not be infringement
quote: By blocking what they consider to be illegal content if there is still anything illegal going over the pipes they can be held accountable for it.
quote: You download large files off the internet but don't do any file sharing? That's a contradiction in terms isn't it?
quote: Real speed provided to residential users is useful for only one thing -- file sharing.
quote: are almost FORCED to resort to DLing ilegally!
quote: The vast majority of games use less than a 120 KBs, which translates roughly to a 3 mbs connection.
quote: good idea.until ISPs start blocking all encrypted content as illegal.
quote: I keep feeling like I'm helping pay for someone else's $10,000 prostitute.
quote: Nothing like a government-mandated monopoly to eliminate customer choice and drive up profits for these companies.
quote: I wouldn't even think AT&T has a right to inspect and modify packets on the backbone.
quote: AT&T is considering using technology from a small company called Vobile to prevent users of its network from distributing or even viewing copyrighted works illegally