Jan 24, 2013

How will businesses avoid problems under ISPs' "six strikes" plan?

ISPs are voluntarily adopting a "six strikes" plan coordinated with the MPAA and RIAA so that any time an entertainment business issues a copyright complaint, unsubstantiated or not, users accounts will be sanctioned. The first time or two will be a warning, but then they will escalate to temporary blocking and requiring participation in online "what you have done is wrong" classes to regain service. The RIAA has made it clear that it wants ISPs to shut down accounts as well,. The carriers have also made it clear that this will apply to businesses as well as individuals.

So what are we going to do about it? Block employes and visitors from accessing any site that might, repeat *might* have material the industry could claim violates their copyrights? And let us keep in mind that the industry has a track record of issuing take-down complaints to YouTube and other sites on a regular basis for content that is not infringing. How can a company like Starbucks even have WiFi for customers under this plan?


I think this could potentially be a serious problem. Most likely it will result in significant backlash against ISPs and MPAA/RIAA, and I would not be surprised if either some FCC rules or federal legislation results. I wouldn't be too sanguine about that if the ISPs limited their 6 strikes policy to individuals, but if you have businesses facing punitive actions that may not even be justified, I can't imagine even this congress would sit on its hands. A major problem I have with this proposed action by ISPs is that the entertainment industry has a terrible track record at this stuff, and as pointed out, have issues many take-down request for content that either wasn't infringing or was protected by fair use.  

I suspect that businesses might end up suing ISPs because of this, and perhaps the RIAA as well. While this might be hard for a regular customer to do, it is not hard for businesses with deep pockets. A bruising legal fight might be the only way to resolve this over the long term.
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