Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

AT&T Starts Wrist-Slapping Music Pirates, Gently. But Movie and TV Thieves Will Be a Different Story.


Late last year, the music industry announced that it was going to stop suing music pirates because it had finally gotten Internet pipe companies to help it crack down on file “sharers.” One problem: None of the big cable or telco guys would fess up to joining the plan.

Now one of them finally has–in a very limited, toe-in-the-water, we’re-just-testing-this-out way. CNET:

“At a digital music conference in Nashville, Jim Cicconi, a senior executive for AT&T told the audience that the ISP has begun issuing takedown notices to people accused of pirating music by the Recording Industry Association of America, according to one music industry insider who was present….

Cicconi told attendees of the Leadership Music Digital Summit that the notices are part of a ‘trial.’ AT&T wants to test customer reaction, he said. Whether AT&T included any warnings that repeat offenders would see their service suspended or terminated is still unclear. Music industry sources said AT&T told managers at the top labels the trial letter would include strong language about the consequences of illegal conduct, but would stop short of mentioning service interruptions.”

Can’t really say that “strong language” is going to do much to help solve the music industry’s woes. But from the labels’ perspective, it’s better than nothing, which is what the cable and telco guys have traditionally done about file-sharing for the past decade or so.

But if you want to see what the pipe guys can do about file-sharing when properly motivated, keep your eye on what they do about TV and movie piracy.

Remember that the ISPs get zilch from the music business. But they spend billions a year for the right to show TV programs and movies. And they’re going to try very hard to “disincent” you from watching whatever you want, whenever you want, without paying them for that ability.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik