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AT&T, Comcast To Join RIAA Team 360

suraj.sun writes "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 RIAA 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. It's important to note that none of the half dozen or so ISPs involved has signed agreements. But as it stands, AT&T and Comcast are among the companies that have indicated they wish to participate in what the RIAA calls a 'graduated response program.'"
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AT&T, Comcast To Join RIAA Team

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  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:39PM (#26640251) Homepage
    I'm sure that's right out of the CIA 'Robust Interrogation' handbook. When do they get to pulling out the fingernails?
  • Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iron-kurton ( 891451 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:43PM (#26640327)

    Does this really surprise anyone given that AT&T was at the forefront of the illegal wiretapping scandal?

  • by Broken scope ( 973885 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:44PM (#26640339) Homepage
    It seems that the RIAA part would Imply the United States.
  • by mlwmohawk ( 801821 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:45PM (#26640367)

    Corporate america is creating a legal regime and prosecution system outside the law.

    This has to be stopped.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:45PM (#26640369)
    the one that the RIAA operates in?

    what does that last A stand for on your side of the pond, teabag?
  • by gravos ( 912628 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:46PM (#26640379) Homepage
    As far as I can tell, this only increases their liability. Services providers have typically received immunity from the actions of their users, so long as there is a clear line between the service provider and the actions of their users. By blurring that line, it only opens them up to further liabilities. Universities learned this the hard way by giving in to the RIAA.
  • by Daimanta ( 1140543 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:46PM (#26640397) Journal

    Encrypt everyting. No more tapping, HTTP ad injections and other shit. They have no right to your internet information.

  • by anticlone ( 1245294 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:48PM (#26640429)
    Comcast et al are seeking cover to squash p2p to relieve their bandwidth problems. RIAA makes a nice scape goat is things go badly.
  • by Mr Pippin ( 659094 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:49PM (#26640453)
    They just want to stop all the bittorrent traffic, so they can still claim to have "unlimited" download rates. Next step is to retry the "make all content providers that AREN'T us pay us to use our bandwidth".

    That includes iTunes, Zune, etc.
  • Re:easy solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by greywire ( 78262 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:50PM (#26640467) Homepage

    Work out how much money the record companies think they are losing from piracy

    Setup filtering on the ISP's networks to prevent file sharing.

    charge people even more for their internet connections while throttling the speed.

    Record companies get their money (well, so they think)
    ISP's provide less service for more money.

    Win win.

    Unless you are a customer, in which case its a lose lose. Less access to music, less access to internet, pay more money.

    This is the easy solution that will actually be implemented.

  • by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:57PM (#26640591) Homepage

    By dealing with the RIAA at all the ISPs are making a huge mistake. Is my utility company liable if I install grow lamps and start a marijuana farm because they failed to alert the authorities about the power increase? Is my phone company liable if I start calling the state prison regularly and it turns out that I'm organizing to have an informant killed because they weren't monitoring my phone records and didn't recommend a phone tap?

    By playing along even in a small role, the ISPs are really stepping in it...

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iron-kurton ( 891451 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:06PM (#26640759)

    There are two points I was trying to subtly make:

    1. AT&T has shown that it is willing to sacrifice its consumers for its own agenda (and profit?) - as in the wiretapping case.

    2. Given that they have snooped on users' data in the past, I am not really surprised that they are doing it again, since a) they were protected by immunity the first time, and can probably do it again should this turn out to be illegal, and b) they have the technological framework in place already.

    Perhaps I should stop trying to be subtle in my posts and carry a sledgehammer... (yea, I'm new here)

  • by glindsey ( 73730 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:08PM (#26640783)

    There are no other broadband ISPs in many places, including where I live. Hell, I don't even get to choose DSL -- cable is the only option.

    AT&T and Comcast know this. They don't give a shit about their customers, because they're usually the only game in town. So the only option is to abandon broadband entirely and stick with a dial-up, spend ridiculous amounts on a leased line, or spend even more ridiculous amounts on satellite Internet (which has lag times that are way too high for VoIP or online gaming). If there were another option I'd be jumping on it in an instant.

  • Customers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ohio Calvinist ( 895750 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:08PM (#26640789)
    When will these companies realize who their customers are? It is the subscriber.

    If they'll give my information to a corrupt trade organization whose strategy is suing grandmas, kids dead people and folks without computers, who else would they be willing to sell my personal information to?

    They are either getting some money from the labels to do this to offset the customers who they are going to piss off, or they are counting on being a natural monopoly in certain markets. That or they've sold more broadband at cheap prices to get folks off dial up and realized that they can't turn a profit when you have folks choking down their connection. If Net Neutrality wins the day, and they can't throttle or shape the user's traffic any more, the only recourse companies will have is kicking their "excessive" users off the plan by either invoking the AUP or getting the RIAA to sue them into being a non-customer so they can let the *AA look like assholes instead of the ISP.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:18PM (#26640955) Homepage

    Yuo hit the nail on the head. A company like Verizon can suddenly gain market share if they announce they will NOT join with the RIAA and condemn what Comcast and AT&T are doing.

    Suddenly, everyone that does not like it has a very strong reason to switch to Verizon (where they can) even if rates were higher.

    but honestly, corporations today are ran by weasels. They dont care if they screw the customer, their only care is if the next bonus is large enough to buy a new vacation home.

    They hate you as a customer. Completely and utterly hate you. If they did not then they would stand up for you instead of rolling over and playing dead.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:24PM (#26641093) Journal

    Lets compare apples to rocks why don't we.

    Apples, rocks, it seams that AT&T is perfectly willing to throw both at it's customers...

  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:34PM (#26641259)

    I could be wrong, but if there is a spike in usage of water or power, utility companies will inform police of a possible grow op.

    Even if that's true (and I have no idea but it sounds fishy without a warrant), they are dealing with the government and not some self-declared police agency like the RIAA.

    If the phone company started looking for a burst of phone calls to Mexico and informed the Minute Men if there was a spike, people'd be furious.

  • by Sir_Dill ( 218371 ) <.moc.aluhcaz. .ta. .todhsals.> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:34PM (#26641261) Homepage

    It reminds me of an old saying(not THAT old but old in regards to the internet)

    Never underestimate the bandwidth of a semi-truck full of backup tapes.

    Considering that many of us are running around with 100+ gig pocket drives, downloading (at least for some of us) is mostly a thing of the past. At a local level and even a regional level, a guy in a car with a 500GB drive has more bandwidth than *most* residential and small business internet connections. I don't know about you but the last time I tried to download a multi-gig file it took a few days. Even flat out it would take several hours at least.

    I think RIAA and the like are in for a very very hard uphill battle on this. There are also far reaching effects of this type of relationship. As a previous poster commented;

    "Corporate america is creating a legal regime and prosecution system outside the law."

    Thats exactly what this is. RIAA can't win legally so they make a deal with the ISPs to cut off customers who are file sharing or worse, just enough pressure and cooperation to release customer information that can then be used to "coerce" individuals into "compliance".

    Also, doesn't this put the ISPs into potentially hot water? What happens when one of their subscribers argues that its the ISP's responsibility to prevent sharing and since they failed to protect the copyright on behalf of RIAA, its not the fault of the subscriber? IANAL but it seems to me that this may be more trouble than its worth. I know the ISPs are no angels but really this is like getting into bed with the devil.

  • by samriel ( 1456543 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:38PM (#26641333)
    yes, AND they'll confiscate your computer to look for CP and other illegal stuff. Murder somebody, though, and no cop will even look up your address.

    That's just, like, your opinion, man.
  • by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:43PM (#26641429) Journal

    I have been telling people for years the same thing, when you become the snitch, you are expected to snitch on everything. You miss something and now *bam* you are accessory after the fact.

    Not to mention that wait until they get sued by their own customers.

    "You knew that my internet was being used by someone for music piracy because you were watching, and you didn't let me know before i got sued by the RIAA?"

    Bars and casinos have already been sued for not stopping people with "addictions". Substitute "addiction" for "alleged botnet"

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:53PM (#26641579) Homepage

    Yeah, I always find it surprising that more people aren't concerned about the sort of vertical integration that is involved with a company like Time Warner Cable, and the potential conflicts of interest in providing "good service" for each individual service.

    They own the infrastructure, they run the Voice/TV service provided over that infrastructure, and then they also run the Internet service that provides potential competition to their own Voice and TV services. In addition, they also own some of the channels provided over their own TV service, as well as owning the rights to many TV shows and movies shown on those channels.

    In each case, there must be some kind of temptation to favor their own products over the competing products that they're also providing access to. To be clear, I'm not alleging that they've done anything wrong, but only that there's an inherent ethical problem. For example, let's say Netflix comes up with a plan to partner with ISPs nationwide to provide a service for video-on-demand. They go to negotiate with Time Warner Cable's ISP division to talk about the idea and negotiate a deal. Do you foresee that TWC is going to seriously consider the deal that would diminish their own video-on-demand services? Or that they might partner with Vonage to provide VoIP?

    It's for this sort of reason that I think it may be wise to institute some kind of law that limits vertical integration of ISPs with other services. I've thought for some time that we should probably forbid the people who own the infrastructure (the actual hardware and cable) from providing any service, and require that they provide open access at set fees without any opportunity to negotiate special deals. Since these companies own a monopoly (or duopoly) and represent public infrastructure, they shouldn't be allowed much control over what's sent through their hardware.

  • by Steauengeglase ( 512315 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:56PM (#26641627)

    Awesome, you'll be the first against the wall.

  • by Sir_Dill ( 218371 ) <.moc.aluhcaz. .ta. .todhsals.> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @02:06PM (#26641745) Homepage
    Your analogy has some fundamental flaws.

    I agree with your basic premise that the vast majority of filesharing involves "technically illegal" material.

    A better analogy would be if you broke into my house and copied all the contents of my laptop and/or ipod and then left. I tell the police that my data has been stolen but can't prove it, since its all still there.

    Its difficult to apply logic and reasoning based on physical goods to bits of data which can be reproduced perfectly and VERY easily.

    You can't accurately gauge how much "damage" has been done because technically nothing was damaged. The sharee still has a perfectly usable copy of what ever was shared with whomever and the copyright "owner" is out no more revenue than they would be if the sharee sold the CD used. In the second sale example the seller is responsible for removing the contents from their systems, however since RIAA can't invade your home and seize your computers (yet), enforcing that obligation on the seller is impossible. Granted this analogy has its problems and to be accurate the seller would have to be able to sell an infinite number of copies, that however brings us back to my previous statement about laws designed to regulate physical "things" can't be applied to something which can be infinitely copied perfectly. If I could push a button and produce an identical copy of a car, is that stealing?

    I especially liked how you placed the artists first in your list of who we are wronging when you know damn well that they are the LAST people on the list. And lets not forget that when the money does actually show for the artist, RIAA and the like charge the artists for things like breakage (WTF? last time I checked, we weren't using records in the mainstream anymore)

    I posit a different approach.

    Download all the music you possibly can. But go to the shows when the artists come to your town. It used to be that the music was essentially advertising for the artists when they come to perform. So by stealing the CD you are hurting RIAA but by patronizing the shows and buying the merch at the shows more money goes directly to the artists.

    OH NOES! that means that being a musician might actually require some dedication and GASP...TALENT!!! It used to be that being a successful musician meant producing a quality product and touring for your money.

    Am I stealing when I learn how to play my favorite song on the instrument of choice?

    How far do you go down this road? Am I eventually going to get charged a fee for humming or singing the "hook" of a song?

    Lowid or not, you shouldn't be scared to post your opinions in the open just because people here might disagree with you. If you have been here long enough and contribute regularly and competently you can afford a little Karma to play devils advocate.

  • by k1e0x ( 1040314 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @02:25PM (#26642007) Homepage

    To what? buy off the politicians? lol

    I can't believe it would be absolutely *impossible* for them to allow another company to go through the trouble of running their own copper to residents homes. If they did that I'm sure we would see a quick about face in the customer service departments of these companies.

    That's the dammed problem.. You get DSL or Cable, one choice or the other and either ones service only needs to be as good as the other guys crappy service.. why can't we have 2 choices each? Maybe allow some little local or regional providers in, they wouldn't act this way and they use to exist in the age of DialUp.

  • by lucas_picador ( 862520 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @02:29PM (#26642053)

    Until AT&T and Comcast de-settlement-free-peer any large ISP that doesn't join the gang.

    Or, even more likely, RIAA will sign on about 75% of the ISP market, then start a vindictive, focused litigation campaign against the customers of the last 25%. The relatively lighter treatment given to AT&T and Comcast customers will drive customers from the 25% stalwarts to the 75% sell-outs. This divide-and-conquer strategy works pretty much all the time, as long as consumers keep buying with their short-term, rather than long-term, interests in mind. Just look at laid-off Wal-mart employees who continue to shop at Wal-mart.

  • by interval1066 ( 668936 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @02:30PM (#26642067) Homepage Journal
    So after this doesn't work will the RIAA simply resort to some how introducing legislation that will allow them to go house to house, break in the door, and demand money at gunpoint based solely on the basis that the residents have a pc with an internet connection?
    "Sure, laugh..." I said.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @02:52PM (#26642353)

    You use a bittorrent (or whatever) client that supports automatically downloading a blocklist [...]

    Assuming, of course, that the RIAA is above having their lackeys working from their home computers, thus avoiding the blocklist (or blocking the entire DHCP block the lackeys have on their home computers, rendering either the P2P network or the blocklist worthless).

    Also assuming, of course, that the RIAA is above using a botnet of hijacked computers to evade the same blocklists.

    Now ask yourself, do you really think they're above all that?

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @03:05PM (#26642537)

    I don't think that he missed your subtle points. I think he was subtly trying to make the point that your subtle points were moronic.

    1. AT&T has shown that it is willing to sacrifice its consumers for powerful government officials that strong-arm them.

    2. They were given immunity because our elected officials deemed that they actually did the right thing. And the immunity was moot, because the FISA court eventually approved their actions.

    3. None of this has anything to do with their dealings with a non-government entity.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @03:07PM (#26642565)
    And how'd that work out in the end?
  • Re:Surprised? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by redxxx ( 1194349 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @03:08PM (#26642597)

    Does this really surprise anyone given that AT&T was at the forefront of the illegal wiretapping scandal?

    Likewise, I doubt anyone(who reads slashdot) would be surprised that Comcast is pulling this nonsense. They already shown a willingness to inspect and screw with their customers' packets. They have been shown to actively and intrusively interfere with p2p communication, and by teaming up with the RIAA they can now do so under the guise of fighting piracy.

  • by jank1887 ( 815982 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @03:11PM (#26642651)
    you're forgetting the exorbitant costs involved with keeping those baddies off the system. They might have to increase your bill. To keep you safe, of course. Oh, and think of the children.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @03:21PM (#26642787)

    No, "graduated response", is right out of the LBJ handbook on how to loose a war. His Rolling Thunder bombing campaign was advertised as a "graduated response" to NVA incursions in the South. From 65 to 69 it never did anything but increase the population of the Hanoi Hilton.

    If LBJ was trying to loose a war, he did an excellent job!

    (If you really meant "lose" instead, then that changes the entire meaning of your post. Sometimes spelling is actually important!)

  • by Xoron101 ( 860506 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @03:22PM (#26642809)
    And AT&T and Comcast get exactly what they want:
    1. No more illegal file sharers on their network
    2. Less traffic (ie no P2P) so they can then oversell the service even more than they do today
    3. Not be bothered by the RIAA
    4. Profit!!!

    (Note the unnecessary ??? step)
  • by Xoron101 ( 860506 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @03:23PM (#26642825)
    Forgot to post anonymously did you?

    That little check box is quite important sometimes :)
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @03:25PM (#26642875)

    then each of you buys one new CD and copies it 25 times and passes them around to your CD group, the RIAA members lose directly.

    Maybe, but there's also the possibility that each of you would have only bought a single CD one way or another - so the RIAA made exactly as much money on you and your friends pooling your resources. In other words, if each of you are willing to spend $20 on a CD and you share it with 25 friends who are willing to reciprocate, you'll have spent a total of $500. Who is to say that the group of you would have spent more than that if you didn't share?

    I kind of look forward to it in a weird sort of way.

    So do I... they are acting without thinking long term and it's kind of fun to see if their world unravels.

  • by Propaganda13 ( 312548 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @03:27PM (#26642903)

    With "In Soviet Russia" posts, take what's happening and reverse it.
    In Soviet Russia, you spy on the ISPs.

    Of course, this is a situation where you might just say
    In Soviet Russia, they do the same thing.

  • by Darundal ( 891860 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @03:45PM (#26643181) Journal
    ISPs are not common carriers. ISPs are not common carriers. ISPs are not common carriers.

    Everyone who thought the opposite please repeat that. The "ISP common carrier" meme needs to die.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @03:54PM (#26643325)

    Sorry, but in my opinion there is a very definitive line between 2 groups of people on this issue and you happen to fall in with the side that I feel is almost as bad as the RIAA - there are those that do NOT support piracy, content theft, etc. but disagree with how the RIAA pursues these issues and the "solutions" the end up leading to - there is a separate side, like yourself, that hates the RIAA because you want to have any song or movie you can for free or as cheap as (illegally) possible.

    Your post above proves a perfect example of that - you point out how bad most bit-torrent rips are, saying that you would rather just use netflix and pirate the DVD yourself. As somebody that despises the RIAA, I do not want you to think that we are the same.

    The RIAA is all about taking away legitimate user control of legally purchased files because they would rather everyone's rights be taken away to stop pirating rather than find a way to actually stop only piracy. That is wrong, IMO, and THAT is why I don't like them.

    The fact of the matter is you ARE stealing from people - it is true that they are morons for assuming 100% of pirated files would be legally purchased otherwise, but that doesn't make piracy alright. Your Linux and OSS examples are full of holes considering those are developed and deployed with the end user's freedom in mind - band's that wish for their content to be freely available will often make it so on their website. To assume all band's are alright with that simply because you want their newest song is a ridiculous argument (that I know you don't even believe).

    You use the hatred people have for the RIAA as a guise to try and somehow rationalize your piracy as legitimate and it isn't - you're as big a part of the problem as they are. Thanks for continuing your habbits and making the RIAA actually feel validated in what they do.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!