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Tech firms tell music industry “technologies themselves cannot be bad actors”

By | Published on Friday 28 October 2016


The super-fun sounding Internet Infrastructure Coalition, which represents a flurry of tech firms, has hit out at the recent submissions to the US Trade Representative’s ‘Notorious Markets’ report from the American music and movie industries.

As previously reported, in its annual submission to the Trade Representative’s report on key piracy platforms and the countries that host them, the Recording Industry Association Of America had a little moan about reverse proxy services like CloudFlare which, it said, are helping piracy sites hide their actual location.

The RIAA wrote to the US government department: “[Piracy sites] are increasingly turning to Cloudflare, because routing their site through Cloudflare obfuscates the IP address of the actual hosting provider, masking the location of the site … the use of Cloudflare’s services can also act to frustrate site-blocking orders because multiple non-infringing sites may share a Cloudflare IP address with the infringing site”.

While the RIAA wasn’t actually taking aim at Cloudflare directly – it being a legitimate internet services company – the record industry trade group did seem to be suggesting that the providers of such technologies should do more to stop piracy set ups from utilising their services. The industry association also said that domain hopping and anonymous domain name registrations hindered its efforts against piracy websites.

The IIC has now hit out at the RIAA and its movie industry counterpart the MPAA for “vilifying” certain technologies rather than specific piracy set-ups that may use them, perhaps aware that the BitTorrent protocol and the company behind it has always had to battle an association with file-sharing simply because file-sharers use it.

The IIC writes that “technologies themselves cannot be bad actors”, and that the entertainment industry shouldn’t be allowed to use “the vilification of technology” in order to force “internet infrastructure companies to act as intermediaries in intellectual property disputes. This is not the answer to intellectual property infringement, and proposals to expand the use of these companies as intermediaries are misguided”.

The tech industry group then says: “The internet infrastructure industry generates more than $100 billion in annual revenue and is growing at a rate of nearly 20% per year. Creating regulatory and legal hurdles to the industry’s progress will not only negatively impact the architecture and viability of the global internet, it will also impact the overall economy, which is dependent on the continued growth of the internet infrastructure industry”.

Of course, the music and movie industries would probably argue that the tech giants could use some of that $100 billion to ensure their technologies and platforms aren’t being widely used by copyright infringers.

Though tech firms will always argue that – even if they were to try to cut off the pirates tapping their services – they need court orders to confirm who exactly the pirates are. Which is harder in the US where web-blocking proved too controversial to get underway, meaning you don’t have regular judgements in the courts confirming the copyright infringing status of both the usual suspects and newer piracy players.