AT&T is said to be developing a system to spot and block illicitly copied content sent over its broadband network. The NYT's Saul Hansell grilled Verizon EVP Tom Tauke on whether Verizon was planning to provide similar aid to Hollywood. The one-word summary? No. Snip:
He said the company's view combines a concern for the privacy of its customers with self interest. It may be costly for it to get into the business of policing the traffic on its network. Indeed, phone companies have largely spent a century trying not to be liable for what people say over their lines.
"We generally are reluctant to get into the business of examining content that flows across our networks and taking some action as a result of that content," he said.
Mr. Tauke offered at least three objections to the concept:
1) The slippery slope.
Once you start going down the path of looking at the information going down the network, there are many that want you to play the role of policeman. Stop illegal gambling offshore. Stop pornography. Stop a whole array of other kinds of activities that some may think inappropriate.
2) It opens up potential liability for failing to block copyrighted work.
When you look back at the history of copyright legislation, there has been an effort by Hollywood to pin the liability for copyright violations on the network that transmits the material. It is no secret they think we have deeper pockets than others and we are easy-to-find targets.
Anything we do has to balance the need of copyright protection with the desire of customers for privacy.
Link to entry on NYT "Bits" blog.