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Anti-Piracy Supergroup formed, will filter the internet, oops, make the Internet “safe”

AT&T, Microsoft, Cisco, Viacom, NBC Universal and The Songwriters Guild of America have joined together to form a new advocacy group called Arts& Labs (  On the surface, the group’s goals seem so benevolent:

Arts+Labs is a collaboration between technology and creative communities that have embraced today’s rich Internet environment to deliver innovative and creative digital products and services to consumers.

A key element of the Arts+Labs mission is to inform and educate consumers about the availability and vast array of legal, safe, affordable and innovative entertainment content on the Internet. The group will also raise awareness of the growing problem of net pollution — which includes viruses, malware, hack attacks, spam, illegal file trafficking and other activity that threatens to degrade consumers’ Internet experience. 

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Educate the consumers, provide them with legal and innovative entertainment content, protect them from “net pollution”. Those are all admirable goals but that is not what this consortium is really all about. The real aim of this group and it less than admirable tactics are revealed if you look a bit  beyond their lies below the surface. Hit the jump to read some more.

An article from the Songwriters Guild in the testimony section of the Arts & Labs website provides great fodder for reading:

piracy is also one of the main contributors to the current network congestion problem. Thus, SGA believes that ISPs must be allowed the flexibility to manage traffic on their networks in a manner that: (1) permits, protects and encourages legitimate online commerce such as licensed music services to thrive, and (2) deters illegitimate conduct such as music piracy (including piracy of video content with embedded music), which will have the added benefit of reducing network congestion in the long term. 

Hmm, that sounds like they want to promote their services and degrade the services they deem illegal. Have they ever heard of the concept of Net Neutrality? We figure they have but have chosen to ignore it. Reading a bit further, their plans become even more blatantly obvious:

Some network operators, such as AT&T, are researching whether there might be a technological means to identify and/or filter unlawful content transmitted over the Internet. In my view, this would make good economic sense, because lawful owners of copyrighted content would be anxious to make their works available on those networks that incorporated such technology – given the lower risk of digital theft of their works.  

So basically they want to filter the Internet and will only play nice with ISP’s willing to play along. Filtering the Internet is much different from “delivering innovative and creative digital products and services”. This whole Arts & Labs advocacy group doesn’t sound so nice anymore, now does it?