Eyesight to the Willfully Blind: Five Things That ISPs Can Do Today to Stop Ripping Off Artists

We are still waiting for the launch of the vaunted “Copyright Alert System” which was supposed to be up and running this month (July 2012).  Now we are hearing October.  You know what we think?  We think the ISPs have bullshitted their way through another year of profiting from human misery.

We have heard just about enough from ISPs who perpetuate blatant theft online hiding behind a variety of hollow excuses—when ISPs clearly know that they profit more from theft and are in a better position to stop it than anyone else with their snout in the digital trough.  This started with ISPs benefiting from broadband penetration largely stoked by massive digital theft, willfully ignoring repeat infringers and now using the public mobile spectrum to snort down unlicensed works.

Here’s a few ideas for ISPs—but it starts with a basic suggestion.  Go to the mirror.  However you want to try to slither out of responsibility this time, take a good look at your lying face and ask yourself if you are proud of what you are doing.

1.  Stop marketing your services to encourage theft from artists.  Fast download speeds don’t have to be measured in how many movies or recordings your users can download—they can figure that out, too.

2.  Respond to repeat infringer requests quickly—you know that the DMCA you love so much does not require a full blown federal jury trial on a link by link basis before a track is infringing.

3.  Stop bullying artists who send you notices.  Your lawyers try to scare artists by threatening to bring your big boy litigation budget down on the head of an artist who’s doing good to make the poverty line when they complain about being ripped off.  And you’re surprised that we have a problem with you?

4.  Get serious about piracy.   Stop advertising on pirate sites and commit to reducing piracy by 10% a year on your networks.  We don’t need to follow the money through some black box designed to make it hard.  We know why your ads never seem to appear on porn sites—someone will get fired if they do.  But obviously, no one gets fired when your ads appear on pirate sites because more traffic helps you sell broadband.

5.  We’re going to give you the same advice we give others who profit themselves by screwing artists—give some back.  You could put 1% of your profits into arts education and health services for artists, you’ve definitely made way more than that in the biggest income transfer of all time.  You want our music, movies, books, newspapers, photographs and illustrations for your “legitimate” services?  Do the right thing.

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