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L.A. Times Defends Copyright Alert System and Editorial Endorsement
Author:  Howard Gantman
Date:  07/12/2011

Responding to negative reader feedback, The Los Angeles Times defended its editorial endorsing the Copyright Alert System, a joint venture announced last week by ISPs and content owners.

The Times’ positive review of this new partnership between studios, record labels and top ISPs to educate users about the effects of content theft and to direct them to legal content elicited vitriolic responses from some readers, which in turn sparked further commentary from the Times.

The Times indicated that remarks from readers “seemed to be saying that they have an inviolable right to download movies and songs from one another without paying for them.”

“The fact of the matter is that studios and labels are entitled to enforce their copyrights.”

Defending the Copyright Alert System as a tempered approach to content theft, the Times argued:

“This isn't a case of Big Brother watching your every move online. One of the good things about the deal is that it doesn't call on ISPs to comb through their customers' traffic for unauthorized copies of movies or albums.  Instead, it calls for copyright holders to do what their contractors are already doing, to wit, looking for copyrighted works that users of file-sharing networks are making available to the public.”

Singling out one commenter directly: “…if you're offering to share files with anyone and everyone online, you have no reason to expect to keep that offer secret.”

“The new framework avoids lawsuits and subpoenas. ISPs won't disclose to copyright holders the names of the account holders suspected of piracy; they'll simply pass along warnings to their customers about infringements being detected and offer advice about how to respond.”

The Times further maintained that sanctions imposed through the Copyright Alert System for repeated offenders “are geared toward educating Internet users about copyrights (and wrongs), not toward kicking infringers off the Net.”

We agree that this is a great educational tool that brings content and ISPs together to combat a serious problem that is jeopardizing the livelihoods of our creative workers.  The plan does not impose draconian penalties, nor is it intended to harm users.  The Copyright Alert System is meant to help people understand what is happening on their networks; how it affects the creative community; and where they can find legal, safe alternatives to illegal downloads – for a start, check out the list on our website here.