As IIPA's Special 301 Reports Focus on Graduated Response Systems, RIAA Continues Hope for Voluntary Agreements with U.S. ISPs

In its 2010 Special 301 report, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) focused its report on 39 countries and territories it believes should remain on the Special 301 Priority Watch List, Watch List, or list for monitoring under Section 306 of the Trade Act.

Throughout its country by country submissions, IIPA focused primarily on online piracy and proposed recommendations for each country to successfully combat this issue. In particular, the IIPA suggests that countries on the Watch List take action to encourage Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to implement graduated response systems to deal with repeat infringers on P2P networks.

While some countries such as France, South Korea, and Taiwans have taken legislative action to adopt these systems, the IIPA recognizes that ISPs in other countries have chosen to enter voluntary agreements to put these systems in place. Though the IIPA made this recognition, it seems as though it would prefer government intervention in these agreements if not made in a timely fashion. For instance, in the IIPA's Special 301 report on Italy, it states:

 "ISP cooperation is essential to effectively addressing P2P piracy. Although private sector negotiations have been ongoing, progress appears slow and it is unlikely that a cooperative solution or agreement will be in place any time soon in the abscence of a government presence that compels a reasonable and effective result. In any case, the PirateBay decision confirms that the judge can require an ISP to block access to an infringing site, even if located abroad. Negotitiations with ISPs ought to proceed in the context of this case."

While the IIPA seems displeased with the slow progression of private sector agreements in Italy and continues to push for graduated response programs, the U.S.-based RIAA continues its attempt to form voluntary agreements with ISPs. In December 2008, the RIAA chose to stop bringing lawsuits against repeat infringers and opted towards setting a graduated response program with ISPs. After this announcement, AT&T and Comcast began trial runs of their own graduated response system. However, a year after the RIAA's announcement, no ISPs took steps to adopt its program.

Though the negotiation process has been slow, the RIAA does not intend on abandoning this strategy any time soon. RIAA CEO, Mitch Bainwol, has stated that "We've seen great progress and great cooperation from many of the ISPs. Getting to a public uniform understanding about how we're going to work together is obviously an extraordinary complicated endeavor ... [piracy] is a problem that developed over years and a solution is going to take time, but we're achieving progress toward that goal." Reaching a viable, private agreement with ISPs seems far off in the future and only time will tell if these negotiations will lead to effective and reasonable results.

For a full compilation of the IIPA's Special 301 reports, please see:

International Intellectual Property Alliance Speical 301 2010 Report 

Also, please visit the following websites for background on the RIAA's potential graduated response program:

Future of Music Coalition Blog, ISPs Join RIAA Strategy to Combat Illegal File Sharing (March 25, 2009)

Nate Anderson, AT&T Tests P2P Program, but Refuses to Sanction Users, Ars Technica (March 25, 2009)

Greg Sandoval, A Year Out, Where's RIAA's Promised ISP Help?, Media Maverick - CNET News (December 23, 2009) 

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