US telecoms giant to block pirates

18 Jun 2007

In an industry first, major US teleco AT&T says it will begin cracking down on internet piracy on its networks.

As internet service providers and carriers are protected by legislation in relation to the responsibility they bear for user activity, the uploading, downloading and sharing of pirated material on their connection generally does not have legal implications for them.

However, speaking at the Digital Hollywood conference in Santa Monica earlier this week, Jim Cicconi, head of external and legislative affairs for AT&T, said that the company is looking to a network-based solution to tackling internet piracy.

“Somebody running a server in their basement on our network and uploading illegal copies of movies raises the costs for everybody else and jams the network in ways we’re not compensated for,” said Cicconi.

He went on to say that AT&T is spending roughly US$18m on network maintenance, going on to claim that a “sizeable chunk” of the traffic is illegal.

AT&T did not give details about how it was planning to implement this “network-based solution”, but Cicconi did say that sites distributing illegal, copyrighted material would not be blocked by the company.

It is reported that this announcement came about after AT&T was approached by the Motion Picture Association and Viacom, in a bid to curb piracy which Hollywood claimed took US$2.3bn of its earnings in 2005.

The conference, sponsored by Microsoft, AOL and Motorola among others, hosted talks on digital rights management and content rights and anti-piracy.

Advisory committee members included legal policy reps from global organisations such as HP, Philips, Warner Brothers, and Sun Microsystems.

By Marie Boran