ArtsWatch: Super Bowl's Pre-Game Antipiracy Action

Operation In Our Sites sweeps 10 infringing sports domains off the Web

GRAMMY.com
Philip Merrill

The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ GRAMMY.com and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.

On Feb. 1 officials from the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized 10 websites that routinely linked to illegal Web videos of copyright-protected sporting events. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara said, "With the Super Bowl just days away, the seizures of these infringing websites reaffirm our commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to protect copyrighted material and put the people who steal it out of business." Visitors to the infringing sites are now redirected to a graphic notice informing them that the domains have been seized by ICE in accordance with a U.S. District Court order. This is the third set of domains shut down as part of the Operation In Our Sites investigation — nine were seized last June and 82 last December.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced on Jan. 27 that it executed more than 40 search warrants related to denial of service cyber attacks by an ongoing group known as "Anonymous" directed against major companies and organizations. In a related enforcement action the same day, London's Metropolitan Police Service arrested five suspects. Other international efforts include investigations in France, Germany and the Netherlands. The Anonymous group of hacker activists under investigation made news with September attacks on the MPAA and RIAA websites, and Cnet News reported in November that the FBI had opened an investigation against them. The hackers began targeting MasterCard, PayPal and Visa in December after these services stopped processing donations for WikiLeaks.

Details are limited regarding a high-level intellectual property enforcement meeting hosted by Vice President Joe Biden on Jan. 28. Administration officials, including Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel, Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, were reportedly in attendance, as well as Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman Thomas Rothman, Verizon Chairman/CEO Ivan G. Seidenberg, and Public Knowledge President and Co-Founder Gigi B. Sohn. While Broadcasting & Cable described the meeting as "an update on administration efforts," the Copyright Alliance blog implied that payment processors and Internet service providers in attendance were encouraged to collaborate with other attendees on finding IP enforcement solutions for the future.

Chaired by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Sixth Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy convened Feb. 2–3 in Paris with more than 800 delegates in attendance. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said, "The Sixth Global Congress represents an outstanding opportunity for the public and private sector to come together and to provide international leadership on the challenges of combating counterfeiting and piracy. Under the theme of 'building respect for intellectual property,' this Congress addresses the overlapping social, economic and political dimensions of counterfeiting and piracy, and the need for targeted, integrated responses from a variety of actors." U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was prominently represented on the program by its Director John Morton, as well as Assistant Deputy Director Erik Barnett and Richard Halverson, unit chief for IPR/outreach and training at ICE's National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.

The International Chamber of Commerce released research at the WIPO's Sixth Global Congress estimating that the annual international cost of counterfeiting and piracy will grow from $775 billion to $1.7 trillion in 2015, based on 2008 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. ICC projected the cost of digital piracy of movies, music and software would be $240 billion in 2015. The research was conducted by Frontier Economics for the ICC's Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy initiative and incorporates such additional economic impacts as lost tax revenue and increased law enforcement and health care costs.

On Feb. 3 the OECD estimated that the Egyptian government's five-day shutdown of the country's Internet connection to the outside world caused $90 million in economic losses. Cnet News provides a roundup of coverage detailing this unprecedented event in Internet history.

On Jan. 31 at a panel hosted by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Envisional Head of Piracy Intelligence David Price presented an estimate of how much activity on the Internet infringes on copyrighted material. Sponsored by NBC Universal and based on figures from 2009, Price added it up to 23.8 percent. BitTorrent file-sharing accounted for 11.4 percent. In moderately good news, only 17 percent of U.S. Internet traffic is infringing — a large total but at least better than the average worldwide. MPAA President/Interim CEO Bob Pisano said, "Bottom line, according to this new study, nearly one-quarter of the traffic on the Internet involves the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material such as movies, TV shows, music, and video games...," and added, "we cannot tolerate the vast explosion of digital theft on the Internet. With download speeds and server capacity increasing every day, the problem will only get worse if we don't do something about it. The time for governments and industries to act is now."

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers announced on Feb. 3 that the 4 billion numerical addresses that made the Internet work until recently have all been allocated. Plans are moving ahead to more extensively deploy the upgraded version-six standard — IPv6 — that permits 340 undecillion (340 trillion trillion trillion) numerical Internet addresses to be assigned.