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February 12, 2016

Another Voluntary Agreement to Reduce Online Piracy

 
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We’ve often argued that a combination of government enforcement and private voluntary agreements is necessary to reduce illegal online theft of copyright materials [ex here and here]. Everyone in the online world has an interest in ensuring that a complete array of rich content is easily accessible online, but that requires a healthy Internet environment, which means the rule of law predictably applies in the online world as well as it does in the analog world. That the online community resists the idea that piracy is a “killer app,” either for Internet adoption or for selling advertising.

And it’s entirely consistent with America’s long tradition of civil society and free association for voluntary agreements among Internet players to be a big part in creating this healthy internet ecosystem. That’s why it’s been cheering to see several recent examples of voluntary agreements designed to reduce online piracy.

Last week Donuts—the world’s largest Internet domain name registry and the registrar of the new .MOVIE domain extension, announced that it has entered into an agreement with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Essentially, infringement notices from MPAA to Donuts will be treated with high priority, and MPAA’s notices will have a presumption of credibility, so long as MPAA provides sufficient information to Donuts. That information includes:

  • A statement that the MPAA is authorized by its members to submit the referral;
  • Detailed description of the clear and pervasive copyright infringement occurring on the domain (e.g., sample URLs, screen shots);
  • Non-exhaustive identification of the law(s) being violated and a description of why the copyright infringement violates the specified law(s);
  • Statement that, prior to sending the referral, the MPAA alerted or attempted to alert the registrar of record and hosting provider, including a description of the response received, if any, from registrar and hosting provider and an explanation of why such responses failed to mitigate the infringement;
  • Statement that the referral is submitted with a good faith belief that the information contained therein is true and accurate; and
  • Confirmation that the referral was subject to careful human review and not submitted solely based on automated Internet scanning or scraping services.

This is more than enough information to guard against the concerns of copyright critics that such takedown notices are sometimes used nefariously to suppress legitimate content.

IPI commends Donuts for its willingness to work cooperatively with content owners to reduce online piracy. We’ve not simply reproduced the entire agreement in this blog entry, but the agreement is a robust model for other registrars and operators to follow, and we hope further such voluntary agreements are in the offing.




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