File Sharing, Break It Down! - Digital Skidmarks
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In what could be a blow against the RIAA and their efforts, the FCC recently opened an investigation into Comcast's Internet traffic management practices. There have been numerous complaints that Comcast has been blocking some P2P traffic, specifically BitTorrent. They want to determine whether or not this practice falls under reasonable network management.
Vuze, Inc. is the company that petitioned the FCC to do this investigation. They realize that ISPs are allowed to engage in network management, but they feel that it needs to be done with a specific kind of network impact in mind instead of targeting a certain class of applications (BitTorrent). And because Comcast won't fully divulge their management techniques, Vuze wants ISPs to be completely transparent. David L. Cohen, Comcast's executive vice president, maintains, “Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any websites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services.”
While this is going on, the big four record labels (Warner, EMI, Sony, and Universal) are all moving away from digital rights management. Perhaps file sharers can sigh in relief. However, as DRM fades away, digital watermarks, which allows companies to track music that finds its way onto P2P networks, are taking there place.
It's hard to tell who has the upper hand at this point. Digital watermarks could give the music industry the evidence it needs to prove their music was transferred over specific networks. But with landmark legislation possibly happening in Sweden that may set the tone for other countries, watermarking could be as obsolete as CDs in a few years. I wouldn't hold my breath, though. Not as long as big corporate lobbyists are in America's driver seat.
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