Patent, Entertainment Reps Talk Online Content Protection at FCC Workshop

Patent and Trademark Office expresses keen interest in broadband development

The FCC held a broadband workshop Thursday on protecting online content, making it a round two dozen workshops to date.

John Horrigan, consumer research director for the national broadband plan, said the underlying goal was to figure out what drives adoption, specifically what users want,
saying content from entertainment industries plays a big part.

He said it would have taken three workshops to fit all the people in the room who wanted to attend. Another 100-plus streamed the workshop, he said.

Michael Shapiro of the Patent and Trademark Office brought a brief message. He said his department had a keen interest in the development of the broadband plan, and cited the
"great peril" of the potential of the plan accelerating trends in digital piracy.

Dan Glickman, head of the Motion Picture Asociation of America, said that the expansion of broadband could have an enormously positive impact, but said the Internet economy will not flourish if it becomes a lawless place. "It must be a safe and secure environment," he said.

Glickman said it is not only a consumer issue but a jobs issue and an economic issue. Most movies don't make their money back on the first showing, he said, but in aftermarkets like DVDs and lawful Internet distribution. The FCC should support and actively encourage best practices in online security.

The net result of not doing so, he said, would be a tidal wave of piracy which would thwart broadband development.

Compelling content drives adoption, he said. "You can't have good pipes that mean anything unless you have good content." The reverse is also true, he said.

Patrick Ross, executive director of the Copyright Alliance, wanted to put a human face on the issue.

He talked of a writer who is playing "whack-a-mole" trying to find people "sharing" her works online, or a photographer who sees his work constantly copied.

There needs to be a clear distinction between legal and illegal content, he said. Failure to do so allows the illegal to supplant new and innovative legal approaches.

He cited FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski saying "illegal copyright infringement is a threat to our economy, with harm measured in the billions of dollars." He also quoted Genachowski as saying that the principles of network neutrality were not inconsistent with protecting content.

Michael Bracy, policy director of the Future of Music Coalition, said there was a public interest in economic structures that allow creators to be compensated. He said a big part of the new model will be universal broadband with network neutrality protections.