TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Federal Effort to Head Off TV Piracy Is Challenged

Federal Effort to Head Off TV Piracy Is Challenged

Monty Solomon (
Fri, 25 Feb 2005 00:52:24 -0500


Mike Godwin, the legal director for Public Knowledge, a digital-rights
advocacy group in Washington, is a fan of Showtime's new drama series
"Huff." So three weeks ago, when he missed the season finale, he
decided to download it to his personal computer.

It took about seven hours to download all 500 megabytes of the
hour-long episode over his high-speed Internet connection, using the
latest file-sharing software designed to handle large digital files.

Still, he did get it. And he did watch it.

"It's a great show," he said.

To Mr. Godwin, the time-consuming download (and the file's poor
quality) indicated that the rampant piracy of digitized broadcast
programs -- a threat Hollywood has long warned against -- was hardly
imminent. But to the Federal Communications Commission and the Motion
Picture Association of America, cases like this one suggest a future
of widespread illegal file-sharing that must be stopped before it

The debate will be presented in oral arguments tomorrow before the
District of Columbia Circuit for the United States Court of Appeals in
a lawsuit brought by Public Knowledge and others against the F.C.C.,
challenging a new regulation that is intended to prevent such bleeding
of television content onto the Internet.

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