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AFL-CIO: Reasonable Network Management Key To Preserving Jobs

Add the AFL-CIO to the list of folks who argue that allowing ISP's the flexibility to restrict trafficking in illegal Internet content is a big jobs issue.

The union's executive council unanimously adopted a statement Tuesday (March 2) on behalf of its TV and studio members to say that: "The online theft of copyrighted works and the sale of illegal CDs and DVDs threaten the vitality of U.S. entertainment and thus its working people."

The union also wants to counter the portrayal of the content-protection issue as big corporations trying to protect their turf.

The union says it is unfair to frame the debate over piracy as individuals and corporations protecting their turf rather than joining the digital land rush. "Some would like to portray the debate over Internet theft as one in which a few wealthy artists, creators and powerful corporations are concerned about 'giving away' their 'product' because they are greedy and cannot change with the times to create newbusiness models," said the union statement. "The hundreds of thousands of people represented by the AEMI unions of the AFL-CIO are a testament to the falsity of that proposition."
While the union supports the push for universal broadband, executive council member and AFTRA President Roberta Reardon also said it was important to note that downloading illegal conent "is the same as walking into a record or book store and stealing a CD or DVD."

"Today's action provides important support to the tens of thousands of men and women in the entertainment industry whose jobs are threatened by illegal duplication and download of movies and television shows," added SAG President Ken Howard.

The FCC, which is currently collecting comment on a proposal to expand and codify its Internet openness principles, has proposed balancing the need for reasonable network management with a prohibition on blocking or impeding legal content.

The union statement mirrors those twin goals. "At the core of any effort to combat digital theft is reasonable network management, which should allow ISPs to use available tools to detect and prevent the illegal downloading of copyrighted works. With respect to lawfully distributed content, ISPs should not be allowed to block or degrade service so that both consumers and copyright would be protected."

"We applaud the AFL-CIO's condemnation of digital theft and counterfeiting," said NBCU EVP and General Counsel Rick Cotton. "The strong voice of organized labor makes clear that digital theft and counterfeiting kills jobs, and threatens the livelihoods of the millions of American workers who depend on the creative industries. The joint voice of business and labor will be a critical factor in convincing both government and private sector intermediaries to take strong measures to stem the tidal wave of theft that is undermining the future of the U.S. economy."

NBC itself has been one of the strongest voices for protecting intellectual property online.