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Studios Push Commerce For Crackdown On Online Pirates

Comcast may have gotten hammered by the FCC for blocking BitTorrent peer-to-peer file uploads in nonpeak as well as peak traffic periods, though that decision was famously thrown out by a federal court.  But if a filing by Hollywood studios is any indication, its shotgun affect was on the right track when it came to copyright protection.

According to a filing by the Motion Picture Association of America and others, a recent study by Princeton University found that "approximately 99% of the 1,021 BitTorrent files it review violated copyright. That is the software that networks computers to allow for speedier uploads and bicycling of high-bandwidth files like HD movies.

That was part of MPAA's argument for stronger government measures to combat online copyrighted content theft. It came in a filing with the Commerce Department's Patent and Trademark office, which has opened an inquiry into "Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Internet Economy.”

MPAA, joined by TV and movie guilds (SAG, AFTRA, DGA, among others), made the point that online content theft costs damages the economy, kills jobs and threatens the creative industry, a threat they said that "is not being effectively addressed today."

"The Internet is awash with traffic in stolen intellectual property," they argue, saying that a combination of lawsuits, better enforcement, new laws, consumer education and industry effort are needed to stem the tide, but that action needs to come now.

Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force is conducting "a comprehensive review of the relationship between the availability and protection of online copyrighted works and innovation in the Internet economy." The result will be a report intended to inform the administration's domestic and international policy on online copyright protection.

"The prevalence of online copyright infringement is the primary motivation [for the inquiry]." Commerce says.