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A group of 13 trade organizations representing all corners of the music industry is calling on Google to incorporate mechanisms for cracking down on piracy as it attempts to broker a deal on net neutrality.
"The music community we represent believes it is vital that any Internet policy initiative permit and encourage ISPs and other intermediaries to take measures to deter unlawful activity such as copyright infringement and child pornography," the groups wrote in a letter to Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt.
The letter (available here in PDF format) praised Google and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) for staking out a compromise framework for network management, giving particular emphasis to the distinction between the treatment of lawful and unlawful content.
The RIAA has a well-documented history of taking a harsh stance against illegal file-sharing on the Internet. The association has moved from an aggressive legal blitz, suing individuals for often extravagant sums of money and generating reams of negative press in the process, to an effort to partner with Internet service providers to establish mechanisms to detect and deter copyright violations.
Those efforts have drawn howls of protest from digital-rights groups, which have argued that putting ISPs in the role of copyright cops is both a threat to privacy and runs the risk of generating false positives that would result in blocking legal content, which they see as a free speech issue.
But for the music industry, the problem of rampant piracy persists. The RIAA has long advocated for firmer copyright laws and enforcement mechanisms, and is currently one of many stakeholders involved with the negotiations of a multination effort to finalize the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which would establish an international framework for protecting intellectual property and could enlist ISPs in the fight against pirated content.
The trade groups representing the music and entertainment industries have traditionally opposed full net neutrality rules, in part because they threatened to undermine copyright filtering techniques.
In January, for instance, the RIAA filed comments with the FCC in its still-pending net neutrality rulemaking proceeding calling on the agency to take precautions not to limit ISPs' ability to police their networks for copyright violations and block unlawful transmissions.
"We urge the commission to permit ISPs flexibility to adapt their network management practices to address changing methods and technologies for transmitting unlawful content in the Future," the RIAA wrote in its filing.
"For example, we think it is clear that any ISP should be able to enforce its terms of service or acceptable use policy that prohibits copyright infringement without fear that any such action would be deemed to violate any nondiscrimination or other open Internet rules."
The association also warned that any transparency rules mandating the disclosure of network-management practices allow ISPs to retain some secrecy in their copyright-enforcement mechanisms to deter file sharers from developing workarounds.