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RIAA Encourages ISPs to Work With Music Industry to Address Digital Theft

Bainwol says illegal file trading has become so severe that it is causing significant congestion over broadband networks, degrading the online experience for consumers.

Mitch Bainwol is encouraging Internet service providers to work with the content community to adopt marketplace solutions to digital copyright theft.

In testimony this week before a congressional hearing on proposed “net neutrality” legislation, the CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America said if voluntary agreements cannot be reached, government action may be necessary.

In remarks before the House Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, Bainwol said the glut of illegal file trading had produced “devastating effects” for the music community and “become so severe that it is causing significant congestion over our broadband networks, degrading the online experience for consumers and imposing unnecessary costs on ISPs.”

Referring to legislation introduced by Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Chip Pickering, R-Miss., Bainwol said that the lawmakers deserved credit for “properly recognizing the important distinction between lawful and unlawful content.”

But he said, “Our view is that the marketplace is generally a better mechanism than regulation for addressing such complex issues as how to address online piracy, and we believe the marketplace should be given the chance to succeed.”

He said that the RIAA and its member record labels have talked with ISPs about ways to address piracy, including mechanisms like graduated response policies, longer-range technological approaches and business solutions through negotiations between individual music companies and ISPs that can capture the value of music being consumed by subscribers.

The RIAA is “cautiously optimistic” that discussions will lead to tangible results, according to Bainwol.

However, some ISPs still turn a “blind eye” to online theft, he said. “These ISPs would just as soon pretend that congestion was not fundamentally a problem directly connected to theft. And some prefer to cure congestion with greater efficiency — solving their problem, but compounding ours.”