Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Disney & Verizon: When Content Meets Code

In the U.S. Disney and Verizon have announced a long-term programming agreement, whereby Verizon will transmit twelve of Disney's TV channels over its broadband network. Of course the cooperation on this merging of content (Disney) and code (Verizon's network) would be nothing without the sunny side of American copyright: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Disney and Verizon have agreed, of course, that copyright protection is of upmost importance in this case. Just as important as the privacy of Verizon users
Under the agreement, Verizon would forward and track notices to its subscribers allegedly engaged in the unauthorized distribution of Disney's copyrighted works, without identifying the subscribers to Disney. Verizon would either provide subscriber-identifying information pursuant to lawfully served subpoenas or terminate Verizon Internet service provided to subscribers who have infringed Disney copyrights and received multiple notices.
That seems fair, doesn't it? No more Verizon for you, if you ignore those "copyright infringement" notices. Provided that your identifying information hasn't been handed over to Disney on the basis of a subpoena. Fair it seems, but as a Verizon customer you may wonder how important your privacy would be if Verizon had not made this great deal with Disney giving you even more of the same TV content to choose from.

Where the provision of a (hardcore) network service gets softened by (Verizon's) interests in content and related copyright protection, the privacy of users is likely to become less of a commitment. How much is the privacy of a customer really worth when you consider a multi-million dollar deal with Disney "a significant step forward in the effort toward inter-industry cooperation in addressing the serious problem of copyright infringement over the Internet," as Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg said. Not worth the litigation, I would guess.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there no laws that forbids Verizon to leak customer data to other parties? Here in Sweden telecommunication and broadband companies are strictly regulated by privacy and secrecy laws. They cannot store any data on customers that are not directly needed for billing or other services. And they can certainly not forward ANY information on customers to other companys. Not even the police have the right to demand data on customers. Only if the suspected crime is so serious that the prosecutor belives it could lead to prison.. then.. they can get data from ISPs.

5/10/05 07:38  

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