Internet subscribers would receive letter

A leading lawmaker will propose federal legislation requiring telcos and cable operators to send Internet subscribers a warning letter if they access pirated content.

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Los Angeles) disclosed Thursday at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce antipiracy panel in Hollywood that he’ll introduce the legislation as early as next month.

If enacted, it would mark a significant change in federal law by making Internet service providers responsible for piracy on their networks, not just those who download or share the content.

Berman, speaking at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, indicated that under the legislation there would be a phase-in period for ISPs to notify subscribers. “Initially, it would be a voluntary program,” he added.

Berman indicated he’d introduce the bill with Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) through the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property.

Berman, a 13-term member of Congress whose district includes Hollywood, said the legislation will be part of a broader bill to strengthen anticounterfeiting efforts. It will require that federal agents enforce intellectual property violations by Internet service providers, mandate interagency cooperation and initiate the use of international attaches to provide information.

Thursday’s panel culminated four days of events in Los Angeles designed to raise awareness of and build support for anti-piracy efforts. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Los Angeles) cited a recent study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. showing that piracy causes $5.2 billion in annual economic losses — over half of that to the motion picture business.

The Chamber also sponsored an event at the Chinese Theater to demonstrate infrared technology employed to spot illegal camcording in theaters. Andrews Intl. VP Andrew Lamprey said studios are currently using his firm’s security services on as many as 300 screenings per week.

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