NBC Universal Explains Why ISPs Should Filter Copyrighted Works

from the because-they're-BIG dept

The NY Times "debate" between law professor Tim Wu and NBC Universal General Counsel Rick Cotton that began Monday now continues. It's actually not much of a "debate" because each are simply answering the questions posed by the moderator, Saul Hansell. However, the latest concerns whether it makes sense to require third party companies, such as ISPs or consumer electronics firms to filter or block content in an effort to protect copyright holders from unauthorized use of their content. Wu's answer focuses on a slightly different question: whether it makes sense for the government to step in and mandate such solutions, and provides a reasonable answer questioning why the government should be protecting one industry's business model at the expense of others'. Cotton's response is quite similar to the one he gave last week at CES. Effectively, it's "there's so much piracy going on, that we need to have others step in and protect our business model."

I'm curious if Cotton believes that automobiles should have been forced to go 3 mph with people walking in front of them waving red flags, for the sake of protecting the market for horse-drawn carriage makers? Or, should consumer electronics companies been forced not to allow VCRs to record TV? Both examples involved "big" problems that were seen as "threats" to an existing business model. Yet, rather than being actual threats (after some bogus lobbying/court cases), companies realized that these were actually huge opportunities to expand markets and make even more money. So why is it this time it's suddenly a big threat and not an opportunity? And even if it is a threat, why should it be seen as something that a third party needs to handle? What happens when the required filtering in the US means that foreign consumer electronics makers come up with the next great innovation that isn't possible in the US and we fall behind in terms of the next important innovation? None of that seems to be of concern to Cotton, whose sole focus is on preserving a business model that is certainly not the most efficient nor effective for the industry. I recognize that it is Cotton's job at NBC Universal to make these kinds of statements, but it should be his fiduciary responsibility to the company to suggest that there are better paths to adapting to the changing market place, rather than clinging to an obsolete business model and dragging down other industries with it.
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Filed Under: copyright, rick cotton, tim wu
Companies: nbc universal


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2008 @ 11:00am

    Isn't Cotton a lawyer? Of course this is his line. You don't hire lawyers to run your business, you hire lawyers to talk about the law. It is illegal to share copyright material, so of course he talks about how to stop that.

    Lawyers are not typically corporate strategists, so of course he shouldn't be expected to tell the corporation what strategic direction they should be going.

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