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U.S. Copyright Czar Cozied Up to Content Industry, E-Mails Show

• Wired

Top-ranking Obama administration officials, including the U.S. copyright czar, played an active role in secret negotiations between Hollywood, the recording industry and ISPs to disrupt internet access for users suspected of violating copyright law, according to internal White House e-mails.

The e-mails, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, (.pdf) show the administration’s cozy relationship with Hollywood and the music industry’s lobbying arms and its early support for the copyright-violation crackdown system publicly announced in July.

One top official even used her personal e-mail account at least once in the course of communicating during the negotiations with executives and lobbyists from companies ranging from AT&T to Universal Music.

Internet security and privacy researcher Christopher Soghoian obtained the e-mails via a government sunshine request for them filed in June, and provided them to Wired. The e-mails are embedded at the end of this story.

The records show the government clearly had a voice in the closed-door negotiations, though it was not a signatory to the historic accord, which isn’t an actual government policy.

The agreement includes participation by the U.S.’s largest consumer internet providers including AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon. It requires internet service providers, for the first time, to punish residential internet-service customers who media companies suspect are violating copyright rules by downloading copyrighted movies or music from peer-to-peer networks.

 

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