So far, however, U.S. ISPs haven't been all that receptive. Even though the Recording Industry Association of America announced last December that it was going to stop suing individuals suspected of file-sharing and instead work with ISPs to implement "graduated response" programs, it doesn't appear that any major ISPs are on board.
Of course, it's not at all clear that ISPs will ever embrace any plan that calls for them to cut off paying subscribers.
Nonetheless, the Motion Picture Association of America is taking its case to the Federal Communications Commission. The MPAA recently filed a 34-page report commenting on the role of content in the broadband ecosystem, and asking the FCC to bless the concept of a graduated response program in its national broadband plan.
"The Commission should recommend that Congress encourage ISPs to work cooperatively with technology innovators and the creative community to implement the best available, commercially practicable graduated response policies ... to diminish the theft and unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials online," the movie studios state.
The MPAA also argues -- based on highly questionable "evidence" -- that illegal content accounts for much online traffic. The MPAA's proof? Statistics showing that most content downloaded through Grokster infringed on copyright. But Grokster is only one company -- and one that was found liable in court for copyright infringement -- not the Web at large.
The MPAA additionally tries to prove its case by arguing that peer-to-peer traffic accounts for much Web activity -- but fails to address the fact that peer-to-peer traffic can be perfectly lawful.
While the MPAA's assertions are questionable in themselves, its conclusion that the government should encourage disconnections is especially troubling. Currently there's reason to suspect that many people are wrongly identified as potential file-sharers. Last year, researchers at the University of Washington reported that the procedures used by entertainment companies to identify infringers often end up targeting the wrong people.
Even if entertainment companies and ISPs correctly identify illegal file-sharers, disconnecting them from the Web does a lot more than just stop the piracy. It also stops people from reading online newspapers, sending emails, or engaging in a huge amount of activity that's protected by the First Amendment.
For that reason, the FCC or Congress isn't likely to mandate three-strikes policies any time soon. But the government also shouldn't encourage ISPs to hatch plans that would have the same effect.