Petition Seeks To Keep P2P Networks Open For Marketers

Paramount Pictures, Atlantic Records, EMI Records and Sony BMG could hit a snag in efforts to increase marketing products and services through peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

The coalition and a number of advocacy groups last week filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to stop Comcast from violating customer rights after reports surfaced that the ISP plans to cut service to P2P file-sharing sites, which sometimes require higher throughput to deliver content. Comcast came under fire earlier this year for allegedly cutting service to bandwidth hogs.

Entertainment companies working closely with technology and digital media entertainment companies SafeNet, Ultramerical, and Artist Direct want to tap P2P networks to promote, market, and provide samples of new songs and movies. Marketing messages are attached to the music and movie files distributed through the service. They link back to other sites that provide additional information about the distributed content.



Some of the top wireless carriers and technology companies are spearheading efforts to increase marketing and advertising through P2P networks.

AT&T, Telefonica Group, Verizon, Cisco Systems, BitTorrent, Limewire, and VeriSign, which operates file-sharing network Kontiki, are members in the P4P working group sponsored by the Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA), which is spearheading legitimate use for P2P technology. The group aims to provide solutions and protocols that would eliminate Comcast, and other ISPs, from having to take specific measures to successfully deliver P2P content across their network without increasing bandwidth requirements.

The benefits from the group's work aim to support higher-quality targeted results for consumers entering a search-engine query, as well as less-bandwidth requirements from ISPs delivering the goods, according to DCIA CEO Martin Lafferty. "We encourage Comcast to join this effort," he says. "It's a shame that Comcast has handled this matter as they have, but we welcome them to the group to solve the issues that concern them."

Comcast disagrees. The company denied unlawful behavior in a statement issued Thursday.

"Comcast does not, has not and will not block any web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services, and no one has demonstrated otherwise," says Executive Vice President David L. Cohen. "We engage in reasonable network management to provide all of our customers with a good Internet experience, and we do so consistently with FCC policy."

The FCC must declare that blocking digital media and content delivered across P2P networks is a violation of Internet policy, which guarantees consumer access to all applications, content and services, according to the petition filed with the FCC by several groups.

Those who filed the petition were Free Press; Public Knowledge; Media Access Project, Consumer Federation of America; Consumers Union; Information Society Project at Yale Law School; Prof. Charles Nesson, faculty co-director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School; and Barbara van Schewick of Stanford Law School and Center for Internet & Society.

Two services announced at last week's DCIA conference in Hollywood, Calif. reinforce the move by major brands toward marketing and advertising across P2P networks. Qtrax, a P2P advertising-supported music service scheduled to debut in mid-January, licensed four major music labels, including EMI Music, to provide between 25 million and 30 million music tracks at launch.

Brand Asset Digital, formed by the merger of Intent Media Works, and Beyond Media, provides marketing and content distribution tools that support independent labels, such as Network Music Group, Violator, and B2 Music.

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