Efforts to stop illegal downloads worth a try

Published 11:31 am Monday, July 11, 2011

Daily Herald editorial

There are ways to get things done without invoking the heavy hand of the federal government, as the nation’s top Internet providers are prepared to demonstrate.

The largest Internet service providers announced late last week that they would take a lead role in attempting to stop illegal downloads of music and movie content by first warning those suspected of illegal downloads and then by slowing the connection speeds for those who don’t heed the warnings. Industry executives acknowledged that this solution wouldn’t really stop hard-core content pirates, but believe it will curtail those who casually and occasionally download copyright-protected material without permission or payment.

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Protecting intellectual property is one of the major issues that besets the Internet. In an age when digital files make virtually any creative product available to anyone, anywhere in the world, the artists and technicians who create such works will eventually be put out of work without some protection.

One answer is to prosecute theft of intellectual property. But that’s a draconian and difficult step to take. We salute the Internet service industry for attempting to find a solution that is less heavy-handed, and which may actually work.