Showbiz, tech playing nice?

MPAA, RIAA chiefs say a warming trend has started

WASHINGTON -- While the past decade was marked by frosty relations between the entertainment and high-tech industries, the upcoming years are likely to see an international warming trend between them, two trade group chiefs said Thursday.

During the Institute for Policy Innovation conference marking World Intellectual Property Day, a pair of entertainment industry officials said cooperation between the two economic sectors is imperative to ensure the future of both.

"We're in this together," MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman said. "The relationship is changing. It's not us-or-them."

RIAA president and CEO Mitch Bainwol said the change in attitude came from both sides of the street.

"They were using piracy at one point as a lure to develop a business," he said. "Now they're at a different point in time. They have congestion issues and they want to offer rich content, so our interests have in fact aligned."

While laws remains unsettled over many issues that confront the two industries, they have been negotiating about ways to protect copyrighted works from piracy while ensuring that Internet service providers can function without undue burdens, the executives said.

"We've got to make sure that the Internet is not clogged by a small number, a high percentage of illegal activities," Glickman said. "We have made outreach to the Internet community. At least the discussions are occurring now, and that didn't happen five years ago."

There still is plenty of work to do before any kind of "global" agreement can be reached, however. Glickman and Bainwol expressed concerns about the recently announced deal between Comcast and peer-to-peer provider BitTorrent.

That deal was reached after Comcast came under pressure for allegedly blocking P2P traffic indiscriminately in the name of managing its network. Glickman and Bainwol expressed concern that the deal failed to take into account the rampant piracy on P2P networks.

By some estimates, pirated works make up more than 90% of the traffic on P2P networks. Because movies, TV shows and music take up considerable bandwidth, pirated works often are accused of bogging the networks down.

"Efficiency can mean a more efficient way to take," Bainwol said. "We would like to see these agreements and discussions focus things like protecting against piracy."