updated 04:00 pm EDT, Tue April 15, 2008
Comcast P2P 'rights' bill
Cable and Internet provider Comcast, in tandem with peer-to-peer tech company Pando Networks, says it is launching a new industry initiative in order to address conflicts relating to P2P file sharing. Dubbed the "P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities," it would see the creation of a document addressing "best practices" for both ISPs and filesharers themselves. The companies hope to gradually involve other parties, such as experts, media producers and other ISP or P2P companies; controversially, they have no present intentions of involving public interest groups, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Some proposed rights would involve clarified limits on bandwidth, and the ability to uninstall P2P software if desired. Less popular may be the potential of tracking the legality of shared content, a practice being pioneered by Virgin UK, and carrying with it the threat of being forced offline at the will of music and movie companies.
The move marks part of an about-face for Comcast, which has come under intense scrutiny for sabotaging BitTorrent transfers in order to avoid spending on extra network infrastructure. The company has since said it will stop targeting BitTorrent content, a decision generally considered to be a means of deflecting investigation by the FCC. It will still implement some form of traffic shaping, but will do so in a format-agnostic fashion.