Verizon To Hollywood: We're Not The Piracy Police

AT&T and Comcast may be willing to help Hollywood control piracy on their networks, but Verizon wants none of it, says the New York Times.

Saul Hansell spoke to Tom Tauke, Verizon’s executive vice president for public affairs.

“We generally are reluctant to get into the business of examining content that flows across our networks and taking some action as a result of that content,” Tauke said, then gave three reasons why Verizon isn’t thrilled with the idea of becoming piracy cops:

1) The slippery slope.

Once you start going down the path of looking at the information going down the network, there are many that want you to play the role of policeman. Stop illegal gambling offshore. Stop pornography. Stop a whole array of other kinds of activities that some may think inappropriate.

2) It opens up potential liability for failing to block copyrighted work.

When you look back at the history of copyright legislation, there has been an effort by Hollywood to pin the liability for copyright violations on the network that transmits the material. It is no secret they think we have deeper pockets than others and we are easy-to-find targets.

3) Privacy.

Anything we do has to balance the need of copyright protection with the desire of customers for privacy.

Sounds promising. Also, we like the fact that Verizon’s executive vice president for public affairs is a guy named Tauke.

Verizon Rejects Hollywood’s Call to Aid Piracy Fight [New York Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. weakdome says:

    however self-motivated their intentions may be, this is awfully nice of them.

  2. Murph1908 says:


  3. homerjay says:

    Good to see SOMEONE is thinking willing to push back.

  4. exkon says:

    Another way of reading this:

    “It’s too much extra work for us.”

  5. ogman says:

    Holy crap! I never thought I would say this but way to go Verizon.

    Still doesn’t make them my provider of choice, but it’s a step in the right direction. Now if I could just shake this nagging suspicion…

  6. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    Good news for criminals!

  7. hypnotik_jello says:

    @dburba: and trolls!

  8. ThomFabian says:

    Or good news for folks who, though having nothing to hide, don’t think its a utility company’s job to examine the data being transmitted for “potential” infractions.

  9. qwickone says:

    @dburba: You’re one of those “why DON’T you let them perform a warrant-less search if you have nothing to hide” types, aren’t you?

  10. ogman says:

    @qwickone: They’re easy to spot, aren’t they. Now all we need is a hunting season and a generous limit.

  11. TechnoDestructo says:


    Well, that or they take the idea of being a “common carrier” seriously.


    Seriously, they could be open to liability if they play along with the movie/recording industries. Particularly if they block anything legal by mistake.

  12. JeffMc says:

    Point #2 makes me actually believe him. He’s not saying “we’re doing this for our customers” but instead that “we’re covering our own asses” and I have a lot more faith in a company covering it’s ass than looking out for me.

  13. Whitey Fisk says:

    I would like to vote for Mr. Tauke.

  14. DrGirlfriend says:

    Well done. It is definitely not the providers’ role to be monitoring this sort of stuff for other industries.

  15. zentec says:


    Good news for everyone, since we’ve seen how Hollywood likes to point the shotgun at internet users and invoke a “ready, fire, aim” policy.

    Those who find a buckshot, get sued.

    Besides, why should *I* pay higher internet access fees so someone’s content is protected? If you won’t want it pirated, bear that cost yourself. I’m not the one pirating, and I’m not the one buying your content. So keep your greasy paws out of my pocket.

  16. IphtashuFitz says:

    Almost makes me want to switch to Verizon. Unfortunately my condo is only wired for Comcast…

  17. bravo369 says:

    I love this response but I immediately though of 2 things:
    1. Hopefully this is the same response they gave the government for warrantless searches of internet traffic…otherwise they are hypocrites
    2. aren’t those same 3 principals tP2P companies tried arguing. They lost.

  18. howie_in_az says:

    I wonder if the TimeWarner cable internet division would monitor… after all, wouldn’t it impact Warner’s bottom line if people were using Warner’s very own internet bandwidth to share Warner’s very own movies?

  19. Nick986 says:

    I am glad to see someone standing up to these bozo’s in Hollywood. Verizon still needs to work on correcting these idiotic errors. For instance, yesterday’s news story on this very website: []

    And of course who can forget Verizon FIOS installers igniting your home…proper training might help here.

  20. m4ximusprim3 says:

    The funny thing is, this is totally reasonable. The real question is “why does everyone else seem so intent on doing practically impossible, un-needed, and potentially liability-causing filtering?”.

    And the answer is…..

  21. chipslave says:

    Its nice to see that Red Forman from “that 70’s show” is still working… :)

  22. HalOfBorg says:

    *Looks at his Verizon DSL modem*

    Thank you Verizon!

  23. HalOfBorg says:

    *looks at his Verizon DLS modem*

    Thank you Verizon!

  24. Nighthawke says:

    They ain’t the dream police, they are the mime patrol.

  25. Benstein says:

    If you have FIOS available in your area you better jump on it. It is 100x better than any other internet service I have ever had.

  26. upokyin says:

    Not police?! That guy blew off a cop’s hand with a shotgun.

  27. xamarshahx says:

    I definitely have to give Verizon props for stepping up against the RIAA and MPAA, while they have their flaws, they certainly have the consumer in mind on this issue.

  28. theblackdog says:

    *hugs his Verizon DSL Router*

  29. attackgypsy says:

    About time. After all, they got a freebie when Cablevision counter-sued the MPAA/RIAA and won. They don’t disclose anything to the MPAA/RIAA. However, they -DO- send the subscriber a letter saying what the MPAA/RIAA claimed, and that is a a violation of their TS.

    Never heard of anybody being disco’d because of it though.

  30. sharky says:

    @Benstein: Yup.

  31. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    @ThomFabian: @hypnotik_jello: @qwickone: @zentec: So how, exactly, do you think piracy should be stopped. And please, don’t embarrass yourselves by making the “Make better music/movies so I won’t have to steal them” argument.

  32. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @dburba: Thats a meaningless question. You might as well ask “how do you stop murder” or “how do we fill everyone’s hearts with love and joy and popsicles”.

    A better question is: “how do we reduce piracy to a level where people can make an honest living producing art without it being stolen”.

    Thats a tough answer, but in broad terms, you have to convince people that it is in their best interests to buy it, rather than steal it. It becomes a choice based on two main factors: Convenience and Morality. In order to reduce piracy, you need to make it easier to buy than steal (see: Itunes) and you need to convince people that their money will go to furthering art and feeding the artist, rather than get sucked up by the middle man. At this point in time, nobody in their right mind believes that. And therein lies the problem.

    What’s the solution? Who freakin knows. Bands marketing without labels through their own sites and on social networking sites are a start, but nobody knows where everything is going to go.

  33. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    What kind of horseshit is this? If they can weed through internet traffic to kiss the MPAA’s ass, they can damn well weed through it to stop identity theft and other actual criminal acts going on.

  34. Joafu says:

    Verizon, I will consider you again when my contract runs out. @dburba: It would go a long way to cut the prices of CDs to something more reasonable; I’m not the only who hesitates to check out a new artist because the price is sketchy.

  35. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    @m4ximusprim3: Those are valid points – certainly moreso than the comments I was responding to. I agree that convenience and morality are important factors, but if there’s little deterrent to flat-out stealing (even just the threat of being caught) then there’s a significant segment of the population out there that’s always going to do it. My original post was that this is good news for criminals, aka pirates, and I don’t see how that’s not true.

  36. LionelEHutz says:

    Why is Verizon suddeny so concerned with user’s privacy? They sure weren’t concerned when Bush’s Stasi came calling to tap into their phone network.

  37. GOKOR says:

    @dburba: I tihnk it’s good news for everyone, as it means less policing what everyone is doing, especially when it’s unwarranted.

    Just because you may be “doing nothing wrong, so what does it matter” doesn’t mean you don’t deserve your privacy and right to do it without being snooped on.

    That slippery slope the guy from Verizon was talking about, includes all things and will eventually lead us to a world more and more like “1984” where everything and everything is monitored and controlled by someone else.

  38. jonworld says:

    Yes…go Verizon! I used to be unhappy with Verizon’s customer service but they’ve really improved quite a bit recently and I am very happy with them and my phone.

  39. coffee177 says:

    If you think about it, Its almost like reading your mail.

  40. LionelEHutz says:

    You know what will go a long way towards stopping piracy — when the music industry is actually punished for colluding on pricing. Anyone remember the CD price class action from a few years ago? Consumers got about $20 back from the record companies *if* they applied to be a class member. The record companies paid a pittance. Fastforward to the downloading suits from the RIAA — in these suits, if an individual gets pinged by the RIAA they get to pay that cartel of thieves a few grand just for the civil violation of copyright law, while also having to admit what they did. The admission then exposes the person to possible criminal prosecution under the copyright law.

    It’s crap like this that has made me go out of my way to avoid purchasing any music from RIAA labels and artists. You too can do this by going to before buying any music.

  41. savvy999 says:

    I am bittorrenting RIAA stuff right now, and posting on Consumerist, using my Verizon network! Thanks, dudes!

  42. Charles Duffy says:

    @dburba: Selling DRM-free music at reasonable prices does a lot of good. While I’m obviously not admitting to any prior infractions, I will say that I’ve purchased quite a bit of music since the Amazon MP3 store went up.

    Most people want to do the right thing, if it’s easy (convenient, cheap, and at least as good as the pirated product). DRM tends to reduce the level of convenience and the product’s usability (I don’t want to worry about whether the next player I buy will play the music I purchased, or lose content I bought because of a hard drive crash) — but with DRM-free music being cheaply available (and video looking like it may trend in that direction in the future), the issue looks to me like it’ll solve itself — at least to the point where folks can make a living, which is after all the point.

  43. omyard says:

    That settles it. I’m calling Verizon to see if FIOS is available in my area yet.

  44. camille_javal says:

    @dburba: What they’re doing now certainly doesn’t seem to be deterring, though. If a regime is perceived to be unreasonable, then a lot of reasonable people will have trouble believing that what they’re doing is wrong; they’ll feel that they’re sticking it to the people who seem to have no qualms about sticking it (in the case of inconvenience and cost) to them.

    I download legally, in part because I want the legal downloading ventures to successful in a way that tells these organizations, hey, the more product you make conveniently available at a reasonable price, the more people will buy it rather than steal it.

  45. TheUncleBob says:

    I’m left wondering how long it is before the RIAA and MPAA go after Verizon for some kind of variant on “Transportation of Illegal Goods Across State Lines”.

  46. backbroken says:

    Huh. I was wondering why I hadn’t been sued yet.