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Weird Monday, October 29th 2012 at 8:40 am

RIAA Never Told Six Strikes System Partners the Group’s Independent Expert Once Lobbied for Them

The copyright alert system, commonly referred to as the “six strikes” system, might have hit a snag this past week. Part of the anti-piracy plan requires an “impartial and independent” expert to review all data gathered to ensure that the alerts are being distributed accurately and judiciously. As it currently stands, the system being used, called MarkMonitor, is supposed to then be itself monitored by Stroz Friedberg, a third-party technology firm. Unfortunately, it turns out that Stroz Friedberg was once the lobbying firm for the Recording Industry Association of America. Even worse? The RIAA supposedly didn’t bother telling the rest of the group.

If being the former lobbying firm of an interested party doesn’t scream “conflict of interest,” nothing does. Failing to disclose this past relationship is probably the biggest facepalm the system has had to face to date, but the Center for Copyright Information, which oversees the whole process, is sticking to their guns. A statement to the Daily Dot from Jill Lesser, the executive director of the program, states that Stroz Friedberg’s previous relationship is a non-issue:

We are confident in the Stroz team’s skill, competency and ability to honestly and fairly review the content community’s methodologies [...] The prior, and completely separate, relationship between Stroz Friedberg and RIAA is irrelevant to our choice and our work.

TorrentFreak, on the other hand, is saying that the CCI is quietly stressing out over the revelation, and that the RIAA never told the CCI or any of the ISPs involved that the company being retained to watch the watchmen had previously been in their pocket. A few resolutions are being debated internally, but having a black mark on their record before they even start isn’t a good sign.

The options being debated behind closed doors include having Stroz Friedberg’s review of MarkMonitor made public or even having another expert brought in to review Stroz Friedberg’s review. In other words, we might get someone to watch the watchmen watching the watchmen.

(via TorrentFreak, image via Anthony Kelly)

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