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Authors Guild lobbies Congress to make internet providers monitor for pirated ebooks

In a letter sent to the House Judiciary Committee this week, the Authors Guild — one of the largest associations of writers in the US — asked Congress to force internet service providers into preemptively filtering out pirated material like ebooks.

The letter, signed by executive director Mary Rasenberger, argues penury: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act favors large corporations over individual authors, the Authors Guild argues, as writers don't have the means to monitor for infringing material and flag it for take-down. But ISPs, it suggests, do. From the letter:

ISPs, on the other hand, do have the ability to monitor piracy. Technology that can identify and filter pirated material is now commonplace. It only makes sense, then, that ISPs should bear the burden of limiting piracy on their sites, especially when they are profiting from the piracy and have the technology to conduct automates searches and takedowns. Placing the burden of identifying pirated content on the individual author, who has no ability to have any real impact on piracy, as the current regime does, makes no sense at all. It is technology that has enabled the pirate marketplace to flourish, and it is technology alone that has the capacity to keep it in check.

What we are asking is simple: that the law be clarified so that the safe harbors work as Congress intended—to protect innocent ISPs from liability for user infringement, but only to the extent they cooperate with copyright owners to remove infringing content and keep pirates off their sites.

The Authors Guild has long duked it out with companies like Google, who it sued in a high-profile case over book scanning. This week, the Guild also called on the Department of Justice to investigate Amazon's book-selling practices.