'Six Strikes' Anti-Piracy Program Now In Effect

Dennis Faas's picture

A new anti-piracy program, which gives users six warnings for suspected violations, has now taken effect. However, some experts worry that the program will have little effect on Internet piracy.

The plan is the work of the Center for Copyright Information, a partnership of the major US industry associations in television, movies, and music. The group has reached a deal with the five largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs), including AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon.

Content Producers Work Alongside ISPs to Prevent Piracy

Under the agreement, known as the Copyright Alert System, the content producers will monitor file-sharing websites' copyright-infringing activity. They'll then pass on IP addresses (which identify an individual computer or connection) to the Internet Service Provider.

When the Internet provider receives these complaints, they'll check to see which customer the IP address refers to and begin issuing alerts.

Exactly what message these alerts contain will depends on the Internet provider in question, but the general idea is that the first two will be "educational," meaning they simply remind the user that piracy is illegal.

Copyright Alerts 5, 6 Could Mean Slowdown

The next two alerts will require the user to click a button to formally acknowledge that they have received the warning. Until they do so, they can't get back online.

The final two alerts could involve the Internet provider issuing minor technical sanctions, such as slowing down the user's connection speed for a 48 hour period.

The Center for Copyright Information has suggested this penalty could involve slowing the connection to 56 kbps, a speed most Internet users haven't seen since ditching dial-up.

However, AT&T has already said it won't impose any such sanctions on alleged offenders. (Source: thenextweb.com)

Accused Allowed to Challenge Warnings

The system allows the user to challenge any of the warnings by saying they weren't responsible for the copyright violation. However, to do so they'll need to pay a $35 fee, refundable only if the ISP finds in their favor. (Source: refinery29.com)

It's not clear what happens when a user receives their sixth and final warning. What we do know is that copyright holders have the right to take the matter to court.

The big problem with this system is that ISPs are extremely wary of actually punishing users (for example, by slowing connections) unless a court has ordered them to do so.

There's also some serious question about whether an IP address in itself is enough to prove a person is guilty of illegal file sharing, particularly to the standard required in court.

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