Six Strikes Counter-piracy Program Rolls Out This Week
February 26, 2013

Copyright Alert System Six Strikes Program To Roll Out This Week

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A number of Internet service providers will begin rolling out a long-delayed “Copyright Alert System,” (CAS) or so-called “six strikes” program, over the next several days that allows content owners to monitor peer-to-peer networks for illegal file transfers.

If illicit activity is detected, content owners would be able to notify the offending users' Internet service provider, who would alert the primary account owner and take other actions to deter future illegal downloads.

The counter-piracy program is the brainchild of the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), which includes artists, members of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and others in the entertainment industry, along with major ISPs such as AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon.

The group devised the CAS plan in 2011, which involves a six-stage warning system that would progressively notify, and eventually penalize, alleged online copyright infringers.

“I am pleased to announce that today marks the beginning of the implementation phase of the Copyright Alert System,” wrote Jill Lesser, CCI´s Executive Director, in a blog posting on Monday.

“Implementation marks the culmination of many months of work on this groundbreaking and collaborative effort to curb online piracy and promote the lawful use of digital music, movies and TV shows.

“The CAS marks a new way to reach consumers who may be engaging in peer-to-peer (P2P) piracy,” Lesser wrote.

The first two CAS alerts will consist of innocuous emails informing an account owner of their activity and suggesting legal ways to download material. The next two alerts are more severe, requiring account owners to acknowledge receipt of their notice. If the first four alerts fail to deter illegal downloading, the final two alerts include "mitigation measures," ranging from mandatory copyright tutorials to 48-hour reductions in service speeds.

The severity of these penalties will be at the discretion of the ISP, although no provider will terminate service under CAS, regardless of the number of strikes an account holder accumulates.

The six-strikes program includes a dispute mechanism that lets primary account holders appeal allegations of illegal downloading for a $35 fee. The fee is waived for users who win their appeal, and those who can demonstrate financial hardship.

CCI has provided details about the CAS program on its Website, including a FAQ section, a video explaining how the six-strikes program works, an outline of the Independent Review Process and several consumer oriented legal sources for music, movies and television shows.

However, with the exception of Verizon, none of the participating ISPs — AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable — have posted any details about the program anywhere on their websites.

CAS has come under fierce criticism from privacy and consumer advocate groups who say content providers should not be allowed to monitor consumers' online behavior, and that ISPs should not be able to scale back the Internet speeds of paying customers.

But in a recent On The Media interview, Lesser downplayed concerns over Internet service slowdowns as punishment for copyright infringement.

"No, it really isn't the same," she said, in response to being asked whether Internet speed reductions are equivalent to shutting down service.

"The reduction in speed, which one or more of the ISPs will be using as a mitigation measure, first of all it's only 48 hours, which is far from termination," she said.

"I think at the point where you have received ... your fifth copyright alert, you have acknowledged two of them, and you are still engaged in copyright infringement, then that person might need an extra, 'You know, you really need to stop.'"

Lesser suggested content providers should take further action against users who continue illicit downloads beyond a sixth strike, hinting at a CAS provision that lets content owners pursue lawsuits against such offenders.

"There are certainly other ways that content owners address those issues, but for us, it's reaching the casual infringer, which is a large percentage of peer-to-peer piracy," she said.

Lesser has previously told ArsTechnica the CAS program would not be effective against the behavior of those who use a VPN, Tor, or similar tools that obscure a user´s digital footprint.