Comcast Anti-Piracy Policy Offers Alternative To 'Six Strikes'
August 6, 2013

Comcast Anti-Piracy Policy Offers Alternative To ‘Six Strikes’

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

In a bid to encourage customers to avoid piracy, Comcast may be ready to implement an alternative to the "Six Strikes" policy. The new approach, detailed by Variety, would "provide offending users with transactional opportunities to access legal versions of copyright-infringing videos as they're being downloaded."

Under the alleged new system, when a customer begins to download a file from a peer-to-peer site, they'll receive a popup notification directing them to a site where they can legally download the content they're attempting to pirate. These customers could be redirected to Comcast's own video-on-demand service or other libraries, including Amazon. These third-party content providers would give Comcast a cut of any purchase made from this new system.

Comcast's alleged new program could work as an alternative to the existing "six strikes" policy that other cable providers voluntarily take part in.

The Copyright Alert System, (or CAS) often referred to as the "six strikes" policy, is a graduated system wherein ISPs monitor traffic and begin alerting and educating users about piracy. Once a user acquires the full six strikes, ISPs will be allowed to take "mitigation measures" to keep the user from pirating any further content. These mitigation measures may include bandwidth throttling.

ISPs such as AT&T and Verizon have voluntarily been involved in this program since February, though some have said it's quite difficult to receive such a warning. The Daily Dot, for instance, set out to earn one of these warnings when the CAS first rolled out earlier this year.

After pirating some of the most popular content on the web (including episodes of HBO's Game of Thrones and music from Rihanna) The Daily Dot said they never received any notifications from Verizon, the online newspaper's ISP. The site also notes users who simply hide their ISP or only download content without seeding it are safe from the six strikes system.

Comcast's new system, which is outlined by Variety, stands apart from the six strikes in a few key ways.

First, in the CAS system, users are to receive emails when they cross the boundaries and earn themselves a strike. Users who believe the notices were unwarranted or without merit can pay $35 to contest it with the American Arbitration Association, a fee which is refunded if they win the case. Comcast's new system will work in real time, delivering a popup notification almost at the exact moment a user attempts to download pirated content. The CAS style of alert could take weeks to arrive in a subscriber's inbox.

Variety also claims Comcast's new system could be more educational and informative than the current CAS methods. Rather than wait on an email to arrive weeks after the incident, the new method occurs quickly and provides direct alternatives to piracy. The newspaper also claims some users might be confused by well-designed websites into thinking they are legally downloading their content. With these warnings, even users who aren't aware they are illegally downloading content will be alerted and redirected.

Should Comcast's CAS alternative prove fruitful, other ISPs could soon follow suit with similar programs to curb piracy.