Over the past decade, we’ve heard all about the piracy wars, copyright laws, DMCA, etc. We’ve seen large file sharing websites shutdown, we’ve heard about people getting sued by the RIAA or MPAA for thousands of dollars. This past Monday, a new program has been put in place by some of the largest ISPs (internet service providers) that hopes to put more stops on copyright infringement. The new program is called the Copyright Alert System, otherwise known as Six Strikes. How does it work? Should you worry?
The new rules are being administered by the Center For Copyright Information, a nonprofit entity made up of theoretically independent representatives from such agencies as the Internet Education Foundation and the Future of Privacy Forum.
Under the new system, Internet subscribers accused of online piracy will receive a series of alerts. Critics have called the system “six strikes” because the sixth copyright violation is expected to lead to punishment from the Internet providers.
The Copyright Alert System only monitors peer-to-peer traffic from public BitTorrent trackers. That means they’re not looking at private BitTorrent trackers, email attachments, file lockers, or anywhere else. Basically, if you’re not using BitTorrent you have nothing to worry about.
Under the new agreement, ISPs are not required to terminate your service; however, ISPs are required by law to have a termination policy in place for repeat copyright infringers under the terms of the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Act.
If you think you’ve been accused unfairly, you can appeal and ask for an independent review. All it will cost you is a $35 filing fee, which the independent reviewer could choose to waive. If the appeal is unsatisfactory, you could also choose to challenge the accusation in a court of law.
Some of the ISPs that have agreed to this are AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable.
First Alert: In response to a notice from a copyright owner, an ISP will send an online alert to a subscriber, such as an email, notifying the subscriber that his/her account may have been misused for content theft, that content theft is illegal and a violation of published policies, and that consequences could result from any such conduct. This first alert will also direct the subscriber to educational resources which will (i) help him/her to check the security of his/her computer and any Wifi network, (ii) provide explanatory steps which will help to avoid content theft in the future and (iii) provide information about the abundant sources of lawful music, film and TV content.
Second Alert: If the alleged activity persists despite the receipt of the first alert, the subscriber may get a second similar alert that will underscore the educational messages, or the ISP may in its discretion proceed to the next alert.
Third Alert: If the subscribers account again appears to have been used for content theft, he/she will receive another alert, much like the initial alerts. However, this alert will provide a conspicuous mechanism (a click-through pop-up notice, landing page, or similar mechanism) asking the subscriber to acknowledge receipt of this alert. This is designed to ensure that the subscriber is aware of the third copyright alert and reminds the subscriber that content theft conducted through their account could lead to consequences under the law and published policies.
Fourth Alert: If the subscribers account again appears to have been used for content theft, the subscriber will receive yet another alert that again requires the subscriber to acknowledge receipt.
Fifth Alert: If the subscribers account again appears to have been used for content theft, the ISP will send yet another alert. At this time, the ISP may take one of several steps, specified in its published policies, reasonably calculated to stop future content theft. These steps, referred to as Mitigation Measures, may include, for example: temporary reductions of Internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright, or other measures that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter. ISPs are not obligated to impose any Mitigation Measure which would disable or be reasonably likely to disable the subscribers voice telephone service (including the ability to call 911), e-mail account, or any security or health service (such as home security or medical monitoring). The use of the mitigation measure is waivable by the ISP at this point.
Sixth Alert: Whether or not the ISP has previously waived the Mitigation Measure, if the subscribers account again appears to have been used for content theft, the ISP will send another alert and will implement a Mitigation Measure as described above. As described above, it’s likely that very few subscribers who after having received multiple alerts, will persist (or allow others to persist) in the content theft.