The wait is finally over. After being delayed in 2011, and again in July of 2012, then yet again in December of 2012, the “six strikes” Copyright Alert System (CAS) goes into effect today. The MPAA and the RIAA, along with five major ISPs in the United States created the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) along with a plan for dealing with the problem of copyright infringement over peer to peer networks.
According to the CCI, the process is as follows:
Artists, moviemakers and other owners of content join public peer-2-peer (P2P) networks to see if the music, movies, and TV shows they’ve made available are being shared without permission and in violation of U.S. copyright law. If they notice that a file is being shared illegally, they notify the appropriate Internet Service Provider (ISP) and that ISP, in turn, passes on that notice to their subscriber as a Copyright Alert.
Subscribers are responsible for making sure their Internet account is not used for copyright infringement. Copyright Alerts assist in this process by:
- Making accountholders aware that unlawful content sharing may have happened using their internet account;
- Educating accountholders on how they can prevent copyright infringement from happening again and
- Providing consumers information about ways to access digital content legally.
- After receiving one Alert, we believe most consumers will take the appropriate steps to avoid additional Alerts. However, if copyright infringement continues on a subscriber’s account, our member ISPs can take steps that temporarily affect that subscriber’s Internet experience.
Depending on the service provider, the ISP’s range of actions may include:
- A temporary reduction in Internet speed;
- A temporary downgrade in Internet service tier or
- Redirection to a landing page for a set period of time, until a subscriber contacts the ISP or until the subscriber completes an online copyright education program.
Before each Alert is sent, a rigorous process ensures the content identified is definitely protected by copyright and that the notice is forwarded to the right Subscriber. Nonetheless, if a subscriber feels that he or she has received a one or more Alerts in error, CCI has created an Independent Review Process for subscribers to pursue before any additional measures that may impact service are imposed. This process is run by the American Arbitration Association and designed just for the Copyright Alert System.
The five ISPs participating in the program are AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner, Cablevision, and Comcast. AT&T plans to block users’ access to some of the most visited websites in the event of an alert, until the completion of a copyright course. Verizon, meanwhile, plans to throttle (slow down) the Internet speed of the accused. Time Warner will temporarily block access to the Internet, and it’s expected that Cablevision and Comcast have similar plans, although they are not yet known.
The CAS is only targeting peer to peer networks, so those using file locker services, Usenet, or IRC are in the clear for now. Users wanting to shield themselves while still using BitTorrent or other peer to peer networks are employing proxies and VPN services to mask their IP address, preventing their identification.
What about if someone receives an alert in error?
Subscribers who receive multiple Alerts can file for an Independent Review if they feel that Alerts have been sent in error. Initial educational Alerts are not eligible for the Independent Review Process. If infringing activity on your account continues and you reach the mitigation stage (where your ISP is going to take corrective measures), you will be offered the opportunity to ask for a review.
If you believe you have received one or more of the Alerts in error – or the allegations about your account are otherwise inaccurate – you may request an Independent Review. The Independent Review Program is run by the American Arbitration Association (AAA), an organization that provides fair and neutral alternative dispute resolution. In order to file a request for Independent Review, you must do so from your ISP’s system. When you are presented with the review opportunity, your ISP will provide a link to the AAA’s system where you will be able to register and view those Alerts eligible for review. Please click here to see the grounds or accepted “reasons” for requesting an Independent Review.
Once you choose to have your Alerts reviewed, you will be asked to complete a series of steps, including paying a $35 fee (you may request a hardship waiver). Once a request for review is filed, any possible Mitigation Measures (i.e. an action that would temporarily affect your Internet experience) will be suspended pending the outcome.
So if you receive an alert in error, you have to pay money to fight it? That sounds reasonable.