Just a heads up: you might wanna curb your pirating (if that’s your thing) starting next week. Internet Service Providers are stepping up their game, care of the Copyright Alert System (CAS).
AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon have committed to the anti-piracy initiative. Speculation points to Comcast taking the lead, launching on Monday; other ISPs will implement the CAS as the week goes on.
What Does This Mean For You?
Well, details are slim — some ISPs are staying tight-lipped on the structure of the program. What we do know is that the CAS (also called the Six Strike System) will be a program of graduated punishment. Verizon and Time Warner have revealed a bit about their plans of action.
There will be three degrees of punishment:
In the first, ISPs will warn account holders via phone and e-mail that they are suspected of piracy. No biggie.
In the second stage, ISPs will ensure that the user responds to the allegations against them, in the way of pop-ups. The user may also have to read and complete educational materials. Kind of like traffic school — for the Internet.
In the last stage, ISPs like Verizon will slow Internet speeds to nearly useless levels. AT&T revealed that they will block access to popular sites at this level.
Specifics may vary from company to company, so keep an eye on your Terms of Service.
What comes next is up in the air. While copyright holders may file suit at this juncture, they probably won’t. The effort targets the once-in-a-while, casual pirate for whom the behavior has become normal. Ron Wheeler, a Vice President at Fox, had this to say:
This is not about suing users at all. This system is not designed to produce lawsuits—it’s designed to produce education.
It Wasn’t Me!
As expected, the Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America backed program has garnered some pointed criticism, especially because there is no provision freeing the account holder of responsibility for what others do on their connection. If your perpetually broke neighbor leeches your connection and pirates, that’s on you. If your spouse or child pirates, that’s on you, dear account holder. Not only is it harsh — its also a very murky legal situation. Some jurisdictions have ruled that what anyone other than the account holder does on the connection is none of the account holder’s responsibility. Expect to see suits filed concerning this point.
As it stands, it doesn’t seem that cafes and similar business that routinely offer Wi-Fi will be impacted by this facet of the CAS.
CAS = Foolproof?
No. Not even a little bit. For goodness sake, MarkMonitor, the folks who developed the software used for the CAS, recently flagged HBO.com for streaming content owned by HBO. On top of that, an independent consultant hired to monitor MarkMonitor lobbied for the RIAA. So much for that whole unbiased thing.
If you are falsely accused, however, you can put up $35 to have your case reviewed. And hey! If you win your appeal, you get it back! If not, well…you’re out of 35 bucks. Sorry.
Only five ISPs are partnered in the Copyright Alarm System right now, but that may change. Keep up to date with what your particular ISP might be cooking up if you’re not already impacted.
What Say You?
Will the Copyright Alarm System do anything to deter piracy?