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February 26, 2013

Copyright Alert System Launches to Catch Online Movie, Music Thieves

Termination of Consumers’ Internet Service Not Part of Program

Americans who illegally download TV shows, movies and music are losing their anonymity thanks to the launch of the Copyright Alert System (CAS) this week.

The CAS, widely known as the ‘six strikes’ system got underway Feb. 25 in a bid to “curb online piracy and promote the lawful use of digital music, movies and TV shows,” said Center for Copyright Information (CCI) executive director Jill Lesser in a blog post.

“The CAS marks a new way to reach consumers who may be engaging in peer-to-peer (P2P) piracy and I am excited that our new website features information on the CAS, the Independent Review Process, copyright, P2P networks, and numerous consumer oriented legal sources for music, movies and television shows.”

The CAS, which was first announced in July 2011, will provide a standardized approach that all ISPs will use. Under the system, AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon and other Internet service providers send a succession of warnings to users who allegedly share copyrighted files through peer-to-peer networks.

“Consumers whose accounts have been used to share copyrighted content over P2P networks illegally (or without authority) will receive alerts that are meant to educate rather than punish, and direct them to legal alternatives,” Lesser said.

If users continue to download illegally, ISPs will introduce “mitigation measures.” Those measures will differ from ISP to ISP. Although most ISPs have yet to reveal specifics, TorrentFreak reported last fall AT&T intends to punish users who receive a fifth and sixth alert by sending them to an educational page. To revoke access denial, AT&T customers must complete an online education tutorial on copyright.”

A temporary slow-down of Internet access speed is another, potential punishment, Lesser wrote in an Oct. 18 blog post.

Despite worries to the contrary, “termination of a consumer’s Internet service is not a part of any ISP’s Copyright Alert System program,” Lesser wrote. “This is not a ‘six-strikes-and-you’re-out’ system that would result in termination.  There’s no ‘strikeout’ in this program.”

Rather, the series of alerts is intended not only to make consumers conscious of illegal Internet activity connected to their accounts, but to offer information on how such activity can be prevented and provide information on accessing digital content legally, Lesser said.

The system will allow consumers to seek review of alerts they deem to be errors. Under the system, which the American Arbitration Association (AAA) will operate, consumers can ask “a trained, impartial professional” to review an alert.

The CAS was supposed to launch late last year but was put on hold due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Storm damage put the CCI’s testing behind schedule.