If you’ve ever illegally downloaded copyrighted content, the new “six strikes” rule may make you think twice before doing it again.
The new Copyright Alert System makes it easier to catch Internet piracy as it happens by issuing warnings through your ISP. While all ISPs aren’t participating, enough are to make consumers and even businesses offering free Wi-Fi a little concerned.
* The Center for Copyright Information partnered with several major ISPs to create the Copyright Alert System in an effort to stop Internet pirates. The new system officially took effect on Monday.
* The system works by allowing copyright owners to search for their work on P2P networks. When a file is found, they report the IP addresses of the file’s sharers to each individual ISP. As a result, the ISP then alerts the users. Copyright owners will have to join the networks in order to find their files.
* Users will be given a few inconsequential reminders to begin with. If violations continue (up to six), ISPs will take more drastic action such as throttling speeds to a dial up crawl, blocking popular websites and even requiring users to take a copyright infringement course before they can access the Internet again.
* While copyright owners, including businesses, are likely to embrace the new anti-piracy actions, some businesses are afraid of the consequences they might face. Businesses offering free Wi-Fi to patrons could find themselves at the mercy of the “six strikes” rule without doing anything wrong. Since businesses don’t control what their customers do, a single customer using a free public service to download copyrighted content could result in the business losing their Wi-Fi service.
* If Wi-Fi slows down or leads all users to a landing page requesting they take a course before continuing, they’ll likely head somewhere else. For many businesses, free Wi-Fi is necessary to compete with surrounding businesses.
* The best thing a business offering Wi-Fi can do is contact their ISP for details about how it will affect them. They should also post notifications asking customers to avoid illegal downloading at the location to prevent any problems.
* While you can appeal alerts, it will cost you. You can only appeal alerts after your ISP has taken action against you. After receiving a Mitigation Alert, you have 14 days to appeal. Each appeal costs $35, but you can request a hardship waiver if necessary. Any measures taken are suspended until the appeal has been reviewed. If the appeal is successful, your fee is refunded. If not, the Mitigation Measure taken by your ISP goes back into effect.
* Currently, only five ISPs are taking part in the Copyright Alert System. Companies include Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon, Cablevision and AT&T. These five companies represent five of the biggest ISPs in the US.
The success of the “six strikes” rule is yet to be seen. Internet rights activists are likely to try to undermine the new actions as they feel the ISP shouldn’t be the judge and jury. Some analysts believe the system doesn’t really target hard core offenders, while others believe it’s a perfect first step.