File-sharers, beware: By July 12, major US Internet service providers (ISPs) will voluntarily begin serving as copyright police for the entertainment industry, according to Cary Sherman, chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The so-called “six-strikes” plan is said to be one of the most effective anti-piracy efforts ever established in the US.
The “gradual response” program works like this: ISPs will automatically monitor the Web activity of their customers. If a subscriber is found to be downloading copyrighted content illegally, their ISP will send them an “educational” notice saying such activity has been detected from IP addresses linked to their account. If that customer continues to download content illegally, the ISP will send “confirmation notices” to make sure they received the original notices. If copyright infringing activity continues still, the ISP then reserves the right to throttle Web access speeds, or cut off a subscriber’s Internet access altogether, at least until that user agrees to stop pirating copyrighted material. According to CNet, the ISPs have the option to skip these “mitigation measures,” and none have yet committed to completely cutting Internet access.
“Each ISP has to develop their infrastructure for automating the system,” said Sherman, at a CNet event in New York this week. This is required “for establishing the database so they can keep track of repeat infringers, so they know that this is the first notice or the third notice. Every ISP has to do it differently depending on the architecture of its particular network. Some are nearing completion and others are a little further from completion.”
While the RIAA, MPAA, and even the White House support this measure, many questions still remain. For instance, what about customers that get Internet access from smaller providers? Will those companies be pressured into jumping on the Hollywood bandwagon? Moreover, given the staunch public opposition to governmental efforts to impose restrictions on the Internet, how will people react if they lose their connection altogether? Our prediction: Dark days are ahead.
[Image via Leah-Anne Thompson/Shutterstock]