It was widely reported that the Copyright Alert System was “turned on” yesterday. The CAS, or more widely known as six strikes, detects the illegal sharing of copyrighted materials over P2P networks and alerts users via their ISP. There are a few glaring problems with it, but inaction on the part of government suggests lawmakers are fine with it. One politician, however, has recently spoken up against it.
Carl Bergmanson, the Gubernatorial Candidate in New Jersey, recently said that the six strikes policy was no good for the Internet or consumers:
“The internet has become an essential part of living in the 21st century, it uses public infrastructure and it is time we treat it as a public utility. The electric company has no say over what you power with their service, the ISPs have no right to decide what you can and can not download”.Bergmanson says that he doesn’t condone piracy, and added that he finds it unethical. That being said, he says that piracy is a result of bad laws.
“…it is not surprising that as the law evolves to disrespect the public domain, that the public would grow to disrespect copyrights.”I think we can add fair use to the number of things that laws continue to “disrespect” that lead people to piracy. The Internet has changed the consumer/provider dynamic, yet the content provider refuses to update their business model to reflect this new reality.
Aside from the argument against more restrictive copyright laws, it’s far more interesting to see Bergmanson address the idea of the Internet being a public utility. Some of the Internet’s most outspoken proponents have suggested such a reclassification in order to ensure that more people get access to affordable Internet. It’s not going to happen anytime soon, however, as major telecommunications companies have powerful lobbying arms.
All that being said, Bergmanson and his ideas will probably not see the light of day in New Jersey. Current governor Chris Christie is a local favorite, and he has the support of some powerful people in the Internet business if his recent fundraiser hosted by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is any indication.
Digital rights advocates wary of new 'six strikes' initiative for online piracy
The Copyright Alert System (CAS) was devised by a coalition of internet service providers (ISPs), content owners and the US government to curb illegal downloading by alerting "casual infringers" when illegal filesharing is detected on their IP address.
Under the system, content owners identify illegally uploaded content on peer-to-peer networks. AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable or Verizon are alerted if the IP address providing the content is their customer. Then, the ISP alerts the customer associated with the account.
"This is just a great big expensive system to snoop on and intimidate people who are probably mostly good actors," said Corynne McSherry, a lawyer and intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Initially, the alerts are intended to be educational. They tell the customer what happened and how they can prevent it from happening again. If pirating continues to happen through the IP address, users will receive the message again, followed by messages that ask them to confirm they have seen the alerts. The fifth and sixth alert are called mitigation alerts and will temporarily slow users' internet speeds, depending on the ISP.
After that, the alerts stop, even if the user continues pirating, but the record of copyright infringement remains. How that could be used in court is undetermined, since the system just launched.
"That kind of backroom deal is not appropriate. It's certainly not how we should be doing copyright policy," McSherry said. "And that's what this is, it's a private copyright system and it doesn't have the protections and balances that the public copyright system has."
"If you were in a court of law and you were faced with an accusation of infringement I assure you, you would be able to examine the system that identified you," said McSherry. "We don't have that here, it's all secret."
People who have open Wi-Fi signals or share their internet with others will be held responsible for pirating through their IP address, even if they didn't do it. The system allows for people to contest charges by requesting a review from their ISP, which costs $35 and must be done within two weeks of receiving a mitigation alert.
McSherry said that people engaged in wholesale commercial infringement wouldn't be fazed by the system because they are familiar with ways around the system. Average users can also easily hide their IP address with a variety of free online services. Users can also switch ISPs, though in most places, those five providers are the only option for internet service.
Jill Lesser, executive director of the Center for Copyright Information said in an interview with On the Media that the program is meant to abet the "casual infringer".
"We hope that by the time people get to alerts number five or six, they will stop," Lesser said. "Once they've been mitigated, they've received several alerts. We're just not gonna send them any more alerts because they're not the kind of customer that we're going to reach with this program."
The method of educating and alerting is a departure from the industry groups including the RIAA and Motion Picture Association of America to stop pirating earlier attempts to stop pirating. In the early 2000s, content providers launched tens of thousands of lawsuits against individual users. Most chose to accept settlements to avoid cases, but one person who chose to fight saw $675,000 in damages for illegally downloading music in high school.
This failed to have a significant effect on pirating, and the industry stopped suing these type of casual users several years ago.
Address the Six Strikes plan being pursued by AT&T, Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and VerizonSeveral internet providers have unveiled their "Six strike" plan. The purpose is just as it seeks to fight copyright infringement and protect IP. The problem however is that to due so would require the providers to monitor data use and compile records of said use, infringing on privacy. On top of that if they believe you to be infringing they will begin throttling with no due process, unless you pay 35$ for an appeal, making it hard for you to connect to and search on the internet. The internet is increasingly becoming far more than a luxury every day. It is the fuel of our economy; enabling commerce, spurring innovation around the world, and spreading the ideals of the future. This plan will halt the flow of information and lock the poor out with no reprieve. The costs are not worth it.
'Six Strike' System, Slowing Or Suspending Internet For Illegal Downloads, Takes Effect Monday
The new "Copyright Alert System," or "six strikes" system, is the result of a partnership between major Internet service providers and the entertainment industry to deter theft of copyrighted material online. The film and recording industries say online piracy costs them billions of dollars in lost revenue each year. A trade group representing the entertainment industry and Internet providers announced the move in a blog post on Monday.
Under the new system, Internet subscribers accused of online piracy will receive a series of alerts. Critics have called the system "six strikes" because the sixth copyright violation is expected to lead to punishment from the Internet providers.
The details of each Internet provider's alert system are still unknown, but each one is expected to be slightly different. Under Verizon's proposed plan, which leaked online last month, alleged copyright violators could have their Internet speeds slowed to dial-up speeds for two to three days.
Under Time Warner Cable's plan, the company will temporarily suspend Internet service to alleged copyright violators until they call a customer service representative and agree to stop pirating copyrighted material, Time Warner Cable spokesman Alex Dudley told The Huffington Post last month.
In a blog post Monday, Jill Lesser, executive director of the Center for Copyright Information, wrote that the alerts "are meant to educate rather than punish" and will direct them to legal alternatives and allow them to seek an independent review if they believe they are innocent.
Under Verizon's proposed plan, alleged copyright violators must pay $35 to have an arbitrator review whether they are guilty of Internet piracy. If the arbitrator rules in their favor, their money is refunded and their Internet speeds go untouched.
Some industry observers have questioned whether the alert system will be effective. Some note that Internet users who frequently engage in illegal file-sharing often use private networks or proxy services to disguise the location of their computers. Others worry that small businesses that provide Wi-Fi access could be accused of copyright violations if their customers engaged in illegal file-sharing on their networks.
Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a public interest group, said the new copyright alert system "will be a significant test of whether a voluntary copyright enforcement system can work while at the same time protecting the rights of Internet users."
"I urge both the participating Internet service providers and the content companies to be more open and transparent about how the CAS works and, after the system has been in place for a time, to provide the public data that shows how the system is working," Sohn said in a statement.
Today the MPAA and RIAA, helped by five major Internet providers in the United States, will start to warn BitTorrent pirates.
The parties launched the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) and agreed on a system through which copyright infringers are warned that their behavior is unacceptable. After five or six warnings ISPs may then take a variety of repressive measures.
The scheme was initially announced during the summer of 2011 and after a series of delays it goes live today.
“Over the course of the next several days our participating ISPs will begin rolling out the system,” CCI Executive Director Jill Lesser just announced.
“Practically speaking, this means our content partners will begin sending notices of alleged P2P copyright infringement to ISPs, and the ISPs will begin forwarding those notices in the form of Copyright Alerts to consumers,” she adds.
Strangely enough, none o
f the Internet providers has officially announced what mitigation measures they will take to punish repeated infringers. TorrentFreak asked CCI to fill us in, but the organization doesn’t have this information either.
“Unfortunately the ISPs have not yet provided us with the exact mitigation measures,” a CCI spokesperson told us.
From leaked information we previously learned that AT&T will block users’ access to some of the most frequently visited websites on the Internet, until they complete a copyright course. Verizon will slow down the connection speeds of repeated pirates, and Time Warner Cable will temporarily interrupt people’s ability to browse the Internet.
The two remaining providers, Cablevison and Comcast, are expected to take similar measures. None of the ISPs will permanently disconnect repeat infringers as part of the plan.
Some skeptics have pointed out that the copyright alert system wont have much effect since there are many ways to beat the system. BitTorrent users, for example, can protect their privacy and prevent monitoring by using a VPN, proxy or seedbox.
Alternatively, some determined pirates may switch to other platforms that are not monitored, including Usenet, cyberlockers, streaming sites or offline swapping. Those who use private BitTorrent trackers may be safe for now, but monitoring company MarkMonitor was advised to start eyeing these sites as well.
For CCI and their partners these workarounds are not a major problem. They have said from the start that the program aims to educate the public, in particular more casual file-sharers.
While the copyright alert system is much more reasonable than the equivalents in France and New Zealand, there is the worrying possibility that it will be used to gather evidence to start legal action against individuals.
As we reported previously, Internet providers will have to inform copyright holders about which IP-addresses are repeatedly flagged. The MPAA and RIAA can then use this information to ask the court for a subpoena, so they can obtain the personal details of the account holder.
This possibility was also confirmed by leaked documents from AT&T.
“After the fifth alert, the content owner may pursue legal action against the customer, and may seek a court order requiring AT&T to turn over personal information to assist the litigation,” AT&T explained.
There’s no concrete indication that repeated infringers will be taken to court, and if this happens it’s not part of the copyright alert system.
More on this, and the other missing details on the “six strikes” system, will become clear during the coming months.
The Copyright Alert System (CAS) is known in most circles as ‘six strikes,’ a reference to its main deterrent method: escalating response to activities that violate copyright.
In short, here’s how it will work: content folks – think movie studios, labels and the like – will “join public peer-2-peer (P2P) networks” to see if their content is up for grabs, according to the Center For Copyright Information. Given that it will be – nearly everything is – the content denizens will ping ISPs about the issue, and the ISP will then reach out to the offending subscriber.
In the words of the Center, “[s]ubscribers are responsible for making sure their Internet account is not used for copyright infringement.” Thus, if your Internet connection is used by your sister’s husband’s dog to download Kanye when you are on vacation and they are house sitting, too bad. It’s still on you.
In a practical sense, we have reached a new age of copyright infringement and enforcement. This is now, for real:
Over the course of the next several days our participating ISPs will begin rolling out the system. Practically speaking, this means our content partners will begin sending notices of alleged P2P copyright infringement to ISPs, and the ISPs will begin forwarding those notices in the form of Copyright Alerts to consumers.
Six Degrees of PainNaturally, the amount of pain that can be brought to bear through the six strikes system will determine how much you have to fear if you are a fan of pirating your content. If you are a subscriber, as WebProNews notes, of ”AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner [or]Verizon,” this is worth listening to.
The warnings are tiered into three categories: education, acknowledgement, and mitigation.
In the educational phase, users will be informed that they have been busted. This will be something of a shock, I would think. It’s no lawsuit but to be told that you have been caught pirating someone else’s content won’t be a welcome note. The infringing party will be given links and information on how to snag their content legally in the future. If this will drive iTunes sales or Spotify downloads remains to be seen.
The second level of warning, the acknowledgement phase, will force users to complete an action, watch a video, or something else to get past the system. The goal here, it appears, is to disrupt the user in a small way to make an impact.
Finally, the last phase, for strikes five and six, appears to differ by ISP, but via The Verge, here is what Verizon customers will be served with:
Fifth and Sixth Alerts:Key: Your ISP will not be able to cut off your Internet connection as part of the CAS. So, the worst you can be is marked as a serial offender and slowed down.
Redirect your browser to a special web page where you will be given several options.
Agree to an immediate temporary (2 or 3 day) reduction in the speed of your Internet access service to 256kbps (a little faster than typical dial-up speed);
Agree to the same temporary (2 or 3 day) speed reduction but delay it for a period of 14 days;or
Ask for a review of the validity of your alerts by the American Arbitration Association. There is a $35 review fee (that you will get back if you win). For subscribers who meet certain need-based eligibility criteria. the review fee will be waived by the AAA.
So What?What matters here is that the CAS is a system that is hard to bemoan overmuch: it doesn’t cut off your Internet connection, is slow to slow you, and doesn’t share your personal information from your ISP to the copyright holder in normal operation. It is far more intrusive than what was in place before.
Naturally, the CAS won’t deter those most determined to get around it. You can VPN, private share, or simply switch to streaming services that serve illicit content instead of downloading files directly, as ComputerWorld notes.
Still, most folks don’t know about that sort of thing. Instead, they will be about their merry way when the warnings start to pile up. This will put immense pressure on them, especially once the later tiers of warnings appear. Many will, I suspect, switch to the proffered free offerings.
And in the age of Spotify, Pandora, Netflix, and Amazon Instant Video, the reasons to pirate are on the decline. Certainly, there are endless asinine content restrictions online, as television studios and channels are slow to embrace the Internet as little more than a step-child delivery system, but change has been afoot for long enough now that the reasons to pirate are diminished.
The CAS exists now. It’s a new era.
Top Image Credit: Kheel Center
CAS is an effort by content owners (mostly in the entertainment industry) to monitor public data on peer-to-peer networks for what they consider illegal sharing of their music, movies or software. Content owners can share the Internet Protocol addresses of alleged offenders to the accused's ISPs, which then sets off a series of escalating actions in an attempt to put the kibosh on illegal activity. These range from emails with links to legal media consumption methods to severely throttling connection speeds or terminating access. Copyright owners, meanwhile, can open lawsuits against users who don't stop pirating content after repeated warnings, a power they have always held.
Some groups already view CAS as technology advocates' next big showdown: Demand Progress is boldly accusing ISPs of being "mega-corporations" which "serve as judge, jury and executioner." Evan Greer, campaign manager at Internet advocacy group Fight for the Future, argues that Six Strikes will "create a non-transparent system where your ISP is literally spying on you — watching everything you download and share."
The claim that ISPs will actually be empowered to "literally spy" on people is questionable — it's the content owners that will monitor peer-to-peer networks and give publicly available IP data to ISPs. The Center for Copyright Protection (CCI), where CAS originated, insists that safeguards to protect consumers' private data are in place. When pressed on his argument that CAS allows ISPs to spy on users, Greer explained she believes CAS violates people's reasonable expectation of privacy.
"CCI is claiming that this information is public — technically, anything you send over the Internet that is not encrypted is public to someone — but that doesn’t make it fair game to systematically use against individual Internet users," she said.
"Most people have no idea that their information is being tracked in this way.""Most people have no idea that their information is being tracked in this way."
Demand Progress and Fight for the Future, groups which have worked together on technology policy advocacy before, advise concerned users to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN), software which masks Internet users' online activity.
Meanwhile, many of those against CAS have taken to Twitter to express their views:
"Our ultimate take is it's kind of a wait-and-see, this could work out OK, it could play, in fact, a positive role, but how it plays out in actual practice is just something that we're going to have to closely scrutinize, because
there are certainly ways where if something were to go wrong it could end up having an unfair, negative impact on users," said Song.there are certainly ways where if something were to go wrong it could end up having an unfair, negative impact on users," said Song.
Song added that CDT doesn't "believe it would be appropriate to suspend users' Internet accounts based on allegations that haven't been tested in court," though he also doesn't believe ISPs will actually go so far as to cut infringing consumers off, even though the CAS agreement allows such a move.
A spokesperson for Time Warner Cable, one of the major ISPs implementing CAS, told Mashable that it will not throttle data or terminate customers' access as a penalty under CAS, though he did add the provider has long maintained the right to do so under its terms of service.
Factors likely keeping potential opponents of CAS at bay are several privacy and civil liberties safeguards that Song and others are hoping will prevent undue violations of consumers' Internet experiences: First, account holders accused of piracy can appeal those claims for a small fee, with that fee waived if an appeal is granted or if the consumer demonstrates financial hardship. Second, several well-known Internet advocates sit on a CCI advisory board, which ostensibly exists to give consumers a voice in CAS implementation.
However, it's not yet known how either of those provisions will function in practice. Transparency at CCI, CAS and the involved ISPs has been poor; CAS has been in the works since 2011 but details about the program are only now being public. Among those who acknoledge the need for greater openness in the process is Gigi Sohn, present of Internet advocacy group Public Knowledge and member of CCI's advisory board.
" ... I urge both the participating Internet service providers and the content companies to be more open and transparent about how the CAS works and, after the system has been in place for a time, to provide the public data that shows how the system is working," said Sohn in a statement Monday.
Are you concerned about Six Strikes? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Photo via iStockphoto, pReTeNdEr