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article imageOp-Ed: Six-strike plan imposed by Internet Service Providers

By Anne Sewell     Feb 26, 2013 in Internet
Washington - Beginning this week, major ISPs will start spying on US Internet users. With the new program, its a case of "six strikes and you are out" if they think you are pirating copyright-protected content.
After months of discussion on the controversial program to be imposed by the largest ISPs in the US, the Copyright Alert System (CAS) confirmed on Monday this week that the "six-strike" program has now officially gone live. If you have an Internet connection via AT&T, Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Time Warner Cable or Verizon, its a case of six strikes, and you are quite literally out.
Opposed and critiqued by privacy advocates and Internet freedom activists alike, this program will allow ISPs to take six steps, of increasing severity, when handling incidents where their customers are believed to be illegally sharing online content.
Customers would receive a series of warnings, through a "graduate response" approach, for illegally downloading copyright protected material.
When CAS releases the first strike, a customer could be issued a warning. However, should the customer continue to violate policies, other mitigation measures will be introduced, including connection speed throttling right up to and including the possibility of final termination of service.
According to Wired, the various measures include “temporary reductions of Internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright, or other measures (as specified in published policies) that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter.” Ending with complete disconnection if the customer doesn't comply.
Apparently the plan does not just stop there. The Copyright Act also allows the user to be sued for damages of up to $150,000 per infringement.
Jill Lesser of the Center for Copyright Information explained the situation in a blog post on Monday. “Practically speaking, this means our content partners will begin sending notices of alleged P2P [peer-to-peer] copyright infringement to ISPs, and the ISPs will begin forwarding those notices in the form of Copyright Alerts to consumers.”
“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. And for those consumers who believe they received Alerts in error, an easy to use process will be in place for them to seek independent review of the Alerts they received,” she adds.
What she neglected to mention is that this appeals process costs customers $35 a pop.
CAS tried to get this going in July 2012. Gigi Sohn, president of digital rights group Public Knowledge, told Wired last year that originally ISPs hoped to roll out the program earlier, but major protests against other restrictive Web policies, including attempts to pass certain legislation, caused them to have to wait.
“SOPA and PIPA definitely had an impact. There was some concern, if they moved ahead too quickly, public opinion would be so raw, this would be caught in the whirlwind of bad PR,” Sohn told Wired.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the official six-strikes website allows users to learn more about the history of copyright. It does this by apparently re-directing them to a web page managed by the Copyright Alliance, which is the same group who advocated for last year's "Stop Online Piracy Act," more commonly known as SOPA.
Reportedly the White House has issued an official statement saying that the six-strikes program should “have a significant impact on reducing online piracy.”
Demand Progress is running a petition where you can tell your ISPs "No 'Six Strikes' Plan - Or We'll Take Our Business Elsewhere."
Smaller Internet service providers could find an increase in new business in the very near future.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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