Some of the largest Internet service providers (ISPs) in the country are set to take steps aimed at stopping illegal downloads.
The penalties can result in the repeat offenders losing their Internet access, though providers say it doesn’t have to go that far.
Wired names the participants and describes the series of measures, called the Copyright Alert System, that will be used to clamp down on illegal sharers:
The plan, now four years in the making, includes participation by AT&T, Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. After four offenses, the historic plan calls for these residential internet providers to initiate so-called “mitigation measures (.pdf) that might include reducing internet speeds and redirecting a subscriber’s service to an “educational” landing page about infringement.
The huge–and successful–online backlash against SOPA and similar legislative attacks on piracy slowed ISP plans to implement these measures, according to Gigi Sohn.
Ms. Sohn, who heads a digital rights group called Public Knowledge, told Wired that ISPs were afraid that if they were too quick to take their own anti-piracy measures, “…public opinion would be so raw, this would be caught in the whirlwind of bad PR.”
Wired goes on to detail how ISPs will deal with infringement. Targets of the following will definitely feel like Big Brother is watching:
On the first offense, internet subscribers will receive an e-mail “alert” from their ISP saying the account “may have been” misused for online content theft. On the second offense, the alert might contain an “educational message” about the legalities of online file sharing.
On the third and fourth infractions, the subscriber will likely receive a pop-up notice “asking the subscriber to acknowledge receipt of the alert.”
“Mitigation measures” follow after the fourth warning. While the term has a bitterly dystopian ring to it, on paper it means reduced Internet speed and possible redirection to a page encouraging the user to contact their provider and “discuss” the issue.
Jill Lesser, who directs the group that created these measures, told Wired that the program is intended to be “educational” rather than a form of punishment.
In the end the Internet may be ahead of the ISPs. For three months there has been a standing Reddit thread filled with advice on getting around the Copyright Alert System.