Consumers that illegally download movies, music or TV shows could start receiving warning notices from Internet service providers this week. Persistent downloaders might even see slower Internet connections.
Beginning Monday, five participating ISPs (AT&T, Comcast, Cablevision, Time Warner Cable and Verizon) will roll out the Copyright Alert System, managed by the Center for Copyright Information. As part of what's known as the "six strikes" system, the ISPs will deliver to consumers a graduated series of six messages that starts with a warning and ends with some sort of action.
Enforcing copyright on the Web without violating consumer privacy or destroying the open Internet has been a thorny issue in Washington. With no easy legislative or regulatory solution in site, the CCI was formed two years ago by groups such as Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America and Internet service providers to persuade consumers to think twice before pirating copyrighted content using peer-to-peer networks.
While the first two alerts serve as warnings or reminders, the second two require consumers to confirm receipt of the message. The final two, called mitigation alerts, could result in some sort of action, like slower Internet connection or suspending service. The CAS doesn't specify what consequences ISPs should impose on consumers and leaves it up to each ISP.