ISPs Are Going to Become Copyright Police this Summer

by Feeds of Today

“Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon are Among the ISPs Preparing to Implement a Graduated Response to Piracy by July, Says the Music Industry’s Chief Lobbyist”

A bit of history

The internet rose up with great vengeance and furious anger earlier this year when it seemed all but sure that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would pass the US House of Representatives. A well-orchestrated online campaign killed that bill, but this coming summer the private sector could be the next big threat to online freedom. According to the RIAA’s chief lobbyist, this July is when the so-called “graduated response” anti-piracy measures will be going into effect at the nation’s largest ISPs.

The coming storm

While the entertainment lobby was unable to get a law passed in the US, major ISPs like Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and more have signed onto a similar plan of their own volition. Certainly Comcast, which owns NBC-Universal, was in favor of protecting its own content. Possible legal action got the others in line.

Unlike some of the laws overseas, there is no firm procedure for what to do with a (suspected) American pirate. The ISPs involved will send out one or two educational emails to politely remind the account holder not to run illegal torrents. After that, things get more serious with a stern warning that consequences are coming. ISPs can choose what punishments to implement to stop the user from further torrenting. These so-called “mitigation measures” could include throttling of the connection speed, or temporary disconnection. The one step that no US ISP has been bold enough to put forward is a permanent disconnection and blacklist of problem P2P users.

Supporters say this could become the most effective antipiracy program ever. Since ISPs are the Internet’s gatekeepers, the theory is that network providers are in the best position to fight illegal file sharing. CNET broke the news last June that the RIAA and counterparts at the trade group for the big film studios, had managed to get the deal through–with the help of the White House.

The deal was worked out last year, but according to the RIAA and MPAA it has taken months to get the systems into place to track and notify users. Considering there will be no judicial oversight, this is essential to reduce (we hope) false positives. It was this agreement last year that gave the entertainment lobby the courage to try and push bills like SOPA through, and we saw how that turned out. There are some serious, endemic problems with ISPs policing copyright, however.

A global trend

The entertainment industry has been working to get harsh three-strikes laws installed in many nations with some success. France instituted a system called HADOPI last year, and the European recording lobby, IFPI says that it’s working. In this three-strikes system, if a user gets three infringement notices from their ISP, they are cut off from the internet and cannot re-subscribe for at least two months, but as long as one year, depending on the case.

In France, 763,000 subscribers have gotten at least one notice, 62,000 a second, and 165 a third. The actual decline in P2P use is heavily debated, but the most likely decline is 26% in just a year. However, rates of piracy in France appear to be on the upswing again.

Other countries like New Zealand and the UK have passed similar measures. The three-strikes system in the UK, known as the Digital Economy Act, has been opposed by various ISPs concerned about the cost of policing users and maintaining a blacklist of infringers. The High Court in the UK has just dismissed those claims, which could clear the law for implementation, and could mean users accused of infringement will be disconnected.

Sources:
ISPs to start policing copyright this July 1st (cnet.com)

ISPs to become copyright cops this summer (ExtremeTech.com)

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