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February 27, 2013

New Copyright Alert System Tries to Curb Online Violations

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

A new alert system will try to block Internet access for users who violate copyright laws.

In an attempt to lessen online piracy, the Copyright Alert System (CAS) is being offered by major U.S.-based Internet service providers (ISPs).

It targets digital music, films and television programs. CAS only relates to peer-to-peer networks and not general use of the Internet, according to a recent document explaining the program.

After four offenses, users may find that they have lower Internet speeds and will be redirected to landing page that discusses infringement.  The reaction to offenses grows in severity with each offense. Internet subscribers committing their first offense will receive an e-mail “alert” from their ISP, Wired reported. The second offense will lead to an “educational message” about online file sharing.. The third and fourth offenses will lead to subscribers getting a pop-up notice “asking the subscriber to acknowledge receipt of the alert,” Wired adds. Users will be sent no more than six alerts, according to the CAS plan.

Image via Shutterstock

“We hope this cooperative, multi-stakeholder approach will serve as a model for addressing important issues facing all who participate in the digital entertainment ecosystem,” CCI (News - Alert) (Center for Copyright Information) Executive Director Jill Lesser said in a recent blog post. “From content creators and owners to distributors to consumers, we all benefit from a better understanding of the choices available and the rights and responsibilities that come with using digital content, thereby helping to drive investment in content creation and innovative services that offer exciting ways to enjoy music, video and all digital content.”

It will be rolled out starting this week, with alerts soon being sent to consumers.

“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,” Lesser added.

 “Most consumers will never receive Alerts under the program. 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.”

The CAS is backed by President Barack Obama, movie studios and record labels. Among those telecom companies involved are: AT&T, Cablevision Systems (News - Alert), Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon.

Under the new initiative, content owners can still sue Internet subscribers. Damages now total up to $150,000 per case of infringement. If users believe they are wrongly accused there is an appeal process. The appeal costs $35 and is reimbursed if a user is successful in the challenge, TMCnet said. 

Privacy groups and consumer advocates are watching the new plan unfold to ensure there are no abuses against consumers, TMCnet adds.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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