You may recall a certain plan being put into place by the Center for Copyright Information and leading ISPs around the nation. It would use a six-strike program to levy harsher penalties on repeat copyright infringers. Beyond that, we didn't know much else except that the program would be implemented before the end of the year.
Thanks to documents obtained by TorrentFreak, we now know when at least one of the ISPs will be implementing its own six-strikes program. They found that AT&T will start sending out copyright infringement notices on November 28. The other ISPs will also likely launch on this date as the CCI is pushing for a simultaneous launch.
So, how will the six-strike program work? According to the documents, AT&T will send "alert emails" to customers who are downloading pirate materials. How will AT&T know who's downloading pirated materials? Content owners will send AT&T infringing IP addresses and AT&T will send an email to the customer associated with that IP address.
Such a set up could threaten customer privacy, but it seems that will not be the case. The documents state that AT&T will not share identifying information with content owners unless it's "authorized by the customer or required to do so by law."
The only major concern so far is that content owners still think that IP addresses equate to people. Courts around the world, even in the US, have questioned this line of thinking with some even flat out rejecting a plaintiff's argument that the people behind IP addresses can be held accountable for other people pirating content through their connection. It seems like content owners and ISPs are ignoring these rulings.
Another concern is that some people fear that ISPs will begin to cut off access to repeat offenders. Instead, AT&T will block access to a user's most visited Web sites until they complete an "online education tutorial on copyright." It's not yet known what this tutorial will entail.
AT&T also warns that customers can be targeted by lawsuits after the fifth infringement. It's not a promise, but AT&T says they will hand over identifying information to the courts in the case of a lawsuit. TorrentFreak points out that this particular clause means that content owners may be seriously considering starting up its lawsuit campaign against copyright infringers.
In related news, TorrentFreak also reports that more people in the U.S. are signing up for VPN services. It looks like everybody is getting ready for the six-strike regime by driving around it via proxies. It only proves that those who are going to pirate are still going to pirate without any consequences thanks to VPN and related technologies.
In short, the six-strike program is only going to affect the casual BitTorrent user that doesn't know any better. As people begin to receive these warnings, more will turn to VPNs or proxies instead of dropping piracy altogether. The program will probably end up as another failed plan that only serves to annoy customers instead of providing a legitimate alternative that beats piracy at its own game.