For the past year, we've seen delay after delay for the Center for Copyright Information's six strikes Copyright Alert System. For a while, it looked like it would never become a reality. Now it looks like the system is finally in place, however, and it may be launching today.
The Daily Dot reports that the CCI plans to launch the six strikes Copyright Alert System across all the major participating ISPS - AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon - this week. Each ISP will reportedly launch on a different day this week which Comcast reportedly launching its system today.
A small recap for those unaware, the Copyright Alert System is a joint operation between ISPs and major content holders around the country. In essence, these content holders will be scanning Internet connections looking for people downloading pirated content via BitTorrent. If you're caught, the content holders will send your a notice through your ISP. There are three tiers of warning with two warnings per tier, hence the six strikes.
The first two warnings are "educational alerts" that tell consumers they've been caught. The email will then direct them to legitimate sources of content with the hopes that the early warnings are enough to scare people into buying content.
The next two warnings step it up a notch with what's called "acknowledgement alerts." The first two alerts were simply emails, but these next two will actually hijack your browser. You will be hit with a message telling you that you've been caught yet again, and must acknowledge that you've been caught before you can start browsing again.
The next two tiers, and presumably every alert afterwards, will be "mitigation measures." In essence, the ISPs will begin throttling your bandwidth or blocking Web sites you frequently visit. The ISPs will not be able to cut off your Internet connection under the plan.
Of course, the real fun of all of this is that the copyright holders have all the power in this relationship. They can simply accuse you of piracy with little proof, and the ISPs must hit you with whatever tier of alert you're on. Sure, you can appeal the accusation, but it costs you $35 up front and goes before the American Arbitration Association. In short, it's not worth fighting, and the content holders know it.
Despite being anti-consumer and potentially damaging to small businesses, the CCI wants you to know that it's your friend. The group put together a small video that says it only wants to be your friend as long as you purchase all your content legally.
I'm sure that the CCI will announce that P2P sharing is down in a few months from now, but we'll know what's really up. The number of VPN subscriptions in the U.S. is already on the rise, and more people will presumably start using Mega, Usenet and other non-P2P networks.
Nonetheless, It will be interesting to see the response from Internet users not aware of these programs once the first alerts start rolling in. The response may be so vitriolic that ISPs and the CCI call it off until it can formulate another plan. The consumer is king in the U.S. and corporations have been known more than once to back down when programs like this only serve to piss off their most loyal consumers.[h/t: TechDirt]