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'Copyright Alert System' Goes Online In US, ISPs Detail 'Penalties'

Posted by: , 18:00 AEDT, Thu February 28, 2013

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CAS goes ahead in the US, as major ISPs detail what happens when their subscribers reach the magic sixth strike
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Image/Photo Credit: tamburix @ Flickr, CC

The controversial Copyright Alert System, also known as "Six Strikes", has finally been launched after it was first announced way back in 2011.

Under the system, major ISPs will have to take a series of escalating actions against subscribers of their wired Internet services (wireless services are outside the scope of the Copyright Alert System) suspected of repeatedly infringing copyright.

Unlike similar "three-strikes" systems in France and New Zealand, Internet disconnections and legal actions are not built into the system as it stands, instead, what actions will be taken will largely be decided by each participating ISP, although disconnections remain an option.

Up until now, ISPs have kept quiet as to what they will do when the user reaches a high number of strikes, as each are keen not to be seen as too lenient, or too harsh, for fear of not appeasing the copyright lobby, or to lose customers to competitors. 

But this week, all the major ISPs have now detailed their "penalties".

Verizon has taken the option to cap download speeds, the only ISP to do so, once the user reaches the magical sixth strike. Before that happens, users will be warned through a series of alerts, and forced to watch instructional videos on the do's and don'ts of copyright. The speed cap will last for two to three days. A two week window will be given before the speed cap goes into place to allow for appeals, which costs $35 (will be reimbursed if the appeal is successful, and may be waived for those suffering from financial hardship).

Comcast customers can look forward to warning emails, and in-browser alerts that can only be removed after the customer phones in to Comcast Security Assurance. A Comcast Security Assurance representative will then have a frank discussion with the customer in regards to the legal issues surrounding copyright, as well as legal alternatives that the customer should try, before deactivating the in-browser alerts.

Time Warner Cable will deploy a similar system that will lead to a browser lock that can only be deactivated after they contact a customer rep and have a similarly educational conversation about web piracy.

AT&T will prevent customers from accessing websites until they review educational material online regarding copyright.

The Copyright Alert System will be managed by the Center for Copyright Information. The group led efforts to push through the highly contentious SOPA legislation, and will also be developing a copyright curriculum for California public schools.


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