ISPs propose P2P "piracy" plan: 6 strikes, and... err... dunno

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By Richi Jennings (@richi ) - July 8, 2011.

A consortium of the biggest U.S. Internet service providers have come up with a plan to "educate" users about copyright infringement. They plan to pass on warnings to subscribers detected using peer-to-peer file sharing illegally, with an escalating system of six warnings. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers aren't clear what will happen after the sixth strike.

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Paul Suarez reportz the newz of the warez:

ISPs will now send "Copyright Alerts" to...subscribers when their connection is allegedly being used for content theft. [After] multiple alerts...ISPs may limit the user's connection speed or block them...altogether.


...ISPs won't release subscriber names to copyright holders. [S]ubscribers will be able to challenge an alert if they feel they were wrongly accused. ... It is in the ISPs' interest to make sure that consumers aren't violating terms of service but...revoking someone's Internet connection also means they are going to lose a customer. ... [I]t sounds like they hope to ride the middle ground.  

  Sean Ludwig doesn't downplay it:

[T]he move to have the biggest ISPs act as a unified first line of defense is significant. [They] have agreed to send up to six electronic alerts to customers that download media illegally. ... The new program supposedly intends to educate customers rather than punish them.


The backed by the [MPAA], the [RIAA], and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, all organizations that have taken a hard line against copying. ... Maybe even more important is that the U.S. government is behind the program.  

  Nate Anderson has the view from DC:

"The joining of [ISPs] and entertainment companies in a cooperative effort...can further this goal [of supporting jobs and exports] and we commend them for reaching this agreement," said Victoria Espinel, US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. ... "We believe it will have a significant impact on reducing online piracy."


[T]he White House had played a behind-the-scenes role (along with New York's Andrew Cuomo) in bringing together the content owners and ISPs to hash out a voluntary agreement. ... Whatever the pressure brought to bear on ISPs...[they] seemed pleased at heading off the prospect of...onerous rules (see: France and the UK) from the government. ... This is a measure that will be watched internationally.


And today's announcement has been greeted without instant denunciation by groups like Public Knowledge and the Center for Democracy & Technology—no mean feat. ... Today's focus on "education" encouraging one, but the "mitigation" measures...raise key questions.  

  But Karl Bode shows how this is (and isn't) new:

ISPs have been forwarding copyright offense notices for many years, but more recent claims that users could find their accounts terminated [were] bluffs. ... This new plan...doesn't require ISPs filtering content...but it does involve using "graduated response" to warn users, repeatedly. [It] reads more like a "handful of strikes" plan, with users getting ample warning.


After the users receive four...alerts, the plan calls for ISPs to impose "mitigation measures" [which] are up to the discretion of each ISP, and can include temporary reductions of...speeds, or redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss...copyright issues. ... [T]erminating subscriber accounts is not part of the equation.


[T]he data collected during these warning processes will [obviously] be used against the user as evidence they acknowledged copyright infringement and ignored warnings. ... Will any of this stop piracy? Unlikely.  

   And Finally...
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Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of Computerworld. He also writes The Long View for IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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