“6 strikes” Copyright Alert System to go into effect in 2013


Early next year, five major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will roll out the implementation of the “6 strikes” plan. The “six strikes” plan, or Copyright Alert System (CAS), is the result of a private-party agreement between five major ISPs (AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon) and the MPAA and RIAA. Last summer, the agreement created the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), which will administer the program.

Put simply, this is a way for ISPs to privately take charge of copyright enforcement.

The creation of the CCI and the Copyright Alert System comes on the heels of the demise of SOPA and PIPA, two pieces of legislation that were aimed at increasing government power for the purpose of combating copyright violators. Both SOPA and PIPA were met with huge backlash on the Internet, including an Internet blackout on January 18, 2012 in protest of SOPA which included such participants as Wikipedia, Reddit, and Google.

CCI bills the Copyright Alert program as educational, and that the alerts are designed “help subscribers understand the significance of protecting copyright in the digital environment, to advise them about the importance of avoiding inadvertent or intentional online distribution of copyrighted content, and to suggest legal ways to obtain digital content.” The alerts only apply to peer-to-peer file sharing activity.

Alerts come in three phases: (1) notifications; (2) acknowledgments; and (3) mitigation. During the first phase, subscribers will send educational materials along with the notice that that the account may have been misused for potentially illegal file sharing. Acknowledgement notices will “reinforce the seriousness of copyright violations,” and will include information on “how to address the activity.” In the final phase, the ISP may take mitigation measures, including temporarily reducing the speed of the subscriber’s internet, redirecting internet pages to a page that requires the subscriber to contact the ISP or to educational materials about copyright—and any other measures that the ISP deems necessary.

Each ISP will have its own system of notices, though the first notice is “educational” in nature. CCI is adamant that termination of a subscriber’s account is not required under the alert system. However, it is important to note that termination of service is not expressly prohibited, either.

The CCI has developed an independent review of the copyright alerts that will be operated by the America Arbitration Association. Any subscriber can request an independent review after receiving an alert, but before any mitigation measures have been taken. The filing fee is $35, which can be waived by the AAA. Review by the AAA is non-exclusive, and subscribers are free to challenge any action in a court of law.

Initially, the CCI planned on implementing the alert system in the end of 2012. However, on Nov. 28, the organization announced that implementation would be pushed back to early 2013, “[d]ue to unexpected factors largely stemming from Hurricane Sandy which have seriously affected our final testing schedules.”

To obtain legal advice as to whether you should provide a counter-notice to DMCA notices you have received, contact the copyright attorneys at Antonelli Law.

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