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Internet 'Copyright Alert System' goes into effect this week

Five of the biggest Internet service providers in the U.S. have teamed up to create a system that they say will help cut down in Internet piracy and copyright infringement. As Los Angeles readers could probably have guessed, this has set off a firestorm of criticism from advocates for a "free and open" Internet.

The five companies -- AT&T, Cablevision, Time Warner, Comcast and Verizon -- have worked for years on what they are describing as a "Copyright Alert System."

In essence, the system will monitor peer-to-peer sites where users frequently swap illegally uploaded content, like BitTorrent, and keep track of ISPs, the number assigned to each Internet connection, that are active on those sites.

The Copyright Alert System then uses a "six strike policy" of progressive action if it detects the same ISP repeatedly accessing illegally uploaded content. For example, a first-time possible infringement might result in a warning letter and a second might result in an "online educational tutorial on copyright."

On the severe end of the spectrum, Verizon, at least, seems prepared to slow down a user's Internet connection if he or she doesn't heed earlier warnings about possibly infringing activity, and it looks as though the Copyright Alert System is prepared to alert authorities to the most egregious violators.

This system is something content producers like movie studios and record albums have wanted for years, but of course, it raises privacy concerns for some.

We know a lot of our readers are involved in the creative industries. Do you have any thoughts about the Copyright Alert System? If so, we would be interesting in hearing them. Please share them with us in the comments sytem.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Internet Providers Launch Copyright Alert System," Eriq Gardner, Feb. 25, 2013

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