IFA 2012 Consumer Electronics Trade Fair

Anti-piracy measure has been years in the making

Major Internet providers will launch a system of Copyright Alerts to consumers this week, a system in which repeated users of pirated content could have their service slowed.

Years in the making, the copyright alerts are viewed by Hollywood studios and record labels as a major initiative to curb copyright infringement from peer-to-peer services. The system is the result of a voluntary agreement with Internet providers, including Comcast and AT&T, that was first announced in July, 2010.

Jill Lesser, executive director of the Center for Copyright Information, the org set up to implement the system, said in a statement that “over the course of the next several days our participating ISPs will begin rolling out the system. Practically speaking, this means our content partners will begin sending notices of alleged P2P copyright infringement to ISPs, and the ISPs will begin forwarding those notices in the form of Copyright Alerts to consumers.”

The first several notices will come in the form of warnings to consumers, intended to educate them that the content they are viewing is pirated. It’s based on the notion that many consumers are unaware that they are accessing infringing material, and will stop once they are informed. But repeated users of infringing material will then start to get more onerous notices, with one of the possibilities that providers can slow their service down. The system does not include shutting off service as a punishment.

The voluntary agreement between the entertainment industry and Internet providers includes an independent review board.

“We hope this cooperative, multi-stakeholder approach will serve as a model for addressing important issues facing all who participate in the digital entertainment ecosystem,” Lesser said.

The system has been delayed by the complexities of the process, as many digital rights groups will be watching to see that content deemed infringing really is. Internet providers also have had concerns about liability and the privacy of their customers. There were further delays late last year because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.

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