Internet providers ready to implement Copyright Alerts

Users could face 'mitigation measures' on fifth infraction

Major Internet providers will roll out a system of Copyright Alerts — warnings to consumers when they access pirated movies, TV shows and music — over the next two months.

The Center for Copyright Information, an org set up last year by studios, record labels and cable and telecom companies, has been developing the system since it was announced in July 2011. The Internet providers who are included are AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. The MPAA and Recording Industry Assn. of America signed the voluntary agreement with the Internet providers after almost three years of negotiations.

In a blog posting on Thursday, Jill Lesser, executive director of the Center for Copyright Information, wrote that a reason it has taken so long to implement the plan is that “as is often the case with highly technical, multi-party programs, designing, testing and refining the (copyright alert system) was, and continues to be, hard work. We are confident the time we invested to get it right has been well worth it.”

The Internet providers will send notices from content providers — like studios, record labels and independent producers — alleging copyright infringement from peer-to-peer networks.

The first alerts will be educational, then escalate to ones requiring that recipients acknowledge they received the notice. If a subscriber continues to access infringing content, at the fifth alert they could face “mitigation measures,” including a requirement to review educational materials or a imposition of a temporary slowdown of their Internet access speed. They will not, however, face termination of their service.

Such a system — called “graduated response” — has long been viewed by studios as a way to curb piracy, on the rationale that most consumers don’t know they are viewing pirated content, or will stop once they get a notice.

France has a system written into law, but such legislation is viewed as politically unlikely in the United States, perhaps even more so following protests over the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act earlier this year.

Lesser wrote that the Center has been working to “set up a program that is accurate, fair and protects consumer interests at every step of the process.” She said that Stroz Friedberg, a technology expert, will evaluate a MarkMonitor system the content owners are using to identify alleged infringement and to eliminate “false positives.”

Lesser wrote that the method for identifying infringed content and IP addresses is “based on a review of peer-to-peer networks and publicly available information.” Friedberg also will review the way in which ISPs match subscriber accounts to the IP addresses, the latter of which will be forwarded by content owners.

An independent review program will be operated by the American Arbitration Assn. to examine cases in which consumers believe they have gotten copyright alerts in error.