ISPs to send out user infringement alerts starting this summer

The battle to slow copyright infringement on the Internet will be intensified this July. That is when the biggest U.S. Internet service providers will don the hats of authority over a new copyright alert system.

It is up to copyright holders to initiate the so-called six-strike process by directing ISPs to files that have been downloaded illegally. The informed ISP will send out a first strike warning letter, telling a user his account is linked with infringement activity. Subsequent strikes become more aggressive if a user ignores the letter and continues the illegal downloading. Users are offered alternatives for music and videos to lure them away from copyright-infringing websites.

By the third strike, users receive alerts through a “conspicuous mechanism.” A user is forced to acknowledge a pop-up widow or landing screen that delivers an infringement message including punishments for intellectual property theft.

If a user continues to ignore warnings, the ISP creates an obstacle. Internet speed could become sluggish. A landing page may direct the user to make direct contact with an ISP. The threat of account suspension surfaces by the sixth strike. A six-strike violator is warned about possible intellectual property litigation.

The inventors of the alert program are the same music and movie organizations that promoted the Internet content protection legislation called PIPA and SOPA. A group of industry executives and copyright specialists will administer the alert project through the newly-formed Center of Copyright Information.

Participating ISP heavyweights include Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision, Time Warner Cable and AT&T. Local ISPs are not participating now, but may be added as the launch date for the alert system gets closer.

Critics say the system is flawed, has no legal support and depends too heavily on unverified, unproven allegations by copyright holders. Proponents say success will be measured by how six-strike users respond to information about illegal downloading.

Source:, “Six strikes and you’re screwed: What the upcoming piracy crackdown means for you,” Andrew Couts, March 29, 2012