‘Six strikes’ anti-piracy measures begin

The ‘six strikes’ system of copyright regulation has started rolling out over the last 24 hours, notifying consumers when they download music, movies and games illegally.

Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, Cablevision and Time Warner are all implementing the plan, created by the  Center for Copyright Information (CCI) – set up by  ISPs, the RIAA and the MPAA.

Illegal downloaders receive two gentle warnings, followed by two requests for acknowledgement that a warning’s been received – and then the big guns go into action. Measures could include throttling a user’s internet speed, suspending it altogether, or legal action.

“Consumers whose accounts have been used to share copyrighted content over P2P networks illegally (or without authority) will receive Alerts that are meant to educate rather than punish, and direct them to legal alternatives,” says the CCI’s executive director, Jill Lesser, in a blog post.

“And for those consumers who believe they received Alerts in error, an easy to use process will be in place for them to seek independent review of the Alerts they received.”

The plan was originally due to come into effect last fall, but was postponed when Hurricane Sandy interfered with systems tests.

The system has, perhaps surprisingly, gained qualified support from some rights groups. The Center for Democracy and Technology, for example, regards it as a lot less offensive than other proposed methods of dealing with piracy.

“There are risks, however,” says the CDT’s senior policy counsel David Sohn.

“The CAS also involves sanctions (labeled ‘mitigation measures’) for subscribers who keep receiving notices.  If users are mistakenly swept into the system, and if sanctions are imposed unfairly or in a disproportionate manner, the system could trigger substantial hassles and problems for internet users.”