The new copyright alert system, which is the government’s latest attempt to curb online piracy, began last week. Many consumers are still a little confused about how they will be warned about the ‘six strikes’ they will receive before they will have their internet speeds reduced.
Online users will have ‘six strikes’ before any action is taken, this is done mostly through your ISP (internet service provider) and how they will inform you depends on which strike you are on. If you are downloading illegal music, or a pirated movie and you are caught, you will first be notified through your ISP directly. This is the first important step that you should take to protect yourself. Many people may not be using, or checking, the email adress that they used to sign-up for their ISP. Now it is very important to update that information with an email address that you check regularly.
The group behind ‘The Center for Copyright Infringement’ is a large list of everyone that you may assume would be against the practice of sharing content under a copyright agreement. That group includes (The Motion Picture Association and the Recording Industry Association) and ISP companies like (Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner, Verizon and Cablevision). All of the content screened will be done so by ISP handlers, the companies that supply you with your internet, that you most likely signed-up with.
Your first alert will be emailed to you directly, from ISP to the email address you have on file. Your second alert comes in two forms, another email from your ISP and a voice-message. If you still continue to download illegally and are caught a third time, a popup will appear on screen (it is still unclear how third party software and firewalls may effect this pop-up from working 100% of the time). The purpose of the popup, is that a customer will not be able to use the internet without acknowledging that they have seen the pop-up window warning.
The fifth strike is different, at this time you will not just get a pop-up window, you will have to watch a video about pirating content. At the end you will have to acknowledge that you understand the concept and are aware that this is your final warning on the matter. The sixth notification is your last, and can change by ISP. By now you are eligible for your ISP to take action against you. In the case of Verizon customers, your internet speed will be reduced in the near future but not right away.
You may think that this system is just littered with flaws and loopholes and you would be right. In the alert system, there is no way to tell why you are receiving the alert, who did it, or what it was. Many who share content illegally use VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) which encrypts data to and from a third party server. These people will most likely be completely unhinged by the new system. ISP handlers could get flagged by your content from the bandwidth you are using, but it would have to be very dramatic before that happens. The people that don’t use VPNs (and really you should, just for security purposes) are the ones that are most likely to be caught and are most likely not the worst offenders.
On top of that, everything is managed through you ISP and home network. Step outside of your house and you are almost completely free from being caught. This means you could just walk into a Starbucks with a VPN, download all the of the movies you want for that night and go home. In fact Jill Lesser, executive director of the CCI told NBC news, “The vast majority of businesses, including those like Starbucks that provide legitimate open Wi-Fi connections, will have an Internet connection that is tailored to a business operation and these business networks are not part of the CAS and will never be sent a copyright alert”. This means that CCI isn’t even planning on tackling open-networks like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts or McDonalds; which means anyone that wants to share or download files, simply can’t do it in their own house.
It’s pretty much the laziest system that you could have for controlling content, which depending on how you looks at pirated content, could be good or bad. Just be sure to keep all of your contact information with your ISP up to date, so you know if something you did has triggered an alert.