Major US ISPs set to limit repeat infringers with throttling, limiting access to 200 websites, and copyright reeducation school

Four of the largest ISPs in the USA are on the verge of approving a deal with the RIAA and MPAA that'll require ISPs to limit people who repeatedly infringe copyright to visiting only 200 websites, throttled bandwidth, and/or sending them to copyright re-education school.

These are characterized as an alternative to outright disconnection, but as the entertainment execs behind it know that heavily throttled connections or limited access to a small collection of websites are tantamount to disconnection when it comes to the diverse benefits accrue to Internet users. And being sent to a copyright school designed by the entertainment industry isn't likely to deliver a decent understanding of education.

After years of negotiations, a group of bandwidth providers that includes AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon are closer than ever to striking a deal with media and entertainment companies that would call for them to establish new and tougher punishments for customers who refuse to stop using their networks to pirate films, music and other intellectual property, multiple sources told CNET.

The sources cautioned that a final agreement has yet to be signed and that the partnership could still unravel but added that at this point a deal is within reach and is on track to be unveiled sometime next month...

Participating ISPs are given plenty of choices on how to respond to the toughest cases. They can select from a "menu" of responses outlined in the plan, such as throttling down an accused customer's bandwidth speed or limit their access to the Web. For example, a suspected pirate may be allowed to visit only the top 200 Web sites until the illegal file sharing stops. The subscriber may also be required to participate in a program that educates them on copyright law and the rights of content creators. In the past, a graduated response was also supposed to lead to a complete termination of service for chronic file sharers. Kicking someone off a network is not required under the proposed agreement, the sources said. As for who pays for all this, the ISPs and copyright owners will share the costs of operating the program, sources said.

Exclusive: Top ISPs poised to adopt graduated response to piracy

(via Ars Technica)


  1. I would love to vote with my feet on this, but unfortunately for my area doing so would mean cutting myself off from the Internet.

    1. You might as well cancel service. Why pay full price, if 99.9999999999% of the Internet is inaccessible to you?

      1. I probably will if I do get cut off, but I prefer not to pirate things so that’s unlikely to happen.

    2. Before long, we may as well BE cut off from the Net!! Other than communist countries, the U.S. is the worst at broadband Internet to citizens and are about the worst at censorship as well.

      We could all go back to using Usenet (I still use it). My usenet access is 256bit encrypted through an anonymous server… ISP has no way of knowing WTF I download – SCREW AT&T!!!

  2. “ISPs would first issue written warnings, called Copyright Alerts, to customers accused by content creators of downloading materials illegally via peer-to-peer sites, the sources said.”

    Sooo… you’re not touching my usenet, right?

    1. From what I understand they can’t. The thing with *what you’re talking about* is that the content isn’t discoverable, all they know is that X amount of your bandwidth is from that; and they’ll have no idea what that use entailed.

      Correct me if I’m wrong.

      1. Most ISPs block alt groups or binaries, or don’t offer usenet at all anymore. But it is easy and not-too-expensive to get a secure news server with full group listings. Far better than p2p, imho (not that I know anything about downloading anything other than linux distros).

  3. I still don’t see what’s in it for AT&T to do the MAFIAA’s dirty work. Now if they were paying for it all, with a nice additional bribe to the ISP, *that* would make sense, maybe.

    Except the ISPs are trying to get into charging for overage, and pirates are the biggest users. So it still doesn’t make sense.

    Cord-cutting has yet to become a big enough phenomen to scare the cable TV departments, though it might eventually.

  4. There are many affordable encrypted vpn services located outside of the united states. Do with this information what you will.

  5. I’ll let them educate me on the rights of content creators when they start giving those same content creators a fair deal for the work they do.

    Hmm… one of the words on the captcha is Internet. How apt.

  6. By “Top 200” they mean only sites for e-commerce, right?

    No, they mean only e-commerce sites which give them a cut of the profits.

  7. >As for who pays for all this, the ISPs and copyright owners will share the costs of operating the program, sources said.

    And by “The ISP” they mean “the customers that shouldn’t be punished.” Way to fine the innocent!

    Well, at least they’re doing a good job of establishing the companies I’ll never buy from.

  8. Can’t wait to see Hollywood actors lecturing people on Copyright. Do you want to bet that will happen? “Now listen. To drill the impact of what you’re doing in a way that you’ll understand, we’ve invited Charlie Sheen to talk about this and how this has impacted his life.”

    I see these efforts as inevitably creating a need in people think of alternatives that keep things as they are and in a way make it harder for strategies like this to succeed. Douglas Rushkoff’s Contact Summit can’t come soon enough.

  9. Awesome! Can we enroll in copyright school voluntarily? I’d love to see what the RIAA reeducation camps are like and document the experience.

    “Copyright School” – It just sounds like it should be an investigative documentary or a mid-range comedy staring an ensemble of b-list actors and cute kids.

    1. Copyright re-education camp:

      A nightmarish place, where nobody gets to share the use of any common words, and they must attempt to communicate only by creating their own unique new words, using unique alphabets of their own original creation.

      Or maybe it’s a magical place, where you learn how to change ancient stories and folk songs just enough so as to claim them as your own creations for all futurity.

  10. So tell me americans… why do you let the RIAA and MPAA continue to exist? Seriously? They serve noone but themselves.

  11. Looking around at available lists, they are probably thinking of using something like this:

    The methodology for creating this list is not specified. Conspicuously absent from this list are:
    * shared infrastructure like akamai
    * antivirus automatic update sites
    * porn sites
    * pirate bay, 4chan, reddit, etc

    All of the above would be represented in any accurate “top 200” list.

  12. I enjoy how the RIAA and MPAA consider themselves to be “Content Creators”. HAHAHA.


  13. And when someone points out that we are creeping towards global corporate fascism, they get called “socialist” or “pinko” by apologists.

  14. I wonder what they mean by “customers” since accounts usually umbrella dozens of people? Does that mean if a disgruntled employee decides to do a little copyright infringement on his employers network that the whole company network will be throttled or limited? What a bad idea. I can think of a dozen ways people can use this to hurt other people and yet I can’t think of a single way in which it attually deals with the infringer who is obviously going to be smart enough to work around this. I imagine there are going to be a lot of elderly folks who are going to get stuck in this web and have no idea why there Internet is being shut off. .

  15. I’ve used ipredator as private VPN for almost 3 months now, they don’t keep logs, so nothing to subpoena.

  16. Any private entity has a right to moderate your use of their service.

    Nothing wrong with that, right?


    1. Would things be better or worse if the internet was a utility?

      It may be a private company, but it really is as important as phone service any more. And look at te effort made to insure phone service to people.

  17. In today’s world of globalization, I wouldn’t be surprised if they Shanghaied, I mean exported you to Chinese reeducation centers.

  18. Gosh. This sounds terribly exciting from my side of the pond. I presume this will be done based on accusations only without due process or referal to a court. Can’t wait for our UK ISP’s to try the same cunning stunt.

  19. Why would the ISPs agree to this? Are they being paid some kind of bounty per user turned in? Has some law some place changed, making them liable to pat y the RIAA and MPAA for copyright infringement by their customers? Will they also be working in similar ways for say MLB, or the NGFL or NHL; or for newspapers, book publishers, artists, photographers and magazines?

    If not, then why are they giving the MPAA & the RIAA the time of day, much less becoming their enforcement arm – as this seems to make them?

  20. Proposals like this one, taken together with proposals to outlaw internet anonymity, suggest the real reasons for dis-approving internet anonymity is not crime nor terrorism, so much as the enforcement of private property rights, using the publicly-paid-for resources of the State.

  21. For many years I had told myself that I would not download music simply because the quality was always low. These days I can get an album in FLAC format in less time than it would take me to go down to the record store, not that there is one worth a damn nearby.

    In my 33 years I have given the record companies more cash than probably 95% of average Americans (feel free to make up your own statistics, they do.) As such, I feel no remorse in taking modern terribly produced tripe for free (artist are being told to master music for ipod headphones, ugh so much for hi-fi.) I realize that these days the artists only make a dime if you purchase directly from them or better yet, go to a concert!

    I also torrent on my android smartphone. I wonder how that will turn out.

  22. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the bandwidth argument.

    If an ISP actually knows for sure you are violating copyright, why is it not in their best interest to suspend your online activity until the RIAA/MPAA can investigate? Or at least throttle the shit out of you (after a warning of course)? I mean their bandwidth is so precious that the rest of us have to endure slow speeds and monthly caps because of how much it costs to move data around, right? Time Warner, yeah I’m looking at you.

    I’m with Ugly Canuck on this. Somewhere someone is getting paid to help this move along.

  23. They continue to attempt to apply old laws and principles to new technology, and it just doesn’t seem to be working. No one wins. Here’s a short list and summary of some other recent tech laws that may or may not be working.

  24. Can someone tell me about if we get to choose the 200 sites we can get access to?

    – Jack

  25. I use so say it took about two years between when France threw away a civil liberty and the U.S. followed their example. I guess they’ve “streamlined” the process to about a month.

    I wonder how much of a kickback these regional monopolies are getting for each victim…I mean customer they toss under the bus.

  26. It needs to be said.

    Christ, what a bunch of assholes.

    Additionally, does anyone know who the ISP’s have lobbying for them inside the D.C. beltway? Or whom they’ve made campaign contributions to?

    It’d be nice to know which politicians they own…

  27. … because to cut these people off completely would be economic suicide.

    I imagine you still pay full price for your heavily limited internet service too.

  28. I don’t really understand…why won’t people move to an ISP that does not do this? Are all ISPs required by law to do this?

    Since when?

  29. @ugly Canuck

    For most people, switching ISPs would mean physically moving. In every area I have lived there is one ISP per territory. If you lived in a certain place, your internet provider is as predetermined as your zip code.

  30. I predict this will affect ad revenues on smaller sites.

    I predict if they make the cap 200 gb, the next year it will be <200, and the next year less.

  31. If/when they do this here I will have to start forking out five bucks a month for a reliable proxy!

  32. Oh gawd, the “teacher” in that class would hate me.
    I’d do my homework on truths and realities, have many
    citations ready, and interject “I disagree!” at every opportunity.

    Copyright infringement isn’t stealing! Dont dump ice cubes on me
    and tell me it’s snowing!

    What about the industry’s crimes against the artists !?!?
    (insert many citations here)

    “Follow the money!”

    Remember, “RIAA” is an acronym, and neither “A”
    stands for “Artist”.

  33. Top 200 out of what? Can anyone post a percentage? I found a couple in a very short search and it looks like there are 156,000,000 websites. So based on that, the offenders would be limited to only the answer my calculator gives me: 1.28205128 × 10 to the neg 6th power (%?). I’m not good with this kind of math but my brain tells me I would need to compare 200 grains of sand to an entire beach.

  34. Not too surprising that this “breakthrough” comes after the Comcast/NBC merger is approved by the FTC.

    How can there be net neutrality if the owners of the pipes are also media conglomerates?

  35. Congratulations if you have finally put 2 + 2 together and realized that all this Fascist stuff about allowing a handful of multinationals buy up and control almost everything, from media to ISPs, is not a good thing. Sounds just like China, re-education camps and all. Guess what, all you trust fund kids, your daddies are way more evil than your silly posing will ever make up for.

  36. Who votes in this Star Chamber?

    Meanwhile, the US is working on building “shadow internet” access for foreign activists who are shut off by their ISPs. Can we get some of that over here?

  37. I’m glad ISPs and the entertainment industry want to treat INNOCENT people (That right, until proven guilt you ARE innocent) worst than the government treats true criminals that have been found GUILTY BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT! This is even worst than that tent prison in Arizona! ANYONE who backs this needs to be lead to the gallows with the heads (pardon the pun) of the ISPs and entertainment industry!

  38. Agree that the only way to vote with your feet in a large majority of places is to actually move those feet very fucking far away. Where I currently reside there are about four ISPs, two of which are ATT (total gobshites), Comcast (even bigger gobshites), and two local yocal outfits that charge at least 6 times more for about a tenth of the level of access (which makes them not even worth considering in the first place). It sucks ass that the only reasonably priced, dependable and useful ISPs here are also the biggest douche bags of the bunch but it sucks more ass that the only alternatives are the aforementioned local yocals that can’t provide a level of service I would have been happy with back in the flippin’ ’90s. The only other option of course is to move hundreds of miles away and hope there are better services on offer there. What a crock.

    All I can hope for is that this ‘deal’ falls through and there is enough animosity or difference in its dissolution that the possibility of a similar deal is close to nil. And unfortunately hope is about all I have.

  39. This is going to have very limited if any effect on any pirates ability to download, it takes all of 5 minutes to boost someone in the neighborhoods wifi and get back to downloading full speed.

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