America's copyright threat letters turn one year old, but no one will say how they're doing

The Copyright Alert System -- a "voluntary" system of disconnection threats sent to alleged file-sharers, created by entertainment companies and the large US ISPs -- has just celebrated its first birthday, having spent $2 million in order to send out 625,000 threats to people it believed to be infringers. How's that working out for them?

No one knows. The Center for Copyright Information -- which made a lot of noise about its war on piracy when it was ramping up -- has been totally silent for the past twelve months, not issuing a single press release (nor have its participating entities said anything about it in that time).

I guess there are two possibilities: one is that this was an amazing success, but they're too modest to boast.

The other one is that, like every other variant on this, as practiced in New Zealand, the UK, and France, it is an expensive boondoggle that wasted millions, alienated hundreds of thousands, and did nothing to break the copyright logjam that has been sowing chaos on the Internet since the 1990s.

This program was the brainchild of US copyright czar Victoria Espinel and the entertainment bigs, and was a predictable disaster from the outset. No doubt there will be some grossly flawed study in the near future to demonstrate that they've finally managed to invent perpetual motion square the circle make Pi equal 3.1 threaten Internet users into doing their bidding.

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AT&T threatens to disconnect users accused of copyright infringement

AT&T has started sending letters to some of its customers, threatening to disconnect them because they've been accused (without trial or a chance to rebut the evidence) of copyright infringement. AT&T is doing this voluntarily. There is no law or regulation requiring them to do this. It's part of the controversial Copyright Alert System, whose overseeing body had its company status revoked last May.

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Six Strikes

The first "Six Strikes" notifications were sent out this week by Verizon and Comcast, and Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar got a copy.

Six-strikes US copyright punishments will harm open WiFi

You may have heard Jill Lesser, Executive Director of the Center for Copyright Information, explain that America's six-strikes copyright punishment system would not harm open WiFi. Adi Kamdar explains why Ms Lesser's totally mistaken:

Termination may not be part of the CAS, but that's not the point—the program still uses "protecting copyright" as an excuse to seriously hinder a user's online experience. For example, CAS involves not just "education" but also "Mitigation Measures," such as slowing down Internet speeds to 256 kbps for days—rendering your connection all but unusable in today's era of videochats and Netflix.

Lesser doesn't think that's a problem. As she told the radio show On The Media: "The reduction of speed, which one or more of the ISPs will be using as a mitigation measure, is first of all only 48 hours, which is far from termination."

But that's 48 hours of lower productivity and limited communication across the globe, based on nothing more than a mere allegation of copyright infringement.

Don't Be Fooled: "Six Strikes" Will Undoubtedly Harm Open Wireless

Telcos' six-strikes plan could kill public WiFi


As America's phone and cable companies roll out their "six strikes" plans (which they voluntarily adopted in cooperation with the big film companies), it's becoming clear that operating a public Internet hotspot is going to be nearly impossible. Anyone operating a hotspot will quickly find that it can no longer access popular sites like YouTube and Facebook, because random users have attracted unsubstantiated copyright complaints from the entertainment industry. Verizon (and possibly others) have made it clear that this will apply to businesses as well as individuals, meaning that firms will have to spy on all the traffic of all their users, all the time, and heavily censor their use of the Internet in order to prevent them from attracting these complaints.

It's not much of a stretch to see why the carriers would like this: every time you use a hotspot instead of using your phone or device's metered data-plan, they lose revenue.

Also, as the strikes get higher, there are two things to be aware of: ISPs are then more likely to hand over info to the copyright holders, meaning that it could still lead to copyright holders directly suing. That is, the "mitigation" factors are not, in any way, the sum total of the possible consequences for those accused. On top of that, we still fully expect that at least some copyright holders are planning to insist that ISPs who are aware of subscribers with multiple "strikes" are required under law to terminate their accounts. At least the RIAA has indicated that this is its interpretation of the DMCA's clause that requires service providers to have a "termination policy" for "repeat infringers." So it's quite likely that even if the ISPs have no official plan to kick people off the internet entirely under the plan, some copyright holders will still push for exactly that kind of end result.

Details Of Various Six Strikes Plans Revealed; May Create Serious Problems For Free WiFi [Techdirt/Mike Masnick]

Don't Let Verizon Kill Free WiFi! (petition)

(via Copyfight)

(Image: Wifi signal around here (2), a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from nnova's photostream)

America's "Six Strike" copyright punishment system on hold until 2013


The American Six-Strikes regime -- through which ISPs voluntarily agree to punish their customers if the entertainment industry accuses them of piracy -- has been delayed, again, to "early 2013." The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) -- which will act on the entertainment industry's behalf -- blames Hurricane Sandy for the delay.

TorrentFreak has learned that the main problem is to get all actors, including the ISPs and the American Arbitration Association, lined up to move at once. This proved to be much more difficult than anticipated.

Three of the five U.S. ISPs participating in the copyright alerts plan have revealed what mitigation measures they will take after the fourth warning.

AT&T will block users’ access to some of the most frequently websites on the Internet, until they complete a copyright course. Verizon will slow down the connection speeds of repeated pirates, and Time Warner Cable will temporarily interrupt people’s ability to browse the Internet.

It’s expected that the two remaining providers, Cablevison and Comcast, will take similar measures. None of the ISPs will permanently disconnect repeat infringers as part of the plan.

I love that AT&T will force its customers to complete copyright reeducation camps designed by the entertainment industry, and will withhold Facebook and YouTube until they pass the course and demonstrate their proficiency in parroting back Big Content's party line.

I wonder if Facebook will sue them for tortious interference.

Six Strikes Anti-Piracy Plan Delayed Till 2013 [TorrentFreak] (Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)

Accused of infringement? AT&T will take away YouTube and Facebook and send you to Copyright Reeducation Gulag


David sez, "According to TorrentFreak, a leaked AT&T training doc indicates that starting on Nov. 28, if a customer is flagged 4-5 times for copyright infringement, AT&T, Comcast, Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon will block access to unspecified "popular sites" until the customer completes an 'online education tutorial on copyright.' No, there's nothing even remotely Soviet about continuous surveillance that judges you via a faceless bureaucracy without appeal, and punishes you by blocking access to information until you come back from re-education camp. Nothing Soviet at all, comrades!"

The documents inform AT&T staff about the upcoming changes, beginning with the following overview.

“In an effort to assist content owners with combating on-line piracy, AT&T will be sending alert e-mails to customers who are identified as having been downloading copyrighted content without authorization from the copyright owner.”

“The reports are made by the content owners and are of IP-addresses that are associated with copyright infringing activities. AT&T will not share any personally identifiable information about its customers with content owners until authorized by the customer or required to do so by law.”

The papers further reveal the launch date of the copyright alerts system as November 28. A source connected to the CCI previously confirmed to TorrentFreak that all providers were planning to start on the same date, which means that Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon are expected to have a simultaneous launch.

AT&T Starts Six-Strikes Anti-Piracy Plan Next Month, Will Block Websites (Thanks, David!)