Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, has reminded the nation that at his instigation, the largest ISPs in the USA are set to disconnect their customers, and their customers' families, if the companies that Sherman represents makes a series of unsubstantiated accusations of copyright infringement against them. The ISPs came to the agreement after pressure from the Obama administration. This "five strikes" rule is the same system that has been decried around the world — including in the EC and the UN — as being a gross violation of human rights.
Sherman's role as Witchfinder General for the nation's Internet access kicks off on July 12. After that, if you get on his bad side, he can cost your children their ability to complete their education, he can cost you your job (if you are part of the growing proportion of people whose livelihood depends on the Internet), cut you off from civic and political engagement, lock you away from online access to your bank account and information about consumer rights, and, if you live remotely from your family, he can cost you your ability to stay in touch with them.
Oh, and if you have VOIP for your home phone service, Sherman will take away your 911 access too. Because burning to death is only too good a fate for people accused, without proof, of copyright infringement.
But of course, Sherman represents a sober-sided and cautious industry, the sort of people who claim that the Internet has cost them more jobs than they ever created and that an iPod's worth of songs is worth $8 billion, so they'll never abuse this power.
Thanks, ISPs, for capitulating to some of the worst companies in the world. Thanks, Obama administration, for turning America's attorney general's office into a revolving door career opportunity for entertainment industry lawyers. And thanks, RIAA, for making the case that your companies are too dangerous to peacefully co-exist with the Internet. SOPA was just the beginning, suckers.
Here's Greg Sandoval on CNet:
"Each ISP has to develop their infrastructure for automating the system," Sherman said. They need this "for establishing the database so they can keep track of repeat infringers, so they know that this is the first notice or the third notice. Every ISP has to do it differently depending on the architecture of its particular network. Some are nearing completion and others are a little further from completion."
The program, commonly referred to as "graduated response," requires that ISPs send out one or two educational notices to those customers who are accused of downloading copyrighted content illegally. If the customer doesn't stop, the ISP is then asked to send out "confirmation notices" asking that they confirm they have received notice.
At that time, the accused customers will also be informed of the risks they incur if they don't stop pirating material. If the customer is flagged for pirating again, the ISP can then ratchet up the pressure. Participating ISPs can choose from a list of penalties, or what the RIAA calls "mitigation measures," which include throttling down the customer's connection speed and suspending Web access until the subscriber agrees to stop pirating.