The Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry of America in conjunction with Internet service providers AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon devised the Copyright Alert System, which has developed the moniker the “six strikes policy.”
The creators of the Copyright Alert System claim that the program is intended to educate Internet users who download copyrighted materials without authorization.
Under the program, owners of copyrighted material will search the Internet for material they own and if they find material being shared without authorization, the owners will determine the IP address of the computer that shared the material. They will then take the IP address to the corresponding Internet service provider who will contact the user about his or her behavior.
The first and second time users are caught sharing material without authorization, the Internet service provider will send users an email and voicemail, informing them of the copyright infringement. The email will also including information on detecting and removing file-sharing software on a computer and give users information on how to obtain authorized copyrighted material.
After the third and forth offenses, users will automatically be redirected to a website that requires them to acknowledge they received and understood the emails. A short video explaining copyright law and the ramifications of infringing copyrights will also be on the site.
Users who are caught a fifth and sixth time will receive “mitigation measures.” This means that the Internet provider will slow down the user’s Internet connection for several days.
The creators of the Copyright Alert System say they will not take any action after the sixth offense, saying the program is meant to be educational and if users are continuing the behavior after six warnings, they are not going to change their behavior.
The Internet service providers claim they will keep user information confidential. However, the owners of the copyrighted material can obtain the personal information of infringers with a subpoena.
Critics of the program claim that the program is not likely to do anything to prevent unauthorized sharing of copyrighted material. Instead, they claim that the program is likely to hurt coffee shops and other small businesses that offer open Wi-Fi networks for their customers, as the program holds the owner of the network responsible for infringement, rather than the actual infringer.
Opponents also claim that the system is an extra-legal process that takes away users’ rights to the Internet connection speed they are paying for without due process of law. If a user is mistakenly tagged as an infringer, he or she must report the mistake within two weeks and pay a $35 fine to have the case reviewed by a third party.