Sunday 20 May 2012

ISPs' six strikes enforcement plan delayed

How disconnection works in practice
A couple of months ago this Blog reported that the ISPs' six strikes enforcement plan (on which see here) was due to enter into force next July. 
The plan is the result of an agreement between some major US ISPs (AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon) and music and film industries (through RIAA and MPAA), aimed at adopting and implementing policies directed at discouraging their customers from illegally downloading copyright-protected materials.
The plan envisages a system through which, when a copyright owner complains to an ISP, that ISP sends a (possible) series of online alerts to the subscriber that he/she is infringing copyright. After six warnings ISPs may take a variety of repressive measures, which include slowing down offenders’ connections and temporary disconnections.
In any case, when entering the agreement, ISPs made it clear that they would (1) protect their subscribers' privacy and not filter/monitor their own networks for infringements and (2) never terminate an internet connection entirely, or otherwise interfere with subscribers' ability to receive calls and emails.
During a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the Association of American Publishers, RIAA's CEO Cary Sherman announced that most of the participating ISPs would begin implementing the enforcement program by next July.
However, as reported by TorrentFreak and Tom's Guidenow the start of the program has been delayed until later in the year. 
As commented by a spokesperson for the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), which is supposed to engage in the tracking down of pirates as part of the enforcement plan, 

ISPs are busy preparing their model online alerts
The dates mentioned in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) are not hard deadlines but were intended to keep us on track to have the Copyright Alert System up and running as quickly as possible and in the most consumer friendly manner possible ... We do not intend to launch until we are confident that the program is consumer friendly and able to be implemented in a manner consistent with all of the goals of the MOU. We expect our implementation to begin later this year.”

In any case, participating ISPs remain in favour of voluntary and private enforcement solutions. For instance, Verizon has declared that it has 
"always said that copyright infringement is wrong and through this voluntary consumer friendly system, we believe we can educate our consumers and offer them access to legal alternatives ... [T]his  program offers the best approach to the problem of illegal file sharing and, importantly, is one that respects the privacy and rights of our subscribers. It also provides a mechanism for helping people to find many great sources of legal content.”
Apparently, as reported by TorrentFreak, the CCI has made it clear, that none of the ISPs has plans to terminate the accounts of subscribers. This does not mean, however, that temporary disconnection is no longer an option. 

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