The fight against online piracy just gained a new weapon in the form of the Copyright Alert System (CAS) aka the "six strikes" policy. Starting today, participating ISPs like Verizon, Time Warner Cable, AT&T and Comcast will begin issuing warnings to customers suspected of using illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing services that violate copyright laws. Initial notifications will be used to educate and direct customers to legal alternative content sources. If the first set of notifications go avoided, the ISP may take further action, which includes: throttling internet connection speeds and redirecting users to websites requiring acknowledgment of CAS alerts.
If a person wishes to contest their ISP's findings, they will have 14 calendar days to request an independent review by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) for a fee of $35. If the investigation finds that no copyright violations have taken place, the alerts will be removed from the customer's account and they will receive a refund for the filing fee. However, should the organization's research rule otherwise, the internet service provider may proceed with taking action against its account holder. To get a closer look at the CAS and its inner workings, "redirect" your browser to the source links below.
Update: AT&T has reached out with an official statement on this matter. Read on past the break.
The following may be attributed to Brent Olson, AT&T Vice President -Public Policy.
"AT&T and other ISPs have worked for years to identify the appropriate role for ISPs to help address the persistent problem of digital piracy, resulting in the creation of the Copyright Alert System. I'm pleased that we have now reached the stage of implementing that solution, which was developed in consultation with the Center for Copyright Information with input from a variety of Internet stakeholders, including an Advisory Board of consumer advocates.
"Beginning this week, AT&T will begin accepting notices from content owners who have reason to believe our residential wireline broadband Internet customers are sharing copyrighted material unlawfully using peer-to-peer services. Our commitment remains with our customers and that is why the approach we developed is focused on customer education rather than punishment. Because customer privacy is paramount, we will not share or release our customers' names or other personally identifiable information to the content owners, but instead will alert our customers of the allegation to allow them to take steps to address the situation. We've learned from earlier iterations of this process that many customers will respond positively when first notified and will not need additional reminders. In those cases where the activity continues, which we hope and believe will be rare, customers will receive additional alerts. After four alerts, our customers will be required to take an extra step to review materials on an online portal that will educate them on the distribution of copyrighted content online.
"Ultimately, our customers and their online experience come first. In the development and implementation of our Copyright Alert System we have worked tirelessly to ensure that it is appropriately balanced, focuses on education, adheres to our stringent privacy policies, does not result in blocking Internet access, and termination of any customer's Internet service will not occur without a court order. We believe that this program will help customers better understand what they can do to discourage digital piracy. We also hope it will result in more diverse lawfully available content being made available online, consistent with the collective goal of the participants in the Copyright Alert System."
*Verizon has acquired AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.