ISPs Abandon Copyright Alert System
You may have never even heard of CAS unless you or a family member regularly downloaded and shared copyrighted media. Last week, major ISPs ended their three-year-old “six strikes” program intended to discourage subscribers from sharing pirated movies, music, and TV shows.
The program, started in 2013 and officially termed the Copyright Alerts System, was designed to send out a series of up to six warnings to people who downloaded or uploaded copyrighted content using file-sharing services such as BitTorrent. It was administered by the Center for Copyright Information, a coalition of entertainment companies and major ISPs, which issued a statement last week explaining its decision to terminate the program.
“After four years of extensive consumer education and engagement, the Copyright Alert System will conclude its work,” according to the statement. “The program demonstrated that real progress is possible when content creators, Internet innovators and consumer advocates come together in a collaborative and consensus-driven process. CAS succeeded in educating many people about the availability of legal content, as well as about issues associated with online infringement.”
The program was primarily intended as an educational measure, since it did not require ISPs to cut off service to customers who shared illegal content more than six times. Instead, each ISP would introduce its own mitigation measures, such as throttling Internet speed, if customers did not respond to the notices.
The CAS tracked illegal file sharing using a fairly simple method: content owners scanned torrents for their copyrighted works, and logged the IP addresses of computers that shared them. While the Center for Copyright Information doesn’t elaborate on the CAS’s technical setup, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported in 2012 that CAS used software from MarkMonitor to scan torrents.
Major ISPs participating in CAS include AT&T, Comcast, Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon. Verizon declined to comment, instead referring requests to the Center for Copyright Information, while the other four companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Steven Fabrizio, executive vice president and global general counsel at the Motion Picture Association of America, suggested that CAS was being withdrawn because of its ineffectiveness at targeting the most egregious offenders.In a statement to Variety, he said that CAS “was simply not set up to deal with the hard-core repeat infringer problem. Ultimately, these persistent infringers must be addressed by ISPs under their ‘repeat infringer’ policies as provided in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”