Six Strike Policy Launch Scheduled For Monday, Feb. 25; Copyright Alert System Could Hurt Open Wi-Fi


After years of planning and at least two delays, the anti-piracy Copyright Alert System, aka the so-called six-strikes policy, will launch Monday, according to TorrentFreak.
Six Strike Policy Launch Scheduled For Monday, Feb. 25; Copyright Alert System Could Hurt Open Wi-Fi

The six-strikes policy was devised by entertainment lobbying groups, including the Motion Picture Association of America, or MPAA, and Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA, in conjunction with every major Internet service provider, or ISP, in the U.S.

The promulgators of the anti-piracy program have frequently been criticized as being slow in revealing information about it, and, true to form, they have made no official announcement about its launch date. However, TorrentFreak said a source close to the scheme confirmed it as being Monday.

In an effort to thwart online users who casually download films, music, and other media content illegally, ISPs under six-strikes policy will use a series of escalating messages to warn customers that they have been tracked. Downloaders of allegedly copyrighted content will be forced to acknowledge they have received warnings by either checking boxes or watching educational videos about piracy, depending on the relevant ISP.

Varying slightly among the major ISPs -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE:CVC), Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE:TWC), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) -- the enforcement methods will encompass the stipulation that, should the ISP's repeated threats be ignored, a customer’s Internet speed will be temporarily slowed.

The ISPs and lobbying groups have united under the Center for Copyright Information banner, but the organization is already coming under fire for its supposed lack of transparency and flawed enforcement methods.

In the past, copyright enforcers have targeted pirates by using files they download to track their Internet protocol addresses. Because of that method’s failure, the Copyright Alert System will instead focus on Internet connections that tap an amount of bandwidth consistent with what would be expected to be used by an illegal downloader.

In fact, the Copyright Alert System launch was delayed at least twice, most recently last November, because of a reported disagreement among the ISPs over the blatant monitoring of customers’ Internet use.

Concerns over the unintended consequences of the six-strikes policy include its effects on open Wi-Fi networks found in cafes and other Internet hot spots. Those places will almost certainly become ensnared by ISPs because of patrons who have downloaded purportedly copyrighted media.

“Despite their lack of control, they will find themselves subject to the Copyright Alert System,” Geoff Duncan wrote at Digital Trends. “And, although it’s rare, the technosavvy can pretty easily crack passwords on many Wi-Fi networks. That quiet kid in the apartment down the hall might be doing all his torrenting on your Internet connection, rather than his own.”

Also at risk is the Open Wireless Movement, a coalition dedicated to opening all Internet networks to promote digital freedom and trust online.

Six ways pirates can get around the coming 'Six Strikes'

Last August, Google changed its search algorithms so sites would rank lower based on “the number of valid copyright removal notices” that Google received. But “demoting pirate sites” was not enough, according to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) report [PDF]. The RIAA said it has “found no evidence” that Google’s plan is working since “these sites consistently appear at the top of Google’s search results for popular songs or artists.”

Despite the fact that the European Copyright Society (ECS) found that hyperlinking is not copyright infringement, the Hollywood-funded anti-piracy organization BREIN will not be happy until there is no daily limit on reporting “pirate links” to Google, and “wants to increase the daily DMCA cap from 10,000 to 40,000 and eventually remove the restrictions altogether.” However, ECS wrote, “As Tim-Berners Lee, who is regularly accredited as being an inventor of the World Wide Web, has explained, a standard hyperlink is nothing more than a reference or footnote, and that the ability to refer to a document is a fundamental right of free speech.”

The RIAA disagrees and if it had its way, even Google’s auto-complete feature would be wiped clean of “piracy-inducing keywords.” The RIAA report card concluded, "The search rankings for sites for which Google has received large numbers of instances of infringement do not appear to have been demoted by Google’s demotion signal in any meaningful way, at least with respect to searches for downloads or mp3s of specific tracks or artists.” Yet as Techdirt pointed out, most folks unhappy about their Google ranking would stop to learn about search engine optimization. Furthermore, the RIAA doesn’t seem to understand that if logged into Google, then different people see different Google search results. The bottom line: “The RIAA will never, ever be satisfied until Google wipes out all infringement with the magic ‘piracyBgone’ button.”

6 ways online pirating around the Copyright Alert System Six StrikesSpeaking of piracy and the RIAA, the Six Strikes escalated warning system is about to kick in and the idea of Hollywood—an unelected body of industry-connected officials who get to police the Internet—being given that power is such a horribly flawed plan that it is nearly inconceivable the Copyright Alert System (CAS) will soon launch. AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon have struck Six Strikes deals with the Center for Copyright Information devil (RIAA and MPAA members). Some of the ISPs’ Six Strikes plans, like that of Verizon, have leaked out onto the net.

While not advocating piracy and I’m certainly not an expert on pirating, there seem to be many ways around Six Strikes—other than don’t pirate.

1. Since Six Strikes targets BitTorrent users, they should use a VPN or anonymizing proxy service—only 16% of file-sharers hide their IP now. Apparently even some FBI pirates don’t bother with hiding IPs, even though the FBI warns that pirating is a serious, not victimless, crime.

2. Switch over to Usenet or a similiar site.

3. Download from a free file-hosting service such as one listed in Google results that the RIAA is so vehemently opposed to.

4. Switch over to a streaming site without downloading movies. ICE may take it down, but you won’t be targeted by the Copyright Alert System. Torrent Freak reported, “The copyright alerts only target a subgroup of online pirates, namely BitTorrent users. The millions of users of file-hosting services, Usenet and streaming sites are not going to be affected.”

5. Switch to a higher priced business-class account with your ISP so your public Wi-Fi is considered “legitimate.” Jill Lesser, Executive Director of the CCI, claimed that “legitimate” businesses like Starbucks with free Wi-Fi would be immune to “Copyright Alerts.” Instead, “residential Internet accounts are the focus of our program.” If “very small businesses like a home-office or a local real estate office” use a residential account instead of paying big bucks for a business account, then “if an employee of the small business, or someone using an open Wi-Fi connection at the business, engages in infringing activity the primary account owner would receive Alerts.”

On The Media’s Brooke Gladstone interviewed Lesser about the coming Six Strikes in general. To ensure it doesn't happen again when given an alert, aka a strike, one of the punishments is a tutorial for "ensuring their wireless connection is password protected." If and when the fifth and sixth alerts are issued, then after a “copyright tutorial,” a residential-classed account will get cut down to slower-than-molasses speeds of 256kbps for two or three days. Although Lesser previously said Six Strikes was not “punitive,” good luck trying to get anything done at those 1990s speeds.

6. Diehard ‘casual’ pirates could ride out the Six Strikes storm, since nothing more happens after the sixth warning. At the start of WYNC’s OntheMedia interview, it was said that Six Strikes is supposed to "stop serial illegal downloaders." Later during the interview, when asked what happens if you get Strike 7, 8 or 9, Lesser said, “Once they've been mitigated, they've received several alerts, we're just not going to send them any more alerts. Because they are not the kind of customer that we're going to reach with this program." Nothing more “under this program” will happen. "For us it is reaching the casual infringer which is a large percentage of peer-to-peer piracy," Lesser stated.

The third-party tool MarkMonitor will be used to identify users who engage in copyright-infringing activities. It was approved as an accurate tracking methodology by an independent and impartial technical expert that is none other than Stroz Friedberg—a group that “was also the RIAA’s lobbying firm for half a decade.”

If you feel "wrongly accused” then there is a $35 ‘review fee’ to see precisely what you are accused of. It's refunded if you win, but if the Copyright Alert System is so sure of itself then why charge at all? Why not let individuals know what they are accused of without this stipulation that the fee is to stop "frivolous appeals?"

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The RIAA can take a long walk of a short cliff as far as I'm concerned. Also, here's a white house petition to end this fuckery.

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