AT&T will begin sending out anti-piracy warnings to subscribers whose accounts are repeatedly flagged for copyright infringements and block access to frequently visited websites, reports TorrentFreak, citing leaked AT&T internal training documents. The measures will begin on November 28 and are expected to be mimicked by other ISPs around the same time frame.
Last year the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) joined with several major U.S. Internet providers—AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon—to create the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) and agree on a system to warn subscribers when their copyright infringements are unacceptable.
Under the system, content owners hand over to a participating ISP the IP address of a specific computer they believe is pirating their material. The ISP then matches the IP address used at a given date and time with one of its subscribers and sends the person an alert that notifies her or him that the “account may have been misused for potentially illegal file sharing, explain why the action is illegal and a violation of the ISP’s policies, and provide advice about how to avoid receiving further alerts as well as how to locate film, television, and music content legally,” states the CCI website.
The leaked documents from AT&T go even further and say customers who receive a fourth and fifth e-mail alert “will be redirected to an educational page when they attempt to reach certain websites” and “will have to take a brief online education tutorial on copyright in order to be eligible to surf these sights again.” The documents also say that after the fifth warning a content owner can take legal action against an infringer and can get a court order that requires AT&T to hand over customer information to aid in pressing charges.
What are the customers’ rights?
Where the whole thing has gone wrong, says the Electronic Frontier Federation, “is the same subscribers who elect the politicians, buy the content owners’ goods, and pay subscription fees to the internet access—weren’t invited to the table. Under the [CCI] agreement, unproven accusations of infringement could lead to escalating consequences from users, from ‘re-education’ programs up to bandwidth throttling and account suspensions.”
Unlike France’s three-strikes policy, which a high-level French official threatened to defund this summer for being too expensive, Internet service providers in the United States won’t be required to throttle or disconnect repeat file sharers. They’ll have the option to do so, but it’s unclear how many ISPs will exercise that right.
The CCI has created an appeals process but to use it someone who feels he is unfairly accused must pay a $ 35 filing fee for an independent review by the American Arbitration Association.
Not happy about the six-strikes piracy warning system? The EFF has a tool you can use to send a letter to “Tell AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon to respect their users’ rights, and publicly commit today that they will never terminate a user account as part of a “graduated response” program.”