During the coming weeks the controversial “six-strikes” anti-piracy system will kick off in the U.S. While none of the participating ISPs have officially announced how they will handle repeat infringers, TorrentFreak has obtained a copy of Verizon’s full policy. Among other things, offenders will have to watch a video about the consequences of online piracy, before their speeds are reduced to 256kbps. Also worth mentioning is that the copyright alert system will also apply to business customers.
In 2011 the MPAA and RIAA teamed up with five major Internet providers in the United States to launch the Center for Copyright Information (CCI).
The parties agreed to implement a system through which subscribers are warned that their copyright infringements have been monitored by rightsholders. After several warnings ISPs may then take a variety of repressive measures against alleged infringers.
After more than a year of delays the plan will officially roll out in the first weeks of this year.
One of the ISPs taking part is Verizon. Previously, the ISP made some remarks about the various punishments it would hand out to subscribers but in common with other participating providers the company has not yet announced the full details. Today, we can do this for them.
TorrentFreak has obtained a complete overview of how Verizon’s alert scheme will work and details of the mitigation measures they intend to put in place. The document is stored on Verizon’s web server but due to its placement is currently unfindable using Google.
When the IP-address of a Verizon customer is caught sharing copyrighted works on BitTorrent, the responsible account holder will first get two notification alerts. These inform the customer about the alleged copyright infringements and also explain how file-sharing software can be removed from their computer.
Alert 1 and 2
“Are delivered by email and automatic voicemail to the telephone number we have on file for you. Notify you that one or more copyright owners have reported that they believe your account has been involved in possible copyright infringement activity.”
“Provide a link to information on how to check to see if file sharing software is operating on your computer (and how to remove it) and tell you where to find information on obtaining content legally.”
If more infringements are found after the first two alerts then the account holder is moved on to the acknowledgment phase where “popups” appear on-screen. Customers will have to acknowledge that they received the new alert and will be instructed to watch a video about the consequences of online piracy.
Alert 3 and 4
“Redirect your browser to a special web page where you can review and acknowledge receiving the alerts. Provide a short video about copyright law and the consequences of copyright infringement.”
“Require you to click on an “acknowledgement” button before you will be able to freely browse the Internet. Clicking the acknowledgement button does not require you to admit that you or anyone else actually engaged in any infringing activity, only that you have received the alert.”
If the infringements continue after the fourth alert the subscriber will move on to the mitigation phase. Here, the customer can either ask for a review by the American Arbitration Association or undergo a temporary speed reduction to 256kbps.
Alert 5 and 6
“Redirect your browser to a special web page where you will be given several options. You can: Agree to an immediate temporary (2 or 3 day) reduction in the speed of your Internet access service to 256kbps (a little faster than typical dial-up speed); Agree to the same temporary (2 or 3 day) speed reduction but delay it for a period of 14 days; or Ask for a review of the validity of your alerts by the American Arbitration Association.”
If more infringements are found after the sixth alert “nothing” will happen. The user will receive no more alerts and can continue using his or her Internet connection at full speed.
However – and this is not mentioned by Verizon – the MPAA and RIAA may obtain the IP-addresses of such repeat infringers in order to take legal action against them. While the ISPs will not voluntarily share the name and address linked to the IP-address, they can obtain a subpoena to demand this information from the provider.
The potential for copyright holders to use the alert system as solid evidence gathering for lawsuits remains one of the most problematic aspects of the six-strikes scheme.
Finally, TorrentFreak also confirmed that the alerts outlined above will also apply to business customers. This means that coffee shops and other small businesses will have to be very careful over who they allow on their company networks. It could mean the end of free WiFi in many places.
Aside from Verizon we previously received some details on the measures AT&T and Time Warner Cable will take.
Leaked AT&T documents showed that they will block users’ access to some of the most frequently-visited websites on the Internet, until they complete a copyright course. Time Warner Cable will temporarily interrupt people’s ability to browse the Internet.
It’s expected that the two remaining providers, Cablevison and Comcast, will take similar measures. None of the ISPs will permanently disconnect repeat infringers as part of the plan.