What Would A Copyright Alert Look Like?

The Copyright Alert System, or CAS, went live early last week on Comcast and Verizon. Better known as "Six Strikes," CAS is funded by a group called the CCI, or Center for Copyright Information, which consists of five major ISPs, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America.

Charlie Douglas, a Comcast spokesperson, told ArsTechnica that a small number of alerts has already been sent out, despite the program having only been live for less than a week. When one of the ISPs' customers is shown to be "improperly" downloading material, the ISP will then issue a series of warnings until the customer stops. After the sixth violation, the ISP can penalize a user by throttling his/her connection or cutting it off entirely.

The language behind CAS is murky, says Derek Bambauer, a tech law professor at the University of Arizona. He says that "improper" is vague wording: he could download a full body of work for purposes such as education, which would fall under Fair Use laws, but would be treated as infringement under CAS. He could appeal, but it would cost him $35 each time.

"Six Strikes is fundamentally flawed," Bambauer said.

Ars Technica provides copies of the first, second, fourth and fifth alerts it obtained via Comcast (which you can browse below); they will appear as browser pop-ups, which users need to take steps to acknowledge they've received and read the alert. They refer to a Comcast email address, which the primary account holder of an ISP is usually assigned, but which most people don't even know about.

The CCI emphasizes that CAS is an educational policy rather than one based around penalties, and each alert points to several places online where users can legally consume movies, TV shows and music, as well as places clients can find out more about copyright infringement and what that entails.

CAS would not extend to unprotected media (anime and foreign film buffs are pretty much in the clear, unless it's been licensed in the U.S.), and if a user were running a VPN, the ISPs would not be able to identify the user. VPNs are traditionally used to secure connections and for Chinese Internet-users to get around the Great Firewall, but we at iTechPost wouldn't be surprised if such services were to get a boost from CAS. Just keep in mind that a fast, secure VPN is not very cheap.

The first, second, fourth and fifth alerts are reproduced here via ArsTechnica:

(Edited by Lois Heyman)

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