MAJOR INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS (ISPs) in the United States have started enforcing a six strikes and you are in trouble programme of corporate copyright enforcement.
The six strikes system is promoted by the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), which is an umbrella group for five of the largest American ISPs - AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon - along with the US copyright cartels, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
These organisations have managed to create a system whereby they police and profile internet users and infractions with respect to alleged 'piracy' among themselves without legal due process.
Civil liberties group Demand Progress said that this six strikes copyright enforcement regime goes much too far.
"These mega-corporations now claim the authority to undermine your Internet access - and want to serve as judge, jury, and executioner," it said. "Tell them to back off - or that you'll start looking for other places to bring your business."
If you listen to the corporations though, things sound a lot different. There we learn that when the CCI is clicking together like clockwork its copyright enforcement advisory system will spin and whirr in efficiently Kafkaesque glory.
"We hope this cooperative, multi-stakeholder approach will serve as a model for addressing important issues facing all who participate in the digital entertainment ecosystem," said CCI executive director Jill Lesser in a blog post.
"From content creators and owners to distributors to consumers, we all benefit from a better understanding of the choices available and the rights and responsibilities that come with using digital content, thereby helping to drive investment in content creation and innovative services that offer exciting ways to enjoy music, video and all digital content."
Lesser came to this role at the CCI after working in intellectual property law in Washington, DC and a spell in public policy at America Online (AOL).
The Copyright Alert System (CAS) begins today. This means that the rightsholder organisations and content partners will start telling the five ISPs about alleged subscriber copyright infringement, and the five ISPs will start passing the messages on to their customers.
These messages are called Copyright Alerts and come in a six stage process. This will involve a small flurry of alerts before intervention by one of the five ISPs.
This ISP intervention, which follows a request that the alleged 'infringer' confirm receipt, will challenge the user, redirect them to nagging notice webpages and then scale up to written harassment, and then connection throttling, that is, slowing down their internet connection.
These will be 'alleged' infringements and recipients will be charged $35 to appeal against them. They will get the cash back if they are found to be in the right, but that sounds rather unlikely.
Anyone that goes through all six stages will then fall out of this ISP system into one where the rightsholders can sue them. µ