Internet Providers Sent 1.3 Million Warnings to Alleged Pirates

Movie studios and record labels don't need a court to go after copyright violations.

National Journal

Internet service providers and the entertainment industry are ramping up their joint initiative to crack down on online piracy without going through lengthy court proceedings.

In 2013, Internet providers sent 1.3 million notices over alleged copyright violations, according to the first statistics on the Copyright Alert System, which were released Wednesday. People who continue to illegally share songs or movies face gradually increasing sanctions.

According to the report, 60,477 people last year received a fifth "strike" and 37,456 received a sixth "strike." Under the program, Internet providers enforce "mitigation" measures for the fifth and sixth offenses. Offenders who reach those stages can be forced to review copyright education materials before accessing the Internet or have their Internet speed reduced.

The program is expected to double in size this year.

The major movie studios and record labels negotiated with the five largest Internet providers to develop the program in a bid to curb online piracy, which they say is draining billions of dollars from their industry. Under the system, the copyright holders identify the IP address that is allegedly sharing the material without permission and then notify the Internet provider assigned to the account. The entertainment companies emphasize that the purpose of the program is to better educate the public about copyright infringement.

Although no judge or court is involved, consumers can appeal the alerts and sanctions for $35. According to the report, only 265 people appealed any of the 1.3 million alerts. There were no invalid notices, but 47 people won their challenges on the grounds that someone else was using the account to illegally share the material.

Jill Lesser, executive director of the Center for Copyright Information, which oversees the system, said the program has the potential to "move the needle in deterring copyright infringement."

Chris Dodd, the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, said the program is still in its early stages but that the results are "encouraging."

"It is going to take everyone working together — both here in the United States and abroad — to find a way to create an Internet that works for everyone," he said. "The Copyright Alert System shows that collaboration is possible in our efforts against piracy."