After some delays, the movie industry's home-brewed system to fight Internet pirates has finally arrived, and depending on their internet service provider, pirates may not have all that much to fear. In light of the government's inability to pass legislation like SOPA and PIPA the Motion Picture Associate of America and Recording Industry Association of America got together with the country's major ISPs—Verizon, AT&T, Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast—to put in place their own system to crack down on illegal downloads. The result is a six-strike system that varies depending on the ISP, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. In general, the system involves sending offenders "progressively assertive" warnings, after each offense. The violation is determined by the content owner, which is where the MPAA and RIAA come in. Or, if the download occurs from an IP address associated with pirating, that can trigger a warning notice, too. Beyond that, however, for each specific ISP the punishment plays out differently. Here's how the ISPs will respond, from least to most harsh:
A Lengthy Warning: Cablevision
From the sounds of it, Cablevision will do the bare minimum to comply with the standard, sending out these lengthy notices to violators. It's unclear what happens after that, The Atlantic Wire has reached out to Cablevision for clarification.
A Slap on the Wrist: Comcast
After six offenses, Comcast will ask offenders to watch an educational video, which might look something like this, according to Mr. Geek:
That's a lot less harsh than other providers, who reserve the right to seek legal action, will slow down Internet speeds, and even stop service for some users. It's just a video, after-all.
A Speed Bump: Verizon
Verizon will send warnings to people they suspect of violating copyright violations. After the sixth notification, the ISP will slow down the pirate's Internet speed, effectively making it more difficult to download in the future. While this doesn't put a total stop to the violator's ability to get illegal content, it does make the process a lot less attractive, when suddenly a few minute process takes hours.
A Time Out: Time Warner Cable
After the first two warnings TWC customers will receive an email discussing how to download content legally and how to contact the ISP if the emails were errors, a Time Warner Cable spokesperson told PC Magazine's Chloe Albaneses. If the email is ignored, TWC will redirect that user to a landing page that asks the pirate to agree not to engage in illegal activity before heading to the rest of the Internet. If that doesn't work, after the fourth violation, Time Warner Cable will pull their internet services requiring the customer to call Time Warner Cable and promise to stop violating copyright laws in order to get their service reinstated. It's a little embarrassing to have to make a call and promise to stop breaking the law. But saying something and doing something are very different actions.
AT&T will send out warning notices, until the sixth offense, according to leaked documents from last fall. After that, AT&T will block your Internet and won't lift the ban until the infringer takes a course on IP law, according to CNET. Though, this leaked document from TorrentFreak makes it look like after the fourth or fifth offense a user will be redirected to an "educational tutorial" every time he or she attempts to access a nefarious IP address:
The other scary part about this AT&T policy is this little nugget: "After the fifth alert, the content owner may pursue legal action against the customer." It's unclear how loosely the content owners will use this right, but, the warnings give them this right.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.