Database Of U.S. Internet Pirates Will Be Decentralized

Starting in a few months, millions of online ‘pirates’ will be monitored as part of an agreement between the MPAA, RIAA and all major U.S. Internet providers. Alleged infringers will be notified about their misbehavior, and repeat offenders will eventually be punished. Thus far the details on the operation have been very slim, but TorrentFreak has learned that unlike in France, the U.S. database of Internet pirates will be decentralized.

In June the MPAA and RIAA announced a ‘ground-breaking’ deal with all the major Internet providers in the United States. In an attempt to deter online piracy, a third-party company will monitor BitTorrent and other public file-sharing networks and collect the IP-addresses of alleged infringers.

The ISPs will then notify these offenders and tell them that their behavior is unacceptable. After six warnings the ISP may then take a variety of repressive measures, which include slowing down the offender’s connection.

This new system is a formalized version of the existing takedown system that’s already in use by copyright holders. It was announced under the name ‘Copyright Alerts‘ and will be managed by the Center for Copyright Information, but little is known about how the data on alleged infringers is collected and stored.

Previously we tried to get more background info, but to no avail. However, via a detour we got in touch with a spokesman for the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) who kindly provided us with some additional information.

We wanted to know what will happen with the IP-addresses that are collected, for how long will they be stored, and will there be a central organization that’s responsible for this process like there is in France. The CCI spokesperson informed us that the data will be exclusively kept by the ISPs.

“ISPs will hold this information, as they do today. Please also note that no personal information about subscribers will be shared with rights holders without the required legal process being completed,” he told us.

There’s no agreement on how long the data will be stored, but a minimum of 12 months is required.

“ISPs will determine this individually based on their own policy. However, please note that the Memorandum of Understanding allows for a 12 month reset period. That means that, if an ISP does not receive any ISP notices from rights holders concerning a subscriber’s account for a 12 month period, all prior ISP notices and copyright alerts from the subscriber’s account may be expunged.”

Aside from the data storage issue we also asked if the company that will track millions of copyright infringers will have its evidence gathering techniques properly tested. This is indeed the case.

“There will be an independent technical review. The agreement requires that an independent technical expert review methodologies used by content owners to detect alleged content theft and by ISPs to identify and forward alerts to applicable subscribers,” TorrentFreak was told.

The independent technical expert has not yet been selected according to the spokesperson. However, it seems unlikely that the results of the evidence review will be made public, which is a major disappointment.

“The results of the reviews will necessarily vary company by company, and industry by industry. As such, they will contain proprietary information and will not be made public,” we were told.

Previously two independent sources informed us that DtecNet was already picked as the official tracking company, but the CCI spokesman said that no official contract has been signed yet. More information on this, as well as the start date of the new system, is likely to be released in the near future.

In the coming months we’ll continue to keep a close eye on developments, because if rightsholders want to track millions of copyright infringers, they better do it right.

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