During the coming weeks the controversial “six-strikes” anti-piracy system will start in the U.S. The initiative is aimed at educating the public, but last week we uncovered from leaked documents that it also applies to businesses. Today CCI director Jill Lesser confirms that indeed some business accounts will be affected. However, she adds that this is not going to affect café owners who offer public WiFi, as this is already prohibited in the applicable Terms of Services.
A week ago TorrentFreak had the honor to reveal the full details of Verizon’s implementation of the upcoming “copyright alerts” system.
In short, the Internet provider will notify customers whose accounts are caught sharing pirated movies and music, and after four warnings these account will be temporarily throttled to 256kbps.
Besides from the details, the leaked documents also revealed that business accounts will also be subject to the copyright alert system. This means that these companies will have to prevent their employees from pirating, and makes it impossible for coffee shops to share their WiFi with customers.
Following up on this finding we asked the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), the group that’s responsible for the copyright alerts plan, whether Verizon perhaps made a mistake by applying it to business accounts. This is not the case.
CCI Executive Director Jill Lesser told TorrentFreak in a comment that most alerts will go to private customers, but that some businesses are indeed affected.
“The Copyright Alert System is targeted to residential customers, and the vast majority of alerts issued will be residential. There is a small pool of home office or home-business customers that may end up in the copyright alert system due to infrastructures in place at the member ISPs,” Lesser said.
According to the CCI this is not a problem as these companies shouldn’t let employees share copyrighted material in the first place.
“Importantly, the terms of service are essentially the same as residential accounts and if small businesses are allowing their employees to engage in copyright theft then they are violating their terms of service,” Lesser says.
The same is true for public WiFi according to Lesser, as these business accounts are already forbidden to share their Internet access with customers.
“In addition, the terms of service on such accounts do not allow them to be used to provide free WiFi or ‘hotspots’ so the hypothetical café owner offering public WiFi will not be subject to the CAS if they are following their terms of service.”
Indeed, as we look at Verizon’s business TOS we read the following:
“You may not provide Internet access to third parties through a wired or wireless connection or use the Service to facilitate public Internet access (such as through a Wi-Fi hotspot).”
Previously these terms were hard to monitor and enforce, but with the copyright alert system this changes.
We have no information on the number of small businesses that will be directly impacted, but expect that there are quite a few. So don’t be surprised to see the public WiFi disappear at your favorite coffee shop when the six-strikes scheme goes live.