Six-Strikes Anti-Piracy System Gets New Evidence Review

The “six strikes” copyright alert system has been active for nearly half a year without the promised independent evidence review. However, this is about to change. The Center for Copyright Information, a partnership between the RIAA, MPAA and several major Internet providers which oversees the system, informs TorrentFreak that a new independent expert has been picked to review the accuracy of the monitoring system.

six strikes evidenceAfter years of negotiating and planning the “six strikes” copyright alert system finally went live in February. Since then, many alerts have been sent out to U.S. subscribers, although the exact number remains a mystery.

The evidence at the base of the accusations is provided by copyright holders who hired a company called MarkMonitor (DtecNet) to snoop on BitTorrent users.

This information then goes to the Internet providers, who forward it to their customers in the form of a “copyright alert”. Repeat offenders can be punished through a wide variety of mitigation measures, ranging from mandatory copyright courses to temporary Internet restrictions.

To guarantee the accuracy of the evidence behind the accusations the parties agreed to hire an impartial and independent technology expert, but October last year their commitment to this promise was questioned when the expert turned out to be Stroz Friedberg, a former RIAA lobbying group.

The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) realized that this was an unfortunate pick and the group quickly announced that a new expert would be hired do a fresh evidence review. The goal of this re-examination was to restore the public’s faith in the system, but after the initial announcement things went awfully quiet.

In recent months TorrentFreak asked several times whether a new expert had been picked, but every time CCI replied that it was working on the issue. This week, progress was finally made with CCI informing us that it had picked a new expert to conduct a fresh review.

“The Center for Copyright Information is pleased to have signed an agreement with a new, independent technology expert to begin a second review of the content methodology employed by the content community to identify potential copyright infringement on peer-to-peer sites for the Copyright Alert System,” CCI’s Executive Director Jill Lesser tells TorrentFreak.

To prevent more public scrutinizing, the CCI has made sure that there are no past or active ties to the entertainment industries or anti-piracy groups. After a long and thorough search, the group eventually hired Professor Avi Rubin‘s company Harbor Labs.

“The new expert is Professor Avi Rubin, who will work with his team at Harbor Labs. Professor Rubin has no prior connection to CCI and is not affiliated in any way with its member companies, but comes highly recommend by several technologists and experts in our field.”

“CCI is committed to the continued improvement and transparency of our system, and we feel strongly that this second independent review will help us maintain those commitments,” Lesser adds.

CCI has yet to release any official numbers but thus far the number of alerts being sent out under the program appears to be minimal. We previously received a copy of a warning email sent out by Comcast and later stumbled upon a Time Warner Cable notice, but that’s it.

Interestingly, Comcast also appears to be working on a separate anti-piracy system through which downloaders will be alerted to legal alternatives when they’re caught pirating. CCI told TorrentFreak that it supports the initiative.

“The new Comcast anti-piracy program is not something that was developed through the CCI but we support efforts that further CCI’s mission and are consistent with the important principles of transparency and protection of customer privacy on which the CCI was founded,” Lesser says.

For now the Copyright Alert System will continue to operate as is. The new review is expected to be published when it’s completed, which may take a few more months. Those who are interested in how the evidence gathering works should watch MPAA’s detailed presentation.

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