Verizon Will Reduce Speeds of Repeated BitTorrent Pirates

At the end of this month the controversial "six-strikes" anti-piracy system will kick off in the U.S., and today two of the participating Internet providers have been discussing what measures they will take against repeated BitTorrent pirates. Verizon plans to notify alleged pirates via email and voice-mail, and will throttle the connection speeds of repeated infringers. Time Warner Cable will warn subscribers through popups and restrict users' Internet browsing by directing them to a landing page.

Last year the MPAA and RIAA teamed up with five major Internet providers in the United States to launch the Center for Copyright Information (CCI).

The parties agreed on a system through which subscribers are warned that their copyright infringements have been observed by rightsholders. After several warnings ISPs may then take a variety of repressive measures to punish the alleged infringers.

From leaked AT&T training documents we learned that the company will block users’ access to popular websites until they complete a copyright education course. However, none of the participating Internet providers have publicly commented on the measures they plan to take, until now.

During a panel discussion hosted by the New York Chapter of the Internet Society, Verizon and Time Warner Cable unveiled details of their plans.

Link Hoewing, Vice President of Internet and Technology Issues for Verizon, said his company will employ a three stage process. The first two alerts will result in a simple notification email informing the users that their connection has been flagged for copyright infringements.

After the second warning comes the acknowledgment phase in which a popup is delivered users. Once received subscribers are required to read and confirm, a process designed to ensure that they are aware of the unauthorized sharing that’s taking place via their account.

If the infringements continue punishments become a reality on the fifth and the sixth alerts. Hoewing said that these repeated infringers will have their Internet connections throttled resulting in significantly slower download speeds. The throttling is temporary and will be lifted after two or three days.

Fernando Laguarda, Time Warner Cable’s Vice President of External Affairs, said his company will take a slightly different approach. The notification and acknowledgment phases are fairly similar, but instead of reducing connection speeds they will restrict users’ Internet browsing by directing them to a landing page.

Laguarda did not explain in detail for how long users will be restricted or what websites they will be able to reach, if any.

CCI’s Executive Director Jill Lesser, who also participated in the panel, stressed that the main purpose of the alerts is to educate the public. The participating parties realize that determined individuals can circumvent the system by using a VPN or switching to other means of file-sharing that are not tracked under the agreement.

“Yes, there are ways around it, and yes there are other ways to pirate,” Lesser said, adding that these hardcore pirates are not the target of the system.

Finally, Lesser said that only large ISPs were invited to join the copyright alert system to make it easier to come to an agreement. However, now that everything is ready to be set in motion, the CCI is planning to invite other Internet providers.

Whether other providers will be eager to join remains to be seen. A Cox spokesperson previously told TorrentFreak that his company was invited but “decided not to participate for internal reasons.”

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