February last year Comcast started sending copyright alerts to customers who use BitTorrent to pirate movies, TV-shows and music.
The anti-piracy measure is part of the “six strikes” Copyright Alert System, a partnership between five major ISPs and copyright holders. Those who are “caught” receive an email with details on the file that was allegedly shared, and customers who continue to pirate face a variety of mitigation measures, including bandwidth limitations.
Thus far the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), which oversees the program, has released no details on the volume of alerts sent out by ISPs. However, based on information from several sources we can now report that Comcast has sent out more than 625,000 warnings since the system went into effect.
The total 625,000 represents roughly 3% of all Comcast subscriber accounts and an average of nearly 2,000 emails per day. The number of affected customers is believed to be lower though, as some accounts have received multiple warnings.
The information further shows that the number of issued warnings increased slightly over the year. This makes sense as the ISPs wanted to start slow, not knowing what response to expect from subscribers.
At this point it is still unknown what percentage of Comcast customers have received multiple warnings, or how many reached the mitigation stage. The Internet providers are not allowed to share this data in public without permission from the majority of CCI’s Executive Committee.
TorrentFreak asked Comcast to verify our findings, but the Internet provider would not confirm nor deny that it sent out 625,000 alerts.
“We have no official, authorized information to announce at this time,” a Comcast spokesperson said.
The 625,000 number applies to Comcast alone, and the total number of copyright alerts is believed to run into the millions. Comcast is the ISP with the most BitTorrent users in the United States, so it’s expected that the other providers have sent out less warnings.
TorrentFreak also reached out to the CCI who did not comment on the number of alerts that were sent out by Comcast. The group told us, however, that they are happy with the progress made so far and are looking forward to the upcoming one-year anniversary of the launch of the Copyright Alert System.
“During this initial period, we have been pleased with the way the system is working and have, on a regular basis, been observing the system and reviewing its progress and effectiveness,” a CCI spokesperson told us.
For those who received warnings last February, the one year anniversary is good news. Under the Copyright Alerts System all “strikes” will expire and reset 12 months after the last alert was received.
The CCI told TF that they are still evaluating the system and will release more details about its scope and effectiveness in the months to come.
“We are in the process now of working with our partners and Advisory Board members to evaluate the first-year of the Copyright Alert System and anticipate sharing our observations as soon as they are complete.”
Besides the sheer volume of alerts, CCI will look at a variety of factors to determine the effectiveness of the program. This includes the proportion of subscribers of each ISP who ceased receiving alerts at each step, and the number of P2P Online Infringements copyright holders detected per month.
The number of warnings Comcast has sent to its customers thus far is significant. However, whether this has put a dent in local piracy rates has yet to be seen.
Last year we reported that instead of kicking their download habit, many people took measures to prevent being monitored. In addition, we observed that U.S. traffic to The Pirate Bay did not decline after the system was implemented.