Is The “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Scheme Doomed?

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The six-strikes Copyright Alert System has been active for more than three years now. Thus far its impact has hardly been noticed, in public at least. Rightsholders and ISPs have yet to agree on the program's future course, which may not be as brights as once envisioned.

pirate-runningFive years ago the MPAA and RIAA teamed up with several major U.S. Internet providers, announcing their plan to shift the norms and behavior of BitTorrent pirates.

The parties launched the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) and agreed on a system through which Internet account holders are warned if their connections are used to download pirated content.

After five or six warnings ISPs can take a variety of repressive measures, including bandwidth throttling and temporary Internet disconnections.

The system has been in place for several years now and is currently set to expire in October, before which the parties have to agree on its future course.

When the initiative was announced many people feared an active witch hunt and various horror stories about falsely accused grandmothers. But, now that several years have passed it’s the silence that stands out most.

It’s almost as if the much praised Copyright Alert System doesn’t exist at all.

Since its inception, CCI has issued no more than three press releases and any recent data on the scope and effectiveness of the program is lacking. The only figures that were published cover the first ten months, ending December 2013.

Hoping to fill this information void TorrentFreak has been asking for fresh data for years, but CCI repeatedly informed us that they have no new numbers to share.

Similarly, the institution’s official Twitter account has been gathering dust for almost a year, exemplifying the lack of communication.

This week we contacted CCI again, and although no data or concrete plans were unveiled, Executive Director Jim Kohlenberger was willing to shed some more light on the operation.

“The system continues to work smoothly, effectively, and as intended,” he says.

“We’ve seen that consumers are interested in the activity happening on their network, that they respond to educationally focused efforts, and are thirsty for more information on the amazing new ways to ethically access content where, when, and how they want.”

According to Kohlenberger there are growing signs that P2P piracy is on the decline, while use of legal content options is growing. Looking ahead, CCI’s director says the system will be further optimized.

“Going forward, we continue to look for opportunities to refine the system, and to advance our efforts and to elevate our consumer-focused mission in pragmatic ways,” Kohlenberger notes.

While the comments are positive, there are also some signs which suggest that there has been very little progress behind the scenes. The parties have been discussing future options for a long time already and thus far nothing has been set in stone.

After the original agreement expired last June it was extended for four months to give the parties some additional time to agree on possible changes. In October another three-month extension was put in place, followed by yet more extensions in February, March and April of this year.

This strange series of short extensions is odd, to say the least.

And while the future for the Copyright Alert System has yet to be decided, critique is swelling. Not just from pirates and activists, but also from copyright holders themselves as they can only send a limited number of complaints.

Last year a group of several independent movie studios called for the end of the system, describing it as a sham. Instead, the movie studios see more mileage in a Canadian notice-and-notice system, where they can send out as many warnings as they like.

Add to this that Australia just abandoned their proposed “strikes” scheme and the fact that Hollywood said it will no longer push for similar measures elsewhere, and the picture gets more and more grim.

Considering the above it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the scheme terminated itself in the future, but CCI is obviously not hinting in that direction. However, we seriously doubt that things are going as smoothly as they are presented.

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