“Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Scheme Is a Sham, Filmmakers Say

The Internet Security Task Force, an anti-piracy initiative launched by several independent movies studios, is calling for an end to the "six strikes" Copyright Alert System. According to the group the voluntary agreement does nothing to stop piracy. Instead, the group is promoting the Canadian notice-and-notice model as a much more effective alternative.

pirate-runningTo counter the ever increasing piracy threat a group of smaller movie studios launched a new coalition last month, the Internet Security Task Force (ISTF).

ISTF, which includes Voltage Pictures, Millennium, Bloom, Sierra/Affinity and FilmNation Entertainment among its members, is poised to be more aggressive than the MPAA.

Today the group unveils its first point of action. According to the group it’s time to end the voluntary “six strikes” Copyright Alert System, the voluntary anti-piracy agreement between the RIAA, MPAA and several large U.S. Internet providers.

ISTF presents data which reveals that the six strikes warnings are not getting the desired result, describing the system as a “sham”.

According to Millennium Films President Mark Gill his studio sent numerous piracy notices directed at ‘Expendables 3’ pirates under the scheme, but only a tiny fraction were forwarded by the participating ISPs.

“We’ve always known the Copyright Alert System was ineffective, as it allows people to steal six movies from us before they get an educational leaflet. But now we have the data to prove that it’s a sham,” Gill comments.

“On our film ‘Expendables 3,’ which has been illegally viewed more than 60 million times, the CAS only allowed 0.3% of our infringement notices through to their customers. The other 99.7% of the time, the notices went in the trash,” he adds.

As part of the Copyright Alert System ISPs and copyright holders have agreed to send a limited number of notices per month, so anything above this threshold is not forwarded.

ISTF’s data on the number of ‘Expendables 3’ infringements suggests that the Copyright Alerts are in fact less effective than the traditional forwarding schemes of other providers.

Cox and Charter, two ISPs who do not participate in the Copyright Alert System, saw a 25.47% decrease in reported infringements between November 2014 and January 2015. However, the ISPs who sent six strikes notices saw a 4.54% increase over the same period.

“These alarming numbers show that the CAS is little more than talking point utilized to suggest these five ISPs are doing something to combat piracy when in actuality, their customers are free to continue pirating content with absolutely no consequences,” Voltage Pictures CEO Nicolas Chartier notes.

“As for its laughable six strikes policy, would any American retailer wait for someone to rob them six times before handing them an educational leaflet? Of course not, they call the cops the first time around,” he adds.

While it’s clear that ISTF is not happy with the Copyright Alert System, they seem mistaken about how it works. Customers don’t have to be caught six times before they are warned, they get an educational notice the first time they’re caught.

The “six strikes” terminology refers to the graduated response scheme, in which customers face stronger punishments after being caught more times.

Interestingly, the filmmakers promote the Canadian notice-and-notice system as a better alternative. Since earlier this year, Canadian ISPs are obligated to forward infringement notices to their subscribers, and ISTF notes that it has been instrumental in decreasing piracy.

Since the beginning of 2015, Bell Canada has seen a 69.6% decrease in infringements and Telus (54.0%), Shaw (52.1%), TekSavvy (38.3%) and Rogers (14.9%) all noted significant reductions.

The data presented is collected by the monitoring outfit CEG TEK. This American company sends infringement notices paired with settlement requests on behalf of copyright holders, sometimes demanding hundreds of dollars from alleged pirates.

Needless to say, these threats may in part be the reason for the reported effectiveness.

In the United States, ISPs are currently not obliged to forward copyright infringement notices. Some ISPs such as Comcast do so voluntarily, but they also strip out the settlement demands.

ISTF hopes this will change in the near future and the group has sent a letter to the MPAA, RIAA and the major ISPs urging them to expire the Copyright Alert System, and switch to the Canadian model instead.

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