During the summer of 2011 the MPAA and RIAA teamed up with five major Internet providers in the United States, announcing their a plan to warn and “punish” BitTorrent pirates.
The parties launched the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) and agreed on a system through which Internet account holders will be warned if their connections are used to commit copyright infringement. After five or six warnings ISPs may then take a variety of repressive measures.
Initially the first ISPs were expected to send out the first “copyright alerts” by the end of 2011, but for reasons unknown this deadline silently passed, as did the revised July 2012 and the December 2012 start dates.
But it appears that the wait is over now.
TorrentFreak learned from a source close to CCI that the system is currently scheduled to launch early next week, and we’re not the only ones. Another sign of the start of the program is that a few days ago the CCI launched their new website. This is where recipients of the copyright alerts will be directed to.
The website explains how the copyright alert system works and lists places where people can download and stream music and movies legally. It also lists details about the appeals process for people who want to dispute one of the warnings.
Copyright Alert promo
Unfortunately the new website does not give an overview of the punishments or mitigation measures that Internet subscribers will be subjected to.
We previously learned that AT&T will block users’ access to some of the most frequently visited websites on the Internet, until they complete a copyright course. Verizon will slow down the connection speeds of repeated pirates, and Time Warner Cable will temporarily interrupt people’s ability to browse the Internet.
It’s expected that the two remaining providers, Cablevison and Comcast, will take similar measures. None of the ISPs will permanently disconnect repeat infringers as part of the plan.
Of course, there are plenty of ways for people to prevent being monitored by copyright holders. BitTorrent proxies and VPN services are the most likely option here. These services replace a user’s home IP-address with one provided by the proxy service, making it impossible for tracking companies to identify who is doing the file-sharing.
Also, those who download through Usenet, cyberlockers or other non-P2P services can not be monitored by the copyright alert system at all.
These circumvention options are not news to the copyright holders and the ISPs. CCI Executive Director Jill Lesser previously said that the main purpose of the alerts is to educate the public, and that hardcore pirates are not the target of the system.
TorrentFreak asked the CCI if it had any idea how many alerts would be sent out in the first few months of the scheme, but the organization didn’t want to make any predictions. We will find out more in the weeks to come. The same is true for the backdoor lawsuit option that was baked into the plan.