February last year the MPAA, RIAA and five major Internet providers in the United States launched their “six strikes” anti-piracy plan.
The Copyright Alert System’s main goal is to educate the public. People are informed that their connections are being used to share copyrighted material without permission, and told where they can find legal alternatives.
These alerts start out friendly in tone, but repeat infringers face a temporary disconnection from the Internet or other mitigation measures.
The program has not yet revealed how many people have been warned thus far or how many have been punished. Data obtained by TF earlier this month showed that Comcast had sent out 625,000 alerts to its subscribers.
Today it’s a year since the Copyright Alert System officially rolled out, so it’s time to look back at what happened over recent months.
What stands out most is the lack of news. The Center for Copyright Information (CCI), which oversees the program, has issued no press releases over the past 12 months, and nor have any of the participating parties.
The only time CCI hit the mainstream news is when it lost its company status temporarily, and when it was criticized for its efforts to teach copyright classes at kindergartens. None of these issues were directly related to the Copyright Alert program.
The big question that has to be answered somewhere in the future is how effective the six-strikes scheme is. The ultimate goal of the program is to reduce online piracy, but thus far there has been no clear indication that this is happening.
On the contrary, recent research shows that these type of anti-piracy efforts are rather unsuccessful. This is confirmed by data provided by The Pirate Bay, whose growth in U.S. traffic continued after the system went into effect.
Similarly, there have been no reports indicating an increase in movie or music industry revenues that can be linked to the introduction of the Copyright Alert System.
The only industry that clearly profited from the new anti-piracy measures are the providers of anonymity services. This suggests that many people prefer to hide what they are sharing, instead of kicking their piracy habit.
The above suggests that the Copyright Alert System may not be as effective as the copyright holders had hoped. In a few weeks CCI is expected to release more details on the program’s results, so we might know more then.
Aside from analyzing the effectiveness of the program, CCI is also looking to include other copyright holders and ISPs. No official announcements have yet been made on this front.