The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) — it almost sounds like an official, non-partisan, harmless government agency, doesn’t it? I was immediately disabused of my naivety as soon as I checked out the organization’s Wikipedia page; on the very first line, it talks about how the CCI was started by Satan, with the apparently all-too-publicized goal of utilizing copyright laws to bring about social unrest, and ultimately, geological hellfire. I’m paraphrasing of course. What it actually says is: “The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) is an American organization created by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)… ” Really, what else do you need to know?
Well, now that I’ve effectively preconditioned you for outrage at the following news, let’s begin: in a blog post last Thursday, the CCI announced that, “over the course of the next two months,” participating ISPs (according to Billboard, this includes Time Warner Cable, Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and Cablevision) will begin implementing what’s known as the Copyright Alert System (CAS).
The CAS is basically a series of alerts (six in total, which you can review here) designed to inform (some would say terrorize) supposed copyright infringers of their nefarious online, peer-to-peer activities. The alerts range in severity, from the first and second, which are a combination of online notifications and educational material about how to “avoid copyright infringement,” to the fifth and sixth, which include “Mitigation Measures” — euphemistically named, but you active web users out there will know this as throttling — the deliberate reduction of internet speed.
One thing that the blog post flatly denies is the possibility of an ISP outright terminating your connection, as a kind of Final Solution, shall we say, to a person’s refusal to comply. So that’s nice.
As to how the CAS goes about identifying infringed material with any degree of accuracy, MarkMonitor handles that. According to the CCI, the brand protection and anti-piracy company “uses both trained professionals and automated processes to identify illegal downloading of whole movies, TV shows and musical recordings, and the system is designed to eliminate false positives.” And if it turns out that MarkMonitor’s methodology isn’t as foolproof as the CCI would like you to believe, guess what? According to The Verge, if you believe that you were wrongfully targeted by the CAS, you only have to pay a $35 billing fee in order to request an independent review of your network behavior.
Already, those with superior technical knowledge are talking about using VPNs as a workaround, so it’s unclear what, if any, effect the CAS will have on persistent file-sharers. It does introduce a slew of new privacy concerns, however…