Think Twice Before Illegally Downloading the New Beyonce Song or X-Men Movie

Copyright Symbols, a photo by MikeBlogs on Flickr,  used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-sa2.0

Have you illegally downloaded music and movies in the privacy of your own home for years without any repercussions? That’s about to change.

The Copyright Alert System (“CAS”) was developed to educate internet users on copyright infringement. Now, when a user illegally downloads copyrighted content from a peer-to-peer network or file sharing site, if a copyright owner witnesses the infringement, a notification is sent from the copyright owner to the internet provider, who then sends an Alert to the user.

The goal of this new program is to educate internet users about the importance of respecting copyrights and to alert users of their infringing activity.

How it works:

  1. A copyright owner monitors content made available on peer-to-peer networks or file sharing sites.
  2. When the copyright owner notices that a file a covered by its copyright protection is being shared illegally by a user, the copyright owner notifies the user’s internet provider.
  3. The internet provider notifies the user in the form of an Alert.

The first two Alerts users receive are educational, providing information on how to ensure the user does not engage in further infringing activity. The next two Alerts require a response from the user declaring that it acknowledges that it illegally downloaded content and that it will not do so in the future. The last two Alerts impose consequences (known as the “Mitigation stage”), to emphasize the gravity of illegally downloading copyrighted content. Consequences may include a temporary reduction of Internet speed, redirection to a landing page until the primary account holder contacts the internet provider, and/or redirection to a landing page where the account holder must review and respond to educational information.

NO, a photo by sboneham on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License

If a user believes it received an alert in error, the CAS includes an opportunity to challenge the Alerts once the user reaches the Mitigation stage. The user must submit a request for Independent Review within 14 calendar days of receiving a Mitigation Alert. There is a $35 fee, which is refunded if you successfully challenge the Alert.

Ultimately, CAS’ bark appears to be bigger than its bite. CAS cannot shut down the user’s internet service or identify what copyrighted material was downloaded by the user. A user who receives Alerts will not be blacklisted and if no Alerts are sent to the user within a 12 month period, all prior Alerts will be cleared from the user’s profile.

But maybe, just maybe, internet users will think twice before illegally downloading copyrighted materials. After all, memories of the days of slow internet speed should be incentive enough.

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