Time Warner, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Cablevision Systems all said Thursday that they were implementing a series of “best practices” recommendations that would see the connections of subscribers accused of copyright violations slowed down or even temporarily blocked if the alleged offenses continue.
The adoption of these policies, proposed by The Center for Copyright Information represents another brick in the entertainment industry’s firewall against online piracy and a significant defeat for Internet freedom advocates.
Unlike European “three strikes” policies which sever a user’s Internet connection after their third alleged copyright offense, U.S. providers will not permanently disconnect anyone. Instead, a series of “mitigation measures” will be implemented to repeatedly notify the user in the event of a copyright infringement allegation.
After three notifications via email, Internet service providers (ISPs) may begin to throttle a user’s bandwidth, significantly slowing down their access speeds.
ISPs may also block all the user’s traffic and redirect any attempt to access websites to a “landing page” that forces the subscriber to acknowledge potential “consequences” for sharing files online. Service to the broader Web would not be restored until the user responds.
The ISPs promised that at no point would any subscriber’s access be completely cut off unless ordered by a court, and no “blacklists” of repeat offenders are to be maintained.
“[We] are particularly disappointed that the agreement lists Internet account suspension among the possible remedies,” The Center for Democracy & Technology said in a media advisory Thursday. “We believe it would be wrong for any ISP to cut off subscribers, even temporarily, based on allegations that have not been tested in court.”
They added: “Close ongoing scrutiny will be required to ensure that the agreement achieves its purpose without unfair or disproportionate consequences for Internet users.”
Read the full guidelines for U.S. Internet providers’ new “Copyright Alert System” here (PDF).
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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