Internet Providers Sent 1.3 Million Warnings to Alleged Pirates

Movie studios and record labels don’t need a court to go after copyright violations.

National Journal
Brendan Sasso
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Brendan Sasso
May 28, 2014, 10:06 a.m.

In­ter­net ser­vice pro­viders and the en­ter­tain­ment in­dustry are ramp­ing up their joint ini­ti­at­ive to crack down on on­line pir­acy without go­ing through lengthy court pro­ceed­ings.

In 2013, In­ter­net pro­viders sent 1.3 mil­lion no­tices over al­leged copy­right vi­ol­a­tions, ac­cord­ing to the first stat­ist­ics on the Copy­right Alert Sys­tem, which were re­leased Wed­nes­day. People who con­tin­ue to il­leg­ally share songs or movies face gradu­ally in­creas­ing sanc­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, 60,477 people last year re­ceived a fifth “strike” and 37,456 re­ceived a sixth “strike.” Un­der the pro­gram, In­ter­net pro­viders en­force “mit­ig­a­tion” meas­ures for the fifth and sixth of­fenses. Of­fend­ers who reach those stages can be forced to re­view copy­right edu­ca­tion ma­ter­i­als be­fore ac­cess­ing the In­ter­net or have their In­ter­net speed re­duced.

The pro­gram is ex­pec­ted to double in size this year.

The ma­jor movie stu­di­os and re­cord la­bels ne­go­ti­ated with the five largest In­ter­net pro­viders to de­vel­op the pro­gram in a bid to curb on­line pir­acy, which they say is drain­ing bil­lions of dol­lars from their in­dustry. Un­der the sys­tem, the copy­right hold­ers identi­fy the IP ad­dress that is al­legedly shar­ing the ma­ter­i­al without per­mis­sion and then no­ti­fy the In­ter­net pro­vider as­signed to the ac­count. The en­ter­tain­ment com­pan­ies em­phas­ize that the pur­pose of the pro­gram is to bet­ter edu­cate the pub­lic about copy­right in­fringe­ment.

Al­though no judge or court is in­volved, con­sumers can ap­peal the alerts and sanc­tions for $35. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, only 265 people ap­pealed any of the 1.3 mil­lion alerts. There were no in­val­id no­tices, but 47 people won their chal­lenges on the grounds that someone else was us­ing the ac­count to il­leg­ally share the ma­ter­i­al.

Jill Less­er, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Cen­ter for Copy­right In­form­a­tion, which over­sees the sys­tem, said the pro­gram has the po­ten­tial to “move the needle in de­ter­ring copy­right in­fringe­ment.”

Chris Dodd, the head of the Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­ation of Amer­ica, said the pro­gram is still in its early stages but that the res­ults are “en­cour­aging.”

“It is go­ing to take every­one work­ing to­geth­er — both here in the United States and abroad — to find a way to cre­ate an In­ter­net that works for every­one,” he said. “The Copy­right Alert Sys­tem shows that col­lab­or­a­tion is pos­sible in our ef­forts against pir­acy.”

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