Thanks to a new online policing system, music fans will want to think twice about illegally downloading music.

This past Monday (February 25), the Center for Copyright Information launched the Copyright Alert System, a “six strikes” program that polices illegal downloading practices by reporting offenders to their respective ISPs (internet service providers).

According to Billboard, the system will report digital copyright infringers to the ISPs, who will then forward the alerts to the user. Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable are among the providers who are members of the Center for Copyright Information, as are the RIAA and MPAA.

“Most consumers will never receive Alerts under the program,” said Jill Lesser of the Center for Copyright Information in a blog post. “Consumers whose accounts have been used to share copyrighted content over P2P networks illegally (or without authority) will receive Alerts that are meant to educate rather than punish, and direct them to legal alternatives.”

The “six strikes” aspect of the new system refers to the increasing degrees of retribution for each copyright violation by a user, which will be unique to each provider. As reported by the Huffington Post, Verizon has proposed slowing an alleged violator’s Internet down to “dial-up speeds for two or three days.” Verizon will also charge $35 to “have an arbitrator review whether they are guilty of Internet piracy.” The charge is refunded if the user is found innocent.

Time Warner Cable has proposed a harsher punishment for six-time offenders: a suspension of Internet service entirely until the user contacts customer service with a promise to cease and desist downloading copyrighted materials illegally.

While the punishment for violating the system might seem relatively light, the Daily Dot suggests that six-time offenders are potentially liable to be sued by content providers as a “serial pirate.”

The site also notes that even if a friend or neighbor utilizes an open network to illegally download, the Content Alert System still holds the subscriber responsible.

“And that’s the point,” stressed Daily Dot. “It’s designed by content owners to promote a culture of people taking responsibility for casual piracy.”

According to an analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation, global music piracy accounts for $12.5 billion of economic losses annually.


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