ISPs Ready to Get Tough on Copyrights

Have you heard of the Center for Copyright Information? I encourage you to head over to their site and check it out. In particular, look at the “Copyright Alerts” section because it could have an impact on your access to the Internet.

The Center is a joint effort between the copyright holders — the music, film, and television industries — and the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who provide consumers with access to the Internet. The program apparently received support from the White House, which has encouraged major cable companies and other ISPs to get on board with the program. The idea is to get serious about enforcing copyright restrictions; last week, the group announced its program of “Copyright Alerts”.

The basic concept is that broadband account owners may not be aware that their account is being used to access copyrighted information illegally. It could be that the consumer is not aware of the limitations for accessing copyrighted material, or it may be that someone else in the household has access to the account and is using it to download content illegally without the account owner’s knowledge. The program is designed to give the account owner up to six Copyright Alerts. Consumers who repeatedly violate copyright rules will then be subject to “mitigation measures.” These penalties can range from a throttling of data throughput to blocking access to the Web altogether. There are provisions for independent review of violations so that consumers have recourse if they think that the alerts are in error.

The news here is that the major ISPs appear to be willing to take a more proactive role in protecting copyrighted material. Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable have all agreed to take part in the program. A cynic might point out that many of these companies are now the owners of copyrighted material themselves, and so it is no longer someone else’s ox being gored. Whatever the motivation, this move holds out the hope that the people creating the content that we want for our entertainment will stand a better chance of getting a better return on their investment of time, money, and skill, which in turn could mean that we will be more likely to have new content to enjoy in the future.