ISP giants Comcast, AT&T and Verizon Communications are joining Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems in the quest to stop online piracy by sending as many as six warning alerts to customers who download or distribute illegal music, movies or television shows over file sharing networks that openly flout copyright laws.
Subscribers who receive repeated warnings may experience minor sanctions such as having their broadband speed temporarily reduced or being required to review copyright laws and regulations. However, the penalties don’t include ending the customer’s internet account or blacklisting them from opening an account with another ISP.
“If this is successful it really reduces the need to have government involvement in these issues,” Jill Lesser, executive director of the Center for Copyright Information, said in an interview. “These voluntary efforts allow us to be far more nimble and customer-focused than broad legislation.”
This voluntary initiative hopes to succeed where the Hollywood-backed online piracy legislation in Congress failed. Earlier this year, legislators in both the House and the Senate shelved the anti-piracy bills after Google and Wikipedia spearheaded a viral Internet protest that effectively undermined political and social support for the proposed legislation.
The 2 controversial bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), was a result of the extensive lobbying efforts of the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America.
If passed in congress, the Justice Department would have been able to obtain court orders forcing ISPs, search engines such as Google and Bing, payment processors, and online ad networks and servers to block or stop doing business with sites and networks linked to piracy.
I’m not quite sure just how effective this voluntary policy will be. Are sanctions implemented after the first warning? What happens after repeated warning, and how do you make people “review” copyright rules and regulations? I certainly don’t think that people should steal content, so I agree with anti-piracy values. There are concerns about how this will affect the typical heavy online internet user. All we can do is wait to see how this initiative works out, since the proposed penalties are thankfully not too severe.