Internet service providers have launched a more coordinated effort to deal with subscribers who illegally download movies, TV shows and music. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act already requires ISPs to notify users of piracy complaints made by media companies. But the new system, dubbed the Copyright Alert System, brings the major ISPs under one uniform program and for the first time involves a progressively assertive series of six alerts, starting with a letter or email about the infraction and escalating to where it may slow down a user's Internet connection. "The goal is to change behavior and get people to pay attention," said Jill Lesser, executive director of the Center for Copyright Information, the group coordinating the effort.
The program will be driven by intelligence gathered by the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, the trade groups for the music and media companies. The Internet service providers will employ harsher rules for repeat offenders who, once warned, don't rein in their piracy appetites. But the ISPs are using different kinds of penalties. Time Warner Cable, for instance, said that after the first four notifications, it will lock down offenders' browser until they call a number and show that they understand what they have done and agree to stop. After six strikes, ISPs reserve the right to curtail use. "We reserve the right to terminate a user's account for serious abuse," a Time Warner Cable spokesman said.
Verizon's FiOS says it plans to slow down the Internet speeds of repeat offenders on the sixth time they are notified. Comcast won't slow down Internet speeds but it will ask repeat offenders to watch an educational video. The Internet service providers say that at each stage, the customers will be able to appeal a claim. Ms. Lesser said that the program probably won't deter "large scale pirates," though she expected it to address the more "casual infringer." The ISPs agreed to the system in 2011, though it has taken more than a year for the companies to deploy the program.