Just recently, major internet service providers including AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner and Cablevision entered into a voluntary agreement with rights groups protecting the film and music industry. One of the most frustrating sides of the worldwide web for performing artists has been the explosion of online piracy and the illegal download of films and music. As the consumers’ appetite for free and cheap stuff online grows to an insatiable level, the rightful owners of copyrighted content are losing income. While most of us consider ourselves to be reasonably moral people, the urge to cheat the system is a strong one. This also spurs on criminals to find creative ways to sell their stolen wares.
Enter the Copyright Alert System. By alerting internet subscribers that their accounts may have been misused for the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials without consent from the rightful owner, it gives consumers an education on what is lawful exchange of goods over the ‘net. After 3 or 4 notifications, the consumer will be required to acknowledge receipt of these warnings. Any alerts distributed after that may result in a significant reduction in the speed of your broadband connection, or a redirection to a landing page forcing you to read through copyright laws.
To be fair, most of us don’t even know that what we are doing is illegal. We also may have family members in the house which we are unaware are engaging in these practices. This will give parents a chance to use teachable moments and enact consequences with their children. There will be an independent review process for those consumers who feel they have been unfairly targeted, as well. Many subscribers have wireless home networks that are unsecured, allowing neighbors to engage in the unlawful practice while they are unsuspecting. This will allow them to take the necessary precautions to secure their connection.
One thing that consumers need to be aware of is that despite the Copyright Alert System, broadband companies will protect their subscribers’ privacy. In other words, just because your internet connection might be used for illegal downloads, your name will not be provided to the owners of the copyrights. Also, the mitigation measures used will never result in their customers losing their subscriptions, or preventing them from making emergency 911 phone calls. Internet providers by zip code believe that most of their customers are law-abiding people who are simply unaware of what the law actually is. This gives us, the consumer, the opportunity to do the right thing and correct any breaches currently taking place.
Our economy is one built on trust to do business with each other. These measures will help performing artists to develop trust with their fan base, enabling them to make a living while we enjoy their talents and reward them monetarily for their work. Most people understand this, and will welcome the idea of doing the right thing for all parties involved.