In 2013 a controversial "six strikes" anti-piracy system will kick into effect in the U.S. The "six strike" structure or Copyright Alert System (CAS) is not a federal bill such as 2012's failed SOPA and PIPA, but a system that will be managed independently by internet service providers (ISPs).
The system was created by the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) to further support the efforts of organizations such as the Motional Picture Association of America (MPAA), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the leading ISPs in the U.S.--AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon.
The new system will employ a tool called MarkMonitor that will identify copyright-violation activities by said ISPs who will then take up to six actions with guilty users--six strikes--ranging from an initial alert all the way up to punitive damages and termination of services.
According to a Memorandum of Understanding published in July 2011 this measure is meant to be a "learning experience" for Internet users. But what happens if you want to appeal a decision based on this MarkMonitor software? First you would need to pay $35 to CAS to initiate it. Of course, this doesn't take into account all the different ways of covering your tracks online such as using a VPN or software like Tor. Also, what about legal streaming content?
Google has been bombarded by the RIAA and MPAA under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to take down sites violating copyright. Google receives millions of take-down notices per month. But, as the Google Transparency Report points out, many are false requests. For example they have received take-down notices on these websites before: AMC Theaters, BBC, CNN, Rotten Tomatoes, Washington Post, Wikipedia, and the U.S. government.
What does it all mean for you, as a users? First, it means that in a day and age when we have such a supply and demand media system that supports services like iTunes, Hulu and Netflix where individuals pay for movies, TV, books, etc. there is still a very powerful group of individuals who don't want to make changes that, in itself, supports such piracy. Second, those who are more tech savvy will be able to still hide under the radar of copyright infringement while those who are not are penalized. Third, how can we trust that the violation accusations will all be accurate and if we must pay each time we want to appeal, that's going to be a lot of money out of users pockets if the CAS or MarkMonitor are ever incorrect. Just look at all the false positives Google has received. Fourth, what about a shared internet environment such as a campus residence hall or apartment complex? Does everyone share in the same bandwidth throttling if one user is caught?
Last year Julian Sanchez wrote a terrific article for ArsTechnia you should read that further details more about the economics of piracy and all the laws and regulations.