Copyright Alerts: The Solution To End Piracy?

Software, movies, music, applications, games… You name it, and you can find it on the web, oftentimes for free.  You’d think that in this day and age, big companies earn gazillions of dollars with their web and media products, but in reality they aren’t.  One reason behind their dilemma, they say, online piracy.  The battle has been going on for years, but to no avail. Several companies try to protect their content monetization, including Microsoft. They developed the Microsoft Genuine Validation to prevent the unauthorized use of their software, but people have found ways to bypass <> this system.  1 point pirates, 0 points companies.  Another example is the infringement case filed against CNET that was recently dropped <>.  Score count: 2 points pirates, zilch for companies.

Copyrighting <> is said to protect and benefit both consumers and producers, but as we’ve seen in the years that have passed, only the consumers – specifically the pirates, are the ones benefiting from this.  Producers shell out millions, expecting their returns to at least double, but more and more companies are facing bankruptcy because of digital piracy.

But there is still hope.  With the unending battle against piracy, like humongous billboards with the tag line ‘Stop Piracy’ <> on behalf of artists, actors and directors making PSAs, the battle may soon favor the producers, as a group of prominent internet service providers have teamed up to become ‘copyright cops’ <>.

A breakthrough coalition <> of the MPAA, RIAA and other copyright holders have signed an agreement with AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon to curb piracy. Under the agreement, the ISPs agree to send “copyright alerts” to subscribers whose Internet connections are used for copyright infringement. Repeat offenders will not be disconnected from the Internet, but could be slowed down instead.

So how would these ‘copyright alerts’ work?  Will subscribers be penalized for their actions?

According to the statement: <>, ISPs won’t release subscriber names to copyright holders–meaning it isn’t likely for them to wind up in a messy court case <>. The association also says subscribers will be able to challenge an alert if they feel they were wrongly accused. They didn’t specify how those challenges will work or who will oversee them.

This would be a great idea if they could work out the kinks like:

How would the subscribers know if the site they are using is a legit downloading source or a piracy source?  You won’t be alerted until you’ve actually hit that download button. Would that be excused?  Or will the ISP providers suspend your account immediately? If your account is suspended, how can you appeal to the wrongful accusations?  And to whom would you appeal?

And what about those unsecured Wi-Fi connections?  Anyone can use that to download illegally and the one who will suffer is the owner of the unsecure connection.  Their account would be suspended without knowing what happened.  Yes, they will receive the alert, but like most people, they would just ignore it, especially if they know they haven’t done anything wrong.

These are just minor issues that need to be dealt with in letting the public know how this works.  It is their right to protect their assets but consumers have rights too.  If they act on this abruptly, they could be losing not only subscribers but also tons of money.