Media Industry Opts to Pull the Plug on Copyright Alert System

Internet service providers, Hollywood studios and record labels have opted not to extend their pact to combat peer-to-peer piracy via the voluntary program that involved issuing “copyright alerts” to offenders. The voluntary program was launched in 2013 as a means of fighting piracy without calling for congressional legislation. Internet users who accessed pirated P2P content were issued warnings, and “six-strike” repeat offenders faced penalties such as the slowing of their Internet delivery. In the end, however, the system was not equipped to deal with hardcore repeat infringers.

“These repeat infringers are the ones who drive ongoing and problematic P2P piracy,” explained Steven Fabrizio, EVP and global general counsel at the MPAA. “In fact, an estimated 981 million movies and TV shows were downloaded in the U.S. last year using P2P.”

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“Ultimately, these persistent infringers must be addressed by ISPs under their ‘repeat infringer’ policies as provided in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” he added.

The voluntary Copyright Alert System was an agreement between Internet providers including Altice, AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast and Verizon — and the MPAA and Recording Industry Association of America.

“But forging an agreement took years,” reports Variety, “as ISPs had significant concerns over liability issues, as they would be in the position of penalizing some of their customers who failed to stop viewing pirated material. So as part of the ultimate agreement, the industry groups set up the Center for Copyright Information to administer the program” and “set up a way for those who received notices to challenge them in a review by the American Arbitration Association.”

While the system was deemed successful in educating consumers who were unaware they were accessing infringing material, causing a significant number of users to stop accessing pirated content, the program was ultimately unable to deal with hardcore repeat offenders and the transition from P2P to online streaming.

“After four years of extensive consumer education and engagement, the Copyright Alert System will conclude its work,” reads a statement issued by the Center for Copyright Information. “The program demonstrated that real progress is possible when content creators, Internet innovators, and consumer advocates come together in a collaborative and consensus-driven process.”

“The decision to end the ‘six strikes’ scheme marks the end of an era,” notes TorrentFreak. “While it means that pirates no longer have to fear temporary Internet disconnections and other mitigation measures that were part of the program, MPAA and RIAA can still send takedown notifications of their own accord.”