The program, officially called the Copyright Alert System (CAS), is a partnership between the entertainment industry and ISPs designed to put a stop to online piracy. Under CAS, content creators monitor peer-to-peer networks for what they believe to be illegal downloading of their property. They then share the Internet Protocol addresses of those involved with illicit file transfers to their ISP, who can take a series of escalating actions against holders of accounts on which illegal downloading has been detected — earning the program’s “Six Strikes” moniker.
ISPs began implementing CAS this week, but they have thus far been quiet about their choice of “mitigation measures” — the more severe fifth- and sixth-level actions ISPs can take against repeat offenders. It’s been known for some time that mitigation measures can range from forcing a customer to watch an instructional video about copyright to extreme capping of data speeds.
However, ISPs are free under CAS to select which mitigation measures they see fit to use, and we haven’t known exactly how all of the major ISPs would deploy the various mitigation measures — until now.
Verizon is the only major ISP that will cap customers’ data speeds under CAS. Before doing so, Verizon will issue a series of alerts and then force repeat-offender FiOS customers to watch instructional videos about copyright and legal methods of downloading content. If customers continue pirating content, their connection will be capped at near dial-up speeds for two to three days.
Verizon customers will get two weeks’ notice before any slowdown occurs, providing a window to appeal piracy accusations. Customers of any ISP can appeal a CAS copyright alert for a $35 fee, which is waived if their appeal is granted or if they express financial difficulties.
Update: Cablevision has announced it will completely suspend customers’ Internet service for 24 hours following the fifth and sixth alerts if unchallenged by customers.
A Time Warner Cable representative told Mashable that it will not throttle customers’ data plans or terminate service under CAS mitigation. Time Warner Cable customers accused of piracy will receive a series of alerts which, if they are ignored, will lead to customers experiencing a browser lock until they call Time Warner Cable representatives for an instructional conversation about copyright and legal methods of downloading content.
Comcast won’t cap Internet speeds, either. Instead, repeat offenders will be first made to confirm receipt of stern warning emails. If their unwanted behavior continues, they will encounter persistant in-browser alerts, deletion of which will require a call to Comcast Security Assurance. CSA will discuss copyright issues and legal downloading alternatives with Comcast customers before deactivating the alerts. A Comcast spokesperson told Mashable the company’s intent is to “inform, educate and engage.”
AT&T is also choosing not to throttle users’ speeds. AT&T customers accused of piracy will receive a series of alerts. If an accused customer continues illegally downloading content after receiving four such alerts, AT&T will demand they “take an extra step to review materials on an online portal that will educate them on the distribution of copyrighted content online” before they can access other websites, according to a company statement. AT&T noted the program is focused on “customer education rather than punishment.”
ISPs are allowed to terminate service under their deal with content creators, but none of the major ISPs say they will go that far — though they reserve the right to terminate service under their respective terms of service. Also, CAS applies only to wired Internet providers, it does not affect Verizon Wireless or AT&T wireless service.
Will CAS have an impact on online piracy?