Copyright Alerts System

The Copyright Alert System (CAS) is coming to the US next week.

AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon have come together and created a 6 strike system where every time it detect “pirated content” being download on your internet connection it sends you an email/telephone message, makes you watch an education video/view anti-piracy material, slow down your internet connection, demote you to lower tier of service, and/or disconnect you from the internet completely until you complete an anti-pirating class. All depending on how many strikes your have.

CAS does this by scanning your internet packets, a violation of 4th amendment rights (assuming we still have have it at this point). After all if your ISP is already scanning your internet packets I *doubt* the CIA, FBI etc. will ask to see then. Also who knows how much of a bottleneck the scanning process will slow down the internet. (Think TSA in an airport)

The company making the CAS software MarkMoniter has already had many false positives problems accusing of pirating HBO content. The CAS scanning system would also wouldn’t be able to identity “fair use” cases like sharing a family video with music in the background.

The only way to appeal strikes to is pay $35 to have your case heard in front of the American Arbitration Association (not a court of law).

This quote sums up CAS perfectly.

So, basically, it’s an unelected body of industry-connected officials who get to police the Internet?

Read more about CAS here: Primer GuideUnintended Consequence.

11 Responses to Copyright Alerts System

  1. This seems to me like a huge violation of privacy and the 4th Amendment. Like the quote mentioned, do they really have the right to “listen” in on peoples internet traffic just because you connect to the internet through them? Do phone companies have the right to listen to, record, and filter the content of arbitrary phone calls? Do they have the right to penalize someone for the content of their conversation? I think the best way to view this is to view this is as another attempt to control the internet and it will ultimately be up to the customer to decide whether they are willing to put up with such an obvious and direct violation of their rights. Until then, it might be a good idea for many of us to reconsider our internet provider.

    • We can’t switch internet provider and vote with our money. Can you think of an internet provider that isn’t AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon or rent sections of network from them?

      This also violates Presumption of innocence (“innocent until proven guilty”).

  2. I disagree strongly with this idea and the fact that the public was never directly informed about this action. I live with five other people here at Ohio State and we do have AT&T U-Verse as an Internet provider. I do know of at least two of my roommates downloading music on a daily bases and I can tell you our Internet has slowed down increasingly from the beginning of the year, when we first signed up. It has gotten so slow over the past couple months that even the advertisement for You Tube have to load for a minute or two before the video even starts. I personally do not illegally download music because I have a couple friends that are always getting new songs and staying updated. I don’t understand how this could be fair to us as a customer. I have never heard anything about this until today and am eager to get back to my house and inform my roommates about this knowledge. As I know of right now, my roommates have never revived an email or phone call regarding pirated content but I’m pretty positive at this point that this is the reason our Internet has become so slow. We pay around 160 dollars a month for this service and they don’t even tell us this when we have complained multiple times of slow connection. I don’t believe this will do anything to help stop illegally downloaded content and am very disappointed in these company’s, to take this approach. I hope this information does come out more than it already has so people like us (college student) know which providers we can trust.

  3. I remember hearing about this awhile ago but was under the assumption that if you were part of a large group (swarm) of people downloading certain types of content (for lack of a better term), then you could be traced back and then receive your strike. I agree that this would be considered a violation of rights and too wonder how this would effect people who legally download torrented material (ie libraies, free programs etc, etc).

    I typically won’t download music, especially since most of the music I listen to the albums are generally pretty cheap (paid 12 dollars for the last one I bought), but what worries me is the free material that can be obtained by these free services.

    I agree that these service providers should indeed send a memo, postcard, email, or whatever to inform its customers in the change in policy. I wonder how many court room hearings this will generate in the next year, month even

  4. As Glen points out, the small number of service providers makes it pretty impractical to switch providers as a protest.

    A better option might be use of a VPN service or Tor to hide your IP address. If anyone has any experience with these methods of maintaining anonymity, it would be interesting for us all to hear about it.

    • I’ve had extensive experience using the Tor network. To summarize how the service works, it routes your internet connection to various servers all over the world so that it would be extremely difficult for anyone between you and your web destination to figure out what you’re looking at. Initially I used Tor as you said, to hide my IP address whenever I torrented anything of questionable legality. However, the network is extremely slow, taking sometimes up to a minute or so to load a webpage. Also, the way the browser is structured so that all Flash, Java, and other extensions are disabled makes it very hard to navigate. I found that the possibility of getting caught would be easier to deal with than the problems with navigating Tor. I would assume a VPN service would be much better to download through, however I don’t have any knowledge of them.

  5. I completely agree with you, Glenn. I read this the other day and was flabbergasted – even more so because none of the major network television news stations broadcasted anything about it all last week. That quote does indeed put the situation perfectly. I hold it akin to the NCAA. I guess it’s time to start using companies like WOW! to get my Internet…

  6. I might be extremely wrong, but aren’t there simple programs you can run while downloading files that make your downloads untraceable? If I’m not mistaken about these programs, this would be an easy way around the problem. Or we could all stop stealing stuff, but I don’t think that’s viable.

  7. False positives are now showing up in the news:

    System Used By New Six Strikes CAS, Falsely Identifies Game Mods As NBC TV Shows

    Has anyone received a warning or lose their internet yet?

  8. An interesting development in my situation:

    My internet service is provided by my residential location. I do not pay for internet and have signed nothing through the company that would hold me accountable for actions. Just last week the policy has changed and I have to register devices that I use and assign them to my apartment. I have to register MAC addresses for each device I use. I am curious if I am going to be held responsible if pirated material is detected or if the complex is just going to be dinged until they have to break their contract.

  9. In response to the fourth amendment argument: The fourth amendment only applies to the government so you cannot say that these companies are violating the fourth amendment. (Also whether or not the Bill of Rights still exists in practice is highly questionable.) That being said rights theory would probably still condemn it based on a right to privacy(assuming one exists). If there is a right to privacy then the company providing your internet would not have a right to view what they are transferring. A real world example of this would be mail delivery. It is a federal offence for anyone else, including those delivering or processing the mail, to open the mail without a warrant or the permission of the parties involved. Think about if say UPS or FedEx starting doing something like this? No-one would ship with them anymore. The real problem with this is there is no way to change companies or way to get around using it in the modern world. My hope is that enough people complain will complain enough for one or more of the major companies will drop this system so people will be able to vote with their wallet till the other companies comply or cease to exist. Unfortunately, this is america, bad ideas like this almost always end up becoming laws that we are stuck with for the foreseeable future.