ISPs can slow or suspend web use under anti-piracy program

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Web users accused of piracy can soon expect punishment from their internet service providers (ISPs), which may range from educational messages to slower surfing speeds and suspension.

Announced in July 2011 by the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), the Copyright Alert System (CAS) has been in a phase of “designing, testing and refining” to prepare for its launch in the “coming weeks,” Jill Lesser, executive director of CCI, said Thursday in a blog post.

“Over the course of the next two months, each participating ISP expects to begin rolling out its version of the CAS – a system through which ISPs will pass on to their subscribers notices sent by content owners alleging copyright infringement over peer-to-peer networks,” Lesser wrote. “Educational alerts will come first, followed by acknowledgement alerts that require the recipients to let their ISP know they have received the notices.”

ISPs that are on course to soon launch versions of the alert system include Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. The Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America will also help enforce the system by representing content owners wishing to notify ISPs of copyright misuse.  

Time Warner Cable has confirmed that it may temporarily suspend users' accounts under their implementation of the alert system.

Alex Dudley, a company spokesman, told on Monday that upon receiving the fifth or sixth alert – which requires acknowledgement on behalf of the consumer accused of pirating movies, music, TV shows or other content – internet subscribers will have their account temporarily suspended.

“The last two [alerts] are acknowledgement emails that requires them to click and say they've received the notice before their browser can be restored,” Dudley said. “It comes in an email, but the next time you log onto your computer and try to go onto your browser, you'd have to click through an on-screen message first.”

Time Warner Cable account holders would need to acknowledge they've seen the message and call the company before having their internet access reinstated, he said.

If consumers want to contest the copyright infringement complaint, they will have two weeks to contact the company, Dudley added. Time Warner Cable hasn't announced when it will roll out the program, but Dudley confirmed that it would begin soon. 

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