In the CCI blog post, Lesser said reports of ISPs terminating service were false, but that repeated alerts could result in a “slowdown of internet access speed.” A page on the CCI site further explains the steps taken by ISPs, and said that consumers might be “redirected to a landing page” until contacting their ISP.
“Contrary to many erroneous reports, this is not a ‘six-strikes-and-you're-out' system that would result in termination,” Lesser said. "There's no ‘strikeout' in this program."
Still, Parker Higgins, an activist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) who specializes in copyright law, told SCMagazine.com on Monday the nonprofit digital rights group is concerned about the Copyright Alert System. He said it could set the stage for even more repressive policies.
“This will be used as the floor for future actions and not the ceiling,” Higgins said. “The blog post that is up there now says that no ISP has that plan [to cut service], but if this proves to be effective, who knows if they will ratchet it up since they are already invested in the plan.”
If subscribers want to contest copyright infringement alleged by ISPs, there is a $35 filing fee, which would be waved if an independent review body dismisses the complaint.
Higgins said a similar anti-piracy measure launched in France, called the HADOPI law, has proven expensive – and even been deemed ineffective by critics.
Here in the United States, a similarly controversial proposal, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), failed to pass in Congress. But entertainment industry groups and media providers have continued to push for measures to help curb piracy.
In emails sent to SCMagazine.com on Monday, ISPs responded to inquiries about the details of their copyright alert programs, with some offering more information than others.
An AT&T spokeswoman said the company's program would begin before year's end, and confirmed that users would be redirected to a landing page, which would require them to review “educational material” on copyright regulations.
A Verizon spokesman said the company was “not commenting specifically” on its plans. Comcast did not respond to a request for comment.
Dudley of Time Warner explained what seems to be conflicting reports on the severity of action taken by ISPs.
“I think the point that CCI is trying to make is that no one is going to lose their account for good,” Dudley said. “What our program is designed to do is provoke an acknowledgement [from users]. Your account is temporarily suspended until you call the number. If you think you've been wrongly accused, you appeal.”