It looks like Internet service providers, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America have managed to do with copyright alerts what federal regulators wish websites and online advertisers could do when it comes to do-not-track technology. They've come to an agreement.
InformationWeek reported early this month that Internet service providers including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner and others have agreed to a system under which they would alert subscribers when their Internet accounts had been used to download copyrighted material illegally. After six alerts, the ISPs then have several options as to next steps, up to and including a temporary suspension of the subscriber's Internet access. Internet access will not be terminated, and copyright holders will not be privy to the violators' subscriber information.
The goal is to inform the public, not punish them, according to MPAA Executive VP Michael O'Leary, who said:
If you knew that something you were doing was hurting someone else, you'd stop, right? Of course--it's not even a question. That's why we think the real key to stopping content theft is information.
To that end, he explains, the ISPs and the industry organizations have agreed to establish a Center for Copyright Information, which will
provide Internet users with information and resources on a myriad of topics, including demonstrating the serious threat of content theft to the millions of jobs sustained by industries that depend on the protection of copyright and intellectual property and to the economy.
Moreover, the center will point consumers to online outlets for watching movies and listening to music without violating copyright laws.
Critics question how effective the copyright alerts will be, but admit that the agreement is a significant step in the right direction in that it avoids the more disturbing possibilities that could arise from government regulation - like the three strikes rule the French government wanted to enforce.