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US ISPs launch copyright clampdown

25 Feb 2013
Concept image representing software piracy

A group of US internet service providers (ISPs) are rolling out a new system for handling users who violate copyright regulations.

The plan, dubbed the Copyright Alert System (CAS) outlines the policies and practices which ISPs should follow when dealing with customers who are caught trading in pirated content and other copyright protected materials without authorisation.

Under the system, ISPs will be informed by industry groups and copyright holders of possible user copyright violations. The notifications are then forwarded on to the customer with a request for a response or a notice of disciplinary measures.

The plan allows users up to six alerts prior to the enforcement of "mitigation measure penalties. Possible sanctions include a slowing of connection speeds and traffic redirections for landing pages for chronic offenders. The CAS does not call for users to have their accounts terminated, however.

The Center for Copyright Information (CCI), and advocacy group which drafted the CAS guidelines, said that rather than bring a harsh set of penalties for relatively minor violations, it hopes that the plan will allow for a reasonable yet effective approach to handling violations.

"We hope this co-operative, multi-stakeholder approach will serve as a model for addressing important issues facing all who participate in the digital entertainment ecosystem," said CCI executive director Jill Lesser.

"From content creators and owners to distributors to consumers, we all benefit from a better understanding of the choices available and the rights and responsibilities that come with using digital content."

Enforcement of copyright laws has long been an issue in the US, where legislators have struggled to appease industry groups calling for tighter controls, while also avoiding the ire of consumer rights organisations.

The issue came to a head last year when lawmakers debated the controversial SOPA and PIPA bills which called for strict controls on users and service providers. The bills were eventually killed off, but the matter kicked off heated debate over copyright enforcement.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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