The Copyright Alert System, aka "six strikes," kicked off today with the cooperation of five major Internet service providers. The goal of the new campaign is to curb copyright infringement by going after consumers rather than pirates.
While the CAS seems like something that would raise the hackles of privacy and civil liberty groups, the plan isn't to arrest, sue, or fine people downloading illegal movies, games, or music. Instead, the group managing the program -- the Center for Copyright Information -- says its objective is to "educate" such downloaders that they are infringing on protected intellectual copyrights
Under graduated response, or six strikes, entertainment companies will notify a participating Internet service providers that a customer has allegedly been pirating movies or TV shows illegally. The bandwidth provider will then send a notice intended to educate the customer about the consequences of downloading unauthorized content.
The Internet service provider is then supposed to gradually ratcheting up the pressure on customers who ignore the warnings. Eventually, after six warnings, they can choose to suspend service. Graduated response, however, does not include the termination of service. Customers wrongly accused can appeal to their company and take their case to an arbitration group for review. The plan doesn't protect Internet consumers from being sued by copyright owners, however.
Some ways that pirated material is shared on the Internet, such as cyberlockers, e-mail attachments, and Dropbox folders, are not included under six strikes.