A new effort is underway to crack down on a problem that's confounded the recording and film industries for years...illegal file sharing on the Internet. Now, the industries have created the Copyright Alert System, which enlists the nation's five major Internet Service Providers to track illegal downloads. "As soon as they see what they deem as illegal sharing of very large files, which generally constitutes movies or film, that user is gonna get a warning," explains the High Tech Texan Michael Garfield. He tells KTRH violators will get up to six warnings. "Those final two warnings, when they get near number six, they will be almost cease-and-desist, and at some point there is going to be retribution in terms of a payment," says Garfield.
In many cases, that "retribution" will not involve a payment, but rather a lesser penalty such as temporarily slowing Internet connection speeds or re-directing Internet traffic until the user acknowledges the warning or reviews educational materials about copyright law. The system is run by the Center for Copyright Information, which describes it more as an educational tool than one aimed at punishing violators. The CCI says the alerts are designed to steer users away from illegal file-sharing and sites devoted to it, and give them alternatives for legal downloads. Nevertheless, even organizers agree it's far from a perfect system. "I really don't see this stopping it," says Garfield. "Because there are ways around this, including disguising your IP address, using your neighbor's Wi-Fi, or even going to a coffee shop."
Garfield describes the Copyright Alert System as a glorified public service announcement or an amnesty program. "This is really more for the general consumer who shares a file or two, a movie or two," he says. "So this is more of an educational shot across the bow." Under the system, those who feel they've been wrongly accused of an illegal download can appeal for a $35 fee, which would be reimbursed if the appeal is successful.
Learn more about the Copyright Alert System in this video:
Listen to Michael Garfield weekdays at noon on the 9-5-0.