AT&T, Comcast, Verizon to Implement “3-Strikes” Next Month?

AT&T, Comcast, Verizon to Implement “3-Strikes” Next Month?

Number of ISPs reportedly on the verge of an agreement with the entertainment industry to combat online copyright infringement; White House “instrumental” in brokering the deal; disconnection optional.

US ISPs are nearing an agreement with the entertainment industry to sanction customers repeatedly accused of copyright infringement, this according to a report by CNet.

If all goes well the deal could be finalized as early as next month.

Details of the plan are still somewhat murky, but it appears that ISPs have a “menu” of responses to choose from. They can choose after how many infractions to disconnect infringers, require copyright law education classes to resume service, bandwidth throttling, and even limiting web access. Disconnection is not required under the proposal.

The White House was purportedly “instrumental” in brokering the deal between the two. Last June it made the fight against intellectual property theft a top priority in its Joint Strategic Plan On Intellectual Property Enforcement. Since then the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has seized more than 100 domain names accused of infringement and members of Congress are pushing to pass the PROTECT IP Act.

The PROTECT IP Act would give the Attorney General the power to force US based third-parties, including ISPs, payment processors, advertisers, and search engines to either block access to an infringing site or cease doing business with it. Copyright holders would be able to target payment processors and advertisers.

The RIAA, in particular, has been pushing ISPs to sanction repeat infringers since at least 2008 when it discontinued the practice of suing individual for illegal file-sharing. RIAA head Mitch Bainwol said at the time that he believed the new strategy will be more effective since it will be able to target more people at the source — Internet connections — and move away from costly litigation.

And he’s right, especially if ISP sanctions are predicated simply on accusations made by copyright holders and not independently verified proof.

Worse still is that the agreement calls for ISPs and copyright holders to split the costs of the plan by an unspecified ratio. This means that whatever costs are to be borne by ISPs will be passed along to consumers in the form of higher monthly bills; that’s right, consumers get to pay for the entertainment industry’s doomed plan to somehow try and rid the Internet of infringing material. So even if you’re an otherwise law abiding citizen you get to cover the cost’s of a poorly conceived approach to fixing a failing business model.

If ISPs do agree to implement a copyright infringement regime then we may likely see the unintended consequences of an end to open Wi-Fi in public places, and entire households facing the repercussions of an improperly secured router.

Stay tuned.

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