France made headlines when it introduced its controversial three strikes law in 2009. The law, dubbed HADOPI, placed a significant amount of responsibility on ISPs, requiring that they issue three warnings to subscribers after receiving a complaint from a copyright holder. The first warning would be in the form of an email, while the second would be a certified letter. Continuing offenders may have their internet access suspended for up to a year. The French government has reportedly only had mixed success with HADOPI, but the U.S. is still on track to introduce a similar system very soon.
ArsTechnica reports that the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) plans to introduce a six-stage warning scheme for alleged online copyright infringers. Referred to as 'The Copyright Alert System' the six-stage scheme was supposed to be in place by the end of December of last year. This date was then pushed to July 2012. However, as you may have noticed, we're now well into September and we haven't seen hide nor hair of a six-strike system being introduced. In case you thought this meant the whole thing had been scrapped, CCI head, Jill Lesser, insists that it's still very much on the cards. In fact, it's on schedule for a 2012 launch. Lesser also disputed the use of the word 'strike' with regard to the warnings ISPs will send to users. Lesser highlighted the fact that 'strike' has punitive connotations and that this new program is aimed at educating internet users as opposed to punishing them. For this reason, CCI thinks of it more as an educational tool than a strikes program.
So how will the whole thing work? The first alert users will get is an email advising them that their account may have been misused or involved in copyright infringement. This alert will guide users toward material to help them check the security of their network as well as information on legal sources of music and TV. The second alert is similar to the first but will "underscore the educational message." If infringement persists, a third online alert will be sent. Appearing similar to the first two, this alert will differ in that it will have a click-through box that will force users to acknowledge receipt of the warning. The fourth warning will also come via email and feature the same 'acknowledgement of receipt' requirement. Alert number five brings the chance of some 'Mitigation Measures.' These may include temporary reductions of internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter, or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright. Alert number six brings yet more 'Mitigation Measures,' and Lesser says ISPs will make the decision about cutting off internet access.
Lesser didn't say exactly when we can expect this new system, which was agreed upon by CCI, major U.S. ISPs and music and film representatives, but she's confident it will be ready before the end of 2012. With Mitigation Measures decided by the ISPs, we'll have to wait for their policies to be published before we know the answers to questions relating to throttling and the possible disconnection of internet service. We'll keep you posted.