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Joseph Sharpe's picture

The CCI takes next steps toward the Copyright Alert System.

The Center for Copyright Information "announces three major steps toward implementation" April 2nd, 2012: http://www.copyrightinformation.org/node/705 of the Copyright Alert System, principally that they have selected a new executive director, Jill Lessor, and an advisory board to help move them forward with the Copyright Alert System.

Like it or not, nine months ago, content producers and ISPs came to their own agreement on how to monitor, regulate and penalize certain internet behavior.  Touted as part of a "progressive educational system to help subscribers understand the significance of protecting copyright" (see http://www.copyrightinformation.org/alerts), it is also part of a behavioral intervention and mitigation system that raises important questions about internet rights, anti-trust practices and due process. 

Darlene Storm with Computer World posted a thoughtful, perhaps somewhat alarmist, article on the topic here: http://blogs.computerworld.com/19983/copyright_enforcement_will_isps_beat_fair_use_to_death_with_infringement_clubs?source=rss_blogs

Shawn Flaim's Op-ed here: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/03/op-ed-imminent-six-strikes-copyright-alert-system-needs-antitrust-scrutiny.ars?clicked=related_right is interesting, but focuses primarily on the anti-democratic nature of the agreement,  as he says, "(the) Copyright Alert System represents a raw exercise of concerted private power..." and true enough, it does.

Though the system has its good points and intentions, such as providing education to a predominately unaware (or cognitively dissonant) public regarding copyright, ultimately, it circumvents the law.  The law basically dictates that the burden of proof in an infringement case rests with the copyright owner, but the CAS circumvents it by requiring the consumer prove their innocence during an “Independent Review” process that the consumer themselves must request after paying a $35.00 fee.  

Despite these points, a few questions readily become apparent:

  1. What specific consumer activities trigger an alert?
  2. What internet tracking and investigatory methods are being used beyond IP tracking, by the content providers, and how intrusive are they?
  3. Who will monitor and regulate the tracking and investigatory methods used by content providers?
  4. What implications does the CAS have on large public institutions, like Universities and Public Libraries who provide free computing?
  5. How will the ISP verify the validity of the copyright claim? (e.g. is the content provider also the copyright owner?)
  6. Following the “1st Alert” and notification, what rights does the consumer have to appeal?  As far as I can tell, there is no option following “5th Alert”, whereby a consumer suspected of illegal activity will be placed in a “pending” queue prior to having internet access punitively compromised.
  7. The disclosed CAS “Mitigation Measures” that could be used by the ISP during the “5th Alert” stage include practices such as temporarily lowering the consumer internet speed. The question is, to what extent will it be reduced, and for how long?
  8. Following a “Mitigation Measure”, will the consumer be able to face their accuser, have access to the claimant information, access to sufficient internet capability that is necessary to research, document and ready their appeals case?

Trying desperately hard to not make this an op-ed piece myself, I'd like to encourage everyone to find out more about the Copyright Alert System and discuss it with your peers. The answers to these concerns and your own may help better explain the good intentions of the CCI, or reshape some poorly defined ones.  Feel free to comment!





Denise Forro (non-member)'s picture

Is ALA keeping a close watch on this development?  We need a group of similar influence to be tracking this.

Denise A. Forro, Head InterLibrary Services Michigan State University Libraries East Lansing, MI 48824-1048

Shannon OGrady's picture

Jill Lesser is the Executive Director of the Center for Copyright Information.

How to keep web copyright infringers honest

By Jill Lesser, Special to CNN


Lesser's article is in repsonse to this article

Will your Internet provider be spying on you?

By Douglas Rushkoff, CNN Contributor


Shannon O'Grady

Automated Systems Consultant

Colorado Library Consortium

Carrie Russell (staff)'s picture