Has Illegal Downloading Met its Match?

b2ap3_thumbnail_nodl400Since the late 1990s, digital information, music, movies, software, and content has been at risk of being illegally shared worldwide for free. Peer-to-peer file sharing has forced entire industries to shift the way they do business as they try to counteract the illegal practice. The new Copyright Alert System will attempt to quell illegal file sharing.

Up until now, methods used to catch and suppress illegal downloading incidents have been seemingly ineffective. Prior to the implementation of the Copyright Alert System, the procedure for catching and thwarting illegal downloads was based on scaring offenders with massive financial penalties according to the damages inflicted to various copyright owning companies. In a case last year, a man was charged with a $675,000 judgment after illegally downloading thirty-one songs and sharing them across the globe on a file-sharing website. These lawsuits have been seemingly ineffective because most lawsuits are issued to major offenders, leaving little punishment to the “casual” downloader, who would have no consequential reason to stop. The Copyright Alert System was put in place to even the playing field, and thwart all illegal file downloading.

According to its website, “the Copyright Alert System (CAS) is designed to help consumers understand when files may have been shared illegally on peer-to-peer networks through their Internet accounts.” With the CAS, Internet service providers are able to monitor their customers’ accounts, and are notified of illegal file sharing attempts from copyright owners who have pinpointed the IP address of the source of the crime. From there, the Internet service provider (ISP) issues a series of six notifications to warn the trespasser of the ultimate consequence of dropping them from their Internet service; a repercussion that may be devastating depending on price and availability of other providers. Action may also be taken before the sixth and final warning, like making the customer acknowledge their fault, making them watch educational videos on the subject, and even dramatically decreasing their bandwidth speed; a punishment that may even be more effective than lawsuits for many people.

So far, since its launch in February 2013, the Copyright Alert System has been supported by AT&T, Cablevision, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast, in an effort to quell illegal file sharing amongst their customers. However, officials involved in the new system have admitted the unlikelihood of catching the biggest violators of copyright infringement, as there are ways to disguise IP addresses, use neighbor’s unlocked Wi-Fi connections, and use public Wi-Fi connections (in coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, etc.) that won’t be monitored. Nonetheless, officials are hopeful that the widespread use of illegally downloaded files will be restrained by this system.

As a business manager, you may be held accountable for your employees’ illegal downloads on your network. Fortunately, with the Copyright Alert System, you’ll be given six attempts to solve the issue with your employees before your business suffers any consequence. This is a much better solution for your business than the previous one-warning lawsuit model. Are you concerned about the new Copyright Alert System? If you’d like more information about the new system, or to learn more about how to protect your company from illegally downloaded files, call PACE Technical Services at 905.763.7896 today!

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