Internet providers to become copyright cops

Some of the top ISPs, including Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable have agreed to step up copyright enforcement on behalf of copyright owners, a move first reported last month by CNET.

"Leaders from the movie, television, music and Internet service provider communities today announced a landmark agreement on a common framework for 'Copyright Alerts', the parties said in a statement. Copyright Alerts are "will educate and notify Internet subscribers when their Internet service accounts possibly are being misused for online content theft. This voluntary landmark collaboration will educate subscribers about content theft on their Internet accounts, benefiting consumers and copyright holders alike."

Many file-sharing fans and proponents of free content will surely mock the assertion that this is a benefit to them. The ISPs' new system of enforcement looks a lot like the old system. The companies send out a series of notifications and warnings to someone suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted content, such as films and music. If those warnings are ignored then the ISPs will implement a series of tougher measures. It's obvious that the ISPs wanted to move deeper into copyright protection as gingerly as they could to avoid alienating young customers.

But this is new system of "mitigation" is just lipstick on the "graduated response" policy that the entertainment companies have pushed for years now.

Chronic abuse of copyright laws will result in penalties. Multiple warnings are supposed to be followed up by several responses that ISPs can choose from, including the throttling down of an accused user's Internet connection to blocking them from surfing the Web altogether.

"These Mitigation Measures may include, for example: 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," the parties said in a statement.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the respective trade groups for the four major record companies and six top Hollywood film studios, have labored for years to persuade ISPs to take a tougher antipiracy position.