After years of following a widely criticized policy of launching copyright infringement suits against unlawful file-sharers, content creators, owners, and advocates from the Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”), the Motion Picture Association of America (“MPAA”), and other major movie and music media conglomerates1 have now joined forces with major internet service providers (“ISPs”)2 to launch a new weapon in the battle against unlawful file-sharers – the Copyright Alert System (“CAS”). At a glance, the CAS provides a mechanism to allow ISPs to reduce instances of peer-to-peer (“P2P”) online infringement, and has the mutual benefit of allowing content owners another mechanism to police their content, while giving ISPs an opportunity to preserve valuable bandwidth by slowing access to unlawful file-sharers.
The CAS was created on July 6, 2011 through the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) between the content owners and ISPs. The MOU outlines two major initiatives. First, the parties created an educational initiative, the Center for Copyright Information (“CCI”), to inform the public about the harmful costs of file-sharing and the possible legal consequences. For example, CCI’s website, www.copyrightinformation.org, highlights the impact of content theft on the economy ($58 billion in lost revenue), jobs (373,000 lost American jobs), earnings ($16 billion in lost employee earnings), and taxes ($3 billion in lost federal, state and local tax revenue). Second, the parties agreed to establish the CAS. The CAS allows copyright owners to scan P2P networks for evidence that copyrighted content has been unlawfully transferred online and to identify the corresponding IP addresses. The content owner can then notify its ISP of the evidence of unlawful file transfers and the responsible IP address. The ISP can then match the IP address to its customer and send an “alert” through the CAS.
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1 Walt Disney, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, Warner Bros., UMG Recordings, Inc., Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and EMI Music North America.
2 AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and CSC Holdings.