What’s Going on with the Copyright Alert System?

August 7, 2012 , , ,

As I wrote in April, I joined the Advisory Board of the
Center for Copyright Information to serve as consumers’ eyes and ears as an
agreement between the major Internet service providers and copyright holders is
implemented.   The agreement requires
ISPs to send up to six “alerts” to alleged peer-to-peer infringers, with the
last two alerts resulting in so-called “mitigation measures” and an opportunity
for the user to appeal.  

The system was scheduled to launch in July, and the delay in
the launch and relative silence has some floating theories of ISP
and content industry scheming to turn the system into an excuse for
disconnection.  But the reality is a lot
less exciting.   In a nutshell, there was a lot of foundational
and technical work that needed to be done before the launch, so the July date
was unrealistic. 

What does the work consist of?  Three things. 
First, the ISPs are still implementing the technology for sending the
alerts and it has taken longer than first expected.  Second, the Board, with the Advisory Board’s
advice, has been testing messages for the alerts to see what will be effective
and what will not.  This testing has
included focus groups with parents and young adults.  Third, the American Arbitration Association is
putting in place its procedures for appeals, including making sure the process
is as simple as possible.  

The CCI’s alert methods and messaging will almost certainly
be shaped by the recent reports from France that discuss the demise of the “3
strikes” Hadopi law.   The French Culture
minister has concluded that the law is a “failure,” partly because of its inability to promote legal content to replace illegal downloads. 

Perhaps most important for the CCI to heed is what the head
of the French commission on the “Future of Piracy” said about the law:

The error of Hadopi was to focus on the penalty. If
one starts from the penalty, it will fail.