Talking tech since 2003

A United States Chamber of Commerce representative made the official announcement today that the Copyright Alert System, also known as the “six-strike” system, is now fully in place across Internet Service Providers.

We first caught wind of this system early last year.

This system, designed to thwart online piracy of movies, music and other media, notifies and punishes home Internet users on a six-strikes-and-you’re-out basis, though it differs slightly from company to company. The basic rule of thumb is that the system will label your account with a strike (and alert you in the process). If you accrue 6 strikes, you’ll be charged $35 and your Internet speed will potentially be throttled.

Again, it varies from company to company, and only one has been clear on its policies in that regard: Verizon. Verizon promises not to terminate accounts of those violating the system, but will throttle their Internet speeds as they see fit.

So far, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable have all implemented this system. And according to head of the Chamber of Commerce’s anti-counterfeiting and piracy division, Rick Cotton, the system has reduced piracy.

“There’s an enormous fall-off when people get the first notice,” said Cotton, adding that it is too early to talk about the system’s more severe measures.

“The vast majority of people say they stop when they receive the notice.”

A recent report on TorrentFreak, a file-sharing site widely known for piracy, claims that Comcast alone has sent out a whopping 625,000 alerts to customers. So, at least some people must be getting the picture.

Clearly, the implementation of this system has the potential to rub some folks the wrong way – but what do you think? Is it within the rights of the providers to throttle a user’s speeds based on their online behavior?

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