What is Six-Strike Policy? Facts About the New Anti-Piracy Warning System

by schendera

I explain the six-strike policy and give hints how to circumvent it at the end of the article

Harald Schendera - If you are using BitTorrent (BT) for file sharing, you are at risk of getting caught by your internet service provider (ISP). You may even be charged with a lawsuit for committing copyright infringement. All this as a result of the six-strike policy that will be introduced in 2013.

Six strikes in a nutshell: The first two steps consist of getting notices from the ISP. In the second two steps, you shall acknowledge what you did. In the last two steps, you will get punished. One form of punishment is bandwidth throttling (making your internet connection really slow).

What Is the Copyright Alert System?

It is the result of the lobbying of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The movie industry and the music industry lose a lot of money from the effects of illegal file sharing. They convinced five ISPs in the United Sates to install a copyright alert system (CAS):

  1. AT&T
  2. Cablevision
  3. Comcast
  4. Time Warner Cable
  5. Verizon

They founded an organization, the Center for Copyright Information (CCI). They put in place a system that warns internet users if their internet connections are used for copyright infringement.

After four notifications, the ISPs will take repressive measures. In addition, the infringer's name goes on a list. MPAA and RIAA lawyers can now sue the person. The ISPs use the software MarkMonitor.

Who Is Affected by It?

Everybody in the United States who is customer of the five ISPs mentioned in the previous section and who is illegaly downloading files is in danger of getting caught. The ISPs are mostly targeting peer-to-peer downloading (P2P). The most popular P2P protocol is BitTorrent (BT). BitTorrent users are considered the most notorious illegal file sharers. It is easy to monitor BitTorrent users.

What Are the Six Strikes?

The plan is called six strikes; in fact there are only three different actions: 1) Informing. 2) Acknowledging. 3) Mitigation.

  1. The user will get notified that they are suspected of being involved in online theft of content and are made aware that there are consequences to this
  2. They will get reminded that whatever they are doing is against internet etiquette. They are made aware a second time that there are consequences to this
  3. Popup messages with checkboxes will appear. The user shall acknowledge that they have received warning messages that their account is involved in illegal file sharing
  4. This also happens the fourth time if the user continues with sharing content in a manner that is not allowed by law
  5. The fifth time an internet user does the same thing, they will be subject to measures of mitigation
  6. They may be directed to a special landing page. Or the internet transmission speed may be reduced. Or they may have to answer questions about copyright infringement

What Happens After the Fourth Warning?

AT&T will block access to some of the most often visited websites. And the user will have to pass a copyright course to waive the block.

Verizon will slow down (throttle) the connection speeds of repeated pirates. Time Warner Cable will temporarily interrupt people's ability to browse the internet.

Cablevison and Comcast will presumably take similar mitigation measures. None of the ISPs will permanently disconnect repeat infringers as part of the plan.

Let's Recap

  • Six strikes is a plan to educate users doing illegal activity with copyrighted material. It is also called the six-strikes anti-piracy program
  • With the help of a third-party service called MarkMonitor, the ISPs can track users going to websites that engage in illegal activity involving copyrighted material
  • If the IP address associated with your account is found to involve in property rights violations, your ISP will send you warnings
  • Further violations will result in punitive measures, such as bandwidth throttling or temporary service termination
  • The system is not targeted at serious pirates, but the casual infringer. So the casual internet user is their target audience

The Psychology Behind Six Strikes

The actions are aimed at educating the internet user of the disadvantages of what they are doing with the hope that they will stop their activities.

The copyright enforcers argue that many people engage in illegal file sharing due to the fact that they do not understand the implications. They consider the warning system the most appropriate way to inform internet users about the implications of illegal downloads.

They hope that the internet users will stop sharing files illegally before the fifth or sixth stage. It remains to be seen how effective this strategy will be in stopping copyright infringers.

Shared Internet - A Delicate Issue

Six-strike policy can be a nightmare for people who share their internet connection. It may lead to potentially terrible alert management issues for those having unique residential situations. In some cases, if the ISP throttles bandwidth or temporarilly terminates the service, whole buildings might be out of internet service.

How Can Strikes Be Avoided?

  1. By stopping all file sharing activities. Especially by not using the P2P network BitTorrent any longer. Members of a BT swarm can be monitored
  2. By using a BitTorrent proxy like BTGuard. A proxy routes traffic through another server before sending it to the user. Read my BTGuard proxy review
  3. By using a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN masks various internet services, e.g., browsing, in addition to anonymizing BitTorrent

Proxies, VPNs, Packet Sniffing, Avoiding Strikes

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Updated: on 10/13/2013, schendera
 
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