Online Piracy: Six Strikes and You're Out

After years of negotiation, Hollywood and the music industry have come up with a deal involving five major Internet service providers to stem online piracy -- six strikes and you're out.

The six strikes refers to six warnings an ISP will give to users suspected of illegal movie or music downloads, which could lead to slowing Internet speeds or kicking them off their service for violating its terms of service, according to the New York Times.

The warnings escalate from simple e-mail notifications to, at levels 5 and 6, a set of “mitigation measures,” like reduced connection speeds or a block on Web browsing. As the alerts progress, a customer must acknowledge that he understands the notice. Customers will also have the opportunity to contest the complaint.

Media companies, represented by the Recording Industry Association of America and Motion Picture Association of America, hope that it annoys users so much that they will stop downloading pirated content. The Internet providers involved include AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable. (Which likely means the vast majority of all Internet users.) The ISPs will not release names or identities of suspected downloaders to media companies.

Not everyone is happy with the arrangement. Similar litigation, called the PROTECT IP Act, is making its way through Congress and so far has received opposition from 90 attorneys, citing the law as infringing on one's right to free speech, according to Ars Technica.

The new policy is going after peer-to-peer file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent, but obviously there will be users finding ways around it. But either with or without the proposed legislation, most Americans are going to be dealing with warnings, slower download speeds and possibly being cut off from their Internet provider if they're suspected of digital copyright infringement. And with this latest measure the  MPAA and RIAA might have hit the online pirates, notorious bandwidth hogs, where it hurts -- Internet speeds.

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