Will “six strikes” make a difference?

Last week, several major internet service providers rolled out “The Copyright Alert System,” which is supposed to be a self-governing method of keeping people from spreading pirated material. The details are really kind of sketchy, even if you go to the official web site that is supposed to explain it all.

The best that we can figure is that the major ISPs are finally admitting that they snoop on you, pretty much 24/7. We all knew that but now they are coming out and saying sure, you can turn on all the “private browsing” features you want, your ISP knows if you’ve been looking at pictures of cats when you’re supposed to be telecommuting. (Obviously, the picture above is for you, if that’s the case.)

So what will happen if you’re sharing a lot of copyrighted material?

Probably copyrighted. Now I’m in trouble.

Did you ever hear the old joke about the British police officer who shouted after a criminal, “Halt, or I’ll say Halt again?!” It’s sort of like that. It seems that every ISP can handle the situation differently but the most common approach will be for them to give you up to six warnings before [strike]sending you to bed without your supper[/strike] taking more serious action. This can include throttling back your internet speed to 2002 levels or even giving you access to only one web page.

They also may ask you to promise you’ll never do it again, or even worse, watch this video:

Seriously, does anyone think this is going to work? The ISPs themselves don’t seem to think a lot of it; Broadband Reports claims that no major ISPs have actually provided any information on how they will actually implement this. In fact, there’s barely been a single story since the say this all launched, and it’s been over a week.

Opinion: This is a showboat program that was designed by content creators to prove that the internet isn’t self-policing. They want it to fail, and that’s ok because it probably will. Then they’ll go to court and claim that they want more rights to prosecute people for illegal file sharing. That’s the endgame here, folks.

Of course, these same content creators have conveniently forgotten that the best way to avoid piracy is to charge a fair price. $30 for a Blu-ray disc? Really? Soundtrack albums that cost more than the movie? Ridiculous. People pirate content because it’s not fairly priced. You don’t hear too much about music sharing, despite the fact that iTunes and other services provide their products without any copy protection. Why? Because who’s going to go to the trouble to pirate something when you can own it legally for a buck?

If you think you can’t sell a movie for $4.99 and still make money, you’re wrong. If you think your movies are worth more than that, you’re wrong too. It’s been way too long since there’s been a movie worth the $50 it costs for two people to go to the theatre and actually (gasp) eat and drink there. Either make better content or make the content cheaper. Don’t bother with showpiece programs that won’t work anyway.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.