If you don’t read a lot of tech blogs you may not be aware that today marks the beginning of the weeklong rollout of something called the Copyright Alert System. But once it’s up and running—and causing pain in the asses of the many people who rely on peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent for their entertainment content needs—we’re likely to hear a lot more about it.
The CAS is a partnership between the major Internet service providers (like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon) and content providers (like movie studios, record labels, and TV networks) that allows the latter to contact (and, in some circumstances, punish) users of those ISPs who they find to be uploading copyrighted content to P2P networks.
How it works is that a company called MarkMonitor, working for the studios/labels/etc, will watch the traffic on P2P networks, waiting for someone to upload illegal content. When they find someone, they forward the user’s IP address to the Center for Copyright Information, which runs the CAS. The CCI in turn will contact the offending user directly through e-mails and texts, alerting them that their account is being used to illegally upload copyrighted material. After several violations they may be required to read through materials intended to educate them about copyright. Run afoul of the CAS enough times and your ISP may throttle your home Internet connection, presumably to give you plenty of time to think on your intellectual-property-related sins while you wait for your Web pages to load. And if you’re a serial offender the CAS can offer your records as evidence in any lawsuit the copyright holders bring your way. (This Daily Dot primer has more details on the CAS.)