This week, a “Copyright Alert System” orchestrated by the five biggest Internet service providers in the U.S. goes into effect.

While we are all in favor, of course, of strong measures to protect intellectual property assets, we also understand that no system is perfect. We thought it might interesting to walk through what we know about this program so far for our Florida readers.

Essentially, the Copyright Alert System — a cooperative effort between Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cablevision and Time Warner — keeps tabs on activity on well-known peer-to-peer sites that are frequently used to exchange illegally uploaded material, like music and movies. It then uses an escalated system of warnings to discourage users from uploading, downloading and exchanging material that is protected by copyright.

As we said at the beginning of the post, we are in favor of steps taken to protect intellectual property assets. Intellectual property laws need to have teeth; if there is no enforcement and no real-world consequences, with that being said, we have seen some questions raised about the Copyright Alert System that we think it would be good to have answered:

  • What responsibility is borne by organizations that make the Internet available to many people all at once, like coffee shops and libraries? Do they have to start monitoring the activity of all their users?
  • Does the Copyright Alert System work in conjunction with our intellectual property regime, or does it take matters into its own hands too much? (Only time and practical experience will help answer this question.)
  • Do individual users have enough of a voice in the system, or will it amount to a “David v. Goliath” situation?

From what we can tell, the Copyright Alert System is going to be a very significant development in the technology, intellectual property and entertainment fields, so we are interested to see what happens here.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Internet Providers Launch Copyright Alert System,” Eriq Gardner, Feb. 25, 2013