The so called Copyright Alert System (CAS) or better known as Six Strikes is beginning this week and many ISPs including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner and others will begin policing the Internet for the RIAA and MPAA. The ISPs will first send out warnings if their system determines there has been an unauthorized download coming from your IP address. If you get too many your service may be downgraded and even terminated completely. An entity set up by the ISPs, RIAA and MPAA called the Center for Copyright Information is charged with “educating” those accused and will hear your case for a $35 fee if you fight their charges.
There have been many cases lately where judges have ruled an IP address alone is not sufficient evidence of wrong doing and it in no way proves who did it or even whether any downloading occurred. If CAS relies solely on IP addresses then the standard of evidence is far below that of regular courts and even with regular courts many are falsely accused so the risk is even greater with this outfit.
The problem is this scheme is blatantly unconstitutional. The Constitution grants Congress sole authority to enact copyright laws and only federal courts have jurisdiction to handle copyright cases and punish violators. The new Copyright Alert System (CAS), or “Six Strikes” does an end run around Congress and the Federal Courts and has set up a quasi-judicial system to punish copyright infringers apart from the federal courts.
There is zero transparency on the process of determining guilt with no apparent appeals process or due process. The process for determining infringers is secret and they alone decide your guilt or innocence.
Righthaven case law could come into place here. Righthaven is now a defunct copyright troll but in their hay-day they were threatening to take the domain names of those they were suing for copyright infringement. Courts ruled that there was no provision in copyright law to award a domain name as part of a copyright infringement suit. Likewise there is no provision in copyright law for an ISP to deny or ramp down service as a punishment for copyright infringement. The ISPs along with the RIAA and MPAA are creating their own law and extra-judicial system to punish copyright violators.
Call your ISP and let them know this system is unacceptable and will not even have the desired effect of reducing piracy. Call your Congressmen and Senators and let them know their authority is being infringed upon. It is a blatant hypocrisy for the RIAA and MPAA to set up a system to go after alleged infringers when they themselves are infringing on the Constitution.
This will undoubtedly fail like similar attempts in France and New Zealand and everything else the RIAA and MPAA have tried but on the way a lot of innocent people will be victimized by this sham. The only thing that will mitigate piracy is to offer legitimate alternatives and adapt to a changing market place.
Related story from Arstechnica: What the 1930s fashion industry tells us about Big Content’s “six strikes” plan