ISPs plot graduated response to piracy: Can this plan really work?

Summary:Internet service providers have a multi-pronged approach to deter piracy. The master plan: Become annoying enough so content pirates won't bother.

Internet service providers have a multi-pronged approach to deter piracy. The master plan: Become annoying enough so content pirates won't bother.

CNET News' Greg Sandoval reports that ISPs are planning a so-called "graduated approach" to piracy. In many respects, the plan resembles what happens when you speed and you get points on your driver's license. You get warnings, education to reform you, restrictions and potentially booted from the network. Apparently those public awareness campaigns (right) from the movie and music industry didn't do the trick.

Sandoval writes:

Under the proposed plan, participating bandwidth providers would adopt a "graduated response" to subscribers who repeatedly infringe copyrights. ISPs would first issue written warnings, called Copyright Alerts, to customers accused by copyright owners of downloading materials illegally via peer-to-peer sites, the sources said. Should a subscriber fail to heed the warning, an ISP could choose to send numerous follow-up notices. Eventually, the plan requires ISPs to take more serious action.

Scared yet? In theory and on the whiteboard the plan makes some sense. However, it's questionable whether ISPs will really deter piracy. Nevertheless, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, the music and movie industry and even the White House have been trying to cut a deal for years.

Now we're ready to see this anti-piracy effort in full bloom. You'll get various reactions. Among them:

  • The faux privacy worrywarts will scream because ISPs will inspect packets of data.
  • ISP supporters will argue that the move is a natural extension of an open Internet. ISPs are doing their part to deter illegal activity.
  • And most customers won't care.

Aside from those rather predictable reactions the question is whether this system will work. For instance, will an imposed limit to 200 top Web sites really do much? How about the escalating nagging? In fact, don't be surprised if someone cooks up a workaround.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Browser, Piracy, Security, Telcos

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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