Up until now, the global ‘war on piracy’ was being carried out in a fairly similar manner to the more traditional wars against poorly defined constructs. Take a look at the respective wars on drugs and terror. Much like these wars, it’s primarily being carried out by the American government, with the UK following in close tow.
In 2012 the war on piracy suddenly stepped up its game. In America, the assets of net entrepreneur and Megaupload.com founder Kim Dotcom were seized, resulting in a long, difficult, and perhaps legally unfounded battle (Kim won, kind of). In the UK, a number of service providers began banning known peer to peer (P2P) file-sharing sites from being accessed on their services KICKASS.CD. This began with The Pirate Bay, and is expected to extend out to the sites Fenopy, H33t and Kickass Torrents in the first half of 2013.
This is how we usually wage wars, attack the source of the problem KICKASS TORRENT. Hunt down drug dealers, bomb terrorist training camps, it’s traditional. The individual addicts and attackers are harder to trace, so it makes more sense to damage whoever’s providing them.
Yet the internet has a few unique features to it, one of which being the magical ability to track every user at an individual level. For 2013, it seems like opponents of piracy are setting themselves up to take advantage of the fact.
Users of the five major US ISPs are in for a treat this spring, with the Copyright Alert System, or CAS. The providers track any internet users found to be sharing or downloading copyrighted material on P2P networks, and issue warnings of increasing intensity against them, complete with eventual punishments after six warnings, with accompanying educational materials on copyright law, have been displayed.
Punishments vary by provider. Time Warner will disconnect the internet until the user phones up to request it, and is subjected to acknowledgement of their guilt. Verizon will throttle bandwidth to 256kbp/s for up to three days, an entertaining throwback to the days of dial up. AT&T will provide a number of compulsory educatory materials to be read and tested on before returning internet.
It’s a fair sounding system, primarily founded on re-education and deterrent, as opposed to outright punishment. The UK is proposing a similar system, but users should bear in mind it’s a lot more harsh in the currently planned state. Six strikes are replaced with three strikes, and rather than sending educational materials, providers will forward the perpetrator’s personal details to the copyright holder to then follow up in court at their free will.
The UK is definitely leaning towards harsh punishment a little more, which is a strange reversal of the extremes both countries traditionally lean towards. Wherever you’re located, it’s safe to say copyright enforcement will be a lot more visible in 2013.