In case you’re not aware, on the 1st of July Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon — to name a few — will begin monitoring our Internet traffic to crack down on alleged piracy.  This shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, as this “deal” between ISPs and the RIAA, MPAA and other copyright holders, was made last June (with pressure from our pro-RIAA White House, no less).

From CNET:

The country’s largest Internet service providers haven’t given up on the idea of becoming copyright cops.

Last July, Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, Time Warner Cable and other bandwidth providers announced that they had agreed to adopt policies designed to discourage customers from illegally downloading music, movies and software. Since then, the ISPs have been very quiet about their antipiracy measures.

But during a panel discussion before a gathering of U.S. publishers here today, Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, said most of the participating ISPs are on track to begin implementing the program by July 1.

Supporters say this could become the most effective antipiracy program ever. Since ISPs are the Internet’s gatekeepers, the theory is that network providers are in the best position to fight illegal file sharing.

That’s OK… we can just switch to another ISP, right?  Oh yeah… I forgot… ISPs have a collective monopoly on high-speed services in most regions of the USA.  In other words — many of us have no alternative ISP to sign up with.  But should you have an another ISP to switch to, don’t hold your breath.  The goal of the content industry (again with White House backing) is to get all ISPs to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the copyright holders and begin cracking down on “suspected” copyright infringement by their paying customers.

Rick Falkvinge has a different view of the copyright industry.  While most people think that they just don’t understand the Internet or how technology has changed, Rick believes they understand exactly what the Internet is and what it means to their totally obsolete business model.  The copyright industry believes that the Internet must be destroyed in order for them to remain even slightly relevant.  By making the ISP’s copyright cops, they’re well on their way to destroying the Internet (at least as we know it).

The US content industry has been working to get three-strike laws installed in many nations with some success — France (HADOPI), UK (Digital Economy Act) and New Zealand are just the first.  Since the entertainment lobby has been unable to get such similar laws passed in the US, they’ve instead enlisted (or forced?) the help of US’s largest ISPs to turn them into “copyright cops.”

So how is this all going to work?

Again from CNET:

. . . .

The program, commonly referred to as “graduated response,” requires that ISPs send out one or two educational notices to those customers who are accused of downloading copyrighted content illegally. If the customer doesn’t stop, the ISP is then asked to send out “confirmation notices” asking that they confirm they have received notice.

At that time, the accused customers will also be informed of the risks they incur if they don’t stop pirating material. If the customer is flagged for pirating again, the ISP can then ratchet up the pressure. Participating ISPs can choose from a list of penalties, or what the RIAA calls “mitigation measures,” which include throttling down the customer’s connection speed and suspending Web access until the subscriber agrees to stop pirating.

(for more detail, see Ars Technica’s Major ISPs agree to “six strikes” copyright enforcement plan

I don’t think this is the type of Internet we want, nor is it something we should accept lying down.  The Internet community rose up in January to kill the Stop Online Piracy & Protect IP Acts — bills that previously seemed all but sure to pass.   I can only hope that the Internet community will respond with just as much vengeance to prevent our network intermediaries (ISPs) from taking on the role of “copyright cops” — something that they are neither competent at or entitled to perform.

Remember — OUR Internet is being stifled by a bloated, outdated and completely obsolete entertainment industry (primarily the RIAA & MPAA).  Piracy is nothing but UNMET CONSUMER DEMAND.  But “serving their customers” has never been NOR will it ever be on the entertainment industry’s agenda.  And why not??? — because they have an obsolete business model to prop up!

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