If you or anyone in your household (or even a neighbor) use a BitTorrent client to download alleged copyright material using your Internet account, then be wary if your current Internet Service Provider (ISP) is any of the following five:

  • Comcast
  • Time Warner Cable
  • Cablevision
  • AT&T
  • Verizon

This week these five ISPs join the Recording Industry Assoc of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Assoc of America (MPAA) in bringing the Copyright Alert System (CAS) online.  CAS is an agreement between Big Content and large Internet Service Providers to monitor peer to peer networks for copyright infringement and target subscribers who are alleged to infringe—via everything from from “educational” alerts to throttling Internet speeds and even lawsuits.  Note the word “alleged” — that’s right.  There is NO DUE PROCESS and the “alleged” infringer is presumed guilty until proven innocent.

Of course, they “claim” that the intent of CAS is to “educate” alleged copyright infringers.  IMHO, it’s Big Content (including RIAA & MPAA) that need the education.  All you’ll find on the CAS website (Center for Copyright Information, or CCI) is the copyright maximalist point of view.  To them, 100 yrs of copyright isn’t enough.

As I’ve blogged before, copyright is BROKEN!  Big Content has almost completely locked down the Public Domain for another decade or more due to copyright extensions.   Since our beloved Mickey Mouse is coming to the end of it’s latest copyright extension in a few years, you can bet your shiny nickel that Disney will be pushing for yet another “Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act – Version 2” that will push copyright to well over a hundred years!  And to think copyright was originally granted for only 14 years with only one 14 yr extension allowed (and only if requested by the copyright holder, which seldom happened).

But back to the CCI’s goal of educating “alleged” copyright infringers…  even if you do not download files via a BitTorrent client, you still need to “get educated” about how to protect yourself.  Is your network locked down (especially your wireless network)?  Do you have children (or their visiting friends) that might be downloading files with peer-to-peer software?  Then watch out, because the CCI claims that subscribers are responsible for making sure their internet account is not used for copyright infringement.  (Make that “alleged” copyright infringement). That means if you have an unprotected wireless network and your neighbor is using it to download copyright protected files, then YOU are the responsible party.

So how do you protect yourself?  CAN  YOU  SAY  “V   P   N“?  That stands for Virtual Private Network.  If the CCI wants to educate us, then let us all learn about VPNs.  VPNs are also great for use on Open WiFi Networks (like Starbucks or McDonalds) to protect anything you might be doing on the Internet, i.e., online banking.  Of course, due to the Copyright Alert System, we’ll probably be seeing fewer & fewer Open WiFi spots.

NOTE:  Just to be clear — a VPN only protects the person actually USING the VPN.  It won’t protect you from an alleged “Six Strikes” warning if a neighbor is downloading from your unprotected (or cracked) wireless, or if your children (or their friends) are downloading alleged infringing files via your home network.  The only way to protect your entire network is to use a VPN Gateway or VPN Router, which puts your entire LAN behind the VPN.

Last November the Republican Study Committee (RSC) got it absolutely right & hit a home run with their “RSC Policy Brief: Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it.”  Unfortunately, it wasn’t even on their website for 24 hrs before Big Content jumped on the Republicans and had it removed.  Not only that, they got the main author of the report fired.  If you haven’t read this report, I urge you to.  You’ll find plenty of similarities as in the book “The Case for Copyright Reform” that I blogged about last April.

Below are just a few of the many articles covering “Six Stikes”:

Time to look for a new ISP!  Oh…. that’s right… I don’t have any other choices where I live due to the Comcast monopoly & lack of competition.  Damn!