US to launch six-strikes copyright system this year

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US to launch six-strikes copyright system this year

Australia looks at similar system.

The United States looks set to go ahead with a graduated response system for ISPs to discourage illegal file sharing, after several delays.

Originally set to launch in December 2011, and then in June this year, the Copyright Alert System is now reportedly set to come into effect at the end of this year, according to the Centre for Copyright Information, the organisation in charge of implementing the system.

The system will cover three-quarters of all American internet users, and is a collaboration between ISPs and the recording and movie industries.

It features a six-stage warning scheme with notices that users have to acknowledge, or face measures such as reduced speeds.

CCI head Jill Lesser said the sceme was "not a six-strikes programme", and will not cut off user connections if they reach all six stages.

At the fifth or sixth notice stage, users "are pushed through to a ten minute educational video" Lesser said. If, after that, they continue to file share, they are out of the programme and ISPs can decide what to do next, including cutting off users' internet access.

The lack of a mandated termination stage separates the US system from those implemented in France and New Zealand, which threaten to fine users and cut connections after three strikes.

Instead, Lesser said it was an "educational programme" with alerts sent out to subscribers, with the intention of steering users towards legal content sources.

Rights holders can also sue users who have gone through the six-strikes system and continue to infringe on copyright through file sharing.

A four-to-six strike graduated response system is the favoured approach for the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) for implementation locally.

The head of AFACT, Neil Gane, said in August that the system would seek to educate subscribers about copyright and also to point them towards legal sources of content, rather than punish.

Illegal file sharers who ignore the notices could face temporary "mitigation measures" according to Gane, such as bandwidth shaping, landing page redirections and educational information. 

The system is currently being negotiated under the auspices of the Australian Attorney-General's Department, but no details as to the progress of the talks have been made public such as how much it would cost.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand's three-strikes anti-filesharing regime has proven to be costly for ISPs, according to a cabinet paper published by the country's commerce minister Craig Foss.

Five major ISPs have spent $717,000 between them to implement the system. A processing fee of $19.40 is payable by rights holders to ISPs for each notice sent out to subscribers but the fee covers as little as one-fourth of the costs incurred by a large ISP like Telecom NZ, the cabinet paper found.

France, one of the first countries in the world to implement a graduated response system, is presently reviewing this and may scrap it altogether next year.

Cultural minister Aurélie Filipetti said the HADOPI agency in charge of the anti-filesharing law was expensive to run and had failed to encourage the development of legal content sources.

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