Copyright Alert System Comes to an End

The Copyright Alert System, a voluntary program started in February 2013 that involved several major ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, has come to an end.

Though the formal program is ending, parties that have been involved with the CAS program remain committed to “voluntary and cooperative efforts,” the Center for Copyright Information said in a statement released Friday:

“After four years of extensive consumer education and engagement, the Copyright Alert System will conclude its work. The program demonstrated that real progress is possible when content creators, Internet innovators and consumer advocates come together in a collaborative and consensus-driven process. CAS succeeded in educating many people about the availability of legal content, as well as about issues associated with online infringement. We want to thank everyone who put in the hard work to develop this program and make it a success, including past and present members of our Advisory Board. While this particular program is ending, the parties remain committed to voluntary and cooperative efforts to address these issues.”

CCI did not say why it was shuttering the effort but skeptics had questioned how effective the Copyright Alert System could be in curbing piracy, partly because it was limited to monitoring peer-to-peer applications, B&C reported.

The MPAA told Variety that the system managed to stop a “significant number” of users from accessing pirated content, but that “a persistent group of hard-core, repeat infringers are unlikely to change their behavior.”

But the CAS wasn’t really tailored to target that hard-core group.

Aimed at educating consumers and curb digital piracy, the program used a graduated “six strikes” approach what, at first, warned offenders that illegal file-sharing and copyright-infringement activity had been detected on their accounts, before more punitive action was taken. Depending on the ISP, that could include throttling of the user’s Internet connection and temporary suspension of the user accounts until the customer contacted the ISP.

“Termination is at one end of the spectrum, and it’s something we are not doing,” CCI executive director Jill Lesser told Multichannel News for the magazine’s cover issue for Feb. 10, 2013. “It’s not clear that saying, ‘If you do this again, we’re going to shut of your Internet access,’ is a deterrent.”

In that same story, Gigi Sohn, then the president and CEO of Public Knowledge president and a member of CCI’s advisory board (and, more recently, the former counsel for external affairs for past FCC chairman Tom Wheeler) stressed that the CAS will “start a conversation among casual file sharers…It’s not about stopping the hardcore uploader/downloader.”

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The CAS issued 1.3 million alerts in its first 10 months, with only 265 challenges and no findings of “false positives.”

While major ISPs came up with the six-strikes approach, the American Cable Association said last year that its members were strained by keeping up with the flood of alerts alleging that their customers were accessing content illegally.

--John Eggerton contributed to this story