|ISPs such as AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon have all worked with copyright holders and the RIAA and MPAA to provide a new framework to deal with piracy and illegal downloading of music, TV shows, or movies.
The new system, called many things like "six strikes," "copyright alerts," and "graduated reponse" are intended to provide the basis for how to deal with copyright issues and illegal downloading through file-sharing networks and capabilities like P2P networks and BitTorrent.
They've started a new Center for Copyright Information to deal with this, a sort reeducation camp that allows an individual to access information around copyright infringement issues and how to deal with the copyright alerts and six strikes.
The first strike happens when the user receives a notice that their IP address has been spotted from monitoring of file-sharing networks. A notice is sent to the users ISP, who sends a "copyright alert" to the user. The users IP address will be added to a database for tracking purposes. From there, it's all about monitoring and giving notices, each one a continued "strike."
The third strike will ask that the user respond to something, be it an interactive form or pop-up box, that asks them to check a box or confirm in some way that they've received the message. This happens with the fourth and fifth strike as well, and the fifth strike will also include "temporary reductions of Internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright, or other measures that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter," according to copyrightinformation.org.
Above all, it seems that as painful as this sounds, it gives the user a lot of latitiude. Take the example of how someone with a wireless set up in their home might the victim of a "drive-by," meaning that someone is parking their car outside of the users house, jumping on the wireless router, and downloading illegal material while leaving someone else to receive the blowback. Six strikes gives a lot of time to work through that, where in Europe, three strikes is a skinny playing field to work these issues.
The other looming issue around this is the definition of "piracy," "illegal downloading," what copyright actually means and what it should mean and whether or not the ISPs as a middle man should be playing a role in this. There seems to be a lot of resentment right now from users that ISPs have sold their soul and are wrongly siding with big business as a means to their own end. You can look at how a lot of the ISPs involved own video distribution channels now, say ComCast with their Xfinity thing, and see how they're obviously serving their own ends by supporting the pro-business side as means to their profits.
How an individual can challenge these strikes and graduated responses seems very vague right now. The entire taxonomy of copyright and copyright infringement seems to be an orchestrated system right now, and the ISPs were the missing link for the current copyright regime. Now the copyright system of prosecution is more lopsided, with little or no means to challenge a very large machine.
On the other hand, we have to consider the ability of a copyright holder to own their content. This doesn't just mean big business fat cats are slapping each other on the back with thousand dollar bills, this means the actual musician or indie film director who's trying to make a living off of their work. They may not want to give it away or share with you the notion that music "just wants to be free." After all, when was the last time you showed up to work at your job and told them that you wanted to stop accepting your paycheck?
Check out more about steaming music sites in the Spacelab Streaming Music Guide.