Techtivist Report: New Copyright Alert System to Drive Sharers Underground

Search form

Techtivist Report: New Copyright Alert System to Drive Sharers Underground

Techtivist Report: New Copyright Alert System to Drive Sharers Underground
Wed, 3/6/2013 - by Conrad Jaeger

A new initiative to disrupt Internet access for repeat copyright violators is now live and running with six-steps of severity, from warnings to speed restrictions and finally "re-education."

The Copyright Alert System (CAS), which is backed by the U.S. government and the country’s major ISPs, has been four years in the making and follows on the heels of the ill-fated SOPA. Through a graduated response, suspected copyright criminals will be issued a series of warnings.

After four offenses, a number of "mitigation measures" will come into play that include throttling download speeds. CAS falls short of cutting off Internet access as happens in France and New Zealand.

CAS does not have the force of law and is backed voluntarily by the major ISPs, including Time Warner, Verizon, Comcast and AT&T. It is described as an "educational" service to combat casual piracy but has been heavily criticized for pandering purely to corporate interests at the expense of the average Internet user.

The Center for Copyright Information (CCI), which runs the program, says it will not terminate connection for repeat offenders but CAS does not prevent content owners from suing sharers once identified. The Copyright Act allows damages of up to $150,000 for each infringement.

Offenders will receive alerts that are “meant to educate rather than punish,” says Jill Lesser of CCI, and will be directed to an “educational landing page about infringement.”

Downloading movies and music from peer-to-peer services such as the Pirate Bay is easy to detect, as a user’s IP address clearly shows up. Pirate Bay is already banned in Britain.

However, research by the Pirate Bay and Sweden’s Lund University shows that frequent users already use some form of anonymizing service such as a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or proxy, and that around 70 percent of users plan to switch to these services once new laws are introduced.

“Some people may stop or share less when they receive warnings,” says Stefan Larsson, author of the reportLaw, Norms, Piracy and Online Anonymity. “But there will also be a group that will respond to the warnings by becoming more anonymous. A third group will try to find other means to share files than BitTorrent.”

In the ongoing game of cat and mouse, many file-sharers use cyberlockers, which include companies like RapidShare, where files are uploaded to a site and then downloaded by anyone with a subscription to the service. Dropbox is also used in the same way and these services are not included in the crackdown.

However, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America have been quick to spot files and have them removed.

Any of these services can be used with a secure VPN – effectively a "secret" tunnel where all on-line activities are screened – and this should defeat the tools employed under CAS. Free versions include FreeVPN andProXPN. A popular and fast paid-for option is VrprVPN.

An even better option is to employ a VPN and then make use of the Usenet Newsgroups, which are a bit like bulletin boards where anybody can post on any subject and anybody else can read the messages and download attachments. You need special Newsreader software and a low-cost subscription to the network. It can be installed on any operating system and in most modern devices.

The most popular Usenet Newsreader software is Free Agent, available in both free and paid-for versions. A network subscription costs US$4.99 per month upwards and gives access to an enormous store of digital material going back years, offering a better option than torrents for downloading without drawing attention.

Type the name of an Oscar-winning movie like Argo into a Usenet search engine such as Binsearch.ne and up pop several versions including screeners and BluRays as well as subtitles in dozens of languages.

Usenet – which has been around since 1980 – has been largely ignored by Internet users because it does not have the same glitzy appeal of the World Wide Web but rather resembles an endless list of discussion topics. Usenet is effectively Deep Web in that you need specialist search tools to find what is available.

Usenet can also defeat Deep Packet Inspection because it prevents the ISP from seeing inside the data by using secure 256-bit SSL encryption. Although your ISP can tell if you are accessing Usenet, once you pass beyond the curtain everything you there do is hidden from inspection.

It is difficult to see how these services might be banned under any future law as they have equally legitimate uses. The research at Lund, where 75,000 people were surveyed, shows that Internet users would rather see copyright holders move with the times, not charging so much and making it easier to keep and transfer purchases. Then they might not need Pirate Bay.

Read more by Conrad Jaeger at Techtivist.com and follow him at @conradjaeger.

Article Tabs

Not simply individual guards should answer for this tragedy – but the leaders of private security companies and the governments that employ them must also be held to account.

After a year in which destruction of the world's largest rainforest rose 29%, the new Alto Maues reserve has 1.6 million acres of mostly untouched forests that are not known to have human presence.

The banks have exclusive access to more than 214,000 federal inmates under exclusive contracts awarded by the U.S. Treasury Department about 15 years ago

Toss-up races like Kansas and South Dakota may be the ones that decide whether or not Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate.

Some critics say that the "militarization of the police" is happening right in front of our eyes – but if the Founding Fathers were so worried about a threat of domestic tyranny, how did we get here?

Florida has the highest foreclosure rate in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2014, and also has a "foreclosure king" who is now disbarred for his failure to oversee employees accused of carrying out wrongful foreclosures.

Posted 3 days 19 hours ago

Drug and device makers paid doctors $380 million in speaking and consulting fees over a five-month period last year – and saw a healthy return on their investment.

Posted 6 days 17 hours ago

As of September 19, 181 institutions and local governments and 656 individuals representing over $50 billion in assets have pledged to divest from fossil fuels.

Posted 6 days 17 hours ago

Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) is a grassroots group taking the lead to combat systemic racism and build a people's economy in St. Louis.

Posted 6 days 17 hours ago

Punishing local cuts are leaving communities up in arms as the removal of vital school road patrol service – known as the lollipop ladies – could go into effect.

Posted 6 days 18 hours ago

Inequality is all anybody can talk about, except Democrats on the campaign trail who desperately need to turn out the very people so disproportionately affected by it: young and minority voters.

Edward Snowden

Snowden told the audience he engaged in civil disobedience because he believes the democratic system of government is not able to work when people don’t know what their government is doing.

Punishing local cuts are leaving communities up in arms as the removal of vital school road patrol service – known as the lollipop ladies – could go into effect.

Out of her $672 monthly disability check, Rochelle McCaskill spends $600 rent – leaving her unable to pay the city’s water bills, which have skyrocketed to more than twice the national average.

Not simply individual guards should answer for this tragedy – but the leaders of private security companies and the governments that employ them must also be held to account.

Sign Up