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

wealth inequality, income inequality, destructive capitalism

From the failure to create jobs to the inability to rescue the environment or provide adequate housing and education, the catastrophe of modern day capitalism is more and more evident by the day – and something's got to give.

refugee crisis, Syrian refugees, EU refugee policy

With thousands of migrants standing by, Hungary's police said they intend to reinforce their positions outside the Keleti railway terminal as the volume of asylum-seekers arriving through Serbia grows by the hour.

David Ige, Hawaii energy policy, Hawaii renewable energy, carbon emissions, carbon cuts

David Ige’s decisive and ambitious energy vision is making Hawaii into the world’s most important laboratory in the fight against climate change – revealing an unlikely partnership between local government and the U.S. military.

Jeremy Corbyn, New Labour, U.K. anti-austerity movement, austerity policies

As the left-wing MP prepares to seize the reigns of his party, he is riding massive popularity on a mandate to reject austerity policies, make education free, re-nationalize the railways and energy companies, and rebuild universal healthcare.

Occupy Central, Joshua Wong, Hong Kong democracy protests, Umbrella Movement, freedom of association, freedom to assemble, Hong Kong Federation of Students, Scholarism, Leung Chun-ying

"Today is a political prosecution," said Joshua Wong after his arrest last week. "My involvement in the Civic Square action is the best thing I have accomplished in the four years I've been involved in social student movements."

household debt, student debt, credit card debt, debt illegitimacy, International Citizen debt Audit Network, odious debt, debt resistance, positive money, negative-interest currency

No street protests are necessary, no confrontations with riot police, to stop payment on a credit card or student loan – the financial system is vulnerable to a few million mouse clicks.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago
Guatemala protests, Otto Pérez Molina, #RenunciaYa, anti-corruption protests, CICIG, Guatemala massacres

Pressure to impeach President Otto Pérez Molina for his involvement in a major corruption scandal that has thrown the country into political crisis is mounting.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago
Japan Self-Defense Forces, Tokyo protests, Japan security bill

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in front of Japanese parliament to protest against security bills they believe to be unconstitutional, allowing Japanese soldiers to fight overseas in defense of national interests.

Posted 3 days 15 hours ago
350.org, The Academy of Sciences, fossil fuel divestment

The Natural History Museum and 350.org launched a collaborative campaign calling on the country’s top science and natural history museums to dump all stocks in oil, coal and gas.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago
whistleblowers, Thomas Drake, Edward Snowden, Diane Roark, Ed Loomis, J. Kirk Wiebe, William Binney, NSA secrets, NSA revelations, National Security Agency, THINTHREAD, Michael Hayden, Keith Alexander, TRAILBLAZER, Whistleblower Protection Act

The NSA wasn't interested in having its faults pointed out – so it sent the DOJ after the whistleblowers.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago

Moira Drury died just over a fortnight ago after the U.K.'s Department of Work and Pensions claimed she was ineligible for disability benefits – even though she suffered from paralysis, epilepsy, diabetes, a failing bladder and depression.

Act Out! [27] - Activist Autumn begins, sign the petition & Good Will Hunting rhymes

This week we've got a veritable shit ton happening on the Front Lines, so ready your calendars for the activist onslaught.

refugee crisis, E.U. refugee policy

It’s a strange feeling to see all those people marching away, like they're heading to some big concert.

Malaysian protests, anti-corruption protests

People participating in the 34-hour protest slept in the streets overnight in an unusually calm demonstration of public outrage by the group Bersih, which means “clean” in Malay.

Freddie Gray, Baltimore protests, police brutality, police violence, Fortress Investment Group, Imperial Capital, The Abell Foundation, purchasing debt, foreclosures

Wall Street hedge fund Fortress Investment Group and L.A.-based Imperial Capital bought up hundreds of small debts — from unpaid water bills to delinquent property taxes — and could take property worth tens of millions of dollars if families can’t pay.

Sign Up