Mirroring what I'd been hearing in my own recent conversations with ISPs, it appears that the entertainment industry and ISPs have again delayed the launch of their "six strikes" anti-piracy initiative until sometime early next year. In a post at their website
the group responsible for overseeing the controversial program (the Center for Copyright Information) blames the delay on Hurricane Sandy, which they insist delayed the testing schedule for numerous ISPs. Leaked AT&T documents
had originally claimed the system was to go live this week.
"Our goal has always been to implement the program in a manner that educates consumers about copyright and peer-to-peer networks, encourages the use of legal alternatives, safeguards customer privacy, and provides an easy-to-use independent review program for consumers to challenge alerts they believe they’ve received in error," insists the organization.
"We need to be sure that all of our “I”s are dotted and “T”s crossed before any company begins sending alerts, and we know that those who are following our progress will agree."
As I've been exploring
, customers accused of piracy will be treated differently by different ISPs under the program, with some ISPs choosing to throttle repeat offenders, and others forcing customers to click through websites and read "educational" materials before being able to browse the Internet. The program remains hugely unpopular among consumers and ISPs alike, given it assumes guilt, jacks up costs for ISPs (read: you), relies on unreliable IP address evidence, and involves users paying a $35 fee to protest their innocence.
Several executives at various ISPs I've talked to are not thrilled by the system, which they realize will create significant additional work for their support agents. It also may have little real impact on piracy, given there's no "end game" after a user receives a sixth strike, and there's nothing preventing users from fleeing to proxy or VPN services to mask their downloading habits from their ISP. Two outcomes are certain however: your broadband bill will go up, and companies like BTGuard
are going to make a killing in 2013.