Time Warner Cable's "six strikes" anti-piracy measures won't include the filtering of any websites, Broadband Reports
has learned. The six strikes plan, scheduled to launch later this year, will vary from ISP to ISP -- with Verizon last week acknowledging they'll be throttling repeat offenders
to an as-yet-unspecified speed. Time Warner Cable is taking a somewhat different approach, with customer browsing restricted until they acknowledge receipt of "educational" materials.
Last week some news outlets suggested Time Warner Cable would be filtering websites, but I've been told that's not the case. What will happen is that users who are accused of piracy will, for the first two violations, simply be sent an e-mail informing they've downloaded copyrighted material, the e-mail urging them to read materials provided by the Center for Copyright Information
As of a customer's third and fourth violations, they'll be greeted with a splash screen forcing them to acknowledge the accusation that they've traded a copyrighted file, and unless they click through -- they can't access the Internet.
"Starting with the third notice, there will be an email and a click-through, on-screen message that will require users to acknowledge that they have received the notice and will stop the activity before their browser is restored to them," Time Warner Cable's Alex Dudley tells Broadband Reports
. "Restoration of service is immediate upon clicking through," says Dudley.
"Other than an IP address, no customer information is shared."
-Time Warner Cable
The fifth and sixth warning are also communicated by e-mail and an on-screen message as well, Dudley says. Though at that point, the warnings shift into a different gear.
"The difference (in the fifth and sixth warning) is that the mitigation measure in this case is a suspension of their service beginning 14 days after acknowledgement of the notice, unless an appeal is filed," says Dudley. Time Warner Cable notes that service is maintained during the appeal process, and there's a link to the CCI site to file the appeal in the notice. As we've noted in previous explanations of six strikes
, appealing an accusation will cost you a $35 fee -- one of the more controversial plan details for consumer advocates.
"The suspension lasts until the user calls the provided number and speaks with our customer service representative," says Dudley. "After that conversation, service is restored in full." Again, the scripted conversation a user has with the Time Warner Cable support representative involves the use of materials provided by the Center for Copyright Information (read: the entertainment industry).
It appears that there is no "end game" to the six strikes process, with users who strike out -- no longer getting alerts. CCI itself stated back in October
that absolutely nothing happens after the sixth strike. Like most ISPs, Time Warner Cable has provisions in their terms of service that allow for them to terminate the connections of users for copyright infringement (among other things), but cooperating ISPs say that severing user connections are not going to be part of the equation.
As for concerns that repeat offenders will simply have their data collected
for future lawsuits, that doesn't appear to be on the radar -- so far. "Other than an IP address, no customer information is shared," Dudley tells me. In fact, the ISP gets the IP address for CCI, and the ISP does not share subscriber information with CCI. Content providers may still pursue lawsuits using the IP and subpoena process later on, but it's not part of the six strikes system.
Dudley says there's still no hard date for Time Warner Cable's launch of the program. As we get closer, Dudley says, the company will include all of this detail in their user agreement. "Mitigation measures" (as CCI calls them) will differ from ISP to ISP. While Time Warner Cable settled on click through warnings, Verizon settled on throttling. AT&T and Comcast may have different approaches. Time Warner Cable has been the only ISP willing to talk about this in any substantive detail so far.
Whether this all has any impact on piracy remains to be seen. With no "end game" for repeat offenders, and nothing to stop savvy pirates from simply using VPNs and proxy servers, persistent pirates unswayed by the arguments don't appear to really have much to think on when it comes to six strikes. The effort seems to primarily be a war of percentages, with the content industry hoping that having bolder alerts in place scares enough people (read: kids whose parents suddenly can't access the Internet) to knock back the piracy rate a few degrees.
The big question is: once this framework is in place and accepted, will it be expanded?