Last summer major ISPs including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Cablevision signed off on a new plan by the RIAA and MPAA
taking aim at copyright infringers on their networks. According to the plan, after four warnings ISPs are to begin taking "mitigation measures," which range from throttling a user connection to filtering access to websites until users acknowledge receipt of "educational material." As you might expect, that educational material's chapter on fair use rights likely won't exist.
The plan, as with most plans of this type, was hashed out privately with the government's help -- but with no consumer or independent expert insight. As a result the plan has numerous problems
, like relying on the IP address as proof of guilt, placing the burden of proof on the consumer, while forcing users to pay a $35 fee if they'd like to protest their innocence.
While it has taken some time, the plan is finally set to take off into the murky legal blue yonder starting this summer or fall. One interesting thing picked up on by Torrent Freak
is that the language of the agreement rather unsurprisingly leaves the door open for the entertainment industry to sue a user after they've received their sixth warning:
The Participating ISP will, however, continue to track and report the number of ISP Notices the Participating ISP receives for that Subscriber’s account, so that information is available to a Content Owner Representative if it elects to initiate a copyright infringement action against that Subscriber."
The warning wouldn't be much of a warning if it didn't have some teeth -- and it appears that in addition to having your connection throttled and/or disconnected, you could enjoy a lawsuit as well should you repeatedly trade in copyrighted files. Granted none of this works if users are using VPNs or proxies, which is something that will likely be attacked in part two of the MPAA/RIAA's latest plan.