Friday, July 08, 2011

Industry announces Copyright Alert System, which would emphasizing notifying network owners and home users if their network connections are misused by anyone

The Center for Copyright Information has an announcement July 7 the development of an industry standardized system (the Copyright Alert System) to notify broadband and Internet service subscribers that their accounts may have been used for copyright infringement or online theft.

Subscribers could get up to six warnings in electronic form.  The emphasis in the system seems to reside more with actual broadband or wireless service than in content republication, as with blogging or social networking.

For example, people would be notified and warned once if their wireless routers had been misused, possibly by wardriving. This could affect the ability of Internet cafes to operate, or even for hotels to offer wireless service, and seems to need to be thought through more carefully.  Perhaps Internet cafes and even hotels would have to offer RSA tokens for sign on (well known in the cellular wireless world) so that the identity of actual parties doing illegal downloads (as through BitTorrent) could still be readily tracked.  On the other hand, ISP’s (like Comcast) that have been switching home users to wireless networks for multiple connections should provide more training to users in wireless security.  (There is also a legal “plausible deniability” downstream question that needs more examination in these cases; is merely having a password to the router enough?)

It would sound logical, though, to include Blogging and social networking platforms in a plan to notify users if other content owners believe their content infringes on copyright.  Some issues, like paraphrase or embeds, seem to need to be looked at. 

Parents would presumably be warned if their kids were guilty of infringement on a “family account”.  It’s odd that the announcement mentions “caregivers”.

The Alert System does not directly require participating ISPs or service providers to terminate accounts. But not doing so might damage their downstream liability defenses under DMCA Safe Harbor.

The link for the announcement is here.

There is earlier discussion of this issue on the Internet Safety blog. The risk occurs in other areas besides possible downstream liability for copyright infringement, such as the transmission of patently illegal content.

The problem could become more acute as wireless routers become more critical parts of home security infrastructure.  

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