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Copyright Alert System, Widely Feared, Is Toothless

The proposed Copyright Alert System, in which U.S. Internet service providers would identify customers who download music or movies without authorization, has been roundly criticized as abusive. At first glance, the “six strikes” plan may seem scary, but the program’s sponsors insist that the rhetoric has been overblown. Is the plan as worrisome as its critics contend?

The Copyright Alert System is a program proposed in July 2012 by the Center For Copyright Information, the coalition of movie, music, and bandwidth providers that includes the Motion Picture Association of America, Record Industry Association of America, and internet service providers AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon. Ostensibly designed to increase awareness of copyright infringement, the initiative calls for consumers who are detected downloading unauthorized material to be issued a series of six warnings. Consumers who failed to respond to the warnings would face “mitigation measures” that might include throttling bandwidth. Originally scheduled to roll out in July 2012, the program has been delayed indefinitely.

The plan has prompted widespread criticism by commentators who view it as intrusive and draconian. However, the Center for Copyright Information says that people need to relax. This week, CCI Executive Director Jill Lesser wrote an op-ed responding to some of the most alarmist commentary.

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