Torrenters beware! Major U.S. ISPs have agreed to a “six strikes” rule for people who share copyrighted material online.
The new plan makes explicit what the MPAA and the RIAA and other four-letter organizations have already been doing. The way the big studios have been catching copyright scofflaws who use BitTorrent is to look at all the users downloading and sharing a certain file, for example, the latest “Harry Potter” release. This group of users is known as “the swarm” in torrent-speak.
They can then figure out the IP addresses of people in the swarm, and then figure out what ISPs they belong to. Then the studio fires off a DMCA notice to to the ISP, who then forwards it to the person actually paying the bill, telling them to knock that off. What’s new is that customers who have this happen six times will face harsher measures in order to convince them to stop sharing copyrighted material online, including slowing bandwidth to a crawl and forcing users to view educational material on copyright before being allowed to surf and hopefully only share Linux distros and Creative Commons media instead if they find Apple’s or Netflix’s prices too onerous to pay.
Having to go through the equivalent of copyright traffic school is probably a lot better than being sued, but there’s still some plausible deniability for those suspected of being pirates. It’s still pretty easy to blame any problems on kids or roommates or random people using your Wi-Fi that you’ve so generously opened up. But it would still be annoying to have your bandwidth throttled when you were in the heat of a deathmatch battle. And there’s always the threat of a multi-million dollar copyright suit and jail time for the really brazen pirates, or at least people the MPAA thinks are pirates.
If this interests you, you’ll want to check out our post on Hexagon, a social network for BitTorrent users. For those who like to watch movies on the Internet legally, Netflix is currently the king of Internet use.
thumbnail credit: Mike Seyfang