Pirates Beware! ISPs are cracking down on illegal downloads.

In the face of widespread online file sharing, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AT&T, Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon are implementing a “six-strike” plan to educate and eventually prevent pirates from downloading material.  You read that right—there are six strikes. The system is intended to target peer-to-peer file sharing websites, and not online lockers, such as Dropbox, or email attachments.

After the first offense is detected, the Internet subscriber will receive an email alert from their ISP saying that the subscriber account may have been used for “online content theft.” 

After the second offense, the Internet subscriber will receive another email alert, but possibly with an additional educational message about the legal consequences of online content theft. 

Third and fourth offenses will also result in email notifications, along with the addition of a pop-up or landing page that the Internet subscriber must click on to acknowledge receipt.  Beginning at the fifth offense, “Mitigation Measures” may be taken against the subscriber. 

These measures may include, for example: “temporary reductions of Internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright, or other measures (as specified in published policies) that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter.”

ISPs probably will not disable the subscriber’s voice telephone, e-mail account, or any security or health service. There will be no blacklist of subscribers shared amongst ISPs. The ISPs also have the option to waive the Mitigation Measure.

After a sixth offense, Mitigation Measures will be implemented against the subscriber again. Under this system, a subscriber’s account will not be terminated.

If an Internet subscriber believes s/he has been wrongfully targeted, the subscriber may request an investigation for a $35 filing fee.  There is considerable interest to see if this system will really be effective.  There is a time frame after which the calendar to measure strikes resets, but when the calendar resets is not clear. 

In practice, a person may actually have more than four strikes before Mitigation Measures are implemented by the ISPs.  As the system is more widely implemented, it will be interesting to see how the specific mechanics change for practical application.


pirated musicRonnie Gipson is a litigation and business attorney at Higa & Gipson, PC.  His practice focuses on offering guidance at the earliest stages of the business inception; and consultation and advice as the business operations grow. Ronnie differs from other attorneys because he takes the time to learn about his clients’ businesses in order to build a long term relationship geared towards his client's success.