‘Six-Strikes’ anti-piracy system is powered by the same company that flagged HBO.com for pirating HBO content

hbo.com

I’m sure you all know what the Six-Strikes system is by now, and that it’s set to launch in a few weeks. But what do we know about the company that’s going to be flagging users who share copyrighted content?

Turns out the CAS (Copyright Alerts System) that AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon will all be powered by the same independent company called MarkMonitor. MarkMonitor has developed a program to determine which users are sharing copyrighted material on file-sharing services such as BitTorrent. How effective is this program? Well, let’s just say that it’s not without its flaws.

MarkMonitor’s DtecNet software recently sent out a long report to Google, asking them to remove sites from its search results. What kind of copyrighted material were these sites allegedly sharing? HBO content. Who was the culprit? Why, HBO.com of course. That makes complete sense, as HBO.com probably doesn’t have the right to link to HBO content. Wink. Also thrown in along with HBO.com are sites that simply wrote about shows that were on HBO, like Perez Hilton and Hitfix.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount of false accusations regarding copyright infringement skyrocket after the CAS goes live. I personally feel the Six-Strikes system is actually pretty fair, but if they can’t even manage to flag the right users, what’s the point? It’s just a whole other layer of inconvenience for the subscribers involved.

This isn’t a very good sign.

[via Daily Dot]

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13 comments

  1. Jacob R

    No matter how hard they try to stop piracy it won’t work. The best way to prevent people from downloading is very simple:

    1. Make your content available in all regions as soon as it is released.

    2. Sell your content for a fair price that people are willing to pay.

    3. Make it easy to download, copy, and move around (i.e. no draconian DRM schemes that punish paying customers)

    4. Release your entire back catalog of content that people are searching for. Not just one season or a few episodes, but, ALL of the content. All seasons. All episodes.

    Otherwise, people are just going to do follow steps like this https://sites.google.com/site/seedboxhowto/ to become anonymous and continue pirating movies, music and TV shows. Nothing they’ve done in the last 10 years has had any impact on piracy. If anything — it’s made the problem worse. If the movie and record companies start following these 4 steps they’ll find that they’re making a boatload of money with a very small percentage of piracy.

  2. Enrique
    Author/Staff

    @Ashraf: So much pressure! Haha. Kidding.

    From the Verizon article:

    “These measures will also apply to business customers of Verizon. TorrentFreak notes that small businesses will become wary of who they allow onto their networks, potentially leading to an end to free WiFi in some places.”

  3. AT

    @Ashraf: Unfortunately the history of the entertainment industry does not agree. To them, CAS is law. Remember the fanpages of Harry Potter put up by young children who got served takedown notices by Warner Bros lawyers? Young fans around the world were threatened with legal action. The way CAS is set up, even movie reviews would get tagged simply for mentioning “Copyrighted Material”.

  4. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    @AT: I’m also not alawyer so I cannot debate with you on the legalities. However, the catch here is CAS is not a legal initiative but rather a voluntary program by ISPs and Hollywood. I can’t imagine that ISPs would have no way of differentiating between a business and a residential connection. Also, as far as I know, no CAS strikes actually has automatic disconnect. From what I understand, the whole point is to inform people before taking actions and even the toughest of actions is not disconnection (if I remember correctly). I’m sure ISPs could make an argument in court that if you were falsely flagged, why didnt you say anything when we contacted to.
    Then again, my point is moot if CAS applies to business connections too. I suppose I could Google it but I’d rather say: Enrique, wake up and answer me. (Just kidding, Enrique.)

  5. AT

    @Ashraf: I’m not a lawyer but aren’t businesses considered to be non-person entities. They are to be treated like people are treated under the law. A business internet connection would be no different than a residential connection. The laws governing them would be the same. ISPs also use bots to control and monitor their network traffic. If those bots were programmed to disconnect a user’s connection for abuse, a few reports from CAS bots would trigger the disconnection.

  6. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    @AT: I can’t remember but isn’t six-strikes for residential connections only? I would be surprised that they would risk shutting down a business connection. If this is true, the threat of a class action lawsuit is minimal, in my opinion.

  7. AT

    I can see class action lawsuits from people who were unjustly flagged by Copyright Alerts System. If the content owners had their own content flagged and their internet service disrupted or terminated by automated bots, the lawsuits for damages can be very big.

  8. Enrique
    Author/Staff

    @Ashraf: Thanks Ashraf! Exactly, I think the idea of the six-strikes policy is fair, but it’s useless and just going to inconvenience people if they can’t implement it right.

    @barney: Have you seen the leaked documents of Verizon’s implementation? It’s far from unfair I think. And if you don’t pirate anything anyway, you shouldn’t be worried. Check it out!

    http://dottech.org/93198/verizons-six-strikes-anti-piracy-program-is-coming-here-are-the-details/

  9. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    @barney: How did he refute himself? From what I understand, Enrique feels six-strikes is a fair way to deal with online piracy; i.e. an alternative to simply suing people. However, if the program is unable to flag the right users, then it is useless. I see no contradiction.

    While I don’t know the particulars of how each six-strikes program will work, I do believe there will be some sort of appeals process. You have to understand, ISPs are voluntarily — in conjunction with Hollywood — implementing this policy. They aren’t being forced to. It is ISPs that will lose customers, if six-strikes goes wrong. ISPs will never voluntarily lose customers. They will give their customers a way to appeal, I promise you that. Now how fair that appeals process is, and the fact that it is guilty-until-proven-innocent (as you mention), is questionable.

  10. barney

    ” I personally feel the Six-Strikes system is actually pretty fair, but if they can’t even manage to flag the right users, what’s the point?”

    You just gave an opinion and refuted yourself in the same sentence :).

    False takedowns have been rife ever since DMCA was initiated. No ‘strike’ system can ever be fair, for there is NO validation in place, no verification, and no recourse for remediation.

    A takedown is very much akin to an accusation of wife-beating or child molestation. You are forever guilty by accusation, and no amount of clearing will ever mitigate that guilt.

  11. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    It should be noted the process of sending infringing URLs to Google is a bit different than identifying users who torrent copyrighted content. However, the underlying theme of inaccuracy is still relevant.

    As Enrique rightly mentions, if Six-Strikes keeps falsely flagging people, it will be a useless program done away with in a few years. So the fact that the company that developed the software for it cannot even properly send infringing URLs to Google is a valid concern.

    Thanks Enrique!