In February this year, a number of the United States’ leading ISPs, voluntarily working with the RIAA and MPAA, launched the so-called ‘six-strikes’ scheme. Under this scheme, The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) was set up to alert the ISP’s when a copyright violation occurs, following which the ISP will send a warning letter to the owner of the IP address associated with the offence. What exactly happens to customers if they re-offend after receiving six warning letters remains unclear at this point.
The ISPs involved are AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. Not all ISPs were invited to join the scheme however, while others demurred. Those not participating include Cox, CenturyLink and Charter.
However, in a move aimed at ensuring that customers of non-participating ISPs do not feel they are free to engage in piracy, Warner Bros. has backed a scheme with legal group Rightscorp, Inc to demand cash settlements instead of a ‘strike’.
Customers of non-participating ISP have started to receive DMCA letters with the following text:
“Your ISP has forwarded you this notice. This is not spam. Your ISP account has been used to download, upload or offer for upload copyrighted content in a manner that infringes on the rights of the copyright owner. Your ISP service could be suspended if this matter is not resolved. You could be liable for up to $150,000 per infringement in civil penalties,” the notices begin.
It comes as little surprise to us that interest in VPNs spiked in February this year (the six-strikes scheme started on February 25). Information courtesy of Google Trends.
The good news is that these letters are being sent to the ISP, who is then forwarding them to the alleged copyright infringer. This means that Warner Bros. and Rightcorp are not directly aware of the identity of the alleged offender, so it is unlikely any further action will be taken against them. Nevertheless, there are reports of individuals not only paying up, but once their details are on file, being pursued for further damages.