ITIF Endorses Industry Cooperation to Reduce Online Piracy
WASHINGTON (November 27, 2012) - Today the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) endorsed the new "Six Strikes" initiative by Internet Service Providers and creators of digital content to educate users on the costs of piracy and to reduce its incidence. Digital piracy is a serious problem with an estimated 25 percent of all bits on the Internet being infringing content.
The "Six Strikes" initiative is a voluntary, six step graduated response program in which users who are suspected of engaging in piracy will receive a series of warnings and educational messages before legal action can be taken. The first three steps are warnings that the user may be downloading material in violation of copyright. If these are ignored, in the next two steps the user is redirected to an educational page in which they will need to complete an online tutorial about copyright before proceeding to the requested web page. If all three warnings and two tutorials are ignored, the content owner becomes free to seek a court order to obtain the user's personal details so that legal action can be pursued. In no case does the ISP interrupt Internet service without a court order, nor does the content rights holder have access to the user's identity without a court order.
The system is a small step compared to the measures that were proposed by the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT-IP Act a year ago, but it makes considerable improvements over the status quo without altering due process or violating the privacy of lawful users.
The program reduces the massive compliance costs that burden ISPs under the "safe harbor" provisions of existing law (Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.) The number of violations that are easily observed by rights holders today is so large that they result in a massive stream of take-down notices that have become a major burden to ISPs, in many cases amounting to considerably more technical support resources than those devoted to direct customer service. By automating the front end of the anti-piracy process, occasional violators may be convinced to stop "sharing" content unlawfully without the stress and expense of a summons to appear in court.
ITIF Senior Research Fellow Richard Bennett said today, "The "Six Strikes" system is a win for broadband users, ISPs, and content creators alike. ISPs benefit from lower compliance costs than the notice-and-takedown systems impose, content creators get at least some protection for their rights, and users are ultimately afforded a richer stream of new content."
He continued, "There may be some glitches in ramping up the system and there will certainly be loud complaints from the anti-copyright crowd; but it's worth remembering that copyright protection is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and shouldn't be treated casually. Ultimately, the health of the Internet ecosystem depends on the ability of creative people to make a living, and measures that protect the rights of hard-working artists and scientists are good for the Internet and society as a whole. It's also commendable that ISPs, content creators, and the public interest community have been able to come together to produce a consensus system that improves the status quo."