Copyright Alert System – A Successful First Year for a Market Initiative to Reduce Copyright Infringement
One year ago, a broad coalition of private enterprises, such as entertainment and telecommunications companies, launched CAS to proactively inform consumers of infringing activity detected involving their account. That approach derived from the knowledge that large majorities of consumers (a) agree that it is never appropriate to engage in copyright infringement, (b) are often unaware as to which online sources are illegal, and (c) stated that they would immediately discontinue participating in copyright infringement immediately if they were alerted to it.
With that in mind, here’s how CAS works. It involves three levels of alerts – the educational stage, the acknowledgement stage and the mitigation stage – with each stage including two alerts before moving to the next stage. The educational stage informs users that infringing activity has occurred with their account, identifies the specific content at issue, sets forth steps to avoid further infringement and provides alternative legal sources for the content. Then, if the infringement continues on that account, the acknowledgement stage involves up to two alerts requiring the user to acknowledge that they’ve received the alert (but does not require the user to admit or deny wrongdoing). Finally, if the infringement continues, the user receives up to two mitigation alerts, which can involve temporary reduction in Internet speeds, temporary downgrades in Internet service tier or redirection to a landing page for a set period of time until the account holder has reviewed copyright education materials.
One year in, the results are impressive. Most prominently, the system succeeded in stopping the alerted activity before reaching the final mitigation stage:
We can report that during the first ten months of CAS’s operation, more than 2 million notices of alleged infringement were sent to ISPs and more than 1.3 million Alerts were sent to 722,820 customer accounts. The vast majority of those Alerts were Educational Alerts (72%), while a very small fraction were Mitigation Alerts (8%), with less than 3% at the final (or second) Mitigation level.”
The system’s success is further illustrated by the fact that very few – just 0.27% – of the alerts eligible for review were actually challenged. And among that small number of actual challenges, some 77% were upheld as valid.
Simply put, after one year CAS has established a record of success based upon a model of market cooperation. That obviously does not mean that continued and even additional law enforcement avenues to combat copyright infringement and online piracy aren’t necessary. But it does provide encouraging news in this important ongoing concern.