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This week and last week, “Six Strikes” (the “Copyright Alert System”) went into effect with the “big five ISP’s”: AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner, Cablevision and Comcast. It’s the latest plan-of-action for the folks in Hollywood and elsewhere who have been trying to curb piracy without much success. Until recently, the Big Club was used: Lawyers and lawsuits. Now, instead of the “big stick”, a “small twig” is being used. But it’s very insidious. The plan follows the playbook of the U.S. Government: Pay the telecom companies to turn over their customer usage information, and have them act as cops on your behalf (also for a fee).
Here is the promotional video describing the program. If you like having your intelligence insulted, you’ll LOVE this! The video glosses over many of the disturbing aspects of the program.
The Warning Letters
So far, few details have emerged about how Six Strikes will be implemented. However, ARS Technica has obtained copies of the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th letters Comcast says they will send out. Read more in their excellent article on the subject. The Comcast letter are extremely vague, and do not provide any identifying information about what the recipient is accused of sharing.
For users of peer-to-peer networks, the impact seems to be as follows. Seeders will be targeted and leechers, for now, apparently, will be left alone. This strategy seems to be oriented toward demoralizing (pun intended) the bit torrent folks without getting punitive toward leechers (which would cause an uproar).
In fact, the whole Six Strikes effort seems focused entirely at bit torrent users, and seeders as a subset. The detection mechanism appears to be infiltration of bit-torrents, enabling the “police” to join torrents and then extract IPs of seeders. The “police” would then notify the ISP, and leave it up to the ISP.