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The New 6 Strikes Rule of Internet Piracy

The major internet service providers have recently adopted a new 6 strikes policy to curb online piracy. Tech Talker explains the changes and how you can stay clear of legal action.

By
Eric Escobar,
March 28, 2013
Episode #070

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Recently anti-piracy has made its way into the news. In this week’s episode I’ll be covering the changes to anti-piracy rules and the new “6 strikes” policy being implemented by many internet service providers.

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As of February 25th, 2013 a new 6 strikes policy has been implemented by the nation’s top internet service providers (Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cablevision, and Time Warner). This 6 strikes policy is a set of guidelines about how piracy is to be dealt with in the future. It has both positives and negatives to it, but first let’s go over just what piracy is and how internet service providers (ISPs) go about catching you pirating files.

What is Online Piracy?

First off, internet piracy generally deals with the distribution of intellectual property across the internet without the permission of its creator. The internet has always been a hotbed for piracy because of how easy it is to copy and distribute information. If you download pirated materials such as television shows, music or movies, you are hurting the profits of the companies and individuals who created them.

Ever since the dawn of the internet, two main organizations have been trying to combat internet piracy. You may have heard of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). These organizations, as well as the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), have been the main muscle behind this anti-piracy movement.

See also: What is SOPA?

So how does piracy work? When you connect your computer to the internet, it must go through your ISP (your internet service provider). Think of your ISP as the mail delivery person, if you want to send a letter to anyone it must first be picked up by your mailman. When you download a file or surf the web, your ISP acts as a mailman by delivering all of your digital information to you. In order to catch you downloading illegal files, the ISP (or mailman) would have to read each of your letters and make sure there isn’t anything illegal contained within.

The other method would be for someone posing as a pirate to tell the ISP that you had exchanged copyrighted content with them. They would essentially inform your ISP that your address was sharing or downloading illegal material, which would then get flagged. This is the more likely scenario because it means less work for the ISP. This type of posing would take place by a company hired by the RIAA or MPAA and it’s pretty simple to enforce because all you have to do is pose as a pirate and log all of the IP addresses that download the file. From here they submit these IP addresses to your ISP who will then send out notices and give up your information. Many people are concerned about internet service providers snooping on your information. This worry isn’t completely unfounded. However, it would take a lot of resources for ISPs to do this for no real benefit. After all, they do not own the music or movies you are pirating!

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