AT&T says don’t worry, it’s just progressive education

by Steve Blum • , , ,

It only gets worse from here.

The first violation letters under the Copyright Alert System have been sent out by AT&T, according to a post on the TorrentFreak blog. That’s apparently the first of the six strikes allowed under the program, which has been adopted by major telephone and cable companies, in collaboration with music and movie companies, to fight piracy.

You get strike each time a major ISP receives a complaint about you downloading pirated videos or music. Or anything else a shyster with time on his hands decides he doesn’t like. Each strike results in an increasingly hostile response from the Center for Copyright Information, which runs what it calls a “progressive educational system” on behalf of the big ISPs.

Strike one, it seems, gets you a blandly threatening warning from AT&T…

Through the Copyright Alert Program, users are given an opportunity to understand and change behavior that may be resulting in Copyright Alerts. However, if they receive multiple Copyright Alerts, they may encounter corrective action — or mitigation measures — which may limit or inhibit Internet access.

No action will be taken at this point and we’ll let you know when mitigation measures are pending, should any be necessary. At that point, if you wish, you may request an Independent Review which provides an opportunity to challenge this or any other Copyright Alert before any mitigation measure is implemented. (Be sure to preserve any records or information that could be used to show that the activity was non-infringing.)

That’s right, be sure you can prove you’re innocent, because AT&T is assuming you’re guilty.

As the strikes pile up, ISPs plan to gradually interfere with the quality of your Internet service, and could eventually cut it off completely.

Still to be determined is how this progressive educational system will impact casual Internet providers, like businesses that offer WiFi hotspots. The danger is that big ISPs will abuse the six strikes program in order to force hotspot operators to buy expensive service plans with terms of service that allow public access.