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Center for Copyright Information Takes Further Steps Toward Implementation

The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) announced on April 2, 2012 the appointment of Jill Lesser as its Executive Director. In addition the group announced the members of its Advisory Board and an agreement with the American Arbitration Association (AAA) to implement an independent review process for consumers.

CCI was formed in September 2011 as part of a collaborative effort between U.S. content owners in the movie and music industries and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in order to develop a Copyright Alert System (CAS) and an educational framework intended to inform the public about and deter copyright infringement through peer-to-peer networks via direct communication with consumers.  (See blog post of July 15, 2011 for background information.)

CCI also announced on April 2nd the membership of its Advisory Board, which will include Jerry Berman, the chairman of the Internet Education Foundation and founder of the Center for Democracy and Technology; Marsali Hancock, the president of iKeepSafe.org; Jules Polenetsky, the current director and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum; and Gigi Sohn, president and CEO of Public Knowledge

CCI member companies and associations include the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), as well as five major ISPs - AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon. Also Independent Film and Television Alliance and American Association of Independent Music (the major associations which represent independent film and music producers) are represented via their association with the MPAA and RIAA. The CCI Advisory Board will be comprised of consumer advocates, privacy and education specialists, and technical experts.

CCI plans to work with its partner organizations to implement the Copyright Alert System, which will be a progressive system aimed at educating Internet subscribers about digital copyright and the potential consequences of inadvertent or purposeful copyright violations through peer-to-peer networks. Under this CAS system content owners (represented by MPAA and RIAA) will notify a participating ISP when they believe their copyrights are being misused online by a specific computer identified by its IP. The ISP will determine which of its subscriber accounts was allocated the specified IP address at the applicable date and time and then send an alert to the subscriber whose account has been identified. The alert will notify the subscriber that his/her account may have been misused for potentially illegal file sharing, explain and why the action is illegal and a violation of the ISP’s policies and provide advice about how to avoid receiving further alerts, as well as how to locate film, television and music content legally.

Alerts will be non-punitive but progressive in scale. Successive alerts will reinforce the seriousness of copyright violations and inform the recipient how to address the activity that is precipitating the alerts.  For subscribers who repeatedly fail to respond to alerts, the alerts will inform them of steps that will be taken to mitigate the ongoing distribution of copyrighted content.

If  a consumer fails to respond, mitigation measures might include temporary reductions of Internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to educational information about copyright, or other measures that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter.  CCI says that these steps will be taken only after multiple alerts and a failure by the subscriber to respond. This system consists of four to six alerts, which will be at the discretion of each ISP.

By focusing on alerting and informing Internet subscribers about illegal downloading associated with their accounts, the agreement appears to put the emphasis on educating Internet users rather than punishing them.  For higher education, this type of education program could supplement what campuses may already have in place.

Many public interest groups believe that an effective system for notifying and educating Internet users about infringement associated with their accounts can go a long way towards reducing online infringement.  EDUCAUSE will continue to monitor this issue to see that this agreement achieves that purpose without unfair or disproportionate consequences for Internet users.

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