Starting Monday, most U.S. Internet users will be subject to a new copyright enforcement system that could force them to complete educational programs, and even slow their Internet speeds to a crawl.

Mashable has a nice overview on the new Copyright Alert System (CAS) that starts being implemented today by five major ISPs – AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon. Of course Comcrap, er Comcast rather, is rumored to be the first to start the system.

Since the entertainment industry couldn’t get this passed into law (ACTA, SOPA, PIPA, etc) they have resorted to policies enforced by ISPs. There are a couple of problems with this new system, just like the legal variants they tried to pass last year.

First, there is no due process. If the Big Media says you did it, well then, you did it. You are guilty until proven innocent which is the exact opposite of what this country was founded upon. And if you didn’t actually do it, how in the world are you supposed to prove that? [note: if you did do it, stahp. there’s lots of ways to get content you cheap bastard and it’s because of you we have to deal with this crap]

Second is the people responsible for “policing” is Big Media. They then tell your ISP, who sends you nastygrams and slows down your internet. Big Media has a loooooong and storied history of false positives, suing grannies with open wifi, suing kids, suing people who no longer have that IP address, etc, etc, etc. It’s not a government agency, it’s not a law enforcement agency (it can’t be since it’s not law), it’s most certainly not an impartial or neutral agency.

Third is the punishment. You will receive some combination of email warnings, bandwidth throttling (they slow your speed), and mandatory “education”. From the EFF website:

┬áThe ISP then sends an escalating series of warnings and punishments to the subscriber, including mandatory “copyright education” and potential bandwidth throttling or blocking of popular websites.

There isn’t any formal listing of how many warnings you receive, how much time in between warnings, at what point you get throttled, and at what point you must receive the “education”. What happens if you don’t get the email warnings because of your spam filter or you don’t check *whatever* email the ISP has on file for you often/ever (assuming they even bother to warn you first) and you one day find your high-speed internet now feels like dial-up? Who do you call? (ghostbusters is probably not an option). How long between the warning or throttling and an opportunity to be “educated”?

They should really change the name of this to Movie & Music Piracy Alert System rather than Copyright Alert System. This is only geared towards the piracy of Big Media. When ACTA, SOPA, PIPA were in the works, Big Media made a pretense that this was for all copyright issues (patents, science, etc, etc). So if there is a positive, at least they’ve given up that pretense and have shown their true colors.

Here’s my big issue with this.

Big Media is an old dinosaur that is desperately trying to cling to an *ancient* and borderline defunct business model. They are stuck in the good ‘ol days of selling you a crappy CD for $15-20 with maybe one or two good songs on it. They made a TON of money that way. But they have been unwilling (note: NOT unable… they are unwilling) to update their business model to modernize themselves. So at every turn they try to make you buy something that you can only use once or in one place such as DRM filled files that can only be used on a limited # of devices or require special software installed to facilitate the control. They are unwilling to find different ways of making money.

In any other industry (well, except for banks) if you can’t adapt to changing market conditions you go out of business. Adapt or die, to put it bluntly. Big Media isn’t adapting. Instead they are trying to legislate their way to victory instead of actually putting out a viable product. The losers in that scenario are the artists (who make only a fraction of every dollar) and the consumers.

All Big Media has to do to “win” our hearts, minds, and wallets is to make it easier to buy than it is to steal. Let us buy your product at a reasonable price and play it back wherever we want. I want to listen to my music on my phone, in my car, in my house, on my computer at home, my computer at work. Just like I used to be able to carry around a CD and play it anywhere I want to do the same with digital music/movies. Big Media has (finally, after over 10 years) made a slight step in the right direction with services like Netflix, Spotify, iTunes, Hulu, & Amazon Prime. But they are still short. Some of the convoluted rules around TV viewing are downright ridiculous. If I missed the TV show 10mins ago, why do I have to wait for days and try 4 different services just so I can watch it? Even if I wanted to pay some ridiculous amount ($1.99 for an hour TV show? really?) I STILL have to wait. There is no excuse in this day & age.


Big Media. Stop trying to legislate your way to victory. Put out a better product, and you won’t need to resort to these stupid tactics that only affect your legitimate customers.

For more information, head over to the EFF.