This week five major internet service providers in the United States rolled out the "six strike" Copyright Alert System (CAS), and while we already had a sense of how AT&T and Verizon would be employing the alerts, we now know a bit more about how Comcast and Cablevision will go about them as well.
As Comcast explains on its website, if a copyright holder alerts the ISP that it believes copyright infringement has occurred, alerts will be sent to the account holder — both via email to their Comcast email address and via pop-up notices in the browser (the ISP says "essential" services like email will not be affected under any circumstances). The escalation is fairly straightforward. The first two "informational" alerts will simply let users know about the complaint. The first can be dismissed straight from the browser, while the second will require a member of the household to log in with their Comcast account to dismiss the alert. The third and fourth alerts will feature what Comcast terms "more pronounced and urgent" language; the primary account holder will have to log in to acknowledge receipt of the warnings to remove the alerts in these cases.
14 days to file an appeal
The fifth and sixth "mitigation-focused" alerts set off a 14-day period where users can appeal the claims with the American Abitration Association. Filing the appeal suspends all alerts until the review itself is complete — and if the customer emerges victorious all alerts will be reset. However, should they not submit the appeal a permanent alert will be left in the user's browser. At that point, they will need to call Comcast Security Assurance. According to the company, the security assurance team provides "further education and information about copyright infringement," and is empowered to remove the in-browser alert — though Comcast isn't clear on what conditions need to be met for the team to do so. (The same holds true if the customer files an appeal and loses.) Comcast stresses multiple times, however, that the CAS will not result in service being terminated.
Cablevision is less specific about how the system is being deployed for users of its Optimum service, but in an customer service page there are some additional details to be gleaned. Users will receive the first four informational alerts as expected, and upon receipt of the fifth alert they'll have the same 14-day period to appeal the challenge (they'll need to pay a fee to do so in "most" cases, but that amount will be refunded should the user prevail).
Three of the five alerts must be challenged
According to the support site, three of the five alerts must be challenged; when the sixth alert hits, only it will be eligible for appeal. Should users choose not to file a challenge after 14 days, their internet service will be taken offline for 24 hours. Should the user win out on their appeal, all alerts are removed from the account's record; if they lose, they will be taken offline for another 24 hours.
Neither ISP makes any mention of slowing down speeds in response to the warnings, but the question still remains — what happens after the sixth warning? Neither company makes any specific claims about further steps, though both do specify that they will not turn over customer information to copyright holders as part of the CAS, so it would appear that further legal action wouldn't be in the offing. In any case, the new policy has the potential to fundamentally change how customers see their relationship with their internet service provider — and those ISPs will no doubt be watching very closely to see the reaction.