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Pirates fail to trigger Copyright Alert System after torrenting TV, movie, and music files

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Hacker (STOCK)
Hacker (STOCK)

It seems the ISP-backed Copyright Alert System isn't the be-all, end-all tool for combating piracy that content owners were hoping for. At least not yet. As evidence of that, The Daily Dot is today detailing a test conducted in February meant to gauge how easily the alert system could be triggered. The study itself was fairly rudimentary; using Verizon as a test internet provider, orchestrators downloaded a bit torrent client and then hunted down popular pirated files like the season three premiere of Game of Thrones and a movie rip of The Avengers. And the source for the torrent files couldn't have been more predictable; The Pirate Bay was chosen for its widespread name recognition among both digital thieves and authorities across the globe.

Results are far from perfect

So how did things pan out? The Daily Dot says this study ran for three weeks, with the pirated files being uploaded to other users every day during that time. Despite this—and after making no attempt to conceal the IP address from which the test was operating—Verizon never served up a copyright alert. Normally that would happen when a copyright owner verifies that a torrent file indeed contains pirated content. From there, they notify the ISP of the offending user, after which the escalating series of warnings would kick off.

There are some curious aspects to the study, however. For one, the Copyright Alert System officially went into effect on February 25th. The Daily Dot says this test began in February (though doesn't specify an end date), so it may have taken place before the newfound system got into full swing. Further, we can't be sure that rights holders for Game of Thrones and the other sample files were scrutinizing the particular torrent files in question during this period. For its part, Verizon tells The Daily Dot that it's been ramping up delivery of CAS notifications in the weeks since the program debuted. But at least at the outset, it appears that this industry-backed solution is far from perfect.

Update: The Daily Dot has now clarified that the study began in late February, which explains how the Game of Thrones season three opener—which aired in late March—was involved.