Copyright Alert System highlights initial accomplishments
May 29, 2014
By Colin Mann
The Center for Copyright Information – formed to educate US consumers about the importance of copyright protection and to offer information about online copyright infringement – has released a report on the Copyright Alert System (CAS), which for the first time since the system’s launch included specific information about the size of the programme.
Specifically, the report showed that 1.3m Alerts were sent out in the initial 10 months of the programme, most in the initial educational phases. Only 265 challenges were filed, with no findings of false positives. The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) also noted that the CAS is expected to double in size in the second year of operation and CCI will begin an online awareness campaign to increase public awareness of the system.
The CAS, the first voluntary, successful collaboration between entertainment and technology companies in the US aimed at reducing copyright infringement over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, is a tiered notice and response system that works in a fair and consumer-friendly manner while encouraging consumers to embrace the growing number of affordable authorised sources of films, music, and television programming content available online and from a variety of different services and formats.
The CAS was developed by the CCI, which represents the nation’s premier owners of copyrighted entertainment content and five of the largest Internet service providers (ISPs) – with input from consumer advocacy groups – and the programme’s participants include these larger organisations as well as hundreds of representatives of the independent music and film sectors.
CCI’s report, Phase One and Beyond, was written with the help of CCI’s members, Advisory Board and technology experts, and includes information about the size of the CAS, the breakdown of Alerts sent at each level of the system, data about the independent review process and consumer research about the programme. Other highlights from the report include:
- The beginning period of launch, ‘ramp up’ and operation for the CAS has been – and continues to be – smooth and successful. The multi-year consensus-building effort among rights holders, content owners, ISPs and consumer representatives has resulted in a fair, user-friendly programme with built-in consumer protections that protects the ethos of the Internet
- The CAS sent more than 1.3 million Copyright Alerts to account holders across America and the programme is slated to at least double the number of notices sent and processed in size in the coming year.
- The vast majority of the Copyright Alerts delivered to account holders – more than 70 per cent – occurred at the initial educational stages, with less than 3 per cent of the Alerts sent occurring at the final mitigation stage.
- The programme operated, as designed, in a way that protected consumer privacy, with content owners generating notices of alleged copyright infringement through the use of publicly available IP address data – and ISPs delivering Alerts to account holders without sharing their personally identifiable information with content owners or otherwise jeopardizing their privacy.
- The ‘easy-to-access’ independent review process that is managed by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) enabled account holders to challenge Alerts they believed were sent in error, and account holders filed only 265 requests for review with AAA based on the more than 1.3 million Alerts generated during 2013. In fact, during the 10 month review period, account holders requested independent review of a mere 0.27 per cent of qualifying Mitigation Alerts (and that volume represents, in turn, just 0.02 per cent of all Alerts sent to participating ISPs’ account holders). Of the review cases filed, there was not one single case in which an invalid notice – or false positive – was identified. Indeed there were only 47 successful challenges in 2013, and the vast majority of those were based on an ‘unauthorised use of account’ defence, indicating that the account holder had made a satisfactory case that someone other than the account holder or a known (authorised) person was using the account in question to engage in impermissible P2P filing sharing of copyrighted content.
- CCI noted that an important indicator of the ultimate success of the CAS would depend on whether consumers respond to an education-based programme. Recent research commissioned by CCI suggests that consumers are indeed responding. The majority of users surveyed reported that they would stop engaging in copyright infringement immediately upon receiving an Alert and most (62 per cent) believe that it is never acceptable to engage in infringing activity. However, sixty-five percent of the respondents agree that it would be helpful if more resources were available that make clear what content sources and online activities are and are not legal. In light of this research and our observations about the CAS, CCI also announced the beginning of awareness raising activities including launching an online advertising campaign about the existence of the programme – and both Alerts and the CCI’s web resources will continue to direct consumers to the innovative sources of legal and licensed music, movie and TV content.
Jill Lesser, Executive Director of CCI, said the body was encouraged by the initial data from the Copyright Alert System’s first 10 months, suggesting that the programme has the potential to move the needle in deterring copyright infringement. “Our initial research into consumer attitudes – along with what we have seen in our own data – shows that consumers do respond to this kind of educational system that alerts them to infringing activity on their account and helps them find the content they want easily and legally,” she advised.
CCI Board Co-Chair Steve Marks of RIAA, expressed pride at the programme’s accomplishments and delight at the successful partnership with the ISP community. “This report confirms that the CAS is working – it’s reliable, respectful of consumers, and an effective way to let them know about all the legitimate alternatives in the marketplace. We look forward to exploring other ways we can work with our ISP partners to enhance the consumer experience in the digital world,” he added.
CCI Board co-chair Tom Dailey of Verizon described the announcement as another positive development in the partnership process. “It serves as a reminder of the potential of partnerships – particularly voluntary partnerships such as ours – to reach consumers, provide them with useful information and foster safe and legal behaviour,” he stated.
Jerry Berman, member of the CCI Advisory Board, noted that the CCI’s members had committed to implement the Copyright Alert System in a way that respected Internet users. “The analysis released today confirms that the programme did just that. The CAS’s early data suggests that consumer privacy has been respected and the appeal process, key to the system’s fairness, is working and that users are taking advantage of it when they feel that it is warranted. I am looking forward to seeing the programme reach more users in its next phase,” he concluded.