The biggest internet service providers (ISPs) have struck an agreement with content owners to crack down on piracy through a copyright alert system.
The alert system consists of six steps, which starts with a text warning, escalates to slowing the Internet connection and blocking web browsing, and culminates in possibly cutting off the Internet access.
The ISPs and content owners are trying to label this as an educational campaign, but who are they trying to kid?
This approach has a number of problems, starting with the fact that they're waging a war on customers. The big ISPs already have their problems, especially in customer service. Will they now slowdown Internet connections on their own paying customers?
That doesn't make any sense from a business perspective. In theory, the biggest ISPs (AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable) agreed to the crackdown, but if I were an executive of one of those ISPs, I'd cheat like crazy and not enforce the rule.
That way, I'd get the frustrated customers of my competitors, especially in areas with multiple choices for ISP and the availability of wireless internet service providers.
Then there is the issue of enforcement. What if pirating neighbors are stealing the wireless network of a not-so-savvy internet user? What about proxies and VPNs?
If this ISP copyright alert system really gets to be annoying, the Internet will proliferate with ways to skirt it. All people would have to do is Google how to bypass ISP copyright.
If the 6 hackers of LulzSec made the biggest corporations look like fools, do ISPs really think the Internet collective can't come up with ways to bypass their copyright alert system?
Finally, the ISP copyright alert system wouldn't work because people have always stolen creative content. In the 1800s, Americans printed and sold copious copies of Charles Dickens books without giving him a cent. Dickens had to resort to public reading tours to make his money from Americans.
Since Dickens, the same thing has happened time and time again; the only difference the technology and medium.
Content owners should accept the reality that they can't get by with simply selling content (especially in today's digital world); instead, they need to present or organize them in attractive formats that people would pay for.
Trying to wage a war on piracy and their customers simply isn't going to work.