Internet service providers (ISP) such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have reached a deal with the movie and music businesses to crack down on online copyright infringers.

Under the new deal, the ISPs will send warnings when an Internet user is suspected of downloading copyrighted work without permission. Customers will receive Warnings as e-mails or pop-up messages up to six times. If suspected illegal activity persists, the provider might temporarily slow Internet speed or redirect the browser to a specific Web page until the customer contacts the company.

No actual legislative or other governmental action is directly involved; this is explicitly a deal between the ISP industry and copyright law lobbying groups such as the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), who themselves are composed of major entertainment companies such as Sony, Universal, Warner, EMI, Walt Disney, Paramount, and Twentieth Century Fox.

Under this deal, ISPs will never terminate an Internet connection entirely, or otherwise interfere with the subscriber's ability to receive phone calls and e-mails. ISPs will not disclose the identity of customers accused of illegal file-sharing with copyright holders except by subpoena or court order.

We are confident that, once informed that content theft is taking place on their accounts, the great majority of broadband subscribers will take steps to stop it, James Assey, executive vice president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, said in a statement.

The association argues that content theft costs the U.S. economy more than 373,000 jobs, $16 billion in lost earnings, and $3 billion in lost federal, state and local government tax revenue every year.

“Many people don't realize that content theft puts jobs – and future productions of films, TV shows, music, and other content – at risk, said Michael O'Leary, Executive Vice President for Government Relations at the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA).

Frequently, independent producers and distributors are hit the hardest by content theft. This agreement is a textbook example of the private sector working cooperatively to help solve a glaring economic problem while protecting consumers, said Jean Prewitt, President & CEO of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA).

The White House, however, stated that the CCI should “have a significant impact on reducing online piracy”. But the move is criticized by many number of Internet rights and free speech organizations, as well as legal professionals of various ideologies.