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Copyright Alert System: Six strikes and you're out

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Repeated infringement, though, will cause you to run afoul of two "additional alert levels." The first, the CCI says, is "acknowledgement": a user has to fill out a form stating that they've received repeated notices of copyright infringement. The second step is the ominously-named "mitigation," in which the user's ISP reduces the account's connection speed or takes other slightly-punitive measures. (Strangely, the CCI offers "watch[ing] an educational video" as an appropriate alternative to performing both steps.) Customers who have been wrongly accused can appeal the mitigation step, though submitting an appeal costs $35.

The mitigation measures are left up to ISPs, who have been largely mum on the Copyright Alert System so far. Only Verizon has mentioned the program on its website, and it says that while it won't terminate the service of users who received six strikes, it will reduce access speed to something "a little faster than typical dial-up speed" for two to three days. Dara Kerr, writing for CNET, notes that termination of service isn't part of the "mitigation" step, although the other four ISPs haven't made clear statements to that effect yet. And although the program withholds personal information from content owners, it doesn't shield users from legal action -- meaning you could still be sued for downloading copyrighted material.

The Copyright Alert System has been planned since 2011 and was supposed to take effect at the end of 2012, but a series of hurdles -- including Hurricane Sandy -- delayed its implementation until this week.

What's your take on this system? Does it seem like a fair way for content owners to protect their copyrights, or does the alert system punish downloaders too harshly? Let us know in the comments section below.

For more tech news, follow Jeff on Twitter: @jeffwardbailey.

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