The new Copyright Alert System

Relating to my Information Security class (and just listening to local news driving home from school), I've recently heard quite a bit about the new Copyright Alert System.  I decided to do a little reading and learn more about it.  A lot of my comments come from reading this hackernews article... The Copyright Alert System (CAS) will begin showing up in the U.S. in late 2012, according to the U.S. Center for Copyright Information. The new Copyright Alert System has partnered with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon to deter subscribers from infringement over peer-to-peer networks. Providers’ implementation may vary, but their respective flavors of ISPs are expected to roll out within the next two months.

The new system works by monitoring illegal transferring and downloading of copyrighted files using MarkMonitor, a brand protection company, and issues warnings for infractions. Gradually more severe responses are given to each subsequent infringement, beginning with emailed warnings, escalating to throttled data speeds, and for more serious offenders suspension of service and possible legal action, including severe fines. In addition to protecting original content creators and owners, the CAS system also benefits the ISPs. If accused of illegal activity, offenders can request a review of their network activity by paying a $35 fee. If the offender is found not guilty, their money will be refunded. If they are found guilty, the fee will be kept.

The Center for Copyright Information applauds the new system, saying that it is “designed to make consumers aware of activity that has occurred using their Internet accounts, educate them on how they can prevent such activity from happening again, and provide information about the growing number of ways to access digital content legally.”

“Contrary to many erroneous reports, this is not a ‘six-strikes-and-you’re-out’ system that would result in termination,” the group said in a press release. “There's no ‘strikeout’ in this program.” However, apparently there is some controversy here, because there are rumors of a six-strike limit, yet no given policy on what happens if people continue to download or share pirated files, even after six warnings.

Assets to the Copyright Alert System 1. MarkMonitor – System the monitors network activity to copyrighted media and can detected the illegal sharing and downloading of copyrighted files. Goal – prevent end users from abusing ease of online information exchange by monitoring for illegal activity. 2. ISPs – Previously, identifying illegal downloaders was up to the content owner. ISPs will now play a large role in enforcing this. Goal – Since ISPs have access to all network activity, they can more accurately detect infringers and better penalize users for their negligence or purposeful illegal activity.

Threats to Online Media 1. End users downloading illegal media, such as music. Although this attacker is not the average black hat haxor, this person is still an “attacker” in the sense that they are performing illegal activity. 2. Services that promoting sharing of illegal media, then gain revenue through advertisements on their website. E.G. Megaupload

Weaknesses to Copyright Alert System 1. Users can still transfer copyrighted material via USB or firewire, or some connection not monitored by the ISP. 2. Software that cracks copyrights, which would prevent MarkMonitor from detecting the illegal sharing and downloading.

We should all be aware of the issue on online piracy and how to share media within the confines on the law. Piracy laws are in place to protect businesses and individuals, and as an IT generation and information consumer, we should be aware of the latest technologies in information security from protecting enterprises with hardware or software to protecting content creators with the Copyright Alert System.