I’ve seen a lot of misinformation going around about CAS, the Copyright Alert System, AKA the Six Strikes system. Hopefully this will clear things up.
What CAS isn’t:
- CAS is not a law. It is not SOPA or CISPA. It does not directly involve law enforcement agencies.
- CAS cannot see the files already on your hard drive.
- CAS cannot directly monitor your internet traffic.
- CAS does not give a flying fuck about your reaction gifs, manips, fanfiction, etc.
- Rightsholders cannot directly see your personal information such as name and address without getting a subpoena. They must go through your ISP, who already has that information connected to your IP because you pay them.
What CAS is:
- CAS is a partnership between major rightsholders such as the MPAA and RIAA, among others, with major American ISPs AT&T, Cablevision, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable.
- The copyright holders monitor major public bittorrent trackers. They get the IPs of users downloading infringing files, and notify their ISPs.
- The ISP then steps in to give users warnings. This begins with emails and phone calls, but quickly escalates to forcing you to watch copyright propaganda, blocking your access to certain sites, and eventually capping your internet speeds or restricting your internet access entirely.
- There is an appeals process, which must be done within 14 days of the warning and costs $35 per appeal.
- For repeat infringers, the copyright holders may seek legal action. To do this they would need to subpoena your personal information from your ISP. All they have before that is your IP address.
Why this is bad:
- It violates presumption of innocence.
- It sets a precedent for corporate vigilante justice—corporations finding and punishing crime in a manner they see fit.
- It poses a serious threat to internet cafes and libraries that offer public internet access, making vital services less accessible to disadvantaged and impoverished Americans. Edit: Yes, this is true. Even though large corporations like Starbucks might still be able to provide free wifi, providing free wifi at all is against the TOS in most business internet packages. This means that most of the free internet available to people is technically not supposed to be offered, but this is not enforced. This could leave many people, especially the rural poor, without internet when they had internet before.
- It is a form of censorship.
- It violates the right to privacy.
- We are piratey pirates who like to pirate.
How to not get in trouble:
- Secure your wifi connection, and make sure all members of your household understand what CAS is and how to avoid problems with it.
- If you download copyrighted material, do not use public bittorrent trackers without a VPN. There are multiple alternatives: cyberlockers, Usenet, IRC, FTP, private bittorrent trackers, etc. Avoiding major public torrent sites like The Pirate Bay entirely is the safest way. Downloading material not protected by any of the CAS affiliates is probably relatively safe. (Anime, warez, bookz, etc.) If you must use a public tracker, use a VPN. FYI, Usenet and the good VPNs are not free. The other things mentioned here generally are.
- Google instructions for these things if you don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about.
How to fight CAS:
- There’s some White House petitions: check out this one here and this one over here. The White House has already issued this statement: “[the] agreement is a positive step and consistent with our strategy of encouraging voluntary efforts to strengthen online intellectual property enforcement and with our broader Internet policy principles, emphasizing privacy, free speech, competition and due process.” Since this is not law, government probably isn’t the most effective way to fight it, nor does the government seem likely to take a stance against this, but it can’t hurt to raise as much hell as possible anyway. Sign it, make some noise.
- Call your ISP and voice your displeasure. If at all possible, switch your ISP to one not supporting CAS, and inform both ISPs that this was why you switched. THIS IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE METHOD.
- Pirate anyway. Don’t be stupid and pirate through the channel they’re obviously watching, but don’t slack in your piracy. Show them that these measures only anger their customers and don’t actually do shit to protect copyright.
- Contact the MPAA and RIAA and so forth and tell them you won’t be buying their products until they cease this war on internet piracy. They can have customers or they can treat everyone like criminals, but they can’t have both.
Hopefully we can all stop running around like chickens without heads claiming the police are coming for our reaction gif folders? Yes? Good. Pirate safely, folks.
Edit: my claim that CAS would impact open wifi was challenged, so I added two sources for that statement as well as some further details. I wish it were not true, but it is.
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