Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the US are this week rolling out a new 'six strikes' campaign to tackle online piracy.
Under the Copyright Alert System, users suspected of illegal file sharing will now receive progressively more serious letters or emails of warning. While the first two notices will merely inform users they have been caught, the next two will require users to acknowledge they are aware of what they have done.
Finally, the fifth and six strikes will involve a slowdown or limitation on the user's connection, with penalties varying by provider.
The ISPs taking part - Verizon, AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast and Time Warner - are five of the biggest in the US, covering a large proportion of the population. Meanwhile the information on suspected file sharers will be gathered and shared by the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America.
The scheme is being overseen by the Centre for Copyright Information (CCI), and was initially proposed in 2011 but has suffered several delays in implementation. CCI spokesperson Jill Lesser said the alerts are "meant to educate rather than punish" and are aimed at the "casual infringer".
Stamping out file sharing
The development comes in the wake of news that music industry profits are the up for the first time in over 10 years. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry reported that global recorded music revenues rose 0.3 per cent year on year; the first growth since 1999. As well as online music sales, streaming sites are booming - Spotify announced it had surpassed 5 million paying subscribers in December 2012, along with 20 million using its ad-funded free model.
Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword, said: "The shock of receiving a notice saying you've been caught might well be an effective deterrent for many casual file sharers, especially with so many legal alternatives available. However, the ultimate punishment of a few days of slow internet may make the Copyright Alert System something of an empty threat."