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Leaked AT&T Docs Say Anti-Piracy Program to Launch November

AT&T will start sending out anti-piracy warnings to suspected subscribers and flag accounts for repeated copyright infringements next month, according to alleged internal training documents obtained by TorrentFreak.

Last year, the MPAA and RIAA launched the Center for Copyright Information with five major Internet service providers. Under the system, ISPs would warn subscribers about any copyright infringement activity. After several warnings, or "six strikes," the ISPs would take some kind of action against the infringing users. While the program's goals are well-known, none of the ISPs have revealed when they plan to start issuing warnings.

The documents, which TorrentFreak claims are internal AT&T training documents, said the launch date of this alerts system will be Nov. 28. TorrentFreak also claimed that other major providers, including Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon, are all expected to launch their programs on the same day as AT&T.

“In an effort to assist content owners with combating on-line piracy, AT&T will be sending alert e-mails to customers who are identified as having been downloading copyrighted content without authorization from the copyright owner,” according to the overview of the program described in the documents said TorrentFreak.

Under the proposed system, content owners such as the RIAA and MPAA will provide CCI with IP addresses of users accused of piracy. The ISP will take the information, find the user the IP address is associated with, and issue a series of warnings. The documents claimed AT&T would not share any personally identifiable information about its customers with the content owners unless it was ordered to so by court order.

After six strikes, AT&T subscribers trying to access certain Websites will be blocked and redirected to an educational page, TorrentFreak reported. Customers will be required to complete an "online education tutorial on copyright," in order to have the block removed, according to the report. It's not clear what sites would be blocked, but the screenshot of the document indicates "access to many of the most frequently visited Websites is restricted."

The "mitigation measures" to punish users for piracy are up to the individual ISP, although the CCI has stated that the ISPs would not cut off Internet access entirely. They may include "temporary reductions of internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright, or other measures that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter," according to CCI.

The proposed system is similar to the French government's Hadopi program. The three-strikes program has resulted in over a million emails warning about piracy and cost the government over €12 million a year since its inception in 2010.

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Fahmida Y. Rashid is a Senior Contributing Writer for SecurityWeek. She has experience writing and reviewing security, core Internet infrastructure, open source, networking, and storage. Before setting out her journalism shingle, she spent nine years as a help-desk technician, software and Web application developer, network administrator, and technology consultant.