Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Don't let someone rob you, mmkay?

Well, clearly there's no possible way this can go wrong.

CAS (Copyright Alert System) is a [text="sarcasm font"]brilliant[/text] new system designed to cut down on illegal downloading and sharing. It operates on a six strikes you're out rule. If the system sees your IP downloading something popular using filesharing software, it will send you several warnings and then make you click "Agree" after quick-scrolling through several pages of educational material. Once it's warned you six times the warnings will stop, but you're liable to get sued on your next transgression.

Here's the thing. CAS isn't a law (though lord knows those aren't perfect either), it's a private agreement between five major Internet companies. They're establishing relatively arbitrary rules (six strikes? No less than five and no more than seven...) and enforcing them using their own dubious means. Even in its testing there have been such gems as the warning sent to Google for allowing HBO to stream on... Clearly this is an entirely foolproof system!

Remember how I said that CAS isn't a law? Like I mentioned, this means they can make whatever rules they want and enforce them however they want. One of the ways they enforce CAS is by slowing your internet to a crawl... Which they do without any trial or proof necessary. And CAS operates on a "don't let someone rob you mmkay" principle - if someone else uses your internet to download things illegally, guess what? You're the one who gets to deal with the sternly worded emails.

Although businesses are supposed to have different guidelines to operate under, it worries me for the future of public wi-fi. If businesses get spooked about the fact that they might wind up in court because hordes of people mysteriously show up to their internet cafes six days after CAS goes into effect, there's no good reason for them to keep paying for service.

It could be that this will be another ineffectual and poorly enforced effort. It's certainly easy enough to get around if you care to (I don't download illegally so I'm not going to tell you how; you can go download a guide yourself). But monopolies make me uneasy, and so do arbitrary restrictions like this.


  1. This is seriously impeding my movie/tv watching :( I need to do a little more research on it but so far it has me spooked enough not to torrent.


    1. Well it hasn't been put into action yet, so you're probably safe for now. On the other hand, I suppose it's possible they could do a soft release.