Lend me thine ears ye scurvy pirates pillaging the World Wide Web, a vigilant armada will soon be on thy trail. By year's end, the nation's major Internet service providers will launch a six-strikes-an-you're-out initiative that may put a damper on your plundering days of wide-spread downloading.

The "Copyright Alert System" strategy (CAS), backed by the Obama administration, Hollywood and major record labels, aims to disrupt and potentially terminate Internet access for those who continually infringe upon copyright laws.

The program, which monitors peer-to-peer file-sharing services, includes participation by AT&T, Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon.


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First offenders will receive an email alert from their Internet service provider saying their account may have been misused for online piracy. After a second offense, the alert could contain an educational message about online copyright laws.

After the third and fourth strikes, users could receive a pop-up notice "asking the subscriber to acknowledge receipt of the alert."

After four alerts, the warnings stop and the real punishments come to the surface…kind of.

The CAS program calls these "mitigation measures," which could 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 (as specified in published policies) that the ISP may deem

necessary to help resolve the matter."

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Gigi Sohn, president of digital rights group Public Knowledge, and an adviser to the Center for Copyright Information, the group behind the program, told Wired that offenders won't be penalized each time an infringement is detected.

"Each strike is not one infringement," Sohn said. "Each strike is dozens or scores or hundreds of infringements."

Considering that, after the first infringement is detected, strikes will only be counted every seven days and that there's a grace period between each alert, this dragnet sounds like it has some pretty big holes for occasional pirates to easily slip through.

Forgive my skepticism, but '600-strikes and you're out' seems like a long leash, not to mention a very passive-aggressive way to project authority.