Andruw Jones struck out AGAIN!

Three strikes is out in baseball, but what about copyright law? (Photo credit: kla4067)

One of the many initiatives in effect to fight content piracy around the world is graduated response, known more commonly as the “strikes” approach. Based on the baseball concept of three strikes and you’re out of the game, various countries have explored this option as a means to curb piracy.

The approach is an interesting one that is still in its relatively  early stages. As the more formal name suggests, the system utilizes a series of warning measures when a user is found to be infringing copyright by accessing pirate content online, from minor warnings to complete disconnection of service.

It prompts two questions from both sides of the copyright fight:

  1. What measures are reasonable?
  2. How many “strikes” equal an out?

The high-profile French program HADOPI answered “disconnection” and “three,” respectively, but this led to the country’s government pulling those measures last year over accusations of being too heavy-handed. Media coverage since that point has largely concluded that this version of the law was not an effective deterrent to piracy. Other programs, however, appear to indicate that it was more the level of the graduated response that failed, not the approach as a concept.

The U.S. version, by comparison, has been in operation for a full year and is already being hailed a success by its director Jill Lesser. Although she has an admittedly biased perspective, her verdict on the Copyright Alert System (CAS) is notable in its focus on awareness rather than punishment.

First and foremost, the system is based on six strikes, which clearly offers more leeway for inserting those different levels of response. The grade of response is less steep, we could say, than the cliff from which French users fell after their third infringement. Lesser explains of the CAS that it is “a non-punitive system, intended to be education-based.” This softer approach falls in line with many entertainment industry observers who believe that a significant amount of piracy falls into the categories of “bad habit” or even simply ignorance of the law. Gale-Anne Hurd of “The Walking Dead” confirmed much the same last year when we covered her views on the fighting the temptation of piracy

Graduated response is just one of the tools in the kit of governments and anti-piracy action groups, but the concept holds water. The eyes of the content industries will be on the second year of the Copyright Alert System to see if it can deliver a dent to piracy in the U.S.

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