Internet Providers to Punish Customers Who Pirate Content

Repeat offenders face threat of slow connections and canceled service

pictures Cary H. Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, and Mitch Bainwol, its chairman and chief executive. Credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Americans who illegally download music, movies and games may soon find their internet access grinding to a halt. The nation's top internet providers – including Verizon, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Cablevision and Comcast – have agreed to a new system in which users suspected of digital copyright infringement will be given a series of six warnings by email or other means. Repeat offenders would be threatened with progressively severe punishments, culminating in reduced connection speed or having service cut off entirely. Customers will be allowed to contest each warning.

Photos: Random Notes

The internet carriers hope to deter piracy through annoyance, as opposed to the threat of litigation. This new plan is the result of years of negotiations with movie and music industry groups, as well as an ambition on the part of the various companies to expand beyond providing a utility to profiting off the distribution of premium original content.