In the late of February 2013, the CAS or better known as the Copyright Alert System was launched in the United States of America after being in development for three whole years. Despite the fact that it is not a real law, the system is also known as the Six Strikes Anti-Piracy Rule or Law in everyday speech.
The Six strikes Anti-Piracy system is developed by five of the major Internet Service Providers (AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable), The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), The Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), The Association of Independent Music (A2IM) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The system intends to monitor copyright violations, specifically by torrent downloading. It is famous by The Six strikes Anti-Piracy rule due to the fact that a person may receive up to six warnings (Each after a copyright violation is registered, hence strikes), before stronger measures are undertaken. E.g. prosecution. Due to the fact that the ISPs that are involved serve the majority of the USA residents, almost all of the US users are affected. However there is a way around The Six Strike Anti-Piracy rule. By using a VPN to hide your identity!
Working of the system
As you may already know, In order for you to actually download a torrent, it is mandatory to have someone send (upload) it to you first. This requirement is met by forcing the people to actually upload while they are downloading the torrent and after they have finished downloading it (seeding). The contents of the torrent are split up in tiny parts known as a block. Whenever you open up a torrent file for downloading, your client will search for other people who have parts of the file. It will then request other computers to upload the part to it.
As soon as you have successfully acquired one of the parts, other downloaders (peers) can request this part from you if they themselves don’t have it yet. You will then start to upload these parts to other users in order to help them complete the torrent and you should see an increase in your own download speed as well.
This is to ensure that those downloading are also actively sharing so as to keep the network alive. When you try to download content without sharing, it will take you ages to actually complete the torrent. There is also where the problem lies, everybody who is downloading the torrent can also see the IP address of everybody else that is downloading.
The Copyright Alert System, also known as the Six Strikes Anti-Piracy Rule will participate actively in the torrent sharing of the pirated content. They are able to do this without breaking any laws since they actually own the pirated content.
The IP addresses that are sharing the copyrighted material will be indexed and checked against the customers of the participating ISPs. When such an IP address is found, the Copyright Alert System will ask for a part of the content from the IP. Upon receiving a reply and verifying that it is indeed a part of the copyrighted content, the ISP will be notified and the user behind the IP will be given a strike.
Once a violation is detected, the user will receive a warning from their respective Internet Service Provider via either a pop up while browsing the internet or via an e-mail message.
The first two strikes the user will simply receive a notification that they are indeed violating copyright laws along with a proper explanation on how to avoid violations in the future.
If the user fails to abide by the first two warnings, the next two warnings they will be required to acknowledge.
If the user still continues his actions, he will receive a fifth and final warning. If after this a sixth violation gets registered, the Internet Service Provider will take what it calls “Mitigation measures” and hence the name, Six Strikes Anti-Piracy Rule. In case no mitigation measures are undertaken on the sixth violation, the Internet Service Provider is required to do so for a seventh.
The mitigation measures include: Mitigation measures 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 (as specified in published policies) that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter”. [Wikipedia]
Even though these measures are being marketed as “educational”, the violations are stored and registered in a central system and can be used as evidence for future “harsher” measures.
So how do I get around it?
By now reading all of that big pile of sixes might have frightened you a bit, but there is absolutely no need. Hopefully, as you already know, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can successfully hide your identity over the internet. This is achieved by approaching the internet via a VPN server which results in showing another IP to the outer world. Most of the VPN providers provide state of the art encryption and hence your connection to the VPN server (Also known as the VPN tunnel) is highly secure and absolutely nobody (Not even your ISP) can see what you are passing around. Hence when downloading your torrents through a VPN, you are highly protected from any kind of detections. Even if the Copyright Alert System sees a VPN server engaging in torrenting, it has no method of knowing which of its hundreds (Possibly even thousands) of users are actually downloading the torrent.
Here is a list of some of the good VPNs, keep in mind the list is in no way a comparison of the best VPNs and is simply a recommendation of ones with a good reputation.
IPredator is run and maintained by the guys who created The Pirate Bay and sure as heck, they respect your privacy. Ensure that you are using OpenVPN on PPTC.
BTGuard claims that they “do not keep logs whatsoever”. They also accept Bitcoins as a payment method.
Another VPN that is famous for being torrent friendly. They do not log your usage.
This is possibly the most famous VPN of all. They take privacy very seriously and accept Bitcoins as a payment method. They use OpenVPN which is renowned for being very secure.
Some other important methods:
- Private trackers: As the name suggests, Private Torrent Trackers are invite only. Due to this, they are much more secure to download from since it is highly unlikely that bait torrents will be uploaded there by the Six Strikes enforcers. You can check out http://opentrackers.org/ for great and up-to-date information regarding torrents and private trackers which are currently holding open sign ups.
- Usenet: Consider switching to a service such as UseNet.
- Streaming: Consider switching to online streaming sites for media, the websites may be taken down but you will not be affected by the CAS as it only affects Bittorent users.
A third party tool called Mark-Monitor will be used to identify the users who engage in copyright infringement.