A number of prominent ISPs have joined forces with movie and music studios in an effort to curtail online "piracy."
The new agreement - signed by AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon - will see ISPs issue copyright alerts to notify Internet users when their accounts are supposedly being "misused."
The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) claims the "landmark collaboration" will "educate" subscribers about content theft, thereby (allegedly) benefiting consumers and copyright holders alike.
"Every year, content theft costs the U.S. economy more than 373,000 jobs, $16 billion in lost earnings, and $3 billion in lost federal, state and local government tax revenue," the NCTA whined in an official statement.
"[Currently], many ISPs forward notifications they receive from content owners about alleged content theft - generally by email. Until now, however, there has been no common framework of 'best practices' to effectively alert subscribers, protect copyrighted content and promote access to legal online content."
According to NCTA executive VP James Assey, the Copyright Alert System is based on a consumer's "right to know" when his or her Internet account may have been used improperly to download copyrighted content.
"Often, subscribers - particularly parents or caregivers - are not aware that their Internet accounts are being used for online content theft. Other subscribers may be unaware that downloading copyrighted content from illicit sources is illegal and violates their ISP's Terms of Service or other published policies," he explained.
"We are confident that, once informed that content theft is taking place on their accounts, the great majority of broadband subscribers will take steps to stop it. That's why the educational nature of this initiative is so critical."
So, how does the new system work, exactly?
Well, up to 6 copyright alerts will be issued in electronic format, which is all part of various "mitigation measures" intended to stop online piracy for those accounts that choose to ignore repeated warnings.
But don't you worry, because the system will also provide subscribers the opportunity to participate in an independent review that determines whether a user's online activity is lawful or if an account was identified in error.
Oh, and yes, termination of a subscriber's account is not part of the above-mentioned agreement, at least not at this stage, while ISPs will (supposedly) refrain from providing subscriber names to copyright holders.
So what's the friggin' point, you ask? To tell you the truth, I have absolutely no freakin' clue.
As far as I can tell, the Copyright Alert System is there simply to intimidate clueless file sharers and pacify movie and music studios. Everyone knows piracy isn't ending anytime soon, which is something the greedy suits, ties and sycophants don't want to hear.
Think about it. Since the old warez daze, file sharers have remained (very) determined to download and upload data 24/7.
And the practice - which has been embraced by the digital masses - is likely to continue for years to come, even if the crackdown forces "pirates" to mask their activities via encryption and other methods.