Downloaders face personal legal warnings as US steps up copyright protections

Downloaders face personal legal warnings as US steps up copyright protections
As new download detection and copyright protection systems are phased into effect stateside, suspected violators have begun to receive warnings of “serious legal and other consequences” from media companies like NBC Universal.

In one instance, a user of the popular file sharing system BitTorrent was dispatched a notice from the media giant for allegedly downloading a television show.

According to TorrentFreak, NBC Universal sent the threatening notice to a user accessing the web through an Internet provider that is currently not participating in the 'six strike' system that detects and punishes Internet customers of several American providers who download illegally. The notice was similar to what copyright violators connected to the web using 'six strike' ISPs have begun to receive - and the language used in the notice is markedly more aggressive.

In addition to the threat of criminal prosecution, the notice sent to the downloader included the potential termination of their Internet service account.

Copyright infringement also violates your Internet Service Provider’s terms of service and could lead to limitation or suspension of your Internet service.”

Under the new 'six strike' rules, by comparison, affiliated Internet providers are not compelled to disconnect file sharers, though more ambiguous consequences are said to include a slowdown in access speeds for repeat offenders, blocked access to popular websites, and even compulsory copyright education courses.

The notice sent by NBC Universal also includes a request for the user to permanently delete the offending copyrighted content, though how the company expects to enforce this is, of course, unclear:

"You are being contacted on behalf of NBC Universal and its affiliates (“NBC Universal”) because your Internet account was identified as having been used recently to illegally copy and/or distribute the copyrighted movies and/or television shows listed at the bottom of this letter. This notice provides you with the information you need in order to take immediate action that can prevent serious legal and other consequences. These actions include:

1. Stop downloading or uploading any film or TV shows owned or distributed by NBC Universal without authorization; and

2. Permanently delete from your computer(s) all unauthorized copies you may have already made of these movies and TV shows.

The illegal downloading and distribution of copyrighted works are serious offenses that carry with them the risk of substantial monetary damages and, in some cases, criminal prosecution," the letter reads.