May 29, 2014

Year One of the Copyright Alert System: Did it Work?

By Frank Cullen

Educated consumers make smart choices. No matter what platform or product, when buyers have adequate information they will generally determine a course that is safe, legal and mutually beneficial for themselves and the producers.

Recently at the 2014 IP Champions Conference, GIPC hosted several experts from a variety of industries to discuss consumer education programs aimed at preventing the proliferation of counterfeit and pirated goods. On Wednesday, the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), provided additional data to add to the conversation about the positive correlation between consumer education and enhanced respect for IP rights online.

The release of 10 months of data from the initial phase of the Copyright Alert System (CAS) – a voluntary system with multiple stakeholders including ISPs, movie and music industry, and consumer advocates – has proven very promising.

A considerable amount of focus in the implementation for CAS has been placed on protecting consumer privacy. However, the original purpose of CAS was to “educate consumers about the use and distribution of digital entertainment content” and “encourage consumers to embrace the growing number of affordable licensed sources” for these materials. The result: a total of 1.3 million alerts were sent, with only 265 challenges filed in response.

Included in the CAS report were statistics that went beyond just tracking notices to consumers. They also looked closely at the reactions of individuals to the information about legally available options, which is particularly compelling:  60% of Internet users were “confused about which online sources are or are not legal”; and “57% of users surveyed stated that they would stop engaging in copyright infringement immediately upon receiving an Alert, with only 9% reporting they would ignore such a notification.”

This demonstrates a clear recognition of intellectual property rights, as well the challenges facing consumers and content creators alike.

As the system moves into its new phase, which CCI expects will double in size and volume of information shared, even more Internet users will become aware of the amount of infringing materials they are accessing online. Couple this with an expanded effort by the creative industry to increase availability through more legal options (check out the website and consumers will be able to decide for themselves, where and how to receive amazing new programs, music and entertainment.

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