Comcast Wants to Intercept Piracy and Suggest Legal Alternatives…

This is way different than the softball ‘Six Strikes’ that Comcast and ISPs agreed to.  And, if it happens, it could have a very real and demonstrable impact on piracy in the United States.

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Here’s what’s being discussed: instead of sending toothless letters while keeping connections intact, Variety reports that Comcast is now working with major television and Hollywood studios to automatically detect infringement on its pipes.  And, instantly present paid, legitimate opportunities to subscribers, all in real-time.

“As sources described the new system, a consumer illegally downloading a film or movie from a peer-to-peer system would be quickly pushed a pop-up message with links to purchase or rent the same content, whether the title in question exists on the VOD library of a participating distributor’s own broadband network or on a third-party seller like Amazon.”

Comcast, which carries massive marketshare and sway in both access and cable, is also attempting to corral support from other ISPs.

This isn’t the first time that file-swapping has been used to generate legal leads.  Altnet, which rode on top of Kazaa, remains one of the biggest examples, though the experiments have largely flopped.

And one of the major reasons is that those seeking content for free are typically already aware of paid alternatives.  They simply don’t want to pay.

One question is what this all means for the Copyright Alert System, aka Six Strikes.  Variety reports that the Comcast initiative is separate, but Six Strikes may ultimately face serious modifications or even be supplanted by the Comcast carrot approach.

The proposed system itself is apparently under consideration and development, and appears far from primetime.  Still, the presence of Comcast, which controls roughly 40 percent of the broadband market, could dramatically change piracy in the US.

“A strategic shift from Comcast isn’t merely some isolated, unilateral action. On an issue like piracy that counts on collaborative effort across industries, the action taken by the biggest player at the table tends to be an influential move.”

38 Responses

  1. Dan K
    Dan K

    Admirable intentions no doubt, but really folks – do we want ISPs spying on everything we do so we can have our behavior ‘corrected’ by corporations in real-time?

    Reply
    • Visitor
      Visitor

      Ever sent a physical package to another country?
      Ever brought any luggage with you when you visited another country?
      In both cases, it’s more than likely that your property have been searched. Maybe you have even been searched yourself. And what could be more personal?
      Yet, you’ve never accused customs officers of ‘spying’, have you?

      Reply
          • jw
            jw

            Those statistics are both misleading & overblown. You’re talking about the entire scope of piracy… counterfeit Versacci hand bags, knock-off Beats headphones (probably being worn by the impoverished kids who make FarePlay so furious), counterfeit drugs, etc. That type of stuff has no bearing on this conversation. GGG basically says, “Copying a CD is pretty petty” & your response is “Yeah, well you know what’s not petty? People counterfeiting drugs that are supposed to treat serious illnesses.” What!? Not related. Is there no room for nuance in this discussion? Because you just blew any nuance whatsoever completely out of the door.
            Honestly, I’m not intimately familair with the UNESCO report, but the Office of Government Accountability said of Siwek’s work that…
            …”Most of the experts we interviewed” were reluctant to embrace Siwek’s methodology; his approach comes from the Commerce Department, but it simply wasn’t designed to measure what’s being measured here. For instance, these studies ignore the obvious points that pirating goods leaves consumers with more disposable income, which is likely spent elsewhere in the economy. Effects on the economy as a whole, then, are terribly speculative and seem more likely to be simply redistributive.
            That suggests that the # of jobs lost is inflated. Money “lost” to piracy doesn’t just disappear, taking jobs with it. That money accounts for growth in other industries, creating new jobs. And the same goes for the other figure… money “lost” from a particular industry due to piracy doesn’t necessarily negatively effect the economy on the whole, it’s spent elsewhere, & you have to account for that growth as redistribution, which your report does not.
            I guess you deserve some credit for not posting the 750,000 jobs/$250b figure that’s been bandied about by copyright crusaders for years. But your figures are still overblown.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “Those statistics are both misleading & overblown”
            Hm, who should I believe — UNESCO or a pro-pirate who can’t read?
            “GGG basically says, “Copying a CD is pretty petty” & your response is”
            If you could read, you would notice that GGG isn’t involved.

          • jw
            jw

            GGG, Casey… whichever. My bad.
            But, again, though I’m not very familiar with the UNESCO report, you’re arguing against the GAO’s opinion of Siwek’s report.
            And the fact remains that your numbers from either report aren’t entertainment industry-specific. Why don’t you at least break music/movie industry stats out of those huge numbers? That would actually be relevant to the conversation, regardless of accuracy. What percentage of those giant numbers do you think have to do with the entertainment industry & the internet specifically?

  2. jw
    jw

    Piracy needs to be preempted, not interrupted. Once a consumer has found their pirated files, they’ve got one foot out the door & a pop-up is just going to be a small nuisance.
    When I want to listen to something, I can be pretty confident that it’s going to be on Spotify, so piracy doesn’t even cross my mind. With movies, it’s a crap shoot, & tons of stuff isn’t even available for streaming. The only way you can be sure to find something is through bit torrent… in a lot of ways it’s just more convenient.
    I searched for one of my favorite movies, Sugarland Express (a Speilberg film starring Goldie Hawn), & it’s nowhere to be streamed (Netflix, Comcast, Amazon, iTunes USA, etc)… a google search reveals that it is available in the UK iTunes store, but that doesn’t do me any good. I searched for Razor’s Edge (a Bill Murray film), & it’s not on Amazon, not on On Demand, not on Netflix. I finally found it on iTunes, but for $13… that’s almost twice what I paid for the dvd.
    The film industry isn’t going to significantly deter piracy until users can develop legal behavioral patterns, because that’s what piracy is, it’s a behavior pattern. And right now there are just too many roadblocks for the consumer. Even with variable pricing, if I could just be confident I could get a digital rental for $3-$5 from Amazon for whatever I want to watch, I would watch a lot more movies.

    Reply
    • Visitor
      Visitor

      “Piracy needs to be preempted, not interrupted”
      Nonsense — though not surprising, coming from our local pro-pirate.
      Piracy has to be preempted, interrupted, outlawed, banned, blocked, stopped and killed.
      Period.
      “The only way you can be sure to find something is through bit torrent… in a lot of ways it’s just more convenient”
      That’s what my friend’s son said until he lost all his work on his pc because of a virus.
      And don’t think pedophiles & pirates can hide behind Tor and similar anymore (not that it ever were convenient):
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23587620
      “The film industry isn’t going to significantly deter piracy until users can develop legal behavioral patterns”
      More nonsense.
      Law enforcement works for all other industries and it’s going to work for the music industry, whether you like it or not.
      Yes, it took a while for industries and legislators to wake up, but I can assure you everybody got the memo now.

      Reply
      • jw
        jw

        Did you really just associate something I said with pedophilia?
        You should pass these tips along to your friend’s son.
        1. Don’t use a PC. Get a Mac.
        2. Use Chrome as a browser.
        3. Set plug-ins to “Click to play,” and only initiate a plug-in when you know what it’s going to do.
        4. Disable pop-ups.
        5. Disable Java.
        6. Never download an entire torrent. Pause the transfer until you’ve selected only the specific files you intend to download.
        7. Never download a torrent of a compressed file (zip, tar, rar, gzip, dmg, etc.)
        8. Only download media files, never download applications from unofficial sources.
        These aren’t just tips for bit torrenting (legally or otherwise), just general internet surfing best practices.

        Reply
        • Visitor
          Visitor

          Hm, you said piracy is more convenient.
          So, let’s see:
          Which is more convenient — my model or your model?
          My model
          1. Buy a song or hear it on YouTube.
          Your model
          1. Don’t use a PC. Get a Mac.
          2. Use Chrome as a browser.
          3. Set plug-ins to “Click to play,” and only initiate a plug-in when you know what it’s going to do.
          4. Disable pop-ups.
          5. Disable Java.
          6. Never download an entire torrent. Pause the transfer until you’ve selected only the specific files you intend to download.
          7. Never download a torrent of a compressed file (zip, tar, rar, gzip, dmg, etc.)
          8. Only download media files, never download applications from unofficial sources.
          Not to mention the obvious steps you forgot, including vpn’s.
          Plus, you can easily get a virus on your mac…

          Reply
          • GGG
            GGG

            My model. Hear it on Spotify, you earn the artist 3 times as much as YouTube.
            Why are you trying to shortchange artists so much by advocating shitty YouTube royalties?

          • Yves Villeneuve
            Yves Villeneuve

            My model. Hear it on Rhapsody, you earn the artist 2 times as much as Spotify.
            Why are you trying to shortchange artists so much by advocating shitty Spotify royalties?

          • GGG
            GGG

            I would say touche, except I’m a premium subscriber so I don’t shortchange artists compared to Rhapsody.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            Your model beats jw’s, GGG. 🙂
            But I’ve often told you why the YouTube model is even better:
            1) YouTube is considerably more convenient for the user than Spotify because she doesn’t have to download, buy or register anything. Just play!
            2) Video is the future. Why pay for 50% of the total experience when you can get 100% for free?
            3) You can monetize everything on YouTube. Which means it doesn’t cannibalize iTunes sales.
            4) YouTube pays a little less per clickthrough — but it’s significantly larger than Spotify which means you do earn more.

          • GGG
            GGG

            1) It’s one step more convenient. Definitely enough to shut off some people but not a major deterrent in the long run.
            2) If you actually think every view represents someone sitting there watching the video you’re crazy. YouTube is a jukebox just as much as it’s a movie theater.
            3) YouTube and Spotify can coexist, so this point is irrevelant. Not to mention, if you argue Spotify takes away sales, you have to argue Youtube does, as well.
            4) Significantly larger yet Spotify is already getting similar play counts with literally like 2% of the user base, while paying at LEAST 3 times as much.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “if you argue Spotify takes away sales, you have to argue Youtube does, as well.”
            No, I just repeated why YouTube doesn’t have to cannibalize sales…

          • GGG
            GGG

            If there’s a behind the scenes video and the track is still up, too, it doesn’t matter. The track is there.
            If you are arguing just songs that don’t have tracks up, I’d like to see some data of people that search on youtube, don’t find it, so go buy it. The whole problem with this cannibalized sales argument, whether from your side or mine, is that there is very little comparable data. It’s all a bunch of conjecture on everyone’s side. But the burden of proof lies with you.

          • jw
            jw

            You should take these precautions even if you don’t bit torrent. You’re not comparing competing “models” here. If you just use e-mail or social media, which is nearly 100% of the internet, taking precautions will allow you to surf the internet without having to constantly worry about getting infected.
            Using a VPN is not going to help you to avoid getting a virus. And getting a virus on a Mac isn’t easy, especially with the aforementioned precautions taken. I’d love to see you follow those guidelines & get a mac infected with a virus. Report back when you’re successful, but I won’t be holding my breath.
            There’s dozens of reasons not to use Youtube for casual music listening. It doesn’t pay as much, it’s a huge waste of bandwidth if you’re not actually watching the video, the quality is inconsistent, the playlist support isn’t anywhere near as seemless as Spotify’s, etc. It’s not practical to use on a mobile device. Etc.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “taking precautions will allow you to surf the internet without having to constantly worry about getting infected.”
            Geez man, YOU are the one who constantly worry! 🙂
            YOU are the one who needs all these ridiculously complicated and inconvenient rituals.
            And me?
            I just start my computers and I never, ever have any reason to worry.
            Oh, and come off your stupid pro-mac crusade. I use mac’s all day for music and pc all day for stuff like this. Both are just great.
            As for YouTube; waste of bandwith — wtf does that mean today…

          • jw
            jw

            Re: waste of bandwidth, it means a lot on mobile, & will for the foreseeable future. And it means a lot if you’re sharing an internet connection.
            But youtube is designed for viewing videos, not casual/passive music listening, so it’s not a good experience for that. That should be clear to you. I dunno why you’re arguing that people should listen to music regularly over youtube, rather than a service like iTunes or Spotify that were designed for that experience. That doesn’t make any sense.
            I’m not on a pro-mac crusade, I dunno why that comment made you so upset. The truth is your pal’s kid could’ve gotten the virus surfing porn or even researching a school paper. I dunno how you pinpointed bit torrenting as the problem, I’m just saying… bro got a virus, so get a mac & your chances of getting infected are drastically reduced. Make a few small tweaks to your browser & avoid compressed files & your chances drop to almost 0. I’m just looking out for him, that’s all. Again, these are just internet surfing best practices, nothing to do specifically with piracy. People who download content illegally aren’t the only people getting viruses, it’s mostly oblivious or uneducated internet users who don’t take the time to properly safeguard their computer, or who download compressed files or executable files thinking they’re something else (usually as e-mail attachments or through advertisements or through links on social media).
            I’m not worried about getting viruses. Even if I have to search extensively for something not available legally in the US (Ronnie Milsap’s self-titled record comes to mind, or Italian magazines like Il Sole 24 Ore), I can dig through filestube or torrents or wherever I need to go without fear of getting infected.
            You’re the first person I’ve met who’s smug about an insecure browsing environment. Read up on java insecurities if you get some free time.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “youtube is designed for viewing videos, not casual/passive music listening, so it’s not a good experience for that.”
            Sorry, the experts didn’t get your memo:
            “the most popular way today’s teens discover music is through clicking around on YouTube.
            That’s the finding of a new study by media research firm Nielsen. Its Music 360 report set out to learn how music is found, purchased and consumed.”
            Source: CNN/Nielsen, August 2012
            http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/15/tech/web/teens-music-youtube/index.html?hpt=hp_t3
            I’m sure you’re way more refined and clever than an average teenage crowd.
            But most of us write, play, produce and perform for teenagers. And I can guarantee you it’s a wonderful audience.

          • jw
            jw

            According to those surveys I “listen” to music on youtube but the reality is that I don’t actually listen to music on youtube, at least not for extended periods. And maybe a lot of teens don’t listen to music for extended periods & it’s not a problem because they’re only interested in singles. YouTube is actually designed precisely for that mentality, &, in fact, encourages that “ADD” mentality. So if you champion YouTube, you do so at the expense of the album format, which has been the breadwinner for the industry for decades.
            I wasn’t at all condescending to teenage music listeners, but I’m also not emotionally defending their listening habits in spite of the facts.

  3. Visitor
    Visitor

    “a consumer illegally downloading a film or movie from a peer-to-peer system would be quickly pushed a pop-up message with links to purchase or rent the same content, whether the title in question exists on the VOD library of a participating distributor’s own broadband network or on a third-party seller like Amazon”
    Also a nice move.
    There’s no doubt Amazon, iTunes and others will be interested in this.

    Reply
  4. Yves Villeneuve
    Yves Villeneuve

    I don’t think this will have a significant impact and Comcast knows this. Just more attempted delays in effectively dealing with the issue.
    Piracy needs to be addressed by lawmakers in a reasonable manner so all those affected are content with the law and rationally expected results.

    Reply
    • Visitor
      Visitor

      “Piracy needs to be addressed by lawmakers in a reasonable manner so all those affected are content with the law and rationally expected results”
      And that’s what happens all over the world right now.
      However, it is the total sum of all the new anti-piracy measures that’s going to stop mainstream piracy.

      Reply
  5. Casey
    Casey

    How has the copyright alert system worked for Comcast? It certainly has not accomplished anything. Even if they did impliment this new system, it would be designed to protect NBC content first and foremost. Everything else would no doubt be on a lower priority list. And since most people already know just about every show can already be bought from Amazon or iTunes, it will accomplish nothing.

    Comcast does not control 40% of the broadband market. The total for US broadband connections is over 82 million while Comcast’s total is ~ 20 million.

    Reply
    • Visitor
      Visitor

      “How has the copyright alert system worked for Comcast?”
      Haven’t you heard? It killed 99% of all piracy.
      That’s why they’re suggesting a new and significantly improved system now.

      Reply
      • jw
        jw

        lmao did it really? lol
        You know their alert system went straight to your comcast e-mail. Who checks their comcast e-mail? lol.
        I’m sure most people who got an alert didn’t even know it. Obviously that’s why they’re working on something more intrusive.

        Reply
          • jw
            jw

            If you want your sarcasm to come across, you need to filter out some of the ridiculous things that you say seriously.
            That’s my 2 cents, at least.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “If you want your sarcasm to come across”
            It seems to come across just fine now, doesn’t it?

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