W

e don't know too many people who still download music illegally these days, but for those who do, their internet providers have taken notice and have decided to enact rules against it. Customers who download music, movies, or TV shows illegally will have not one or two but six warnings—but those six warnings won't lead to internet cancellation. Should the customer continue downloading, the provider will temporarily slow their connection or make them acknowledge that they've read about copyright law.

Internet providers will issue as many as six warnings against illegal downloading before taking any real action.

But are these methods effective? Will they enforce anything at all? Having so many warnings before something non-threatening happens won't scare people into changing their behavior. Some consumers would be forced to pay a fine of $35 if they wanted to appeal the accusation of illegal downloading, and wouldn't be refunded the fine unless the findings showed they didn't download anything illegally—an awful lot of technicalities going on here.

The warnings and fine systems are flawed, though—a customer wouldn't be given a "strike" unless a music or film company detected the downloading and filed a complaint. Theoretically, one could download all the time without ever being caught. Providers say that the first and second alerts are meant to be educational (likely informing the customer that what they're doing is illegal, as if they didn't know), the third and fourth would require the customer to acknowledge that they've received the warnings, while the final fifth and sixth warnings would lead to what the providers call "mitigation measures." Those measures would involve things like slowing down internet speeds.

But again, there are ways around this. Using a different IP address or using a neighbor's unlocked network will provide false information to the providers and won't lead to stopping downloading. Public internet usage, such as connections in cafes and restaurants, wouldn't be monitored either.

So what's the point? Are these providers doing this just to appease music and film companies, or is there a real threat of having your internet connection compromised?