Comcast to steer users toward legal content with new anti-piracy scheme

The next time you head to the dark underworld of BitTorrent for a Game of Thrones episode, you may be offered a legal alternative. At least, according to Variety, that's what Comcast is cooking up: a new anti-piracy scheme that steers prospective pirates toward legal content.

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.

Quoting "sources familiar with the new initiative," Variety says the pop-up system "is being seen as a complement to CAS and not a replacement." CAS, or Copyright Alert System, is Comcast's current anti-piracy scheme, which warns pirates up to six times before taking more heavy-handed action to curb their illicit activity.

That said, Variety goes on to note, "The very emergence of an alternative raises questions as to the viability of CAS, which has been criticized for myriad reasons ranging from the questionable strategic rationale of punishing subscribers to an implementation that has been characterized as scattershot."

It's "unclear" how CAS and the new pop-up system would work together, Variety adds.

I'm all for steering users toward legal content, but the idea of an ISP throwing pop-ups in my face to tell me what to do is a little... unsettling. Current legal alternatives to piracy often leave something to be desired. It seems to me that anti-piracy efforts should focus on improving those alternatives and publicizing their existence through normal channels. Looking over users' shoulders as they browse, all the while risking false positives and other snafus, seems less than ideal.

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