Think of it as Comcast’s version of Clippy: according to a report, Comcast will detect whether or not you’re trying to pirate a movie—and send you an option to rent it at the same time.
According to a Monday report by Variety, Comcast is currently testing the new strategy, which would apparently be rolled out be rolled out to complement the so-called “six strikes” program, otherwise known as the Copyright Alert System, or CAS.
If the new system catches a user downloading a movie from the BitTorrent service, according to the report, the system would immediately send a popup to the user alerting him or her to what Comcast thought was being done. Comcast would then provide an option to either rent or buy a movie, either from itself or a site like Amazon, the report said.
Comcast representatives did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
As the corporate owner of NBC Universal, Comcast obviously has a vested interest in ensuring its content is protected. The Motion Picture Association of America has claimed that as much as $58 billion in job losses are due from piracy (a claim that has since been debunked by as much as $50 billion).
AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast, among others, have used the CAS--a program to repeatedly warn violators that they’re infringing copyright--before taking action. But the CAS program was delayed by months, finally rolling out last October. However, a test undertaken by The Daily Dot—pirating the Season 3 premiere of “Game of Thrones,” several Rihanna songs, and letting both seed on BitTorrent for weeks—passed without either notification or enforcement from the ISP used, Verizon.
”While Comcast knows the solution is feasible, the company’s engineers haven’t formally begun work on it,” according to Variety. That probably means that the company isn’t sure—either legally or from a PR standpoint—how users would take this.
In a case like this, Comcast would be playing judge and jury—and encouraging users to plead guilty and accept what might be considered a fine, aka the movie rental. That kind of approach hasn't gone over well before, and it's questionable whether it might work under a different framework.
Correction: Comcast will detect users downloading movies using the BitTorrent service, not the site.