Leaked internal training documents indicate AT&T is gearing up to launch a six-strike anti-piracy initiative on November 28. This may not prove to be much of a surprise for readers who caught headlines earlier this year regarding an impending graduated response supposedly making its way to ISPs. Although such plans have ultimately been delayed, it seems the proposed anti-piracy measures have evolved into a more specific six-strikes plan -- a system expected to be adopted by major ISPs in the near future.

If Torrent Freak's sources are to be believed, here's how AT&T plans to combat piracy under the new "six-strikes" plan:

  • The first three strikes apparently have no consequences – they are merely warnings.
  • Fourth and fifth strikes will cause subscribers to be redirected to an "educational page" when visiting "certain websites".
  • Fourth and fifth strikers will also need to complete a "brief" online tutorial in order to visit those "certain websites" again. The tutorial will attempt to educate users about copyright infringement.
  • On the sixth strike, AT&T will allow content owners to pursue legal action. At this stage, AT&T says it will allow content holders to seek a court order requesting the company turn over personal details about the customer – not that a copyright holder seeking legal intervention is exactly AT&T's choice anyway.

It's important to know that AT&T's proposed plan will not throttle or otherwise interrupt Internet service – this is a big change (improvement?) from previous US-based efforts to combat piracy. AT&T's approach shows the company is attempting to be fair-minded, offering customers ample warnings with impunity and choosing to "educate" accused rule-breakers instead of outright punish them. This is quite different from say, France's controverisal three-strikes law, which caught its first offender last month, but nonetheless remains a similar idea.

Of course, one of the issues here is: does an IP address equal a person? AT&T holds that subscribers are responsible for their account's Internet use and by extension – the misuse of it. As we all know though, even the best security isn't perfect and many users aren't sophisticated enough to secure their systems. Wi-Fi networks, for example, are notoriously insecure. Users often choose WEP encryption, poor passwords (or none at all), letting tech savvy neighbors with few scruples take advantage of their Wi-Fi without the owner's knowledge.

What are your thoughts on AT&T's proposed anti-piracy solution?