Three strikes and you're out: That's the idea of a controversial policy that aims to put ISPs in the role of copyright enforcers and permanently disconnect file sharers. Three strikes has been under intense debate in Europe - but how would such a policy look like if implemented?

pic of roadrunner message
A message from Road Runner, and no way to talk back: Copyright enforcement via splash screen.

According to reports on, Time Warner's Road Runner ISP seems to have an automated copyright enforcement mechanism in place that gives us a pretty good idea how three strikes would be enforced by an ISP: Road Runner apparently sends out a warning email the first time it receives a C&D notice regarding the sharing of supposedly infringing content. The second time it just replaces your regular browser start page with a splash screen featuring a copyright notice, that among other things states:

"Road Runner Customer Care is sending you this notice because we have received a complaint from a content owner that your computer has been used to distribute copyrighted material (music, movies, computer software and/or television programs) without authorization through a peer-to-peer program."

The customer then has to acknowledge his wrongdoings by clicking on a link that states that he is "aware of this issue and will take steps to resolve it." There is no obvious way to contest the alleged infringement - in fact, customers won't even get access to the web if they don't click on the link.

To be fair, the Road Runner's third strike doesn't involve a lifelong ban from the Internet, as proposed by some European politicians. Repeat offenders simply have to ask for absolution from a call center representative. Still, the fact that there is no obvious recourse seems troubling.

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