By Lynette Owens

This post was ammended on June 27 to reflect new information. The program will launch this fall, not July 1 as previously noted.

Earlier this year, the world banded together to defeat a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its sister Protect IP Act (PIPA) backed by the music & movie industries and designed to stop people from selling and distributing illegally produced content. The resistance to SOPA and PIPA voiced by many was primarily around the implementation of the bills (see my post from January of this year), rather than an endorsement of piracy.

Despite the successful thwarting of these bills, the music, movie, and television industries have not stopped their efforts to protect their copyrights. The UK and France already have a process in place that goes as far as cutting off your Internet access if you continue downloading pirated material after a couple of warnings to stop.

Starting this fall, most of the major U.S. internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast will launch a graduated response program, which will begin warning you to stop if you are downloading pirated material. This process, sponsored by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), is a 6-step copyright alert system. (Interestingly, the gaming industry is not represented here). Unlike, SOPA & PIPA which were directed at producers and distributors, this program is directed at consumers. It is a voluntary initiative among ISPS that helps to formalize and create consistency across them in how they will alert consumers about downloading illegally copied material. Whether or not you are knowingly doing it, all consumers will be warned a few times before final legal action is taken.

I posted these tips earlier in the year, but given the impending launch of the graduated response system, I think it’s critical to post these again.  Please take the time to read and share these tips with parents, kids, and schools:

1. Explain to kids what copyrights are, how they work, and what they are designed to do. A nice resource with a simple, kid-friendly explanation can be found from

2. Advise kids to respect copyrights and download music, movies, etc. from legitimate sources. If a friend tells them about a cool site to get a copy of a new movie or music album, or if they see offers online to download them, make sure they can verify they are from a legitimate source. If they are unsure, tell them to trust their instincts and don’t do it.

3. Explore and tell kids about the options. Some suggestions are below, although there are many more if you spend 5 minutes searching around:

a. If you have an Apple device, purchase music, movies & television shows from iTunes. If they will do this on their own iPod touch or iPhone, you might have them connect their devices to your iTunes account so you can have some say in the age-appropriateness of the music & movies they are downloading (via their Parental control setting in the iTunes store AND on the individual devices). And to keep the spending in control, you could also have them use iTunes gift cards or there is also a feature that allows you to set the maximum amount they can spend.

b. For non-Apple devices, you can purchase from

c. Subscription services for music: You can choose to subscribe to a service. For a monthly fee, you have access to an enormous library of music. Some of the best ones recommended by PC Magazine include Spotify and Pandora. See a longer list here. Some of these services have free versions which have some limited features and force you to deal with ads, but may be adequate for most kids.

d. Subscription services for movies and television shows: Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Vudu are some of the more popular options.

Below you will find more background information on the topic of online piracy:

• On the basics of SOPA

• On the basics of PIPA

• For details of the Copyright Alert system in the US from the Center for Copyright Information:

• If you’re wondering how this US copyright alert system will technically work, see question #15 here:

• For more information on the three strikes law go to:

• For an insightful article on the Access vs. Ownership of Music see this post:

 Follow Lynette on Twitter @lynettetowens

Lynette Owens

Lynette Owens

Lynette Owens is Vice President of Global Consumer Education & Marketing at Trend Micro and Founder of the Internet Safety for Kids and Families program. With 25+ years in the tech industry, Lynette speaks and blogs regularly on how to help kids become great digital citizens. She works with communities and 1:1 school districts across the U.S. and around the world to support online safety, digital and media literacy and digital citizenship education. She is a board member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, an advisory committee member of the Digital Wellness Lab, and serves on the advisory boards of INHOPE and U.S. Safer Internet Day.

Follow her on Twitter @lynettetowens.