Independent Review FAQs

Basics of the Copyright Alert System:

What is the Copyright Alert System?
The Copyright Alert System (“CAS”) was developed to help consumers understand the importance of respecting copyrightCopyright enables artists (people who create songs, movies and TV shows) to decide how to distribute and to be paid for their work; Copyright protects ownership rights whether on CD, DVD or as a digital file on the Internet. and to alert them of possible infringing activity that has taken place using their Internet connection. Through the CAS, copyright owners send notices of alleged copyright infringementThe illegal distribution of copyrighted works usually without the permission of the copyright owner. to participating Internet Service ProvidersA company that provides Internet access services via residential, wired networks to consumers who subscribe and pay for those services. – the companies that provide access to the Internet over both wired and wireless connections – also known as ISPs, who then forward these notices to their Subscribers in the form of Copyright Alerts. The Alerts, include the date, time, time zone and title of the copyrighted content alleged to have been unlawfully distributed through a peer-to-peerSharing files over the Internet that involves an individual computer linking to a wide network of computers to download copies of files and share and distribute copies of those files. or file sharing system on a Subscriber’s account. Under the CAS, users will be sent a maximum of six Alerts with an increasing degree of seriousness. In general, there are two Educational Alerts, two “Acknowledgement” Alerts that require a response from the Subscriber, and two “Mitigation” AlertsThis Alert notifies the Subscriber that a Mitigation Measure will be implemented after 14 calendar days – unless the ISP is informed during that time that the Subscriber has requested an Independent Review. that impose minor consequences to emphasize the seriousness of the problem.

For more information about the Copyright Alert System, click here.

Requesting a Review of a Copyright Alert:

When can a Subscriber request a review of a Copyright Alert?
The opportunity to ask for a review begins at the “Mitigation Alert” phase (after three or four Alerts, depending on the Subscriber’s ISP). Administered by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”), the Independent Review Program is an inexpensive way to challenge the validity of some or all of the Copyright Alerts (on one of the grounds specified below) through an electronic process conducted by trained examiners. To file for an Independent Review a Subscriber must complete the application steps on the AAA website within fourteen (14) calendar days of receiving a Mitigation Alert. If the Subscriber’s challenge is successful, no Mitigation MeasureActions that an ISP may take if allegations of copyright infringement persist. May include: a temporary reduction in Internet speed; a temporary step-down in Internet service tier; redirection to a landing page for a period or until the subscriber contacts their ISP or completes an online copyright education program. will be applied and record of the Copyright Alerts will be removed from the Subscriber’s account. If the challenge is not successful, the ISP will implement the Mitigation Measure.

What are the grounds for requesting a review?
Click here to learn about the grounds for requesting an Independent Review.

How many Copyright Alerts do I have to challenge in a review case? Do I only need to prevail on one Copyright Alert or must I challenge multiple Copyright Alerts?
There is no minimum number of Alerts you must challenge, but in all cases, you must prevail on at least half of the Copyright Alerts presented as eligible during the filing process — including the Mitigation Alert—for the Mitigation Measure to be waived.

Independent Review:

Is the Independent Review Program run by the Center for Copyright Information?
No. The American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) administers the Independent Review Program. The AAA is a neutral, non-profit administrative organization that has been providing alternative dispute resolution services since 1926. AAA decisions are final and cannot be further appealed under the Copyright Alert System. To learn more about the AAA, please visit: www.adr.org.

What do I do if I have a specific question about the review program?
Customer support for the Independent Review Program is provided by the AAA. The AAA is available to answer procedural questions, such as how and what information is needed to file for review. For more substantive information about the allowable reasons for review, please see the Center for Copyright Information web site at copyrightinformation.org.

How do I file a review of a Copyright Alert?
Reviews are handled by and submitted to the AAA. Once you reach the mitigation phase, any Alert received will have a link to the AAA website where you can register and complete the forms necessary to begin a review. The form will require you to choose one of the allowable “reasons for review” for each Alert presented and will ask for an explanation and, in some cases, supporting materials, which will vary depending on the reasons you have selected. The filing fee for an Independent Review is $35. This fee can be waived based on financial hardship and will be refunded to you if you prevail on a challenge.

How long after receiving a Mitigation Alert do I have to file for Independent Review?
You have fourteen (14) calendar days after receiving a Mitigation Alert to file a request for Independent Review. Deadline extensions may be granted at the discretion of the Independent Reviewer in cases where you are able to show good cause. Once the fourteen days have passed and no extension has been requested, your ISP will activate the Mitigation Measure on your account.

What can I do if I am unhappy with the Independent Reviewer’s final decision?
AAA decisions are final and cannot be further appealed under the Copyright Alert System. However, the decision is binding solely for the purposes of the Independent Review Program, and is not intended to preclude the Subscriber, the Participating ISP or the Copyright Owner from pursuing other legal remedies otherwise available.

Do I have to file a request for Independent Review?
No. Participation in the Independent Review Program is completely voluntary. You should institute challenges when you believe one or more of the Alerts you received have been sent in error. In order to prevail in an Independent Review you must successfully challenge at least half of the Alerts presented for challenge by the AAA. Your decision to not seek an Independent Review will not be construed as an admission or waiver in any other proceeding.

Cost of Appeal:

How much will it cost to file for Independent Review?
The filing fee for an Independent Review is $35. The fee is payable to the AAA, and will be refunded if the Independent Reviewer decides in favor of the Subscriber. The fee can also be waived based on financial hardship.

What if I cannot afford to pay the filing fee?
Anyone who cannot afford the $35 filing fee can request a waiver from the AAA. A fee waiver will be granted to Subscribers who have a gross monthly income that is less than 300% of the federal poverty income level, are full-time students receiving needs-based financial aid, or who qualify for one of a series of means-tested federal benefits listed on the fee waiver request form.

Under what circumstances will I be entitled to a refund of the filing fee?
The filing fee will be refunded if the Independent Reviewer finds in your favor. The fee will also be refunded if the case is dismissed due to the withdrawal of the notice that generated the Copyright Alert by a copyright owner.