It's looking like cable giant Comcast is working on a new anti-piracy scheme that would present illegal downloaders with the option to either purchase or rent the content. According to a new report, Comcast "has begun preliminary discussions with both film and TV studios and other leading Internet service providers about employing technology, according to sources, that would provide offending users with transactional opportunities to access legal versions of copyright-infringing videos as they’re being downloaded."
Basically it's a system that will detect when someone is downloading from a peer-to-peer system, like BitTorrent or uTorrent, and then display a pop-up message with links to buy or rent that same content. It could be from Comcast's own video-on-demand library or a third-party site, like Amazon. Comcast owns many major assets, like NBC and Universal Pictures, as well as various channels, so it'd make sense for the company to push consumers to buying/renting some of its own items rather than illegally obtaining. If it works it could be a new means of cutting down on digital piracy, but it also presents a whole new can of worms, like what happens if the detection system delivers a false positive? Or how many other ISPs and copyright holders are willing to go along with this? There's a lot we don't yet know about what Comcast is proposing, but it's definitely something to keep an eye on.