THE PROBLEM: Internet providers must find a way to serve their subscribers with demand letters from copyright holders saying they’re violating copyrights via illegal downloads.

THE RESPONSE: Bill stuffers are thrown out unread and e-mail messages are deleted. Even messages that load alongside a provider’s homepage have no guarantee of being seen, as more consumers use third-party portals like AOL or Yahoo.

Tackling that challenge, Ohio’s Massillon Cable TV contracted with Front Porch for a messaging system that can’t be avoided. Front Porch’s software “follows” an Internet user wherever they navigate, loading the operator-branded message page into their browser before the information from the requested destination is loaded.

Front Porch CEO Zach Britton said this works better than a pop-up or pop-under, because those methods can cause disputes with Web site owners that want unimpeded viewing for their banner ads.

Massillon president Bob Gessner came up with the idea of using the application to respond to legal demands regarding Web users accused of violating terms of service by downloading music or movies without paying for them.

“We haven’t scratched the surface of all [the software] can do,” Gessner said.

THE RESULT: Consumers have a chance to legalize their behavior rather than getting their service cut off — and the provider doesn’t lose revenue.

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Fair Warning for Copyright Holders, by Linda Haugsted — Multichannel News, 1/6/2008