A number of top ISPs in the US, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, are set to join the fight against customers who regularly pirate copyrighted materials using the ISPs’ networks, according to CNET, a top technology news provider.

A number of large media and entertainment companies have been negotiating with ISPs for years, and have finally succeeded in convincing them to join the piracy battle. In December 2008, the Recording Industry Association of America ( RIAA) decided to stop sueing people suspected of illegal file sharing. They, instead, approached ISPs to help them in the piracy battle. No ISP committed to this, until now. The RIAA represents the four largest music recording companies in the US.

The final agreement, which is set to be signed next month, will allow ISPs to enforce tougher punishments to customers found guilty of copyright piracy.

The first step would be to warn the customer via a notice. If the customer refuses to refrain from downloading copyrighted material, the ISP would choose how many more notices to send before taking more serious action. Stringent actions include forcing the customer to participate in copyright law education, cutting down the customer’s bandwidth speed or limiting web access.

All costs of operating this program would be shared between copyright owners and the ISPs.