U.S. record labels started sending infringement notices this week to five major U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs), who will pass the notices on to alleged pirates through the Center for Copyright Information (CCI).

Notices will alert subscribers of their infringing behavior, educate them on copyright and offer links to legal music services. Repeat infringers may eventually have their Internet speed slowed but will not have their accounts terminated.

The result of a voluntary agreement among the ISPs, the RIAA and the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the Copyright Alert System begs three questions: Is it too late, is it too limited in scope, and will it work?

Piracy has changed since the days when the RIAA sued individuals for copyright infringement. Last year the number of U.S. Internet users ages 13 and older who used peer-to-peer services to download music dropped to 11% of the population, or 21 million people, from 20% of the population in 2005, according to the NPD Group.

People have shifted away from piracy without the Copyright Alert System. Forty percent of consumers who had illegally downloaded music on P2P networks in 2011 had stopped or downloaded less music last year, according to NPD. The 12 million people who have ceased using P2P services since 2005 have taken to an abundance of legal alternatives. Streaming services like YouTube and Spotify have become common destinations to find music.

But perhaps the Copyright Alert System is a good case of "better late than never." Although legal services have put a dent in piracy, there's still those 21 million P2P users who downloaded music last year. While no one believes piracy will be completely eradicated, millions of current and future illegal downloaders can be influenced through the CCI's efforts. -Glenn Peoples