Tag Archives: charter

Music Companies Don’t Want Copyright Profs to Be Heard in Piracy Case

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/music-companies-dont-want-copyright-profs-to-be-heard-in-piracy-case-191125/

Earlier this year, several major music companies sued Charter Communications, one of the largest Internet providers in the US with 22 million subscribers.

Helped by the RIAA, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, and others accused Charter of deliberately turning a blind eye to its pirating subscribers.

Due to the wider implications the case may have, it’s followed closely by industry groups and legal experts. Two weeks ago, a group of 23 copyright law professors decided to step in, asking the court to hear their opinions which are outlined in a so-called amicus curiae brief.

The professors specifically object to a recent recommendation by a Colorado magistrate judge, which advised not to dismiss the vicarious liability claims for copyright infringement.

According to the judge, Charter’s failure to take other action in response to copyright infringement notices acted as a ‘draw’ to current and prospective subscribers, who would want to use the service in order to pirate.

This argument puts all ISPs at “unprecedented” risk, the professors warned in response. The same is true for Internet subscribers, who may face more privacy-invasive monitoring policies or lose their Internet access based on one-sided warnings.

While Charter is certainly pleased with the support, the music companies aren’t. A few days ago they asked the court not to accept the brief from the professors, suggesting that they may not be neutral and don’t bring anything new to the table.

The music companies first point out that the professors are not “disinterested” parties. Some of them may, directly or indirectly, have a vested interest in the outcome of the case.

“For example, one of the Proposed Amici is the Chairperson of the Board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (‘EFF’), a nonprofit digital rights group that often advocates against the interests of copyright owners,” the music companies write.

“At a minimum, the Proposed Amici should be required to disclose any employment, consultancy, or other relationships with defendants and other parties that may have interests in the outcome of this action,” they add.

According to the rightsholders, Charter is capable enough to make the same arguments itself. In fact, many of the arguments made by the professors are similar to those the ISP already brought up, they say.

Finally, the music companies point out that several of the arguments raised by the copyright professors are not directly related to copyright law. Instead, they relate to the appropriate federal pleading standards, which isn’t their expertise.

“Copyright professors are not professors of civil procedure, they do not
study the intricacies of federal pleading standards, and they offer no specialized insight into the implications of Twombly, Iqbal, and the like.

“Accordingly, the Proposed Amici offer only a weak and redundant opinion on a subject about which the Court and the parties are well-versed,” the music companies add.

All in all, it’s clear that the music companies don’t want the copyright professors to have their say. It’s now up to the Colorado Federal Court to decide whether they can or not. After that, it must decide if the magistrate judge’s recommendations will be adopted.

A copy of the music companies’ submission is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Copyright Professors Back ISP Charter to Avoid Dangerous Piracy Liability Precedent

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-professors-back-isp-charter-to-avoid-dangerous-piracy-liability-precedent-191112/

In March several major music companies sued Charter Communications, one of the largest Internet providers in the US with 22 million subscribers.

Helped by the RIAA, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, and others accused Charter of deliberately turning a blind eye to its pirating subscribers.

Among other things, they argued that the ISP failed to terminate or otherwise take meaningful action against the accounts of repeat infringers, even though it was well aware of them. As such, it is liable for both contributory infringement and vicarious liability, the music companies claim. 

The ISP disagreed and filed a motion at a Colorado federal court, asking it to dismiss the vicarious liability claims. Charter argues that it doesn’t directly profit from copyright-infringing subscribers, nor does it have the ability to control them.

Previously, other Internet providers have been successful in getting vicarious infringement claims dropped, but Charter’s case appears to go in the other direction. Last month Magistrate Judge Michael Hegarty recommended the court to deny the motion to dismiss.

According to the Judge, Charter’s “failure to stop or take other action in response to notices of infringement is a draw to current and prospective subscribers to purchase and use Defendant’s internet service to ‘pirate’ Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works.”

Charter objected to this recommendation and hopes that the court will not accept it. The company fears that this will subject the company, and pretty much all other ISPs, to a wide range of piracy liability claims.

They are not alone in this assessment. Yesterday, a group of 23 copyright law professors submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of the company. According to the legal scholars from prominent institutions including Harvard and Stanford, the recommendation would set a dangerous precedent.

The copyright professors point out that, based on the complaint, it can’t be concluded that Charter enjoyed direct financial benefits from the alleged infringements, as vicarious liability prescribes.

Vicarious liability requires ISPs’ actions to serve as a “draw” to potential infringers. However, the professors argue that this isn’t the case here. Instead, the potential to use Charter to pirate should be seen as an “added benefit.”

The draw, in this case, is access to the entire Internet, with the potential to pirate being an added benefit.

“Access to this universe of content and services is the draw for subscribers, and the use by some subscribers of some portion of that service to download infringing material can only plausibly be seen as an added benefit of the service.

“This is especially true with ISPs, like Charter, because subscribers pay the same flat monthly rate for a particular level of service irrespective of whether, or how often, they infringe,” the professors add.

The Judge’s recommendation fails to properly make this distinction according to the professors. Neither does it show the necessary causal link between infringements and the financial benefit. As a result, it would expose Charter and other ISPs to “unprecedented risks of liability.”

The fact that Charter advertises “blazing-fast” speeds that allow users to download “just about anything” efficiently is not relevant either. According to the professors, these features are valued by all Internet users whether they engage in infringement or not.

“The Recommendation’s misapplication of the direct financial benefit analysis would cause considerable harm to other ISPs, consumers, and the public,” they write.

Blazing-fast

The immediate threat to ISPs is more lawsuits where dozens of millions of dollars in damages are at stake. If the recommendation stands, providers would have a hard time defending them. In addition, many would have to change their piracy policies, which could hurt consumer privacy.

In order to avoid vicarious liability claims, Charter and others would have to be more active against potential repeat infringers. This could lead to more Internet terminations and possible monitoring of legitimate users, the professors warn.

“Consumers, whether they personally engage in infringing conduct or not, could be subject to wholesale termination of their Internet access based on unproven allegations of infringement occurring at the IP address through which they connect to the Internet.

“Moreover, ISPs could be forced to engage in privacy-invasive monitoring of their subscribers’ Internet activity,” they add.

The brief explains that ISPs that don’t host any content should pass all Internet traffic along in a neutral manner. These companies should not be forced to become copyright enforcers based on mere allegations.

Based on the above, the copyright law professors urge the court not to adopt the Magistrate Judge’s recommendations. First, however, the court must decide whether it will accept the brief and add it to the record.

Given what’s at stake, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see submissions from more third-parties on this matter in the coming days.

A copy of the professors’ amicus curiae brief, which has yet to be accepted, is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Disney and Charter Team Up on Piracy Mitigation

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/disney-and-charter-team-up-on-piracy-mitigation/

With roughly 22 million subscribers, Charter Communications is one of the largest Internet providers in the US.

The company operates under the Spectrum brand and offers a wide variety of services including TV and Internet access.

In an effort to provide more engaging content to its customers, this week Charter signed a major new distribution agreement with The Walt Disney Company.

The new partnership will provide the telco’s customers with access to popular titles in Disney’s services, including Hulu, ESPN+ and the yet-to-be-launched streaming service Disney+.

The fact that these giant companies have teamed-up is a big deal, business-wise and for consumers. Most Spectrum subscribers will likely be pleased to have more options, but there may also be a subgroup that has concerns.

Away from the major headline, both companies also state that they have agreed to partner up on piracy mitigation.

“This agreement will allow Spectrum to continue delivering to its customers popular Disney content […] and will begin an important collaborative effort to address the significant issue of piracy mitigation,” says Tom Montemagno, EVP, Programming Acquisition for Charter.

The public press releases give no concrete details of what this “piracy mitigation” will entail. It does mention that the two companies will work together to “implement business rules” and address issues such as “unauthorized access and password sharing.”

TorrentFreak reached out to Charter for further details, but the company said that it’s not elaborating beyond the press release at this time.

The term “mitigating” suggests that both companies will actively work together to reduce piracy. This is interesting because Charter is currently caught up in a major piracy liability lawsuit in a US federal court in Colorado.

Earlier this year the Internet provider was sued by several music companies which argued that the company turned a blind eye to piracy by failing to terminate accounts of repeat infringers. In addition, Charter stands accused of willingly profiting from these alleged copyright infringements.

Charter’s new agreement with Disney suggests that there could be a more proactive anti-piracy stance going forward. One possibility might be a more strict repeat infringer policy but, without further details, it remains unclear what the “piracy mitigation” entails precisely.

In any case, it will be interesting to see how the two companies plan to put a dent in current piracy levels, and what that means for Charter customers.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Charter: Fast Internet Speeds are Not Just for Pirates

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/charter-fast-internet-speeds-are-not-just-for-pirates-190804/

In March several major music companies sued Charter Communications, one of the largest Internet providers in the US with 22 million subscribers.

Helped by the RIAA, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, and others accused Charter of deliberately turning a blind eye to its pirating subscribers.

Among other things, they argued that the ISP failed to terminate or otherwise take meaningful action against the accounts of repeat infringers, even though it was well aware of them.

The labels sued the ISP for two types of secondary liability for copyright infringement; contributory infringement and vicarious liability. While Charter is confident that both claims will ultimately fail, it asked the Court to dismiss the latter claim before trial.

The music companies previously claimed that Charter is vicariously liable. To prove this, the rightsholders must show that allegedly-infringing material serves as a “draw” to subscribe to Charter’s Internet service. In addition, they must show that Charter can control the infringing activity.

According to the labels, this is the case. Among other things, they argued that Charter’s adverts for “high speed” downloads were seen as a draw. In addition, the ISP could control piracy on its network, by terminating repeat infringers.

In a response submitted this week, Charter counters these arguments.

With regard to the supposed “draw,” the ISP states that there has to be a causal connection between the financial benefit and the infringing activity. According to Charter, there is no plausible claim that suggests that subscribers specifically picked the company to carry out their piracy activities.

The fact that Charter advertises high-speed Internet is irrelevant in this case, as that’s what pretty much every ISP does. On top of that, high-speed Internet is also beneficial to all sorts of legal activity.

“It can safely be presumed that most, if not all, ISPs market the speed of their service, and there is of course nothing nefarious about doing so, as it is required for all manner of online activities. Plaintiffs can point to nothing to suggest that Charter’s ads are specifically targeted at would be infringers,” Charter writes.

“Moreover, Plaintiffs do not allege that the advertised speeds are meaningfully faster than Charter’s competitors or that those faster speeds somehow drew subscribers to Charter’s service (over others) to infringe. If Plaintiffs’ allegations were sufficient, every ISP would face exposure for merely advertising the speed of its internet service.”

In addition to refuting the “draw” claims, Charter also stresses that, even if it wanted to, it can’t control the infringing activities of its users.

The labels previously argued that the ISP does have control, as it can terminate the accounts of repeat infringers, but Charter stresses once again that this doesn’t stop piracy.

“The technology that allegedly facilitates the transfer of infringing material is BitTorrent and other P2P file sharing protocols. Charter cannot control BitTorrent or other P2P technology, nor do Plaintiffs allege as much. Terminating a user’s internet service does not preclude that user from continuing to use BitTorrent or other P2P websites.

“Rather than target the allegedly infringing P2P platforms themselves, Plaintiffs instead attempt to support a highly attenuated theory of liability,” Charter adds.

It is clear that both parties have a completely different view on the matter of piracy liability. It is now up to the Colorado District Court to decide which side makes the most sense.

A copy of Charter’s reply in support of its motion to dismiss plaintiffs claim for vicarious liability is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Charter Profited From Ignoring Piracy, Music Companies Tell Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/charter-profited-from-ignoring-piracy-music-companies-tell-court-190703/

In March several major music companies sued Charter Communications, one of the largest Internet providers in the US with 22 million subscribers.

Helped by the RIAA, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, and others accused Charter of deliberately turning a blind eye to its pirating subscribers.

Among other things, they argued that the ISP failed to terminate or otherwise take meaningful action against the accounts of repeat infringers, even though it was well aware of them.

Last month Charter responded to these allegations. The company denied that it plays an active role in any infringing activities and believes the music companies’ arguments are flawed.

The labels sued the ISP for two types of secondary liability for copyright infringement; contributory infringement and vicarious liability. While Charter is confident that both claims will ultimately fail, it has only asked the court to dismiss the latter.

In its motion, Charter stressed that there is no evidence that it directly profits from copyright infringement. In addition, the ISP said that it doesn’t have a right and ability to control any infringements either, which negates another element of vicarious liability.

The music companies clearly disagree with Charter’s arguments. In a new reply submitted this week, they reiterate that the ISP failed to terminate repeat infringers, suggesting that it was motivated by profit.

“Since 2012, hundreds of thousands of defendant Charter Communications, Inc.’s subscribers have illegally distributed Plaintiffs’ music through online file-sharing programs like BitTorrent, with some users pirating hundreds of Plaintiffs’ songs,” the music outfits start, setting the tone right away.

Charter previously argued that it couldn’t control or stop piracy. Even if it terminated the accounts of subscribers, this would do little to stop infringement. After all, those people could simply sign up elsewhere and continue their infringing activities there.

The music companies reply that this argument misses the mark. They note that they’re not holding Charter liable for all hypothetical piracy on the Internet. Instead, their claim applies to a specific subset of pirate activities that previously took place on the ISP’s network.

At the very least, Charter had the “contractual right” and “practical ability” to limit piracy by its subscribers by terminating persistent infringers, the music companies argue.

“Pursuant to its terms of service, Charter reserves the right to terminate users’ accounts if they engage in copyright infringement. As courts have repeatedly held, it does not matter that Charter cannot prevent users from accessing infringing material online through other means.”

In addition to the control part, the music companies also state that the Internet provider profited from the alleged infringements, which is another crucial element of vicarious liability.

The music companies and other rightsholders sent the ISP many infringement notices, identifying the accounts of specific subscribers. Even though Charter had the ability to terminate the accounts of frequent offenders, it took no action, allegedly for a profit motive.

“The reason for Charter’s refusal to act is simple: by tolerating users’ infringement, Charter reaps millions of dollars in subscription fees that it would have to forgo if it terminated infringing users’ accounts,” the music companies argue.

This failure to terminate pirates then acted as a ‘draw’ for other potential pirates, the music companies add.

“From Charter’s failure to act, users came to understand that they could infringe Plaintiffs’ works with impunity, which constituted a further draw to the service,” they write.

Based on the above, the music companies argue that Charter’s motion to dismiss the vicarious liability claims should be denied. This would also allow the rightsholders to obtain further evidence for their arguments during discovery. 

The Colorado federal court will now review the arguments from both sides and make a decision whether the case should continue based on the allegations of both vicarious liability and contributory infringement, or just the latter.

In tandem with this case, the music companies have also filed a complaint against Charter subsidiary Bright House in a Florida court. Bright House previously responded to this lawsuit with a near identical motion to dismiss, which was followed with a similar reply from the music companies this week.

A copy of the music companies’ opposition to Charter Communications’ motion to dismiss the claim for vicarious liability is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Terminating Subscribers Doesn’t Stop Pirates, Charter Argues

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/terminating-subscribers-doesnt-stop-pirates-charter-argues-190605/

Regular Internet providers are being put under increasing pressure for not doing enough to curb copyright infringement.

Music rights company BMG got the ball rolling a few years ago when it won its piracy liability lawsuit against Cox.

Following on the heels of this case, several major record labels including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music, hopped onto the bandwagon. Helped by the RIAA, they went after ISP Grande Communications and, more recently, Charter Communications.

The labels accuse Charter of deliberately turning a blind eye to its pirating subscribers. They argue that the ISP failed to terminate or otherwise take meaningful action against the accounts of repeat infringers, even though it was well aware of them.

A few days ago Charter responded to these allegations. The company denies that it plays an active role in any infringing activities and believes the labels’ arguments are flawed.

“This suit is the latest effort in the music industry’s campaign to hold Internet Service Providers (‘ISPs’) liable for copyright infringement, allegedly carried out by internet subscribers, for merely providing internet access,” Charter states. 

The labels sued the ISP for two types of secondary liability for copyright infringement; contributory infringement and vicarious liability. While Charter believes that both claims will fail, it has submitted a motion to dismiss only the latter.

In its motion Charter notes that, in order for a vicarious liability claim to succeed, the labels must show that the ISP profited directly from copyright infringements that it had both a right and ability to control. This is not the case, the ISP notes. 

“Plaintiffs fail to allege a plausible causal connection between any alleged
direct infringement and the subscription fees received by Charter,” the motion reads

“For example, Plaintiffs do not allege that infringers specifically chose Charter over other providers so they could infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights, or that other ISPs were terminating subscribers, leading them to seek out Charter as a safe haven.”

In addition, the ISP points out that it doesn’t operate a file-sharing service, nor does it promote BitTorrent, or receive compensation for any file-sharing services. Instead, it merely charges a flat fee from its subscribers for which it provides Internet access.

The labels argued that the ISP offers a tiered pricing structure, charging higher fees for higher downloading speeds. However, Charter notes that this isn’t in any way catered to pirates. People who consume legal media also benefit from higher speeds, after all.

“Plaintiffs do not, and cannot, allege that those who illegally download music want faster speeds than those who do so legally, much less than those who download considerably larger movie or other files,” Charter writes.

“Such allegations would be implausible, as subscribers paying for higher tiers of service for lawful uses want to download content just as fast as those doing so illegally.”

Charter stresses that there is no evidence that it directly profits from copyright infringement. In addition, it doesn’t have a right and ability to control any infringements either, which negates another element of vicarious liability.

The labels argued that the ISP has control over the infringements, as it can terminate the Internet accounts of repeat infringers. However, Charter counters that this doesn’t prevent subscribers from continuing to pirate elsewhere.

“Charter cannot monitor and control its subscribers’ use of the internet, and its ability to terminate subscribers altogether does not prevent them from committing acts of infringement from other connections,” Charter notes.

Charter adds that it can’t monitor and control its subscribers’ use of the Internet, while adding that peer-to-peer file sharing protocols can be used for both infringing and non-infringing purposes.

All in all the ISP sees terminations as an overbroad and imprecise measure.

“Plaintiffs’ termination remedy suffers from ‘imprecision and overbreadth’ based on the inability to confirm allegations in a notice, the extremity of the measure, and the failure to halt infringing activity from another source,” Charter adds.

Based on these and other arguments Charter asks the court to dismiss the vicarious liability claim. That would still leave the contributory infringement claim intact, but the ISP is confident that it can deal with this at a later stage.

In addition to the suit against Charter, the record labels also sued its subsidiary Bright House for the same alleged offenses in a Florida court. Bright House responded to this lawsuit with a near identical motion to dismiss.

Both motions are now with the respective courts, which will at a later stage decide whether to dismiss the claims or not.

A copy of Charter Communications’ motion to dismiss the claim for vicarious liability is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.