Tag Archives: repeat infringers

Major US ISPs Refuse to Discuss Repeat Infringer Policies

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/major-us-isps-refuse-to-discuss-repeat-infringer-policies-190912/

Every single week, Internet users in the United States take to Reddit and other discussion forums seeking advice about copyright infringement notices.

Whether the claims against them are true is often hard to assess, but many speak of receiving notices from their ISP which state that a third-party has caught them torrenting something they shouldn’t – usually movies, TV shows, or music.

While any and all of them are able to speak directly to their ISP to find out what the notices are all about and what the consequences might be, many seem confused. Are they going to be sued, for example, or perhaps their Internet might get suspended or cut off completely?

Most advice dished out by fellow internet users is (and I’m paraphrasing), “Dumbass – use a VPN”, but while that comprehensively solves the problem, it doesn’t answer the big questions.

A common topic is how many notices a customer can receive from their ISP before things get serious. One might think this basic information would be easy to find but despite most major ISPs in the US stating that they don’t allow infringement and there could be consequences for receiving multiple complaints, more often than not their information pages aren’t specific.

So, in an effort to cut through all the jargon and put all the relevant information into one article, on August 27 we approached several of the major ISPs in the United States – Comcast, AT&T, Charter/Spectrum, Verizon, and CenturyLink – with a list of questions, detailed below;

  • Your company forwards copyright complaints from rightsholders, based on their claims. How many complaints can a subscriber have made against their account before some action is taken by you, beyond simply forwarding the notice to the subscriber?
  • What is the nature of that action, i.e requiring to confirm receipt of the notice, taking a copyright lesson, promising not to infringe again, etc?
  • Once this stage has been completed, how many more complaints against an account will trigger any subsequent action, i.e a more serious warning, warning that an account could be suspended etc?
  • At what point would a customer with multiple complaints against their account be considered a ‘repeat infringer’?
  • At what point could an account holder expect a temporary account suspension? At this point, how would that suspension be lifted?
  • At what point could an account holder expect a complete termination of his or her service?
  • In respect of points 5 and 6, is the number of complaints a deciding factor or does a subscriber’s negative or positive responses and actions in respect of your efforts to prevent infringement also play a part?
  • Are you able to confirm that accounts have been temporarily suspended for repeat infringement and if so, how many?
  • Are you able to confirm that accounts have been permanently shut down for repeat infringement and if so, how many?

We told the ISPs exactly why we were asking these questions and indicated that a response within seven days would guarantee their inclusion in this article. We extended the deadline to two weeks and beyond but not a single company listed above responded to any of our questions.

In fact, none even acknowledged receipt of our initial email, despite one ISP requiring us to send emails to at least three people involved in their media communications team. It seems fairly clear this potato is simply too hot to pick up.

That being said, we thought we should press on with at least trying to help subscribers.

There are usually very few valid excuses for receiving multiple copyright infringement complaints. Some do exist, of course, but not knowing the precise mechanism for being dealt with under various ISPs’ ‘repeat infringer’ rulesets only makes matters worse.

What we can do here is give relevant snippets/quotes from each ISP’s website and link to the page(s) in question, with a comment here and there. In no particular order:

AT&T: In accordance with the DMCA and other applicable laws, AT&T maintains a policy that provides for the termination of IP Services, under appropriate circumstances, if Customers are found to be a repeat infringer and/or if Customers’ IP Services are used repeatedly for infringement (the ‘Repeat Infringer Policy’). AT&T may terminate IP Services at any time with or without notice to Customers.

AT&T has no obligation to investigate possible copyright infringements with respect to materials transmitted by Customer or any other users of the IP Services. However, AT&T will process valid notifications of claimed infringement under the DMCA, and continued receipt of infringement notifications for Customer’s account will be used as a factor in determining whether Customer is a repeat infringer.

TF note on AT&T: We can find no “Repeat Infringer Policy”

CenturyLink: Company respects the intellectual property rights of others and is committed to complying with U.S. copyright laws, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (‘DMCA’). Company reserves the right to suspend or terminate, in appropriate circumstances, the service of users whose accounts are repeatedly implicated in allegations of copyright infringement involving the use of Company’s network.

TF note: We have no idea what constitutes “appropriate circumstances.”

Comcast/Xfinity: Any infringement of third party copyright rights violates the law. We reserve the right to treat any customer account for whom we receive multiple DMCA notifications from content owners as a repeat infringer.

We reserve the right to move a customer account to the next step of the policy upon receiving any number of DMCA notifications from content owners in a given month, or upon learning that the account holder is a repeat infringer.

You may receive an email alert to the preferred email address on your account or a letter to your home address. You may also receive an in-browser notification, a recorded message to your telephone number on file, a text message to your mobile telephone number on file, or another form of communication.

Triggering steps under this policy may result in the following: a persistent in-browser notification or other form of communication that requires you to log in to your account or call us; a temporary suspension of, or other interim measures applied to, your service; or the termination of your Xfinity Internet service as well as your other Xfinity services (other than Xfinity Mobile).

TF note on Comcast: The ‘repeat infringer’ policy is quite detailed and worth the long read.

Cox Communications: Cox encourages responsible internet use. Our internet use policy is consistent with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and allows us to take steps when we receive notifications of claimed infringement.

Repeated notifications of claimed violations on your account could lead to Internet service suspension or termination.

If you continue to receive copyright infringement notifications on your account, Cox suspends your Internet service. In the Customer Portal, you may reactivate your Internet service up to two times.

If your account continues to receive copyright infringement notifications, your Internet service is terminated.

TF note on Cox: The repeat infringer policy is worth a read and is quite specific in parts, less so in others.

Spectrum/Charter: TF initial note: The company doesn’t appear to have a dedicated ‘repeat infringer’ policy outside of its published “copyright violation” advice. While this is both detailed and helpful in many respects, it doesn’t give specifics on alleged ‘repeat infringers’.

After noting that “Charter may suspend or disconnect your service as a result of repeat copyright violations,” users are sent to its Acceptable Use Policy page, which reads in part as follows:

Spectrum reserves the right to investigate violations of this AUP, including the gathering of information from the Subscriber or other Users involved and the complaining party, if any, and the examination of material on Spectrum’s servers and network.

Spectrum prefers to advise Users of AUP violations and any necessary corrective action but, if Spectrum, in its sole discretion, determines that a User has violated the AUP, Spectrum will take any responsive action that is deemed appropriate without prior notification. Such action includes but is not limited to: temporary suspension of service, reduction of service resources, and termination of service.

Verizon: Pursuant to Section 512 of the DMCA, it is Verizon’s policy to terminate the account of repeat copyright infringers in appropriate circumstances.

TF note: This appears to be the shortest ‘repeat infringer’ policy of all the ISPs and is a good example of why we decided to ask all of the companies for their precise steps, so we could offer a little more detail to their customers.

Sorry, we failed, but there’s probably a good reason for that.

Summary: With several ISPs up to their necks in lawsuits filed by the RIAA alleging that they haven’t done enough to deal with “repeat infringers”, it’s perhaps no surprise that the companies ignored our requests for information.

That being said, it’s of interest that several appear to be acting in a particularly vague manner – perhaps they’re already worrying that they’ll be next on the music industry’s list.

In the meantime and in most cases, users will remain largely in the dark unless they do a lot of reading and research. And even that might not be enough.

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

Movie Company Sues Hawaiian ISP Over ‘Repeatedly Pirating’ Hotel

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-company-sues-hawaiian-isp-over-repeatedly-pirating-hotel-190826/

The “repeat infringer” issue is a hot topic in US Courts that has resulted in several lawsuits already.

Under the DMCA, companies are required to implement a reasonable policy to deal with frequent offenders. Those who don’t, risk being held liable.

Thus far we have seen lawsuits targeting ISPs including Cox Communications, Charter, and Grande Communications. These companies were all sued by music industry companies and most cases remain ongoing.

In Hawaii, a new ISP was targeted a few days ago, this time by a movie outfit. In a complaint filed at a Hawaiian federal court, Bodyguard Productions accuses Internet provider Pacific DirectConnect of failing to terminate a repeat infringer.

The movie outfit, which is the copyright holder of “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” is a familiar player in US courts. The company has previously sued many individual BitTorrent pirates. With the latest lawsuit, it breaks from this trend by going after the Internet provider itself.

Pacific DirectConnect is not a typical consumer ISP. It mainly targets hotels and resorts in Hawaii, offering integrated network solutions including Internet access. According to the complaint, one of these clients is Aston Waikiki Sunset, a large hotel in Honolulu.

According to the movie company, one of the hotel’s IP-addresses was repeatedly caught pirating. The ISP was made aware of this, both directly and through notices that were sent to its own bandwidth supplier, but apparently failed to take any meaningful action in response.

“Despite multiple notifications of infringements from Plaintiff, Hawaiian Telcom and third parties, Defendant has failed and steadfastly refused to terminate the account of subscriber Aston,” the complaint reads.

“Said infringements would have been stopped if Defendant merely terminated subscriber Aston’s service,” the movie company adds.

Bodyguard Productions argues that the ISP purposely failed to terminate the account of the Hawaiian hotel, despite knowing that it was a repeat
infringer. As such, the company is liable for the copyright infringements of its ‘subscriber.’

Through the lawsuit, the movie company requests an injunction requiring the ISP to terminate the account of the hotel. It accuses the company of both contributory and direct copyright infringement, asking the court to grant “any and all other relief” that’s appropriate in this case.

According to the complaint, Pacific DirectConnect is not protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor because it willingly failed to terminate the alleged repeat infringer. In addition, the ISP doesn’t have a registered DMCA agent, which is a requirement to enjoy safe harbor protection.

As far as we know, this is the first time that an ISP has been sued for providing Internet services to a hotel. This sets the case apart from the other repeat infringer cases that mostly deal with ordinary consumer providers.

Needless to say, the lawsuit has the potential to create another shockwave in the industry. If an Internet provider can indeed be liable for servicing hotels, resorts, or other large companies that have hundreds of users themselves, it will have to be much more careful.

The complaint doesn’t mention whether Bodyguard Productions reached out to the resort directly to address the repeat infringer issue.

A copy of the complaint filed by Bodyguard Productions against Pacific DirectConnect 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.

BPI Wants Piracy Dealt With Under New UK Internet ‘Clean-Up’ Laws

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bpi-wants-music-piracy-dealt-with-under-uk-internet-clean-up-laws-180523/

For the past several years, the UK Government has expressed a strong desire to “clean up” the Internet.

Strong emphasis has been placed on making the Internet safer for children but that’s just the tip of a much larger iceberg.

This week, the Government published its response to the Internet Safety Strategy green paper, stating unequivocally that more needs to be done to tackle “online harm”.

Noting that six out of ten people report seeing inappropriate or harmful content online, the Government said that work already underway with social media companies to protect users had borne fruit but overall industry response has been less satisfactory.

As a result, the Government will now carry through with its threat to introduce new legislation, albeit with the assistance of technology companies, children’s charities and other stakeholders.

“Digital technology is overwhelmingly a force for good across the world and we must always champion innovation and change for the better,” said Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“At the same time I have been clear that we have to address the Wild West elements of the Internet through legislation, in a way that supports innovation. We strongly support technology companies to start up and grow, and we want to work with them to keep our citizens safe.”

While emphasis is being placed on hot-button topics such as cyberbullying and online child exploitation, the Government is clear that it wishes to tackle “the full range” of online harms. That has been greeted by UK music group BPI with a request that the Government introduces new measures to tackle Internet piracy.

In a statement issued this week, BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor welcomed the move towards legislative change and urged the Government to encompass the music industry and beyond.

“This is a vital opportunity to protect consumers and boost the UK’s music and creative industries. The BPI has long pressed for internet intermediaries and online platforms to take responsibility for the content that they promote to users,” Taylor said.

“Government should now take the power in legislation to require online giants to take effective, proactive measures to clean illegal content from their sites and services. This will keep fans away from dodgy sites full of harmful content and prevent criminals from undermining creative businesses that create UK jobs.”

The BPI has published four initial requests, each of which provides food for thought.

The demand to “establish a new fast-track process for blocking illegal sites” is not entirely unexpected, particularly given the expense of launching applications for blocking injunctions at the High Court.

“The BPI has taken a large number of actions against individual websites – 63 injunctions are in place against sites that are wholly or mainly infringing and whose business is simply to profit from criminal activity,” the BPI says.

Those injunctions can be expanded fairly easily to include new sites operating under similar banners or facilitating access to those already covered, but it’s clear the BPI would like something more streamlined. Voluntary schemes, such as the one in place in Portugal, could be an option but it’s unclear how troublesome that could be for ISPs. New legislation could solve that dilemma, however.

Another big thorn in the side for groups like the BPI are people and entities that post infringing content. The BPI is very good at taking these listings down from sites and search engines in particular (more than 600 million requests to date) but it’s a game of whac-a-mole the group would rather not engage in.

With that in mind, the BPI would like the Government to impose new rules that would compel online platforms to stop content from being re-posted after it’s been taken down while removing the accounts of repeat infringers.

Thirdly, the BPI would like the Government to introduce penalties for “online operators” who do not provide “transparent contact and ownership information.” The music group isn’t any more specific than that, but the suggestion is that operators of some sites have a tendency to hide in the shadows, something which frustrates enforcement activity.

Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, the BPI is calling on the Government to legislate for a new “duty of care” for online intermediaries and platforms. Specifically, the BPI wants “effective action” taken against businesses that use the Internet to “encourage” consumers to access content illegally.

While this could easily encompass pirate sites and services themselves, this proposal has the breadth to include a wide range of offenders, from people posting piracy-focused tutorials on monetized YouTube channels to those selling fully-loaded Kodi devices on eBay or social media.

Overall, the BPI clearly wants to place pressure on intermediaries to take action against piracy when they’re in a position to do so, and particularly those who may not have shown much enthusiasm towards industry collaboration in the past.

“Legislation in this Bill, to take powers to intervene with respect to operators that do not co-operate, would bring focus to the roundtable process and ensure that intermediaries take their responsibilities seriously,” the BPI says.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Home Office will now work on a White Paper, to be published later this year, to set out legislation to tackle “online harms”. The BPI and similar entities will hope that the Government takes their concerns on board.

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