AT & T will shortly be putting some of the company's broadband customers offline for piracy.
Anonymous sources who were familiar with AT & T's plans told Axios that the company will soon inform a dozen broadband customers that their internet connections will be terminated due to copyright infringement. The termination of recidivists' accounts is a new policy for AT & T and comes to the heels of the Time Warner acquisition by the company for $ 86 billion.
In a statement to Motherboard, AT & T said the company would only terminate customers' broadband connections if they ignored the entertainment industry's repeated attempts to "inform" them of the dangers of copyright infringement.
"Based on the notifications we received, we identified the customer and shared with them the information we received" from copyright holders, AT & T said. "We also contacted the customer to inform them of infringement copyright and help to prevent the activity from being continued. "
According to AT & T, a "small number of customers" who continue to receive warnings "despite our efforts to raise them" may suddenly find themselves without an Internet connection.
As part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, ISPs are required to provide warnings about copyright infringements addressed to them by the entertainment industry. But since users often ignore these warnings and there is no real punishment for repeated violations, the entertainment industry has for years tried to boost the ante by making far more severe punishments.
In recent years, the entertainment industry has indicted ISPs that, in their opinion, have not done enough to prevent copyright infringement, arguing that broadband providers should lose their liability protection for "safe havens" under the DMCA if they refuse to repeat offenders. to end.
Many smaller ISPs challenged this argument in court, arguing that they should not be burdened with the costs of playing copyrights for copyright, especially as these efforts are often linked to so-called copyright rolls. But AT & T, now a larger broadcaster in the aftermath of his takeover of Time Warner, seems unable to take a big fight in this area.
You will have to work hard to get on the bad side of AT & T. The efforts are mainly focused on users downloading a significant volume of copyrighted material and users will have to ignore at least nine warnings before AT & T will kick you offline.
Nevertheless, critics such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation have long warned that ending broadband access for consumers is a serious, problematic overreaction of copyright infringement, especially given the fact that broadband is increasingly being seen as an essential tool. The precedent of the Supreme Court (Packingham v North Carolina) has also been interpreted by copyright experts to indicate that the offline launch of users for piracy is a violation of the First Amendment.
"A big problem with these private agreements is that they often leave internet users without a chair at the negotiating table, and with little or no recourse when the companies involved violate the privacy of users or stop the online speech of users", the EFF has argued .
Historically, threatening pirates have not done everything to stop piracy. Many users avoid following such an internet provider and entertainment industry simply by hiding their traffic behind VPNs or proxies. And because nobody follows pirates while they are floating between ISPs, there is nothing that prevents a user from switching providers (assuming that users actually have the option).
AT & T's efforts in this area are only the latest in a long series of similar efforts that have traditionally led to completely offline kicking of users.
In 2013, the broadband industry signed a deal with the entertainment industry on a controversial copyright warning system with six warnings. Under that system, users received six escalating warnings about copyright infringement, in some cases even after their connections were restricted or temporarily suspended until users acknowledged the warnings.
The & # 39; educational & # 39; material ISPs that were passed on to consumers were demonstrably unilateral (ignoring concepts such as fair use) and consumers had to pay a fee of $ 35 to dispute their innocence. This was a remarkable problem, as accusations are traditionally based on dubious information and the assumption of debt is entirely based on the IP address.
By 2017 the program had largely ended and the entertainment industry has since then tried to force ISP's to the limit. AT & T, for its part, seems happy to oblige.