U.S. ISP Disconnects User after Three-Strikes

While it sounds like something that might emerge from France’s Hadopi law, a suspected copyright infringer had his account suspended for six months by his Internet service provider in the United States.

According to TorrentFreak, a customer of the ISP Suddenlink had his account deactivated after a trio of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices of copyright violations. In a chat log posted on the site the affected customer is arguing with a Suddenlink representative, who implied that the DMCA forces such a disconnection, though that comment was quickly amended to, “It may be the DMCA policy or it may be the way we go about following the DMCA guidelines.”

As TorrentFreak notes, “The DMCA does not and never has required ISPs to disconnect users.” A phrase used in Suddenlink’s Terms of Service agreement does not mention a three-strike policy per se, but alludes to what might happen if copyright laws were broached:

If you continue to transfer Copyrighted Material illegally, you are violating Suddenlink’s policies and Suddenlink may take further action, including limiting your Internet download capacity, suspending or terminating your account, or a range of other measures.

Suddenlink claimed that they were “within their rights” to take such measures, which TorrentFreak labeled “an extreme measure.”

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  1. 0
    Sirusjr says:

     Right because the person using high amounts of bandwith is always going to be an illegal downloader.  Unless there is a clause in the agreement that sets a cap on bandwith then there is no reason the ISP can go against one heavy user over another.  In this case, the heavy user could also be a netflix streaming movie addict who streams 5-10 movies a week or someone who enjoys buying video games over digital download services such as Steam or downloading demos on PS3 to try out every game available.  It is simply not practical to distinguish between infringing activity and non-infringing activity because to do so you would have to monitor individual use.  

  2. 0
    Shahab says:

    First of all, an infringment notice means nothing legally. It is simply a document stating that a content owner believes a given user has infringed upon the content owner’s intellectual property. It has to be proven in a court before you can say that the user actually infringed. There is no infringment without conviction. That is the first thing wrong with what Suddenlink did.

    Second issue is that Suddenlink is opening themselves up to legal attack, by directly intervening they may be implicitly giving up their safe harbor provision protections. Once they start policing their user’s copyright infringment the content owners can sue THEM for not doing a better job or for allowing it to happen.

    Third, Suddenlink should be protecting the people who pay them, i.e. that customer who shells out money every month to recieve internet service. Why should they lose business over a DMCA notice? They are shooting themselves in the foot here, not only losing business, not only engendering customer ill will, but all to service a content owner who provides them with nothing but the cost of forwarding a DMCA notice. To add insult to injury a DMCA notice does NOT mean that actual infringement has taken place.

    It saddens me when I read these types of articles. I don’t know why some businesses feel obligated to act against their own best interests in cases like this. Are you a Suddenlink customer? Then I would start looking for a new ISP.

  3. 0
    Thad says:

    Again, you’re assuming, without any evidence to back it up, that the copyright holders’ allegations are correct and the user actually WAS illegally downloading copyrighted materials.

    Where’s the proof?  Innocent until proven guilty.

  4. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    So basically if your download activity is a little high or you, gasp, when to a torrent site, they label you as guilty and try to have yoru srvice shut off, or make you pay more than you make in a year.

  5. 0
    Thad says:

    You’re operating under the assumption that the user actually WAS engaging in copyright infringement.  Maybe he was, but there have been plenty of examples of DMCA takedown notices and RIAA lawsuits against people who were innocent.

    On the other hand, you’ve indirectly pointed out how this is going to escalate: as ISP’s start disconnecting pirates, pirates will start using encryption and proxies.

  6. 0
    Sirusjr says:

    I do not support the position of the ISP that it is somehow OK to shut off a user after sending a specified number of DMCA notices.  However, I think any prudent downloader would seriously get shaken up by receiving one notice, let alone two.  While the DMCA may not require the ISP to cut off a user, at a certain point the user should use the notices as confirmation that he is no longer an anonymous user in the sea of downloaders.  Instead, you are now a watched user who some large company knows is engaging in illegal downloading.  

    When you continue to download after receiving such notices, it sends the message that you don’t care about the consequences.  I have known people who terminated downloading completely after receiving one notice directly from the copyright holder of material they like to post online.  Once you receive that notice, you may as well terminate all copyright infringement or at the very least switch ISPs.   

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