The crackdown on intellectual property pirates continues: Comcast, one of the United States’ largest Internet providers, recently has acted in the ongoing battle against those who repeatedly infringe on others’ copyrights, with TorrentFreak, according to a tip it has received, reporting that the giant service provider is terminating accounts, and, in some instances, without a court order. Comcast confirmed to the online tech site that it will terminate users’ accounts after “repeated and egregious copyright infringement.”
Comcast further asserts that, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a court order is not required to terminate accounts of those who repeatedly infringe others’ copyrights — for example by up- and down-loading music, videos and other pirated versions of films, podcasts, recordings and similar protected materials.
There is some dispute as to whether Comcast can circumvent due process by terminating accounts without a court order. ISPs like Verizon and other service providers like YouTube have adopted policies similar to Comcast’s. AT&T, on the other hand, declared that it would never do such a thing without first acquiring a court order.
The DMCA, legislation that covers copyright protection, demands that ISPs “adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network who are repeat infringers.” ISPs receiving DMCA notices are required to give them to the customer/copyright infringer. As part of the Six Strikes anti-piracy program, those who repeatedly infringe copyrights will be cited. After six strikes, offenders will be punished. Punishment ranges from mandatory copyright courses, to temporary Internet restrictions, to suspension.
Those in the content-creation community, frustrated over their unsuccessful efforts to pursue pirates with unpopular damage suits and other measures, opened a new front in the IP protection battle by pressing IPs to join in measures to protect copyrighted material. And though the major services have signed aboard, many others have not, leading to further efforts, now against these service providers.
Further, concerns persist about the service providers’ involvement, partly because they can pick and choose their enforcement measures, it is uncertain whether users’ rights will be safeguarded and it is unclear whether this crackdown will have any anti-piracy effect at all.