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EFF: The Music Industry Shouldn't Be Able To Cut Off Your Internet Access ( 88

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electronic Frontier Foundation: No one should have to fear losing their internet connection because of unfounded accusations. But some rights holders want to use copyright law to force your Internet service provider (ISP) to cut off your access whenever they say so, and in a case the Washington Post called "the copyright case that should worry all Internet providers," they're hoping the courts will help them. We first wrote about this case -- BMG v. Cox Communications -- when it was filed back in 2014, and last month, EFF, Public Knowledge (PK), and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) urged the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to overturn a ruling that ISP Cox Communications was liable for copyright infringement. EFF, PK and CDT advised the court to consider the importance of Internet access in daily life in determining when copyright law requires an ISP to cut off someone's Internet subscription. The case turns in part on a provision in copyright law that gives internet intermediaries a safe harbor -- legal protection against some copyright infringement lawsuits -- provided they follow certain procedures. Online platforms like Facebook and YouTube, along with other internet intermediaries, have to "reasonably implement" a policy for terminating "subscribers and account holders" that are "repeat infringers" in "appropriate circumstances." But given the importance of Internet access, the circumstances where it's appropriate to cut off a home Internet subscription entirely are few and far between. The law as written is flexible enough that providers can design and implement policies that make sense for the nature of their service and their subscribers' circumstances. A repeat infringer policy for the company that provides your link to the Internet as a whole should take into account the essential nature of internet access and the severe harm caused by disconnection. But music publisher BMG wants to use this provision to force ISPs to become tougher enforcers of copyright law. According to BMG, ISPs should be required both to forward rights holders' threatening demand letters to their subscribers and terminate a subscriber's Internet access whenever rights holders allege that person has repeatedly violated copyright law. A subscriber is a "repeat infringer" and subject to termination, they argue, whenever they say so. Cox's appeal of the ruling raises two very important issues: (1) Who should be considered a "repeat infringer" who should be cut off from the Internet, and (2) whether ISPs must either cede to rights holders' demands or monitor their subscribers' internet habits to avoid liability. Slashdot reader waspleg adds: Two landmark Supreme Court cases, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., and Sony Corp. of America v. Universal Studios made clear that if a service is capable of significant lawful uses, and the provider doesn't actively encourage users to commit copyright infringement, the provider shouldn't be held responsible when someone nonetheless uses the service unlawfully.
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EFF: The Music Industry Shouldn't Be Able To Cut Off Your Internet Access

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  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Monday December 12, 2016 @08:18PM (#53472827)
    As long as this is an equitable two-way street, I don't see a problem. If, the second time (which would make them a repeat offender) a "rights holder" misuses email to accuse someone falsely their own Internet service is cut off, this could work. Same with misusing the postal service.
    • Welcome back to biblical ages, where your hand gets cut off if you use it to steal!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      lets throw phone line access into this too.. two robocall or scam phone call complaints and no more phone for you, regardless of what fucking country you are in or how many vpn or voip or hacked zombie computers you route through.

      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        Add postal service as well then. Sending junk mail - no postal service for 2 weeks, sending a copyright infringement VHS tape, no postal service for life.

    • by Xenographic ( 557057 ) on Monday December 12, 2016 @09:02PM (#53473065) Journal

      Hmm, I wonder how many copyright infringement lawsuits the big labels have faced? Could they be considered a "repeat infringer" based on those?

      If not, why does it apply to normal people who know little to nothing about copyright law, but not to sophisticated parties with many lawyers who reasonably should know their own business?

    • by Z80a ( 971949 )

      One of the problems is that its too easy to falsify downloads from a certain IP address.
      If you get a system like this up and running, people WILL abuse it horribly.

      • by Falos ( 2905315 )
        No it won't, IPs reflect reality perfectly.

        This post sent from: Lorong Chuan, Lenovo
      • by Anonymous Coward

        They already are, that is why you get cases where printers and dead people are accused of copyright infringement.
        The copyright holders know this and doesn't care. It costs them more to figure out if the accusation is reasonable than just going after everyone.
        If you want to know how it will work if you let them shut down internet access to people based on accusations, just look at how it works with Youtube.
        There are small artists that have gotten their channels shut down just because the RIAA just assumed th

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I'm surprised Google accepts billions of take-down notices a year from companies that massively abuse that system too. After the 9000th time Sony Pictures tries to remove from search results, why are they still getting automated notice processing rights?

      • They do it because that's the way the law was written. Either they obey the takedown notice and deal with the fallout after the fact, or they risk losing safe harbor.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          They have banned a few companies who were abusing the system before. Seems like they do it when they have so much evidence that they feel any lawsuit would go their way.

  • Shades of Cory Doctorow's Pirate Cinema.....

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Monday December 12, 2016 @08:33PM (#53472923)

    ... because the Internet should be classified as a utility similar to electricity.

    No one's advocating termination of house power for a third offender.

    The music industry, in its current form, is a dying business model and knows full well these broad-reaching attempts to stop digital hemorrhages are just not going to work.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The music industry, in its current form, is a dying business model and knows full well these broad-reaching attempts to stop digital hemorrhages are just not going to work.

      What about employment for US IT workers? Is that a dying business model as well?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, but we don't get laws that makes it possible to sue people for not giving us jobs.
        When a business model is dying you man up and move on.
        Turning back the clock doesn't work and trying only causes more problems.

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      The music industry, in its current form, is a dying business model and knows full well these broad-reaching attempts to stop digital hemorrhages are just not going to work.

      And it's not going to go quietly into the night unfortunately. Record labels, MPAA/RIAA are just glorified middle men. They are no talent ass clowns that exploit creative people that are desperate to make a living doing what they love. They couldn't care less about art, music or culture, they just care about the money and that's evident in the massive amount of money spent on litigation. If there wasn't a significant amount of money involved here, this stuff would have disappeared a long time ago. It's

      • Agree.

        The "massive amount of money" is the smoking gun.

        Music is a great source of revenue for the IP protection industry.

        Artists and labels need to rework their business architects to bypass the leeches.

        It will happen that way, too.

        For reference, we can scrutinize the rapid decline of the analog camera industry.

        Digitization has empowered the pedestrian photographer and that whole antiquated film camera landscape is pretty much scorched.

    • Agreed. The ISPs should be considered "common carriers" and should have zero involvement with content.

      Further, how the hell would an ISP know *anything* about whether my activities are licensed or not. I work with a community theater that licenses shows, scripts and music all the time. For the duration of the contract I have with Tams-Whitmark [], MTI [], or whoever, I have legal access to the materials, including editing/modifying for our venue's needs. Many of these changes will be circulated via email or
      • I appreciate the view from your wheelhouse. It's an experience in which I am totally naive, and yet grok.

        I'm a retired IT guy.

        From my perspective, I question the forensics required to support termination of my connection.

        I can actually be downloading material illegally and not know it, even with my level of expertise. Pity the lay person.

        - I can be infected with malware that makes me a download relay.
        - Typically, people don't secure their WiFi. "Drive-by" hijack downloading is very popular.
        - A visitor to my

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2016 @08:36PM (#53472937)

    Its like saying someone can't own a mailbox because someone sent them an illegal package once. It is like saying someone has no right to talk, after hearing something. Copyright infringement is not an offense so awful to take away someone's human right to be on the Internet.

    • by Falos ( 2905315 )
      It actually reminds me of the people who live in the house at the geographical center of the USA, the zero-zero coordinates that some geoIP location DBs/trackers point towards (they shouldn't) when they actually got an LOL I DUNNO result.

      They put up a sign with THE DEVICE ISN'T HERE FUCK OFF explanations and such because law enforcement kept showing up.

      But hey the copyright mafiAA says it's totes here, so we're instantly authorized and indeed legally obligated to kick down the door and drag them out p
    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      Its like saying someone can't own a mailbox because someone sent them an illegal package once.

      No no no, it is a completely unfounded analogy. Let me fix it for you :

      Its like saying someone can't own a mailbox because someone sent them an illegal package twice.

      Apple to apples comparison.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2016 @08:38PM (#53472939)

    Repeat offenders should be cut off but "accused"??? What about convicted!
    I worry that the music/film industry can have the power to just accuse someone and have their internet cut off with out independent proof to identify the particular offender.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The "identify the particular offender" is going to get more interesting AC.
      With the amount of SJW hero groups now been allowed powers on different media and social media sites what will be the next net ban?
      As more monarchies, theocracies and cults fund US social media sites what other users could be removed?
      Blasphemy? Drawing or spreading a cartoon that is a gateway to atheism? Upsetting a monarch or cult? News about Communist party leaders wealth?
      Comment about illegal immigration? Pollution? A h
  • Voter suppression... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2016 @08:46PM (#53472975)

    This could be considered a method of voter suppression because many voters use the internet for news and to investigate candidate positions.

  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Monday December 12, 2016 @08:56PM (#53473033) Homepage

    There are many problems with copyright enforcement, two of which is the disproportionate size of litigants and low cost of making a false complaint. There ought to be some liquidated damages like US$1000/day-blocked per 3Mbps in the event of an unsupported/unproven finding. Modest for the complainer, but sufficient to encourage vigorous defense and hence very careful prosecution.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The EU likes to use % of global revenue. It scales nicely and allows small companies to defend their copyrights without unreasonable risk, while still providing a strong punishment for large multinationals.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for not using the "P" word. Copyright infringers are exactly that. Visions of peg legs, eye patches, and hooks need not apply to this discourse.

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdfl[ ]com ['at.' in gap]> on Monday December 12, 2016 @09:23PM (#53473135) Journal
    And if your ISP wants to cozy up to the music industry and do whatever they want, then you might just have to find a different provider. It's your ISP that loses out if they lose you as a subscriber, so it's not in their best interests to alienate you without a pretty good reason.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know what fantasy land you live in, but where I'm at there is a single real broadband provider. Lose access to them and you're stuck streaming from your cell phone @ $50/Gig.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        My point is that barring a court order, it is actually up to your isp whether to terminate your access or not, and it generally isn't in your ISPs interest to lose you as a subscriber unless your usage is impacting other users.

        broadband access isn't an inalienable right, so there's little you can do if your ISP wants to be in bed with the music industry companies and do whatever they say, but in the end it's still not going to be beneficial to them if they start disconnecting lots of subscribers

    • If only! Choices of Internet providers are few. Do you want provider A or provider B, both of whom are in the Copyright Alert System?

      My ISP texted me a CAS notice once. I was plenty angry about the accusation, the system, and the premises the whole thing is built on, as well as their choice of communication medium, but what could I do? Who could I switch to? I looked for alternatives and found nothing but another member of the CAS, though I am in a major metropolitan area.

    • The ISPs in my area (and my previous area) cut deals with the local municipalities for geographic monopolies. This was done to "keep competing service providers from repeatedly digging up the streets" which was somehow billed as better for the end-user. Uh huh. I have one ISP I can contract with - the cable company (I'm too far for DSL, and have obstructed line-of-sight for satellite.) My only other option is dial-up over POTS, which would only serve for basic email functions.

      This is far from a compet
  • by Guybrush_T ( 980074 ) on Monday December 12, 2016 @09:27PM (#53473159)

    The EU actually prevented the music industry from doing that in France, stating that having an internet access is a basic need. The hadopi law was therefore half dead on arrival.

    Let's hope the same happens in the US.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Monday December 12, 2016 @10:26PM (#53473433)

      Good luck with that. Big companies, especially the entertainment industry, already have the US government in their pockets.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2016 @09:32PM (#53473187)

    The copyright holders want to use restriction to internet access as a club, instead of a surgical knife. Given the importance of the internet in daily life, especially given its increased importance and utility to the disabled and elderly (I'm a housebound disabled woman who uses the internet to do things like pay my bills, order grocery deliveries, and not go insane from a complete lack of social interaction), a sane response would be "if someone uses torrents to infringe copyright, block their access to torrents", "if someone uses Usenet to ...", etc etc. But these wankers of course could never accept any sanely measured response like this because these are the people who sue for ONE MILLION DOLLARS! for downloading/uploading a single mp3, and so of course they want the situation to be as disproportionately punitive as possible. Also, while I pay for media when I can (that being somewhat limited due to the low income which comes with being unable to work), even that which I can afford to pay for I generally also download an unDRMed (i.e. "pirated") version of because the various ways I need to use my media player of choice, VLC for the record, just to ensure things like access to subtitles i.e. "captions" in Americanese (even filthy "pirate" subtitles, a nice side effect of VLC also being choosing font style/size so subtitles are about half-by-height and a quarter-by-width the ABSURDLY HUGE FONT SIZE you find on DVDs and Blu-rays... yes, I use memetastic Impact-like fonts for that, except less ugly, so perhaps Trektastic LCARS-like is a better term), to ensure those subtitles have an offset of about 650ms after the relevant line begins (don't even ask me to get into the complex reasons why that breaks my brain less and increases accessibility, just trust it does), proper keyboard shortcuts for skipping back and forth a few seconds (cognitive issues sometimes make me need to repeat a line two or five times to get my brain to absorb it and I am not about to screw around with an imprecise and cumbersome cursor-based time bar) and various other ways in which I need to ensure my media player is accessible. Plus I do apologise that about 60% of this post went on a wee tangent, but that's what happens when something gets me started about the various ways people forget or dismiss accessibility for the disabled!

    • You may be falling for the "I want a pony" trick. The music industry asks to be able to cut off people's Internet access entirely, and you see the Great Firewall of China (But for Music) as a reasonable compromise.

      • by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <> on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @10:25AM (#53475497) Journal

        You too may be falling for that trick. Lot of the discussion here runs with the implication that while downloading is not as heinous a crime as stealing, it is still sort of unfair to the artists.

        Should downloading be a crime at all? Nothing was hurt except a tired, broken, obsolete and extremely inefficient business model that needs to be killed off. If you buy from the grocery store, did you just hurt the fast food industry business model? If you drive a car, did you hurt buggy whip manufacturers? Yes, yes you did! Why aren't those actions crimes, why does the music industry get such special status, get to cling to their business model of choice, when there are other perfectly viable models they could use?

  • For instance, the internet can be used to gather legal materials for legal proceedings.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... have to "reasonably implement" a policy for terminating "subscribers ...

    Is this the case where the ISP (Cox communications) was found liable for not implementing an infringement notification mechanism and three-strikes policy? There's a big difference between blocking someone using Twitter and Facebook versus blocking someone using email and online banking.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If i had a choice, I would give the recording companies what they ask for with one provision...
    if a right holder was found to incorrectly claim infringement three times in any jurisdiction, the rights to the work would be forfeit to public domain.
    In the event of an artist that has signed over rights for a tiny royalty, the record label is on the hook to the artist for 10 years of gold album sales (500,000 units) at current album rates per fraudulent infringement claim.

    This should stop the rampant disregard

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @06:16AM (#53474689) Homepage

    Fixing the copyright term would eliminate many problems: "...a term of 14 years, with the right to renew for one additional 14 year term should the copyright holder still be alive".

    Currently, there is so little music in the public domain that it's laughable. Copyright was enacted to protect and incentivize the people who produce artistic works, not to enrich the publishers, heirs and other non-productive entities. This is true all the way back to the original statute in England from 1710 [].

    Imagine if all of the music, books, films, etc. through 1988 were in the public domain, along with and many of the works through 2002. What a different world it would be!

    • Imagine if all of the music, books, films, etc. through 1988 were in the public domain, along with and many of the works through 2002. What a different world it would be!

      Yes, we'd be inundated with remakes, reboots and unneccessary sequels of classic works...

      ...Oh. Nevermind.

      • Would that be a bad thing? Honest question. If the world were flooded with many more "unofficial" remakes and reboots on account of a shorter copyright term, wouldn't that drive the development of new properties? After all, remakes and reboots would become common to the point of worthlessness if any Joe Schmo (or competing studio) could "steal" your franchise after just a few years and make their own stab at a big budget production. The only way to get ahead in that world would be to stay ahead by constantl

        • My point is that we're already inundated with re-hash crap. It could hardly get any worse with shorter copyright terms than it is now!
  • Access to the internet is classified as a basic human right by the UN..
  • This would likely hold for video as well, and many ISPs are also content provider/owners. I am sure they are glad music is doing the heavy lifting for them, this round...

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault