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AT&T teaming with RIAA on naming claimed pirates

updated 01:30 pm EDT, Wed March 25, 2009

AT&T issuing piracy notice

(Update with AT&T response) Telecommunications provider AT&T has confirmed it is working with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) by issuing cease and desist notices to subscribers whose accounts have allegedly been involved in illegal file sharing. CNET reported on Tuesday that AT&T senior executive Jim Cicconi broke the news at a digital music conference in Nashville. Both AT&T and Comcast were named as partners in RIAA's fight back in January, which switched from suing file sharers to issuing notices via Internet service providers. The association has other ISP partners, but has not yet named them.

Cicconi noted that AT&T is testing customer reaction with the notices, and AT&T says they are meant to educate customers and not accuse them of any wrongdoing. Claimed industry sources indicate AT&T would highlight the consequences of illegal downloading but would not mention service cancellations or other disruptions. The RIAA has previously announced repeat offenders could lose Internet service, if only temporarily, as part of its graduated response plan, though providers would still need to accept the approach.

Critics have warned that instituting a warning system with a real threat of disconnection has the potential to drive customers towards smaller providers or those that refuse to adopt the RIAA policy. [via CNET]

Update: AT&T has responded to the report by stressing that no accounts are being suspended, nor customers accused. AT&T's experience has been that after the notices, customers stop the questionable behavior with some thanking them for bringing the issue to their attention. A similar program headed up by Warner Music Group in the UK resulted in 70 percent of subscribers stopping their illegal activities after the first notice, while 90 percent stopped after the second.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. vasic

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2005


    It's RIAA, but...

    As much as i hate RIAA and the exploitative business its members are running, this measure is supposed to crack down on those who wantonly share thousands of copyrighted music (and, presumably, video) files.

    If there are very few to none false-positives, this system would serve a proper purpose. No matter how we slice it, people who have some Limewire or Bit torrent client running 24/7, with thousands of files there, should be coerced to stop doing that. RIAA's initial ideas have backfired big time (suing young girls and grandmas), so they're exploring other methods. And let's not kid ourselves; vast majority of those who share thousands of files aren't doing it only because it is 'difficult' or 'impossible' to find legal ways to buy and download the same content. They are just getting free music (and/or movies) and spreading that around.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Junior Member

    Joined: Apr 1999



    But the point is that the system is not perfect, as demonstrated by a large portion of the filesharing lawsuits that went against the RIAA for lack of evidence implicating the defendant. They still have not gotten any better at correctly identifying filesharers; they're just changing what they do when they do think they've found one. The problem with then disconnecting people accused of filesharing is that there's no opportunity for appeal, or burden on the RIAA to provide any solid evidence that would hold up in court. No private entity should have so much power to determine who is and isn't allowed to have access to something as critical as internet access.

    Try forbidding people from watching TV if they're accused of capping and sharing TV content, and see how long until you've got an angry mob with pitchforks. You can't just deny people access to the world of information around us anymore; it's inhumane.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jan 2007


    The good news is

    that the deathstar company has said it is not cutting people's access:
    "Update: AT&T has responded to the report by stressing that no accounts are being suspended, nor customers accused."

    I'm guessing here, but somehow, a realist was allowed to make that decision. I'm sure that it is a fluke good decision that they will rectify shortly.

  1. Athens

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: Jan 2003



    Im glad I live in Canada, I got one of those notices once from Telus and replied stating the media tax we pay makes it basically legal. Telus agreed and said they still obligated to pass on the notice even though no law is being technically broken due to the grey area the media tax created.

  1. Salsa

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Oct 2003



    So, the bottom line is that we can just ignore these notices because nobody is threatening punishment, right? It looks like they are just trying to scare us and it works 90% of the time, so they will keep doing it until it stops working.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jan 2007


    re: ignore?

    No. The bottom line is they are treating you like a responsible honest person and expect you will act accordingly by discontinuing an activity you either didn't think was illegal but is, or by discontinuing an activity you weren't even aware you were engaged in, but are.

  1. Marook

    Forum Regular

    Joined: May 1999


    I would switch..

    If I lived in that country, I would change provider!

  1. shawnde

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008



    It's funny ... In Canada we can fix everything with a little tax :-) I mean the Americans had 911, and we fixed our security issues with a security tax.

    Canada's system is as insane as the rest. I'm not defending the RIAA/ATT thing. That's the most absurd; but the tax alternative is not any better.

    Just keep in mind that we pay an extra tax on cassette tapes, VHS blanks, CD-R media and whatnot. I never use CD-R for music; data only, but I have to pay a tax.

    What we need is an end to media moguls and conglomerates who abuse and bully people.

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