updated 03:25 pm EST, Wed January 20, 2010
Verizon first major to disconnect for piracy
Verizon today admitted that it has disconnected some users whose connections have repeatedly been seen carrying pirated material. The provider's spokeswoman, Bobbi Henson, wouldn't say how many or after how many notices but said Verizon has "cut some people off" in small numbers. It had already been sending notices on a wider level since April and for the RIAA in particular since November.
Henson is quick to add that Verizon doesn't monitor its DSL and fiber optic services itself and that it rarely needs more than a single notice. Often the notice is sent to a parent that doesn't realize one or more of their children is pirating material and has the activity put to an end before a second warning is necessary.
An example message forwarded to CNET also reveals that Verizon still refuses to personally identify customers without a legal order and is only notifying the account associated with a given IP address at the time of the supposedly illegal trading.
Even so, the news contradicts Verizon's previous inclination to avoid cutting off service. Potentially, it also hints at Verizon having reached an agreement with music labels and studios where others haven't in the past. Insiders have noted that the RIAA's tentative deals have been "scarecrow" agreements meant to spook pirates through the press rather than any necessary guarantee of action. Verizon isn't legally required to obey cutoff requests.
Larger providers like Comcast still aren't known to disconnect users but indirectly curb piracy by placing caps or throttling service, discouraging pirates from having an always-open BitTorrent client or downloading particularly large material like HD videos and software.