updated 08:49 pm EST, Thu November 15, 2012
Verizon, Time Warner won't cut users after multiple copyright warnings
In a forum discussion organized by the Internet Society, the vice presidents of Verizon and Time Warner Cable declared that even after repeated notifications to customers suspected of violating copyright law, the cable companies won't perform any disconnections. The move could ease privacy and due process concerns about the Hollywood copyright holder and ISP co-managed Center for Copyright Information (CCI) overseeing the anti-piracy "six strikes" initiative.
Event host and New York Law School professor Molly Land believes that the information spelled out in the "memorandum of understanding" is nebulous when it comes to disconnection after multiple copyright violation suspicions. "The sanction of termination is disproportionate to the goals of the system," Land said. "If there's a decision not to have termination on the table, can we get that in writing? The possibility is still there."
The memorandum specifies that Internet providers are allowed to enforce policies against copyright infringers, up to and including temporary suspension or termination of accounts. Land said that if the disconnection is taken off the table, the entire system becomes "more valid under human rights law."
Copyright owners still retain the right to sue the more egregious offenders. The Motion Picture Association of America's vice president of legal affairs Ben Sheffner said that "we have no plans to sue anybody. We don't. Suing somebody is not part of the system and we have no plans to sue."
Executive director of the CCI Jill Lesser wants the public to keep an open mind about the program. Lesser believes that people should "hold judgement in abeyance until the program is up and running which will be very, very soon."
The CCI's role is to educate the public about copyright laws and inform of the consequences of any potential violations. Staff will gauge the effectiveness of these actions, the ability of companies identifying violators, and attempting to bring new ISPs into the fold. File sharers will be told how and where they can get music and movies online legally.
The advisory board of the center will ultimately have some representatives from technology companies and organizations who are critical of copyright laws of movie studios and record labels, although how balanced this will be is unclear. Movie and music industry heads have often been reluctant to accept concepts suggested by critics, such as beliefs that not every pirated copy is a lost sale or that proposed laws like PIPA and SOPA might be overreaching.