Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet Government Media Music Networking The Courts News

AT&T Won't Terminate User Service For RIAA Without a Court Order 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the somewhat-less-lame dept.
On Wednesday, we discussed news that AT&T had begun sending takedown notices to users whom the RIAA has accused of illegally downloading copyrighted works. Cox and Comcast are both cooperating with the RIAA in that regard as well. However, while Cox seems willing to shut off service in the case of repeat offenders, Comcast denied that it was considering a similar penalty, and AT&T said they'll flat out refuse to terminate service on the RIAA's word alone; it will take a court order. They seem satisfied with the effect letters have had on inhibiting such downloads: "'It's a standard part of everybody's terms of service,' [AT&T senior executive vice president Jim Cicconi] said. 'If somebody is engaging in illegal activity, it basically gives us the right to do it ... We're not a finder of fact and under no circumstances would we ever suspend or terminate service based on an allegation from a third party. We're just simply reminding people that they can't engage in illegal activity.' Cicconi said the company began testing this kind of 'forward noticing' late last year and even experimented with sending certified letters. Cicconi said the notices worked. The company saw very few repeat offenders."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AT&T Won't Terminate User Service For RIAA Without a Court Order

Comments Filter:
  • Good for AT&T! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by javacowboy (222023) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @09:36AM (#27378593)

    As much as I despise some of AT&T's business practises, kudos to them for doing the right thing in this case. I have absolutely no problems with sending warnings to people and disconnecting them only if they're found guilty after a fair trail.

    The only thing I would change is giving them a dial-up speed (can check email and pay bills, but not pirate anything) internet connection if they're found guilty via a fair process. Internet access is indispensable for most people, and losing internet would be like losing phone service. The punishment should fit the transgression.

    • Re:Good for AT&T! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by specific (963862) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @09:40AM (#27378609)
      I'm not sure they deserve kudos for this. Looks more like they simply don't want to axe a paying customer. After all, they aren't losing the money from all the downloading.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I don't know about anybody else, but if I get one of those letters from AT&T, I'm going to to wait around for them to terminate my service, I'll be terminating my service as soon as it arrives. Jerks. I can live without internet or live with using a smaller wireless network.
        • grr, I haven't had my coffee yet this morning... That should read, I'm NOT going to wait around for them to terminate my service.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I don't know about anybody else, but if I get one of those letters from AT&T, I'm going to to wait around for them to terminate my service, I'll be terminating my service as soon as it arrives. Jerks. I can live without internet or live with using a smaller wireless network.

          Maybe YOU can but most people have gotten used to it. In many areas, it's indispensable as there are many people that can't pay all their bills from an ATM and don't have the time to go all the way across town to find an office to pay them.

          What about software developers? What would WE do without Internet?

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            I know it's so 19th century, but there are things called checks, and an organization called the Post Office will deliver them all the way across town for 42 cents.
            • Wells Fargo, for one, has introduced all sorts of new fees even for their high balance metered accounts.

              My only conclusion after reading all of their new fees on my business accounts is that they want to obliterate all check transactions.

              They literally charge twice for checks deposited at a teller window - once for the teller touching the check, and once for clearing the check.

              • by MBGMorden (803437)

                Sounds like you're discussing deposits - not writing checks. I use Wachovia (which is now owned by Wells Fargo), and they have a similar charge but t really pertains to the deposit process, not to checks in particular. You can make unlimited deposits via ATM. You get 2 interactions with a teller per month. Any more than 2 interactions and it's $1.50 or so per visit to the teller.

                As stated though, since a visit to the bank is only needed for deposits (which I can do at the ATM anyways), and doesn't apply

            • by Macrat (638047)

              I know it's so 19th century, but there are things called checks, and an organization called the Post Office will deliver them all the way across town for 42 cents.

              Except that the Post Office is going under..

        • Re:Good for AT&T! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Kjella (173770) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @10:38AM (#27378947) Homepage

          In other words, you don't want to hear anything unless you get slapped with a lawsuit? In general, if I was using some service which meant there was no direct way to contact me and my use of that service eas bothering someone I'd expect there to be a way to notify me. If I was renting a car and was driving on some private road without noticing but the land owner did, caught rental logo and the registration number and just wanted to tell me "Please don't use our road" I'd expect the rental company to forward that message.

          Not threaten to never rent me a car again. Not acting like a goon squad investigating the rental car's GPS. Not turn over my identiiation to the land owner of some place I alledgedly drove. Just pass the message. If they have to file trespass charges because the rental company won't forward anything without a court order that's way overkill. The analogy is a ltitle flawed since in this case the land owner could put up better signs, but I'm sure you get the point.

          Let me try a geekier analogy. Imagine you wrote a script. A buggy script that got stuck in an infinite loop and kept doing http requests over and over maxing your bandwidth all day long. What would you like, a notice from your ISP that the site doesn't like the thousands of requests and 20Mbit/s bandwidth drain or a denial-of-service lawsuit? I understand that some people here watn to raise the bar for the RIAA do to anything at all, but in this case I think your position is rather absurd.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Who said anything about getting sued? AT&T is issuing take-down notices on behalf of the RIAA, not suing people. If they start working with the RIAA to sue people, you can be damn sure I'll cancel ASAP, of course I would, who wouldn't? Way to jump to conclusions there buddy....
            • by Kjella (173770)

              So how would you like the RIAA to contact you, magic? If AT&T won't forward notices to you, do you think you'll be untouchable and can leech freely without the RIAA being able to do a damn thing about it? Yeah, right. Then the RIAA will start filing lawsuits again to get your info, whether it's to scare or cash in. "If they start working with the RIAA to sue people" is you jumping to conclusions. But you seem to have some unrealistic expectation that you can do whatever you want on the Internet and it'l

            • by MBGMorden (803437)

              That was kinda the point . . .

              AT&T is issuing take-down notices. That's it. It's a little notification from the copyright owner saying "Stop sharing our stuff.". They will do no more without a court order. Saying that you're cancel simply for receiving the take down notice is, as the GP stated, essentially saying that you don't want to be bothered at all until the RIAA slaps you with a lawsuit.

              If it bothers you that much take a boilerplate line from the notice and add it to your spam filters. You wo

        • Re:Good for AT&T! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mal3 (59208) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:54AM (#27379507)

          First off, not only did you not RTFA, but you couldn't even read the headline. The whole point of the article is that AT&T is *NOT* going to turn off your service without a court order.

          As far as them being jerks for sending you a letter, I would think you'd like the heads up that whatever you're doing(legal or not) is drawing the attention of the RIAA. This is about the best policy one could hope for from an ISP.

          • How about instead of instructing me to read TFS, you try reading what I said in my comment? I don't care that AT&T won't cut off my service -- I care that AT&T is colluding with the RIAA to spy on me! As for them being jerks, nowhere did I ever say that was downloading illegal content, you just inferred that I must be guilty because I was said I would cancel service if I might get a letter. The RIAA already has you thinking I'm guilty of copyright infringement and they haven't even had to look at
      • So rare (Score:5, Interesting)

        by iYk6 (1425255) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @10:03AM (#27378731)

        I'm not sure they deserve kudos for this. Looks more like they simply don't want to axe a paying customer.

        In these days, common business sense, choosing not to mess with your own customers, is so rare that kudos may be called for.

        • Re:So rare (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Hurricane78 (562437) <.gro.todhsals. .ta. .deteled.> on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:17AM (#27379237)

          No. Let me make an analog sentence:

          In these days, common sense, choosing not to rape and kill every child you see, is so rare that kudos may be called for.

          This shows, how unacceptable giving kudos for such things is.

          I think Chris Rock also had a critique about this in his program. Went something along the lines of:
          Guy 1 (proud): I care for my children. And I don't steal no shit.
          Chris Rock: Do you think you deserve credit for this?? NO! You are SUPPOSED to do these things!!
          (Sorry, can't recite it properly. But you get the drift.)

          • by artor3 (1344997)

            Except your sentence is completely, and obviously false, whereas the statement that "choosing not to mess with your own customers is rare" is at least arguably true.

            • You have never been to a real cruel war, have you? Yugoslavia, Vietnam, and the Nazis instantly come to mind.
              I would give you the phone number of that old Yugoslavian grandma that lived above me, who cried about exactly such situations. Amongst horrible things like roasting children on a spit, like pigs, or leading a whole village up to a hill, and letting them lie in the sun until they died from drying out. Women, children, even the dogs.
              But unfortunately she died last year. :(

              If you think something like t

          • Re:So rare (Score:4, Insightful)

            by iYk6 (1425255) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @05:49PM (#27382043)

            These people are like 2 year olds who have just learned to poop in the toilet. Perhaps they don't deserve kudos for something so simple, but if you want them to continue their newly discovered behavior, kudos may be in order. Keep in mind that what comes naturally to you and me does not come naturally to them, and pooping in the toilet is a big deal for them.

          • by Sark666 (756464)

            I can't quote him exactly either but it went something like:

            "You're supposed to take care of your kids you low-expectation-having mother fucker!!!"

            • Re:So rare (Score:4, Informative)

              by PMBjornerud (947233) on Monday March 30, 2009 @08:24AM (#27386619)

              (Sorry, can't recite it properly. But you get the drift.)

              I can't quote him exactly either but it went something like ...

              I hereby revoke your geek cards.
              Now google this 100 times:
              "Chris Rock quote You're supposed to take care of your kids"

              You know the worst thing about niggas? Niggas always want credit for some shit they supposed to do. A nigga will brag about some shit a normal man just does. A nigga will say some shit like, "I take care of my kids." You're supposed to, you dumb motherfucker! What kind of ignorant shit is that? "I ain't never been to jail!" What do you want, a cookie?! You're not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having motherfucker!

        • Re:So rare (Score:4, Informative)

          by witherstaff (713820) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @11:04PM (#27383859) Homepage
          Don't forget that they're sending everything through the NSA. [wired.com] After that breach of privacy to clients AT&T doesn't deserve any kudos.
      • by Cylix (55374)

        Kudos or not... at least it's sensible.

        I had a friend whose "kids" were apparently downloading movies through live wire.

        Adelphia shut his connection off and sent a letter. He had to call back in to have it turned on.

        They shut off his connection first and afterward sent letter. He naturally assumed it was due to some issue with his provider and called support. They had no idea why his account was down so they turned it on. Later, after receiving the letter he completely flipped out because he thought it mean

      • by DJRumpy (1345787)
        There are two that I believe deserve kudos:

        http://newscenter.verizon.com/press-releases/verizon/2003/page.jsp?itemID=29713865 [verizon.com]

        AT&T as well since they are following the rule of law and requiring a court order before suspending a user account. Not only is this good business but it makes sense. Something our laws rarely get right it seems.

        If Comcast is ever complicit with the RIAA in any way that violates the DMCA I for one will be more than happy to jump ship to get FIOS.

        "Comcast said in a sta
        • by DJRumpy (1345787)
          Oops..Forgot the relevant AT&T response from one of the links above:

          "Reached Wednesday morning, Claudia Jones, an AT&T spokeswoman, said the company's letters do include a mention that company retains the right to terminate service. She wanted to make it clear that AT&T has no intention of doing so, however. Jones also said the ISP never shares customers' names or any other personal information. What the company does do is send a "cover letter" to the accused customer along with the letter th
      • I'm not sure they deserve kudos for this. Looks more like they simply don't want to axe a paying customer. After all, they aren't losing the money from all the downloading.

        It's funny you should mention that. Apparently the going rate for bandwidth is somewhere around $0.16/GB [slashdot.org].

        I'm of the opinion that it's probably a bit less, since AT&T is a huge backbone, and thus own all their own equipment including the buildings the stuff is sitting in. But it does raise the interesting point that if someone were torrenting 500+ GB/mo, they might be losing money.

        Torrents are notoriously hard on ISP networks. Verizon even introduced torrent acceleration because of it - it connects peers

      • I agree 100%. They're still on my "On Notice" list. It will take a lot for them to recover from their wiretapping cooperation. That really says a lot more about how they feel about their customers...
    • Maybe they don't want to deliberately dump profitable customers any more than they have to, even if they may be still be driving them away by having a frustrating customer service bureaucracy.

    • Re:Good for AT&T! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ledow (319597) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @09:55AM (#27378685) Homepage

      No kudos required. This is the *only* sensible course of action. It's not up to AT&T to decide if people have done something or not, that's up to a court of law. Allegations are all well and good but if someone wrote to my telecoms company saying I'd been making harassing phone calls, the telecoms company can't cut me off unless they can PROVE those phone calls happened and were harassing (much easier than my ISP proving that I downloaded copyright-infringing material from a third-party without a valid copyright license to the right in question, or under fair-use laws) or a court order telling them to do so. Anything else is just bunkum from companies that have NOT checked their legal requirements and/or liabilities.

      In time, all ISP's will subscribe to this way of thinking, becuase it's the only path they can follow without introducing legal problems for themselves. At the moment, it's a non-issue because your internet doesn't go off without a court order, or legal proof of breach of contract, or customers agreeing to it. There's not a single confirmed case of that ever happening. Ask yourself why.

      And downgrading my speed is no different to cutting me off, if what you're alleging is breach of contract. You still have to prove that breach of contract in a court of law before you can change the terms of the contract.

      Internet access is *not* a right. Neither is telephone access. If you breach the contract or misuse either, you can and will be cut off if it can be proven, not slowed down because "it's a necessity". And the day that it becomes *impossible* to do something without a telephone or internet access is the day that it will be *impossible* to legally cut someone off from either. That day won't happen any time soon.

      I've just had a blazing row with a company demanding that they never contact me by telephone but only on paper. That row turned a two-month-long dispute with multiple, long, telephone calls, being passed through dozens of departments from both sides into two letters (one each) being exchanged and solving the problem within a week. Telephone and Internet communication isn't required and is in fact only a convenience that can reduce the administrative hassle of dealing with people. However, written communication is not only legally binding, easily recorded (you can't necessarily record a telephone conversation in some countries), accepted by courts - it is the one of the very few ways to provide official legal communication (serving notices, court orders, etc.). While written communication exists, your phone and Internet can be cut off without redress and continuing to allow you access to it after a breach of contract on the terms of your use opens up the phone/ISP companies to liability. The only thing to worry about is the MEANS of obtaining that cut-off.

      There will be a case, somewhere soon, where an ISP cuts off a customer with no evidence who then chooses to fight. And then ALL companies will see why AT&T adopted this particular phrasing and standard. Because it's the only one that'll pass a court of law unhindered. My guess is that it won't be an AT&T customer.

      Companies can spout a lot of rubbish at you, but breaching (or even modifying) a legal contract with you on the basis of a third-party's hear-say isn't something that is going to stand up in a court of law. However, don't be surprised if, in the following years, your ISP's terms & conditions include clauses that allow them to use the RIAA or similar as someone with the say-so to terminate your contract, or similar. And once you sign that (or agree to those changes, even if that's just by failing to cancel after you were notified of them), THEN you have a lot bigger problems.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jackb_guppy (204733)

        Today a phone is required for many interactions with the government.

        example: for a green card you must have land line to your home, period. The area code must match the land location. If not it is invalid.

        example: to prove resistance, a phone bill is required many parts of the country. It shows that you are reachable at that location.

        Now go to the next level with phone service via internet. Think of the fun!

        • by Ashriel (1457949)

          for a green card you must have land line to your home, period. The area code must match the land location. If not it is invalid.

          That's good, I suppose. But it ignores the idea that green cards aren't a necessity, either. If you can't maintain a landline in good faith, you probably shouldn't be here anyway. Not to sound hostile, but we have enough domestic poor leeching debtors without importing more.

          to prove resistance, a phone bill is required many parts of the country. It shows that you are reachable at that location.

          Actually, any utility bill will do. The power bill is a bit more ubiquitous; I haven't had a landline of my own, well, ever.

        • I get the green card part, but why would you need to prove resistance? Has the revolution started? :P

        • example: for a green card you must have land line to your home, period. The area code must match the land location. If not it is invalid.

          Huh? What? No, that's not true.

          My wife and I have only cell phones. I got my conditional permanent residency a couple of years ago, and removed conditions a couple of months ago - I was asked if I had a landline. "No, just cell". "Alright, not a problem".

          Bah.

          • by jc42 (318812)

            example: for a green card you must have land line to your home, period. ...

            Huh? What? No, that's not true. My wife and I have only cell phones. I got my conditional permanent residency a couple of years ago, and ... I was asked if I had a landline. "No, just cell". "Alright, not a problem".

            This might be one of those cases where it depends on which bureaucrat you happen to talk to. You lucked out and got a younger bureaucrat who thinks that cell phones are the norm. Someone else might get a fuddy-duddy wh

            • That I'll definitely grant you, especially with USCIS. :) Don't even start me on the fact that full biometrics are taken for the Conditional PR, and again two years later for PR (and, unsurprisingly, you're charged for each).
      • Re:Good for AT&T! (Score:5, Informative)

        by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Sunday March 29, 2009 @10:34AM (#27378923) Homepage

        It's not up to AT&T to decide if people have done something or not, that's up to a court of law.

        Well yes, but it seems to me that there's another issue, too. What motivation should AT&T have to cut off access without a court order? As an ISP, there shouldn't be a business case for refusing customer money without being required to do so. I suspect that the reason other ISPs have given in is either they're frightened by the RIAA or they're in cahoots with the RIAA. Either way, that's not appropriate.

        Internet access is *not* a right.

        No, it's not, but it's getting to the point where loss of Internet access is a serious thing. Newspapers are getting shut down, and soon you may need Internet access to get your news. The government is putting more online (e.g. recovery.gov) and soon you may need Internet access to participate fully as a citizen. The Internet is infrastructure, and denying access is potentially as serious as denying access to roads, water, and electricity. Now it's true, we do take away people's driver's licenses, and it's possible to get your water and electrical services cut. But we usually don't take those actions lightly.

        People are going to say I'm overblowing the situation. It's true that failing to have Internet access in today's world is still nowhere near as serious as not having heat in the winter. That's true. On the other hand, as a society we're becoming increasingly dependent on the Internet. I wish people would stop talking about the Internet like it's an entertainment service.

        • by Dhalka226 (559740)

          What motivation should AT&T have to cut off access without a court order? As an ISP, there shouldn't be a business case for refusing customer money without being required to do so.

          You're right to follow the money, but you stopped a little too soon. The business case is that pirates tend to use a disproportionate share of resources compared to people performing only legitimate activities. Slashdotters will tell you they're only using what they paid for and they would not be wrong, but that doesn't mean

        • by Tuoqui (1091447)

          I'm not 100% sure but I think it might be because AT&T isnt owned by a Cable Company and/or other Big Media conglomerate. Although I could be wrong. Never know which company owns which these days.

        • by glitch23 (557124)

          The government is putting more online (e.g. recovery.gov) and soon you may need Internet access to participate fully as a citizen.

          lol, have you been to recovery.org/gov ? There is nothing useful there. Even when the states start spending money they are being told to spend it fast and probably won't have the ability to record where it all goes. Do you realize how hard it is to track every where $90 million is spent within the government and then to get it pushed to the recovery.org website for public dissemination? You need a better example. How about irs.gov so people can download their tax forms? Also, they won't institute Internet a

          • Old fashioned methods, no matter how old, should be the requirement to participate at all as a citizen otherwise you alienate thousands, if not millions, of people. It would probably be considered unconstitutional.

            Funny thing... the people who are alienated from normal channels of society are also often the sort that can't afford to hire a lawyer to get things rules unconstitutional. There are lots of ways already where it's difficult to participate in our democracy without a telephone or mailing address, so lots of people are already being excluded.

            It seems like you're just looking for reasons to criticize Obama, which I think is a bit off-topic.

            • by glitch23 (557124)

              It seems like you're just looking for reasons to criticize Obama, which I think is a bit off-topic.

              No, just expanding on the parent's comment that a lot of gov't information is being posted online using his/hers specific example. I can't help that what I said is true. If what I said is off-topic it can't be any more than portions of the parent's post. Besides, it's hard to say whether the lack of useful information on recovery.org is really Obama's fault. It is a nice concept but in practice I think gov't bureaucracy will cause it to fail which doesn't necessarily mean it is Obama's fault.

              However my stat

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Companies can spout a lot of rubbish at you, but breaching (or even modifying) a legal contract with you on the basis of a third-party's hear-say isn't something that is going to stand up in a court of law. However, don't be surprised if, in the following years, your ISP's terms & conditions include clauses that allow them to use the RIAA or similar as someone with the say-so to terminate your contract, or similar. And once you sign that (or agree to those changes, even if that's just by failing to cancel after you were notified of them), THEN you have a lot bigger problems.

        Sadly, this is exactly what happened to me. I was disconnected from CableOne last year solely because of the word of MediaSentry. They gave me a number to call to reach them, but it always just went to a machine. I tried fighting it for as long as possible, but I develop web sites for a living, and can't really afford to not have internet access.

        I did drag their name through the mud viciously though, and told as many existing customers as I could what happened, and have convinced several people to switch

      • [quote]Anything else is just bunkum from companies that have NOT checked their legal requirements and/or liabilities.[/quote]

        The companies probably don't want to tell you your legal rights any more than they have to. The less you know, the more it helps them.

        [quote]companies can spout a lot of rubbish at you, but breaching (or even modifying) a legal contract with you on the basis of a third-party's hear-say isn't something that is going to stand up in a court of law. However, don't be surprised if, in the

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ChiRaven (800537)
        Actually, in virtually all states there ARE strict legal limits on how and for what offenses an "incumbent local exchange carrier" (AT&T, in most of the areas in which it operates voice telephone service) can cut off your basic local telephone service. Such things are regulated by state commerce commissions or similar bodies, and usually enforced by them and by the public interest office of the state attorney general's office as well. That is NOT true of internet service, however, which is almost comp
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Tubal-Cain (1289912)

        This is the *only* sensible course of action.

        I disagree. We could always nuke the site from orbit.

        • by ledow (319597)

          There's probably a substantial dollar value attached to that installation.

          Either that, or a hell of a lot of paperwork.

      • by jc42 (318812)

        In time, all ISP's will subscribe to this way of thinking, becuase it's the only path they can follow without introducing legal problems for themselves. At the moment, it's a non-issue because your internet doesn't go off without a court order, or legal proof of breach of contract, or customers agreeing to it. There's not a single confirmed case of that ever happening. Ask yourself why. ...
        Internet access is *not* a right. Neither is telephone access. If you breach the contract or misuse either, you can and

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jurily (900488)

      only if they're found guilty

      Repeat until it sinks in: copyright infringement is not a criminal matter.

      after a fair trial

      No, they don't give a shit about the quality of the decision. This is CYA, not a fight for democracy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by shark72 (702619)

        "Repeat until it sinks in: copyright infringement is not a criminal matter."

        What do you mean by this? Copyright violation is one of many things that has both civil and criminal penalties, depending on how much you do of it. And for copyright infringement, the bar's set pretty low: share just $1,000 worth of software or music with your friends, and you're liable to face criminal charges. You could hit this threshold just by distributing a few copies of Adobe software, or just one copy of a high-end vertica

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Tubal-Cain (1289912)

          ...share just $1,000 worth of software or music with your friends, and you're liable to face criminal charges. You could hit this threshold just by distributing a few copies of Adobe software, or just one copy of a high-end vertical market application, like specialized CAD/CAM software.

          Yes, if we go by value (as opposed to retail price), sharing a Vista ISO once will give you plenty of... credit, for lack of a better word.

          More seriously, how is this $1000 counted? Torrenting CS4 to the world? Or seeding a $10 movie until you reach a share ratio of 100.0?

    • Actually this is a CYA (covering yon ass) response by ATT because by terminating/reducing a customers internet connection based on an outside claim makes them a part of a defamation/slander lawsuit due to discovery rules. Any emails/phone records in regards to such a case can be subpena'd from them at their expense, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars for what gain? The letter is cheaper and covers their ass from any claims by the accuser, while reducing bandwidth usage sufficiently to no longer be

    • I had the same reaction, and I think you are right about the necessity of Internet service in today's economy.
    • by Quothz (683368)
      Heh, maybe someone at AT&T remembers how much trouble and backlash is caused when a service provider tries to play law enforcement. Remember when Ma Bell was practically a regulatory agency? It'd be nice to think someone learned something from that.
  • Cover your arse. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig@hogger.gmail@com> on Sunday March 29, 2009 @09:41AM (#27378621) Homepage Journal
    This is sensible. One of those days, the "collaborating"* ISPs are gonna cut the wrong guy by mistake and will be slapped with a breach of contract suit with the usual astronomical claims...

    After all, we're all entitled to proper due process.

    * In the same negative sense as those french who collaborated with the nazis during WW-II.

    • by DamienNightbane (768702) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @09:45AM (#27378639)
      You know, this may be the fastest that I've ever seen a thread go from 0 to Godwin.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      This is sensible. One of those days, the "collaborating"* ISPs are gonna cut the wrong guy by mistake and will be slapped with a breach of contract suit with the usual astronomical claims...

      After all, we're all entitled to proper due process.

      * In the same negative sense as those french who collaborated with the nazis during WW-II.

      Breach of Contract? You mean that part of ISP contracts where they say that they can terminate your service for any reason?

      • by Pig Hogger (10379)

        Breach of Contract? You mean that part of ISP contracts where they say that they can terminate your service for any reason?

        "Any reason" must still be justified.

        • "We do not want to have to deal with any paperwork or indeed any time that must be spent responding to requests from the RIAA, even opening a letter".

          Said reason does not have to make sense, does not have to be agreed with, etc, et al.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      This is sensible. One of those days, the "collaborating"* ISPs are gonna cut the wrong guy by mistake and will be slapped with a breach of contract suit with the usual astronomical claims...

      After all, we're all entitled to proper due process.

      So close.

      What AT&T is doing here is limiting its legal liability on both sides. If they cut someone off without a court order that person could turn around and sue the pants off AT&T for any number of things (libel/deformation, breach of contract and oth

  • It's a start. Now, if only the courts would actually pay attention to the technical merits-- that an IP address is not an individual, that giving anonymous WiFi service is like any other conduit, that just using BitTorrent or Kazaa is not illegal in and of itself, etc.
    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      The courts do take notice. But the courts don't like trivial technicalities. An IP address doesn't identify an individual, for instance, but in the typical residential case it does identify a household. There may be 2 adults and 2 children in that household, but the account holder will be one of the adults, has legal responsibility for what the children do and is presumed to have a certain degree of knowledge of what all of them are doing. The attitude of the court will be "If the account holder doesn't kno

      • by shark72 (702619)

        Thanks for pointing this out. Lots of file sharing enthusiasts hope to find loopholes -- you can avoid trouble if you keep an unencryped wireless network, you can avoid trouble if the activity could be blamed on your kids, etc. The reality is that the courts generally don't like loopholes, as they don't want their time to be wasted. It's like tax loopholes: if you can think of one, somebody probably already thought of it years ago, and it's been closed.

  • We're getting ATT FiOS in our area soon, I might have to give them a call if this is true and not just marketing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      FiOS is verizon, not at&t. Verizon has said they will not cooperate with the RIAA.

      • The guy who was knocking had an AT&T shirt.

        From ATT's site for stuff available for my area.

        " Fiber

        Learn how AT&T is taking the existing fiber that's going into your home today and turning it into the vehicle that's delivering all your entertainment to your television, computer and phone.

        *

        What It Is
        *

        Fiber is glass or plastic hair thin threads that deliver data over a network. The threads are bound tightly together and use waves of light to transmit the data.
        "
        • by deraj123 (1225722)

          Fiber != FiOS. FiOS is a brand name service offered by Verizon. As far as I know (at least in my area), AT&T's "fiber" offering is uVerse. It differs slightly from FiOS in that it is (usually) fiber to the node, then VDSL to the home, rather than fiber to the home as FiOS does.

          That being said, I recently switched to uVerse and I'd say it's worth at least looking into. Personally, I was delighted at having a non-satellite alternative to Comcast, which I've been dying to get rid of.

  • I like AT&Ts move here. While they could have been little wimps and acquiesced to the mafRIAA's demands they said,"Sorry, we here at AT&T care more about providing service to our customers than making sure Lars Ulrich and Madonna get every red cent they feel must be extorted from their fan-base". "Oh and by the way,(in the immortal words of Bender), "Bite my shiny metal ass"! Although... I am a bit discomfited with the idea that my traffic is being monitored so closely that the mafRIAA can tell that
    • by Tuoqui (1091447)

      Just remember they're also the same company who bent over and let the NSA wiretap their networks en masse. They got this call right but there are much more serious calls they've gotten wrong

  • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Sunday March 29, 2009 @09:56AM (#27378687)

    > Cicconi said the notices worked. The company saw very few repeat offenders.

    If the RIAA is randomly selecting from IP addresses on P2P networks, the probability of any particular user being hit twice... I'm thinking that the notices might not have much to do with the lack of repeat offenders.

    c.

    • by langelgjm (860756) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @09:57AM (#27378703) Journal

      Cicconi said the notices worked. The company saw very few repeat offenders.

      And by "worked", he means "got subscribers to download PeerGuardian."

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        How does PeerGuardian actually protect you? Its pretty easy for the RIAA to cycle adsl lines, oe heck even dialup accounts, on a monthly basis, even to the extent of renting an apartment with 5 phone lines and rotating the ISPs every other month - are PeerGuardian fast enough to catch those IP addresses before they are actively used by the RIAA? Is there any real way to actually accurately identify those IP addresses at all?
        • by Petrushka (815171)

          Its pretty easy for the RIAA to cycle adsl lines, oe heck even dialup accounts, on a monthly basis, even to the extent of renting an apartment with 5 phone lines and rotating the ISPs every other month - are PeerGuardian fast enough to catch those IP addresses before they are actively used by the RIAA?

          Sure it's possible for the RIAA to catch people who are using PeerGuardian, but if your aim is to make it impossible for them to catch you, the only sane tactic is not to play. The point of PeerGuardian is more like the case of the story about the two wildlife cameramen filming a lion, of whom one is wearing running shoes -- not to outrun the lion, as he explains, but to outrun the other cameraman.

          Not pretty, I know, but there just isn't any such thing as perfect security. An illegal downloader trying to ev

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @10:15AM (#27378813)

    Comcast denied that it was considering a similar penalty,

    Maybe not for RIAA stuff, but for the first time in a DECADE (I'm including Mediaone, Roadrunner, AT&T, and Comcast- ie all the various incarnations of the same cable company here) they're suddenly strictly enforcing their policies regarding hosting services. If you have any incoming SMTP or WWW traffic, expect to be canned if you haven't been already...even if it is for personal use.

    It astounds me that people get bent out of shape about bittorrent throttling, but not terms of service that force you to be a "consumer" of the internet; the ToS specifically ban "web discussion forums" and internet email lists (I was running neither.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by deraj123 (1225722)

      Maybe not for RIAA stuff, but for the first time in a DECADE (I'm including Mediaone, Roadrunner, AT&T, and Comcast- ie all the various incarnations of the same cable company here) they're suddenly strictly enforcing their policies regarding hosting services. If you have any incoming SMTP or WWW traffic, expect to be canned if you haven't been already...even if it is for personal use.

      While I have definitely seen restrictions on running "servers" in Comcast's TOS, I am consistently unable to find them in AT&T's. This is one of the major reasons that I am currently an AT&T customer, and not a Comcast customer (my two choices at the moment).

      I don't have the DSL service anymore, but at the time I read through the TOS and was unable to find "no server" clauses. I currently have uVerse, and am likewise unable to find any "no server" clauses in that TOS [att.com].

  • one thing i do not understand. how can riaa know if my friend sent me a song by email, or i searched on google and downloaded an mp3? or that i downloaded a film using piratebay? how can they trace online activity to real world people?
    • by novakyu (636495)

      Maybe you are just trolling (but then, given your UID, maybe you are just new to the whole "Internet thing"), but it's very easy.

      They either run trackers (or some trackers publish list of connected IPs somewhere, although I'd hope not many do these days), or they simply connect to a torrent, the way anybody connects to it, and collect the list of IPs connected to that torrent.

      For other P2P networks, like Kazaa (i.e. the Napster style networks), it's even easier—to find out, and to prove in court, at l

  • by TechWrite (1172477) on Sunday March 29, 2009 @10:48AM (#27379005)

    Of course, there could be many reasons that ATT and others aren't seeing many repeat offenders after forwarding takedown notices. Personally, after a "friend" received one such notice, they very quickly learned about using IP tables and exclusively connecting to encrypted peers when using bit torrent. A year later, and my "friend" still hasn't received another notice so it seems to be working very well. Of course, it isn't for the reason the RIAA and the ISP would like.

  • by MikeURL (890801)
    This could be worse. AT&T could model the program after Ebay's VeRO program. That is a program so frustrating and enraging that I closed a 10 year old Ebay account with 100s of 100% positive ratings.

    Never have I been treated in such an arbitrary and capricious manner as I was by the VeRO program. So by comparison this policy looks enlightened.
  • by nurb432 (527695)

    When it becomes financially more efficient to cut people off, you can be sure they will do it.

  • by Fookin (652988) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nikoof.> on Sunday March 29, 2009 @12:00PM (#27379549)
    I'm a TWC customer and came home one night to find my computers not able to get online. It was really weird, the cable modem got a DHCP address, gateway, DNS info, etc but I just couldn't get to any online locations. I called tech support and they said I had been "quarantined" for a Copyright violation notice they received from the MPAA / Viacom. Apparently they didn't like my sharing of a couple episodes of The Mentalist.

    That really pissed me off because at the time, I couldn't view episodes at the CBS website, they weren't on Hulu and I couldn't get them through iTunes. Also, there were no Season boxsets available for purchase. So if I couldn't watch it live or if the DVR didn't pick it up, I was out of luck.

    Tech support basically told me to stop doing what I was doing and there would be no problems going forward. So I did. Maybe I'm a coward, I dunno - but I just don't want to tempt a lawsuit.

    In all fairness, I think I got popped because I was using TPB. Maybe I should just stick with private trackers that use encryption or maybe that doesn't really matter and I'll get popped anyways. Still haven't decided what I'll do going forward ...
    • by Inda (580031)
      About $0.15 for each episode from Usenet on a pay-for-the-bandwidth-you-use package. SSL connections all round.

      If you play with fire (BitTorrent) expect to get burnt.
  • First off, AT&T has been providing data on P2P users to Mediacom for well over a year now. Mediacom uses AT&T as their provider and apparently Mediacom does not have the staff to monitor their network so AT&T does it for them.

    Mediacom has also been disconnecting customers for excessive P2P usage as well as alleged copyright infringement. 2 coworkers that I know of had their service cutoff by Mediacom due to alleged copyright violations.

    This behavior starts a slippery slope. Where does it end?

  • ...of a punch in the face the RIAA would have claimed they were "cooperating". Looks to me as if they are doing the minimum that their lawyers told them they were legally obligated to do.

  • Looks like I cannot operate my internet connection as a ToR exit node anymore in fear of my connection being terminated.
  • So AT&T now respects the need for court orders before they cut off service. Good to hear. It sure would have been nice if the company stood up for the rule of law when the Bush Administration decided it didn't need a court order to wiretap [eff.org].

How much net work could a network work, if a network could net work?

Working...