Comcast suspends Internet connection to download torrents * TorrentFreak

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According to an alert issued in response to repeated allegations of copyright infringement, Comcast suspended an Xfinity account for eight hours, warning that a further infringement would result in 12 hours of downtime. In response to additional complaints, Comcast warns the account could be terminated.

Every week, Internet service providers in the United States receive notices of copyright infringement from rights holders.

Sent under the Digitial Millennium Copyright Act, DMCA notifications typically identify copyright owners, works allegedly infringed, IP addresses of infringers, and times and dates of alleged infringements.

ISPs are required to pass these notices to customers who are suspected of violating them so that they can take appropriate action, including stopping any violations and removing the content in question. In cases where only one notice has been sent to an offender, this is usually the end of the case. However, when the same user receives more than one complaint, further action is required.

Repeated offenders

Under the DMCA, ISPs are required to implement a policy to deal with frequent copyright infringements. These policies do not need to be in writing, which means that it is acceptable for an ISP to simply inform subscribers that there is a policy of eliminating violators under “appropriate circumstances”. Details do not have to be made public.

Of course, this creates uncertainty among users. Even when approached directly, ISPs refuse to detail their processes exactly, which means users just have to find out as they go.

In 2020, we revealed how ISP Cox issued a six-month suspension after receiving multiple copyright infringement complaints. Twelve months later, it looks like Comcast is granting suspensions as well, but following an altogether less punitive pattern.

Comcast sends repeated alert to violators

Yesterday, a Comcast subscriber revealed that he had received a special notice from Comcast titled “Action is Required” and advising the user that the document is an “alert under our DMCA Repeated Infringement Policy.”

“This alert is to let you know that this month we have again received notifications of alleged copyright infringement associated with your Xfinity account. This means that your internet service may have been used multiple times to copy or share any movie, show, song, game or any other content without any permission required, ”it reads.

Comcast notes that the customer should have received separate emails or letters from Xfinity that provided specific details of these claims under the heading “Notice of Action Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)”. These will have contained the details of the alleged infringement, so with those that have been sent, Comcast is taking the next step.

Comcast suspends service of suspected hacker

The number of suspected infringement notices previously received against the subscriber’s account remains uncertain. Comcast says it has “received several notifications of” alleged copyright infringement “over the past few months” and therefore action must now be taken.

“[Y]our Xfinity Internet service has been suspended. This suspension will last up to 8 hours or until you call us, ”the alert said.

TorrentFreak reached out to the recipient of the alert for additional information, including how many times they’ve already received a DMCA notice and whether the temporary suspension has caused any difficulty. At the time of writing, we have yet to receive a response, but Comcast says if more complaints come in, action against the account will be stepped up.

“Your next repeat offender alert will suspend your Xfinity Internet service for up to 12 hours. Other notifications may result in the suspension or termination of your Xfinity Internet account. Your other Xfinity services could also be terminated, ”the company warns.

Repeatedly offending Comcast

Unsurprisingly, it appears that the subscriber received the notifications after downloading / sharing content using torrents, although the details of the content that triggered the alerts are unclear. There also doesn’t appear to be any suggestion that the reviews are inaccurate, meaning that even more reviews and penalties could be on the horizon if no action is taken.

Are suspensions of several hours sufficient?

The DMCA does not dictate the type of action to be taken when multiple copyright infringement complaints are made against an account. At least in theory, ISPs could turn to their terms of service and terminate accounts fairly quickly. However, it seems most prefer to take a gradual response by offering several options to correct any issues (like stopping sharing of copyrighted content using BitTorrent) before taking more punitive action. .

Until now, it was assumed that account suspensions could be measured in days or even weeks, but this alert from Comcast indicates that a few hours is currently the company’s preference. The big question is whether this will have a deterrent effect. This will of course apply when the suspension takes effect and if the subscriber requires the services of Xfinity during that time.

The most important point is the drawing of a line in the sand by Comcast. As the alert makes clear, another DMCA notice will result in a longer suspension, which will be logged along with the other complaints. After that, another DMCA notice could result in termination of the account, along with the rest of the customer’s Xfinity services.

Indeed, this is what the entertainment industries widely hoped to achieve with their abandoned “six strikes” regime, but with the addition of punitive measures. That project was shut down in 2017, but subsequent developments, including $ 1 billion in damages against ISP Cox, mean ISPs are now effectively obligated to take action against repeat violators.

Cox previously imposed a six-month internet ban on one of his subscribers for reoffending, which could potentially wreak havoc on that individual’s household. This is something opponents believe should be avoided.

As highlighted by amicus curiae briefs in support of Cox’s appeal against the $ 1 billion in damages she incurred for failing to properly treat repeat offenders, de such terminations have the potential to disrupt everything from distance learning to telecommuting and telemedicine.


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