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Jason Levine

Losing Common Carrier status?

It was my understanding that Internet Service Providers enjoyed a special status called "Common Carrier." One of the benefits to this status was that they weren't liable for illegal activities taking place on their lines.

Just like AT&T couldn't be sued because two bank robbers coordinated their plans using AT&T's phone service, AT&T couldn't be sued because two file sharers swapped pirated movies over AT&T's DSL service.

The catch was (in my understanding) that AT&T couldn't try to proactively reduce illegal activities since that would open them up to lawsuits on the activities that they didn't stop. (They could still react to illegal activities, such as disconnecting a user found to be distributing pirated movies.)

Now, with AT&T seeking out alleged copyright infringement on their network, would they be opening themselves up to lawsuits from other copyright holders whose work AT&T didn't stop from being illegally shared?


West Orange, NJ

No. AT&T is protected by the DMCA whether they seek out copyright violations or not.


Villa Rica, GA

said by russotto:

No. AT&T is protected by the DMCA whether they seek out copyright violations or not.
Only if they get a DMCA takedown notice.

This will be a slippery slope for them. Any attempt to police content will most likely result in them losing common carrier status under section 230 of the CDA ( »en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communicat···tion_230 ).

Any attempt to provide data on a private users usage to a private company without a warrant or court order (or providing usage data to the private company so it can get a warrant) could be considered illegal wiretapping or at the very least an invasion of privacy and possibly a violation of their own written policies.

So the only safe thing for them to do is? I cant come up with one thing.
Fed Up With Stupidity?



Washington, DC

I think you missed the news, AT&T can break whatever laws it wants as long as they protect the illegal NSA wiretapping. What good is a law if it isn't enforced?


North Andover, MA

That's a good point. Until the current administration is out, they've pretty much got the feds over the barrel.