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Cox Responds to DMCA 'Three Strikes' Report
Says they've only terminated 'one-tenth of 1% of all users'
by Karl Bode 11:49AM Thursday Oct 02 2008
Yesterday, we directed your attention to a report that stated Cox is using a "three strikes and you're out" policy to disconnect users who receive multiple DMCA copyright warnings. Cox saw the blogging buzz about their policy, and wanted a chance to comment on the public reaction. "I came across your blog post about Cox’s DMCA policies and I’d like to share some additional information with you to help shed some light on how we handle DMCA complaints," says Cox public relations official David Deliman.

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Deliman says that to characterize this as a "three strikes and you’re out" policy "doesn’t reflect the true process" because there's ample warning. As you might expect, Deliman portrays the policy more as a public service effort on Cox's part, saying that in many cases (he raises the example of an inattentive parent), "the customer doesn't even know that the illegal material is on their computer."

"This notification is the most helpful thing we can do for the customer," he says. "If they don’t realize the RIAA or another organization has identified them as possibly infringing on their copyrights, they might get sued instead," he claims.

Cox also insists that the program impacts only a tiny fraction of the Cox customer base. The cable company has sent hundreds of thousands of warnings to customers, but have only had to terminate the accounts of less than one-tenth of 1% of all users. That's because if the initial e-mail notification doesn't work, customers almost always respond when they're placed in a "walled garden."

Cox was among the first ISPs to use malware walled gardens to cordon infected users off from the Internet at large until they've cleaned their PC. But by utilizing the same method at the behest of the entertainment industry to tackle pirates (given the DMCA only requires user notification) Cox is voluntarily doing more than necessary while adding to their own support costs. Why? Scaring teenage kids probably helps trim P2P traffic.

This was an anti-congestion tactic a Comcast insider told me the nation's largest cable company was also considering, though Comcast public relations denied any such plans when asked over the phone. The entertainment industry has been pushing ISPs to become piracy police (most recently arguing P2P is as bad as spam and viruses), and apparently some cable operators see this as a perfect opportunity to ease congestion on their networks.

Still, Deliman insists that Cox doesn't tread lightly into that DMCA-enforcing night. "Please know that we work with customers extensively to help educate them about copyright laws and action is not taken lightly," he says. "In no way do we see ourselves as Internet police, and we make every effort to keep our customers online."

While that's well and good, it still doesn't explain why Cox has to mislead consumers. Their warning to customers insists that under the DMCA, "we have the responsibility to temporarily disable your Internet access." Again, the DMCA only requires that ISPs forward DMCA warnings on to customers -- Cox's decision to inundate their support staff with the task of P2P policing is voluntary.

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Alexandria, VA

2 recommendations

reply to funchords

Re: Waaa! I'm a pirate, I should do what I want!

said by funchords:

In fact, the ISP cannot validate the DMCA complaint WRT BitTorrent -- you're right in that respect. There is no way that it can. It must trust the accuracy of the complaint (which is usually received some time later, to boot). But does 3 distinct complaints, none of which the user refuted, make enough basis to say, "enough!?"
Here is the issue, why does the ISP need to say 'enough'? If they comply under DMCA, then it is an issue between the user, and the complaintant, not the ISP and the user. Forwarding DMCA requests are trivial.

Now, here is my issue:

Let's say I publish something from my computer. Someone who dislikes what I have stated can make a complaint against me using DMCA as an attempt to silence my opinion.

Now, I have the option to refute the DMCA complaint. Except that the burdon is now on me to prove not only that the complaint is false, but that my response is truthful under threat of perjury (This liability does not hold to the complaintant, a VERY important fact).

I would NEVER file a rebuttal to a DMCA request without first consulting an attorney. Even if I was 100% certain that I had commited no copyright violations, I would never put pen to paper under penalty of perjury in something as complex as copyright law.

So, if I do not want to pay an attorney, my options are to let COX remove my website, or take it down myself. Either way, that complaint against me stands.

It would be trivial for 2 other complaints to be filed by a malicious person, and it would be anything but trivial for me to contest those complaints.

Thus, my opinion could be silenced easily and I would have no recourse but through expensive legal options.

The alternative, which is what COX should be doing, is once the complaint has been filed, they pass it along, and that is it. Then if the complaintant wishes to continue the legal fight, it is THEIR burdon to prove that I have commited infringement and not MY burdon to prove that their claim is false.

Las Cruces, NM

2 recommendations

reply to FFH5

Re: I like this

They do not have the right to police themselves. They provide a service they are not police.


Alexandria, VA

2 recommendations

reply to FFH5
said by FFH5:

Then don't do business with them.
Except that these companies enjoy the benefit of limited monopolies via the agreements they have put together with the various local governments.

If they had no franchise agreements, or were not protected from competition I would agree with you. However by accepting that protection they have also assumed the responsibility of providing the service to the community.

Because they have limited the rights of the users to seek out a competing service (another cable company), they have assumed implied responsibilities even if those were not codified explicitly into the agreement.



2 recommendations

Cox: Screwing you over so the *AAs Don't Have To

No matter how much corporate fellatio the fanbois -both paid and volunteers on this site- perform, the fact that Cocks voluntarily terminates people based on shoddy allegations of copyright infringment is BS. Cox rightfully belongs in the same stink pile as Comcrap for this kind of nonsense.

Boynton Beach, FL

2 recommendations

They dont' get it...

To MattE, okay, if you had Cox, I would send a DMCA violation notification to Cox reporting you as a violator of my copyright. My copyright you might ask? Nah, doesn't exist, but they don't know that and they don't have the necessary resources to validate the claim that you are violating my copyright. Now, hypothetically, you're really annoying me on one of the boards or I know you personally, I decide to send two more notices. Whoops, you're Internet is now cut-off. Okay, you can live without Internet for whatever period they decide - wait, you telecommute for a living...

AT&T and Cox, who are now crossing the threshold from a service provider to a content provider / manager by making judgments as to what or what does not go through their network should loose their DCMA protection status, period. The purpose of the DCMA violation notification mechanism was to allow for an ISP to cooperate with a copyright holder in good faith and a possible copyright violation by notifying the end customer early on in the process that a possible violation may exist prior to official legal action. If the copyright holder believes they copyright is still infringed upon after the notification, they have plenty of recourse, its called the legal system.

All noise, no signal.
Jamestown, NC

2 recommendations

I like this

I think this is a perfectly acceptable solution. If you STILL don't get it after 3 warnings ... you need to be removed from the internet to protect you from yourself because you are an idiot.
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