US ISP Suddenlink Claims The DMCA Requires They Disconnect Users

from the more-like-Sudden-UN-link dept

TorrentFreak has the news that US cable ISP Suddenlink has implemented its own form of a three strikes policy, and defends it by falsely claiming the DMCA requires it. Torrentfreak has the transcript of a discussion between a customer who has been cut off and a Suddenlink rep blaming the DMCA:

Customer: I want to reconnect my internet service. They said I got 3 DMCA letters and they said that by law I had to be disconnected. Is that true?

Suddenlink rep: Yes, your internet was disconnected due to DMCA. When the internet is disconnected due to DMCA, it can not be reconnected for a minimum of 6 months.

Customer: The DMCA makes that requirement?

Suddenlink rep: Yes.

Customer: So you’re stating, for the record, that by law, the DMCA law, that you have to disconnect users for receiving 3 DMCA letters?

Suddenlink rep: You have no choice in the matter.

Suddenlink rep: It is the DMCA policy that it can not be reconnected for 6 months.

Suddenlink rep: It may be the DMCA policy or it may be the way we go about following the DMCA guidelines.

Customer: The law states that?

Suddenlink rep: Once the 3rd offense occurs, it can not be reconnected for 6 months.

Suddenlink Rep: The information I have on the DMCA states: This law was enacted in 1998 to protect against illegal downloading of copyrighted material like movies, music, etc. As an Internet Service Provider (ISP), Suddenlink , and other ISPs, must implement a policy of terminating internet service of customers who repeatedly share copyrighted files.

This is, of course, not true. The DMCA has no requirement that ISPs disconnect people after three accusations (not convictions) — and it especially doesn’t say that ISPs don’t need to offer a refund when they do this. For all the fighting by the record labels trying to get a three strikes policy into law and complaining about the DMCA, perhaps it makes them happy to know that some ISPs are simply pretending the DMCA is a three strikes policy.

Of course, customers may think otherwise, and may prefer to find an ISP that actually believes in due process and actually supports its users against unsubstantiated accusations of file sharing.

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Companies: suddenlink

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Comments on “US ISP Suddenlink Claims The DMCA Requires They Disconnect Users”

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78 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Any private company in the US has the right to refuse service. So the only way you could sue is if you proved in your lawsuit that their disconnection was discrimination based on gender, race, age, or sexual orientation (and not based on evidence you were pirating).

The law doesn’t have to mandate 3 strikes for ISP’s to take that up as their policy. You are not guaranteed a contract with an ISP under the constitution any more than you are guaranteed one with the electric/gas company.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The law doesn’t have to mandate 3 strikes for ISP’s to take that up as their policy.”

You mean I should be able to send 3 letters with no proof and have them boot everyone off of their service? “Because I said so” does not make it true.

Merely accusing someone of something does not make it true.
I could call you an idiot shill for stupid ideas, but that does not make it… er bad example…. nevermind.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Any private company in the US has the right to refuse service. So the only way you could sue is if you proved in your lawsuit that their disconnection was discrimination based on gender, race, age, or sexual orientation (and not based on evidence you were pirating).”

The US doesn’t have law protecting private individuals from breach of contract? Those poor people.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Yes, we do…. which is something that Anonymous missed. This can be held as ‘breach of contract’ because the ISP is not waiting until a COURT DECISION before cutting off service.”

Kinda funny, because if they had just cited their TOS then they’d probably get away with it (despite most TOS’ being oh so one sided and potentially unfair contracts).

Anonymous Coward says:

SuddenLink is a private company and reserves the right to refuse service to anyone based on TOS policies.

If you have violated those terms of service by pirating, and do not stop after repeated warnings, they are well within their rights to disconnect you.

It is well known ISP’s often profit from piracy. I commend SuddenLink for standing up for what is right in these actions, and not just what brings in the most money.

I hope more ISP’s will take the initiative to do the same.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“If you have violated those terms of service by pirating, and do not stop after repeated warnings, they are well within their rights to disconnect you.

You see, the problem is that I don’t need to do anything. They don’t need any proof to kick me out, just an accusation.

How funny would it be if you got sent to jail just because the cops overheard some guy mentioning to some guy that he heard from an alleged cousin that maybe someone that looked like you was smuggling crack? Not so funny huh?

Well, that’s basically what you are supporting here. Good luck.

mike rice (profile) says:

Re: Maybe Anonymous Shouldn't Be Anonymous

What part of the copyright holder industry do you work in? There is really no incentive for an ISP to cut off a customer. There is no incentive to ‘misread’ the DMCA rules. Why should an ISP give up revenue for a rule that isn’t really a rule? Answer: There isn’t any reason and it won’t happen very often.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“SuddenLink is a private company and reserves the right to refuse service to anyone based on TOS policies. “

If said TOS policies state that alleged DMCA violations will result in disconnection then yes.

If the TOS contains no such clause and they’re only using the DMCA as the reason for disconnection then no.

There is no suggestion in the above conversation that a clause in the company’s TOS states any such thing, and so the company are in violation of the contract, and guilty of fraud if no refund is offered.

“If you have violated those terms of service by pirating, and do not stop after repeated warnings, they are well within their rights to disconnect you.”

Please point to the section of the DMCA that requires them to do this, or failing that the part of the company’s TOS that states this.

“It is well known ISP’s often profit from piracy.”

Only in the minds of desperate **AA members, unless you have any proof that this is true (and no, “people like to use fast broadband” is not proof).

“I hope more ISP’s will take the initiative to do the same.”

Fraudulently take money from consumers without offering service? Funny way to run a business.

Cyryl says:

Re: Re:

Only Anonymous cowards post such bullshit.

The company is well within it’s right to do whatever it wants to the customer.

Hell… I have the choice and the right to go out and stab someone in their fucking face any time I want.

Doesn’t mean that you should and that there aren’t consequences.

Moreover… There could possibly be some legalities involved in implicating federal laws as ‘requiring’ them to take certain ‘predisposed’ actions against their customers.

As it has already been said: There is NOTHING in the DMCA law that should/could be construed as any kind of advisement to ANY company on how to proceed in dealing with any situations that are related to the DMCA laws.

I would actually like for you to also provide us with some kind of documentation that supports your statement that ISP’s profit from piracy. Be specific. “It gives them a customer base because it gives people a reason to need an internet connection” doesn’t count, either.

I’m sure you won’t be responding, though. Anonymous cowards like to post bullshit and never back it up when they’re called on their own bullshit.

Suddenlink has their views on DMCA all fucked.

bigpicture says:

Re: Socialists?

Socialists, because the government elected “by the people” actually represents “the people” and not the pretentious good old USA government that represents BIG BUSINESS only, and tries to sell these policies world wide, where everyone else is NOT BUYING. (and they don’t even have “by the people” in their constitutional documents, imagine that)

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Some math

Depending on the market, the average ISP customer is worth $600 to $1500 per year. By definition, when you kick off a customer, you have already invested in building out to that customer’s location. The marginal cost of serving that customer is most likely close to zero, and most of that investment can’t be transfered to another customer. Furthermore, you have a relatively fixed sized market. Once an area is well served, it is hard to get new customers in that area. So, when a cable company kicks off customers it is hurting its own bottom line pretty severely.

I am guessing that either a)they got a new lawyer who is being over cautious or b)someone from the recording industry got to a naive executive in the company and convinced them that DCMA required the ISP to kick off customers.

If they kick off many customers, someone on the finance side of the company is going to look at the revenue line and bring the ISP to its financial senses.

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: VOIP

Ah! I didn’t think of this, but it is VERY possible that this could come up.

Really, I don’t have a problem with them dropping pirates…. if they are proven to be that in a little thing called A COURT OF LAW!

Unfortunately, SuddenLink wants to say “Just because someone accuses you, you are guilty!” That don’t fly and could very well lead to a civil suit that they would LOSE IMMEDIATELY!

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

those of you who think that they are 100% within their rights… you are sorta right, but only sorta (mostly).

In something like this, they are ironclad safe if they just make it part of their TOS and then point to the TOS when it happens. but by making their customer service reps lie and point out that its because of the DMCA they in fact do open themselves to liability.

can they legally cut people off like that? oh hell yes.
are they complete MORANS for telling their CSRs (most of whom think DMCA is a rap group from the 80s) to lie? absolutely.

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually, they cannot. Someone can posit that it goes against the whole “Innocent until PROVEN guilty” thing, which contrary to popular belief, does apply to private organizations.

It’s like a private organization firing you because you were arrested for pandering…. until you are CONVICTED of that, they are bucking for a civil suit against them!

Anonymous Coward says:

If mommy and daddy catch your hand in the cookie jar, they don’t need any reason to ground you for 6 months. They can just do it because they are in control.

Likewise if Suddenlink decides it doesn’t like pirates using their service then they have the right to kick people off just because for no good reason. The fact that God told them to do it or because the DMCA says so is completely irrelevant.

Does that make them a bad ISP? You can’t answer that without knowing if the person was actually doing any sort of illegal downloading.

I would still like to believe there are good people in this world who are working in good businesses. As an ISP, I think Suddenlink can easily determine who is doing what and kick the baddies off their service.

brrruce (profile) says:

Suddenlink is not alone in this

Mediacom (cable provider in the midwest, USA, one of two ISP’s in this area) does this too. They send one letter, then disconnect the offending customer temporarily (until they sign a letter that essentially says they know how to secure their connection against unauthorized use).
Three strikes and you’re out. No proof, no method of redress with the provider.

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: Suddenlink is not alone in this

Except a LAWSUIT agianst the company, which could lose this company more money that it is worth!

The companies who are doing this are STUPID because under the DMCA, they are golden! If these companies wish to do something to someone? THey can sue them, NOT extrajudicially have the ISP’s cut someone off…. which by the way, is ILLEGAL, TOS or no, until someone is proven in a COURT OF LAW that they are infringing.

It’s like someone yelling “THAT PERSON IS A CHILD MOLESTER!” and they are automatically thrown into prison without any real proof.

Even private corporations and citizens cannot do that bullshit.

TruckeeTrash says:

Sudinlink Killed my dreams

I have suddenlink because there is no other option where I live in Truckee CA. They both suck and blow at the same time.
They sued the public utility district because they were going to bring cheap fiber to my doorstep. Pore sudden links crappy service couldn’t compete so they have been tied up in litigation milking me dry for over five years.
There tech support sucks, there installers are worthless and their service is unreliable.

On the plus side though they use docsis 1.0 they pants around there ankles from a security standpoint. My suggestion to anyone that got kicked without a refund get a hacked surfboard modem and keep on surfing!

hmm says:

maybe..

Maybe the overall plan is:

step 1. file hundreds of thousands of letters extorting cash…

step 2. get ppl kicked off their connection incorrectly

step 3. send hundreds of thousands of “we can represent you in a court and get you compensation…..” letters

profit all the way…step 1 from copyright holders..step 2 from **IA etc… and step 3 from the customers themselves….

someone finally found a way to turn win-win into win-win-win (at least for the legal firms!)

Karl (profile) says:

In TOS

This is, unfortunately, in their Terms of Service:

6. NO INFRINGEMENT OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

You agree that you will not use, nor allow others to use, the Internet Service to send or receive any information that infringes the intellectual property, including without limitation patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets or proprietary rights of any other person or entity. This includes, but is not limited to digitized music, movies, books, photographs, art or other copyrighted materials or software, including Suddenlink-provided software.
Acceptable Use Policy

If you continue to transfer Copyrighted Material illegally, you are violating Suddenlink’s policies and Suddenlink may take further action, including limiting your Internet download capacity, suspending or terminating your account, or a range of other measures.
Copyright Infringement Information FAQ

Still, saying it’s required by the DMCA is very stupid. (No such claim is made in their TOS, of course.)

Theodore says:

Parents accused of possible bogus DMCA notices/complaints now need info/help to fight against RIAA/MPAA ISP 3 Strikes.

My local and only high speed ISP is claiming that my parents had
downloaded a copy of Inception from Warner Brothers. Because of this
They are claiming that due to the DMCA they “have to” disconnect my
parents internet access. **Now I have done some digging around on this
topic and have come to find out that the ISP’s claim is false. No
where in the DMCA does it state that an ISP must disconnect a user
over a DMCA complaint. When I pushed Mediacom over this issue they
claimed their hands are tied. When they receive a complaint they must
turn off the user’s internet access because they don’t have a choice
or say in the matter. This I find very troublesome. how ever as to
Mediacom’s claim that my parents downloaded this movie, not to insult
my mother but she lacks the mental ability to be able to understand
how to even download a movie or use P2P software. My father is just
lucky enough just to start the machine and that’s it. Now granted I
don’t know if this is just a bogus DMCA or the fault of a
malfunctioning router that allowed someone to get on to the wireless
signal. Either way I feel that this is bull shit of the highest level
for an ISP to be acting in such a way. Now I have filed a counter
notice on my mothers behalf to their “Mediacom Internet Enforcement
Team” “dmcaabuse@mediacomcc.com” I have also called their number
listed on the paper they sent her, (888)759-6135, how ever it only
leads to a customer service rep. who claims they don’t have the number
to this department. how ever I feel that because the counter notice
was in a PDF format I think it was auto trashed as spam. If anyone can
help me on how to fight this, to a lawyer who will be willing to help
out please send me something.

Grandfather Time says:

suddenlink actually does not give any warning. They just restrict your access and make you check a few boxes, enter your account number and wait five minutes on the first offense. They send you something in the mail that includes the name of the file, etc.

They make you basically promise it will not happen again.

I got one of these over a neighbor downloading a film through my wireless network, which is open, because some of my neighbors can’t afford cable internet.

Sure, it is my fault for leaving my network open. I don;t deny that. I have since “closed” my connection to my neighbors, so to speak.

It doesn’t seem like they really much care, as when I called a rep to inquire about it, he had no friggin’ clue what I was talking about.

Chris Pauley says:

What can an ISP really do?

So Suddenlink is a private company and if you agree to their service terms they have the right to refuse service to anyone who violates their terms. So in those same terms they also have the right to block sites they deem inappropriate or potentially sources of piracy? This is what’s going on now. Suddenlink changes the firmware on the modems they rent out so you can’t view certain sites. I know other places this happens, how about Iran or China. I know I don’t like half the internet I like it all, I will never be a Suddenlink customer. I’ve even seen settings changed on routers owned by the customer. What can this isp do if you own both your router and modem. Those things are your property, how can their company service terms give them the right to modify settings on your property????

Anonymous Coward says:

Something is Still Unfair

MC shut off my internet stating that there was a second offense on my account by downloading spartacus. My problem with this act is that I pay for starz and the service to watch this show. I can watch it on demand through cable, but prefer watching it on my computer. I never recieved a first notice. There are truly no freedoms left in the world, everything is controlled by money.

sad.

DrBam (profile) says:

interesting retroactive termination from suddenlink

I personally had an interesting case with Suddenlink whereas I was retroactively terminated from an alleged 3 strikes DMCA violation from 6 months+ prior after Suddenlink updated their TOS policy to 3 strikes. I initially received 3 notices within a day or so and immediately remedied the situation by updating the security on my WiFi in which Suddenlink stated was sufficient and that they would note my account and it would not affect my service. I actually found out after my internet went down for a few days and after a few hours of troubleshooting, I was transferred to some legal dept who informed me that even though the rep had previously told me it would be fine, they have since updated their policy and my service was terminated to reflect that change, and that they did not have to inform me of the change nor notify me of termination. The funny part was that I was eligible to sign back up in 6 months?

It?s been over a year now, I pay slightly more for slower DSL speeds but, I do not worry about letters (speculation) stemming from an undisclosed business relationship between Fox and Suddenlink in which Suddenlink receives benefits, perhaps VOD selection or rates, in exchange for overly aggressive copyright favoring DMCA policies.

Full disclosure: Former suddenlink employee and still current cable customer.

Elliot says:

Hi

I got a strike on my account, my internet was disconnected. and I had to agree on a Page not to do it again. 1am morning and I was trying to contact Sudden-link to get the problem fixed. I just singed up last week. I have 30 days money back guaranteed. I canceled at&t DSL because they where capping the internet per month. with penalty. I watch a lot of netflix and I go over my cap. At&t is not unlimited no more.so Suddenlink spys on there users where about witch is wrong.sudden-link started a meter of how much data I use.my strike caused net to be out.and agreement page signed by me at a website. what do you folks think about (EarthLink DSL)Im looking into it.but there all going to do it. Canada was complaining last week millions about all these rules and caps. 🙁

Liz says:

Anonymous is a stupid goon

Singing… “SuddenLY! You’re disconnected…”

Suddenlink’s service is a joke. They’ve called my home at least twice, asking what we use our internet for. I do not download anything at all to be suspicious of. When asked why they were calling me with such a question and they said that they’d noticed a spike in activity.

Uh. I’m sure you did, I just signed back up with Netflix.

I really don’t think it’s their place to be monitoring what I do and calling me up to demand an accounting for our internet traffic. I’ve got no kids and my connection is secure. So basically I feel like I’m being berated for a service that I pay for.

I suspect that they’ve been turning me off when they feel I’m using the service too much, but I can’t prove it.

Some of the stories here, in addition to what I’ve personally experienced, are infuriating.

Listen here Anonymous Fool, Suddenlink treats us like we’re thieves—maybe I should send them a bill for all my work hours that their insufficient “service” caused me to lose. Which I might very well be able to do if I can prove that they’re cutting me off on purpose.

Goons.

Max says:

Trustworthiness

Suddenlink is not trustworthy. Is barely within the law; pushing at the edge of it. I suspect they are some kind of spyware till they are caught by the justice department. They are especialy incapable email handlers. They are not even qualified to be an email handler in my opinion. They prevent or block the use of any other email handling as if they own the computer real estate te customer uses. As a user I am stuck with them a few weeks till I move on to somewhere I can toss them in the garbage. They are the most insulting orgsniztions I have ever dealt with. They hav in 4 months isulted me in more ways thn all the remainder of my 82 years combined. Very repugnant unworthy satanists.

Roy C Gilbert says:

DMCA

Suddenlink I’m already pissed as hell over Suddenlink cutting me back from unlimited usage without my knowledge or consent. Terminate my service for any reason even one fucking time and it will be the last time. There will not be any re-connection after six months there will not be any re-connection period, I will simply put “be a case of gone”, and Suddenlink can loose the hog prices Suddenlink already bills me each month for it’s scrooge internet service.

rofl says:

LOL

I work for Suddenlink, and the DMCA is set in place of course to keep users from downloading content illegally.. such as torrents and what not.. However, after 10 notifications ANY ISP is able to ban internet up to 6 months without notice. And Karey that issue is actually very easily done. I know for a fact you can. Its not a sophisticated too at all – you can download it. If you customers would get off your computers, and stop sharing illegal files and downloading porn and stuff maybe you wouldnt have these issues haha. And also, we will not lose any lawsuite in this, as y’all are sharing illegal material – or someone is using ur IP address to do so, so unfortuantly, once again the customer loses haha

C says:

Suddenlink 3-D MCA strike policy

Three DMCA strike policy by Suddenlink is a load of BS just got off the phone with technical support dues name is Eric from Texas call-center hey was so cool that he change the config file my modem to a higher speed than what I currently pay for on top of that as he was doing that my third DMCA popped up he bypassed it and informed me that not to worry about it I got up to 10 year

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