Friday, June 04, 2021

Xfinity issues "copyright strike" on a user for a DMCA accusation of illegal downloading of a Linux product, when the takedown may have been a spoof, and there is no obvious walkback; Sony case in 4th Circuit is big too


Near Bethany Beach DE, 2021/6

Most of us are familiar with the idea of copyright strikes from YouTube for purported infringement in what a user has published. But it is also possible go get a strike from your telecom provider for illegal downloading.  This normally happens only because of P2P.

But now there is a case where a user got a “strike” (called a "copystrike") from Comcast Xfinity upon an accusation of illegally downloading Ubuntu, associated with Linux, when the notice may have been faked.  Leonard French explains for Lawful Masses. 

And the DMCA doesn’t seem to have an adequate procedure to protect consumers to remove false accusations.

On the other hand, telecom companies are required to have policies to terminate accounts of repeated copyright download infringers.

This seems to leave open risk of destroying someone’s ability to be online by a political enemy, conceivably even by “cancel culture”.  

Update (June 9):  Electronic Frontier has an essay on this problem and has submitted an amicus brief to the Fourth Circuit regarding a major case involving Sony and other companies.  The case involves Cox Communications (which I have now) and a supposed copyright troll called "Rightscorp".  Instead of going after home users for downloads, it went after the ISP.  It appears limited to P2P situations (I could imagine trolling cloud backups or even computers connected online for watermarked photos and music outside of P2P but that doesn't seem to be happening.)  I'll look into this in more details and write it up on Wordpress reasonably soon. 

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