TorrentFreak: Comcast Terminating Egregious 'Repeat Infringers'

LOS ANGELES—Earlier this month, TorrentFreak filed an update on the six-strikes Copyright Alert System (CAS) implemented last year by some of the largest U.S.-based ISPs—including AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable—and reported that Comcast has admitted terminating some customer accounts, but that it claims the actions were outside the scope of the CAS. 

"TorrentFreak has received information suggesting that Comcast is actively terminating the accounts of repeat infringers under certain circumstances, without a court order," wrote Ernesto for the site. "When we asked the ISP about their policy with regard to repeat copyright infringers, this was confirmed."

A Comcast rep replied, “Termination is a requirement of the DMCA and applies to all ISPs, not just Comcast, as a consequence of repeated and egregious copyright infringement."

The relevant section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requires an ISP to “…adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network who are repeat infringers.”

However, TorrentFreak points out that ISPs have been interpreting the section differently. Verizon, for instance, "previously said that it would never terminate accounts of customers without a court order, arguing that only a court can decide what constitutes a repeat infringement."

Conversely, Comcast told the site that a court order is not required "and that the company’s interpretation of the law is appropriate."

The implementation of the Copyright Alert System also means that the ISPs are now "obliged to keep logs of copyright infringement notices for a set period of time... In addition, as part of the alert system ISPs are required to track the number of notices 'repeat infringers' receive. This means that providers are keeping a database of the most persistent pirates, which outside of the CAS can lead to terminations in Comcast’s case."

In fact, added Ernesto, "Comcast assured TorrentFreak that 'termination of a customer’s Internet service is not part of the Copyright Alert System,' but didn’t deny that these notices can eventually lead to account terminations under the ISP’s acceptable use policy."

What was left unclear, however, was "under what circumstances this would take place, and how Comcast defines 'repeated and egregious' copyright infringement."