Early August, a federal court in Virginia found Internet service provider Cox Communications liable for copyright infringements carried out by its customers.
The ISP was found guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement and ordered to pay music publisher BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages.
The case was first filed in 2014 after it was alleged that Cox failed to pass on infringement notices sent to the ISP by anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp. It was determined that the ISP had also failed to take firm action against repeat infringers.
Although the decision is still open to appeal, the ruling has ISPs in the United States on their toes. None will want to fall into the same trap as Cox and are probably handling infringement complaints carefully as a result. This is where Colorado-based Subsentio wants to step in.
Subsentio specializes in helping companies meet their obligations under CALEA, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, a wiretapping law passed in 1994. It believes these skills can also help ISPs to retain their safe harbor protection under the DMCA.
This week Subsentio launched DMCA Records Production, a service that gives ISPs the opportunity to outsource the sending and management of copyright infringement notices.
“With the average ISP receiving thousands of notices every month from owners of copyrighted content, falling behind on DMCA procedural obligations is not an option,” says Martin McDermott, Chief Operating Officer at Subsentio.
“The record award of US$25 million paid by one ISP for DMCA violations last year was a ‘wake-up call’ — service providers that fail to take this law seriously can face the same legal and financial consequences.”
Subsentio Legal Services Manager Michael Allison informs TorrentFreak that increasing levels of DMCA notices received by ISPs need to be handled effectively.
“Since content owners leverage bots to crawl the internet for copyrighted content, the volume of DMCA claims falling at the footsteps of ISPs has been on the rise. The small to mid-level ISPs receive hundreds to thousands of claims per month,” Allison says.
“This volume may be too high to add to the responsibilities of a [network operations center] or abuse team. At the same time, the volume might not constitute the hiring of a full-time employee or staff.”
Allison says that his company handles legal records production for a number of ISP clients and part of that process involves tying allegedly infringing IP addresses and timestamps to ISP subscribers.
“The logistics behind tying a target IP address and timestamp to a specific subscriber is usually an administrative and laborious process. But it’s a method we’re familiar with and it’s a procedure that’s inherent to processing any DMCA claim.”
Allison says that the Cox decision put ISPs on notice that they must have a defined policy addressing DMCA claims, including provisions for dealing with repeat infringers, up to and including termination. He believes the Subsentio system can help ISPs achieve those goals.
“[Our system] automatically creates a unique case for each legal request received, facilitates document generation, notates actions taken on the case, and allows for customized reporting via any number of variables tied to the case,” Allison explains.
“By creating a case for each DMCA claim received, we can track ISP subscribers for repeat offenses, apply escalation measures when needed, and alert ISPs when a subscriber has met the qualifications for termination.”
TF understands that many of Subsentio’s current clients are small to mid-size regional ISPs in the United States so whether any of the big national ISPs will get involved remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it’s quite possible that the formalizing and outsourcing of subscriber warnings will lead to customers of some smaller ISPs enjoying significantly less slack than they’ve become accustomed to.