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Cable One: Unsecured network won't excuse piracy

Self-described 10th largest cable provider in the U.S. terminates service for elderly woman whose wireless network was allegedly used to illegally share a movie online.

"My wireless network isn't secured and I don't know who downloaded that movie."

Lots of people accused of illegally sharing the Iraqi war film, "The Hurt Locker," and several other indie films have said this or something similar in e-mails to me. Indie studios this year began waging a litigation campaign against thousands of accused film pirates.

The courts have yet to decide who is legally responsible for copyright violations committed on an unprotected network, but some smaller Internet service providers don't seem to care. As far as they're concerned, if it's your network you're on the hook.

Cable One, which claims to be the country's 10th largest cable provider, reportedly terminated the service of an elderly woman this week in Albuquerque, N.M., after someone downloaded a movie from her network.

"What will happen is because they're using your modem, it's going to come back to you."
--Cable One manager

According to a report on KOB-TV, Dora Gonzalez's Cable One service was canceled after the company was notified by a film studio that someone downloaded a copyrighted film using her network. Gonzalez told the company that she doesn't even know how to download movies. After talking to Gonzalez, Cable One representatives guessed her wireless network was probably unsecured. But it didn't matter. She got the boot, according to the KOB report (embedded below). Cable One representatives were not immediately available for comment.

"What will happen is because they're using your modem, it's going to come back to you," a Cable One manager told the TV station.

Cable One, which operates in 19 states, is one of a handful of ISPs that will drop customers for allegedly pirating movies, music and other copyrighted content. They include Cox, Qwest, and several smaller regional bandwidth providers.

Content creators have tried to convince ISPs for years to terminate, or at least suspend service, of those who illegally share music, movies, software, and other intellectual property. Two years ago, the Recording Industry Association of America walked away from suing individuals for file sharing and turned its efforts to enlisting the help of ISPs. The RIAA wants ISPs to adopt a "graduated response:"

First, an ISP would send out a series of warnings. The wording in each of the messages might become more urgent for repeat offenders. The RIAA would like to see ISPs turn off service to those who ignore the threats. Some of the big players, such as AT&T, however, have instead ignored the RIAA's appeals.

Cable One is trying to help by equipping customers with modems that support WPA-PSK security technology, considered by many to be superior to WEP.