"What we do is send notices and keep track of violations and IP addresses. It's our view that any stronger action has got to rest with the copyright owner...That's what the courts are there for."
--Jim Cicconi, AT&T executive
"It's a standard part of everybody's terms of service," Cicconi said. "If somebody is engaging in illegal activity, it basically gives us the right to do it...We're not a finder of fact and under no circumstances would we ever suspend or terminate service based on an allegation from a third party. We're just simply reminding people that they can't engage in illegal activity."
Cicconi said the company began testing this kind of "forward noticing" late last year and even experimented with sending certified letters. Cicconi said the notices worked. The company saw very few repeat offenders.
The RIAA is encouraging ISPs to strengthen their responses to piracy. Some ISPs, such as Cox, says it had already implemented a policy very similar to what the RIAA is asking for.
Comcast said Wednesday afternoon that it hasn't changed its policy. An executive who spoke at the same conference as Cicconi told the audience that the company has sent 2 million notices on behalf of content owners. A company representative said the company has no plans to test "a so-called 'three-strikes-and-you're-out' policy."
But music industry sources told CNET that Comcast has agreed to cooperate with the RIAA in other ways.
But what happens to chronic offenders? Cicconi said that his company will only send notices and that if a content owner wants more done, they need to see a judge.
"What we do is send notices and keep track of violations and IP addresses," Cicconi said. "It's our view that any stronger action has got to rest with the copyright owner...That's what the courts are there for."
Cicconi raises some important questions. How many ISPs are willing to cut off a customer's Internet connection without a court order, and how effective is the RIAA's graduated response program without one?
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