The Associated Press reports: “AT&T Inc., the nation’s largest Internet service provider, will start sending warnings to its subscribers when music labels and movie studios allege that they are trafficking in pirated material.”
Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. already forward such notices, but the approaches differ, and the legal situation is muddled.
Copyright holders like movie studios can, in many cases, identify Internet users who download or provide pirated material by their numerical Internet address, but cannot match it up with a subscriber name without the cooperation of the Internet service provider.
ISPs have previously identified their customers to copyright holders who bring court orders. […]
Under the new system at AT&T, copyright holders would send a notice to the ISP that a certain numerical Internet address is associated with piracy. The ISP would then automatically forward the notice to the customer via e-mail, without telling the copyright holder who the customer is, [Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s top executive in Washington] said.
AT&T and other participating ISPs are doing more for copyright owners than they are legally obliged to, according to Fred von Lohmann, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.