Google is sending customers of its fibre service that are suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted materials automated fines. Google Fiber users have received fines, sent through automated e-mails, of up to hundreds of dollars. Other automated messages from the internet provider include takedown notices to users thought to be hosting pirated data.
Google, though its search engine, usually has a good record at protecting users from DMCA takedown notices from copyright holders, so the company’s use of automated fines as a first point of contact is surprising. Settlement fees send through such e-mails tend to range from anywhere between $20 and $300. Even ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T protects its customers from such settlement demands, which makes Google allowing these e-mails, though copyright enforcers such as Rightscorp and CEG TEK a real concern.
According to Mitch Stoltz, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), ISPs are no required by law to forward DMCA notices to users, and should be obliged to carefully review any such notice before taking action.
“In the U.S., ISPs don’t have any legal obligation to forward infringement notices in their entirety. An ISP that cares about protecting its customers from abuse should strip out demands for money before forwarding infringement notices. Many do this,” Stoltz says.
“The problem with notices demanding money from ISP subscribers is that they’re often misleading. They often give the impression that the person whose name is on the ISP bill is legally responsible for all infringement that might happen on the Internet connection, which is simply not true,” he adds.
Google has so far refused to comment on the matter.
Thank you Torrent Freak for providing us with this information.
Image courtesy of Techno Buffalo.