AT&T will cancel the internet service of over a dozen subscribers due to repeated piracy and copyright infringement violations, according to a new report from Axios.
The news site says the affected customers will be told within the next week. AT&T told Axios that the company was prompted to take action after “content owners” told them that the users were illegally sharing copyrighted materials using its internet service.
“Content owners notified us when they believed they had evidence that an internet account was sharing copyrighted material unlawfully,” Jim Greer, an AT&T spokesperson, said in a statement provided to USA TODAY.
“Based on the notices we received, we identified the customer on the account and share with them the information we received. We also reached out to the customer to educate them about copyright infringement and offer assistance to help prevent the activity from continuing. A small number of customers who continue to receive additional copyright infringement notifications from content owners despite our efforts to educate them, will have their service discontinued.”
According to AT&T’s policies, the impacted users were notified at least nine separate times with the allegations that they were potentially infringing others’ copyrights.
It is unclear what content (such as movies, TV shows, music, books etc.) was being streamed, shared or downloaded or if it was content AT&T now owns as part of its $85-billion purchase of Time Warner. AT&T has had piracy policies in place for years, and the company did not change them as a result of the merger.
This appears to be one of the first times AT&T has enforced its piracy policy directly. Similar to other internet providers, AT&T was previously part of a “Copyright Alert System,” an internet industry group effort that worked with the movie and recording industries to educate users to try and cut down on copyright infringement.
The group would send up to six warnings to users who were violating copyrights, with internet service being slowed on the fifth and sixth alerts if the bad behavior continued.
After failing to do much to prevent online piracy, however, it was shut down in 2017.
Needless to say, by acquiring Time Warner, it is likely AT&T will encounter plenty of piracy in the near future. “Game of Thrones,” the mega-hit HBO show, has been the most pirated TV show on file-sharing service BitTorrent each of the past six years, according to the website TorrentFreak. HBO will release the show’s eighth and final season next year.
HBO was a part of Time Warner and is now in AT&T’s WarnerMedia division.
Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal
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