ISPs working with RIAA, 3 strikes policy unlikely

Reports are surfacing that major ISPs are warning illegal file sharers to cease their ways, but any further action to combat piracy still isn’t getting much traction.

The Recording Industry Association of America is hoping for a "graduated response" program, in which internet service providers gradually ramp up their actions against illegal file sharers. The ultimate penalty — and the one that’s drawn the most criticism — is suspension or termination of service for repeated violations.

On that front, ISPs haven’t been so eager to act. After CNet reported on warning letters coming from Cox, Comcast and AT&T, the former two both responded with careful answers. Comcast said it isn’t considering termination of service for customers, and Cox said it has only nixed service for less than one tenth of one percent for the "hundreds of thousands" of customers who received warnings.

In a later report, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President Jim Cicconi said the company would never terminate service on the RIAA’s word alone. "AT&T is not going to suspend or terminate anyone’s policy without a court order," he said at the Leadership Music Digital Summit.

The RIAA told CNet it was pleased with the responses from ISPs so far. And actually, I’m pleased that everything’s coming out in the open now. In the early days of the RIAA’s "graduated response" concept — intended to replace its old policy of scare tactic lawsuits — it wasn’t clear what would happen. Would there be a "three-strikes" rule, in which a customer’s service is terminated after three copyright violations are discovered? Now that seems very unlikely, as ISPs are expressing their reluctance.