Is Verizon Cutting Off P2P Pirates? No, Says the Telco


Content thieves, rest easy! Verizon says it has not terminated any customers’ service based on allegations that they accessed copyrighted material illegally over peer-to-peer networks, contrary to a CNET News report yesterday.

Verizon media relations director Bobbi Henson says the telco’s copyright-violation notification program, instituted in April 2009, simply alerts customers that a content owner has complained that an IP address associated with their account allegedly downloaded copyrighted material.

Henson claims she was misquoted in the CNET article as saying “We’ve cut some people off.” The CNET writer, David Carnoy, said in an e-mailed response: “We stand by our story.”

In any case, Verizon’s Henson insists that the program has not resulted in the termination of any Verizon customer’s service. “It’s not a graduated response and doesn’t result in automatic termination of any account, though we reserve the right to suspend or terminate [subscribers] under our terms of service,” she said via e-mail.

Henson says the goal of the program is to “protect our customers’ privacy and due process rights while recognizing the importance of copyright protection and acquiring content legally. We believe our program strikes a reasonable approach and is working very well.”

Aside from the copyright issues, peer-to-peer file sharing programs like BitTorrent have been a headache for ISPs because they suck up tons of bandwidth — as experienced, notoriously, by Comcast.

When it was discovered that the cable giant was trying to ease upstream congestion by hindering P2P connections during times of peak usage, the FCC and public-interest groups cried foul. True, BitTorrent and its ilk are mainly used for swapping movies, music and software illegally, but P2P’s defenders claim there are perfectly legit uses for the technology (sharing songs in the public domain, for example… riiiiiiiiiight).

Comcast is now fighting the FCC’s order that it discontinue those network management practices, as the commission is seeking to solidify its Internet principles into enforceable network neutrality rules (see FCC Gets Torrent Of Tough Questions From Judges, Comcast Settles Class-Action Suit Over Peer-To-Peer Delays and Comcast: Death Star 3.0?).