Termination Due DMCA Violation

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I just had my account terminated, the customer service rep said that it was due to copywrite violation notices. I understand and respect the copywrite laws and in every case that I received a notice I removed the offending file. My account was terminated with no warning and my last notice was months ago. Based on the User Agreement and the Acceptable Use Policy I was never in violation because I immediately corrected any issues. The customer service rep refused to discuss this further and hung up on me when I tried to resolve the issue.
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RJ

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Posted 4 years ago

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Brad, Viasat Employee

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hello RJ. Could you please email your account information to exedelistens@viasat.com? I'd like to look at this for you
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Will

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Brad, I have also written to this email desperate for help. My friends who live in a very very remote area are calling me to try to get service restored because they are unable to get any help from the eight hundred number and they have no way to reach out online or figure out what is going on!
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Brad, Viasat Employee

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I'll gladly review both cases, but when a customer is found in violation of our acceptable use policy, we send out several warnings and if the behavior is continued beyond the offenses and warnings, we ultimately have to terminate the service. We are contacted by the copyright holders and it's our responsibility as an internet service provider to warn the offending customer. As the internet provider we reserve the right to cancel any account after the customers have been warned as at that point they become a liability to us for illegally downloading copyrighted material. Since we are the means of how this is being done by providing the service, we have to protect ourselves as a company. 

 Once terminated we cannot restart an account under the account holder's name or information. We must be stern in our decisions for cutting off accounts due to this violation and we have made it a part of our customer agreement that all customers are required to sign.
(Edited)
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Debbi Cobern

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What did they do to violate copyright laws? I want to know so that I don't inadvertently do this in the future. I'm confused how this happened. 
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Brad, Viasat Employee

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For the most part these notices happen if movies, TV shows or music is downloaded via peer-to-peer torrents illegally. Using this method, a person can download an album or TV series in a hour or more but the problem is that a lot of times using this method violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Basically this all stems from the early 2000s when sites like Limewire and Napster became popular, today sites like kickass torrents and pirate bay are some of the bigger torrenting sites (they continuously get raided by the feds in whatever country they go to). What tends to happen is that each copyright holder has teams that track downloads of their intellectual properties and notify the internet service providers. So companies like BMG, Sony, Virgin, Warner Brothers, AMC, ect contact us directly and we give our customers a warning. After so many warnings as our contract states, we are forced to terminate the service as at that point the person becomes a legal liability. 

With that said, things are better now than they were in the Napster and Limewire days. iTunes store, Amazon, ect allow customers to purchase single tracks of albums or TV episodes if they don't want to pay for the full album or cable channel, streaming services like Pandora and Spotify (free on PC but 9.99 on phones) are easily found and video subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, ect are great for streaming movies and have been a great "cable cutter" for people. Those are all perfectly legal avenues to go. So if you're doing these, you're in the clear as these don't violate the DMCA. 
(Edited)
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Debbi Cobern

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Thanks for this info! I don't stream music or anything that is not legal so I can stop worrying. ;-)
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RJ

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I have not been able to find a section in the contract that states a number of notices. However I will point out two things. First it is not a violation of the law to download copywrited media, it is a violation to not remove it when notified. So using the number of notices as a threshold is unreasonable. Second, due to the structure of the Exede data plans it is not realistic to stream media via the services mentioned. The only feasible path is to download media during the late night free zones. The file sharing sites you mention also contain a large amount of content in the public domain so use of them is not default a DCMA violation.
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Brad, Viasat Employee

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RJ, I sincerely doubt that WB, MCA, BMG, ect would agree with you that it's not illegal to download their copyrighted material. If you pay for something like on iTunes on wherever and download it, you're in the clear and we won't hear a peep from the copyright holders, otherwise we do! Similarly, If you're downloading public domain properties, you're perfectly OK as we are not given notices by copyright holders for customers downloading them. Here's a FAQ about the DMCA http://dmca.ucr.edu/faqs.html as it may seem unclear.

 Now with that said, once an account has been cut off due to repeated violations and warnings we stand by our decision. However, if you want to appeal, you'd have to go to legal@viasat.com. There's absolutely no guarantee at all, that they will authorize an account to be reinstated. Outside of re-starting under a new name/agreement that's the only exception that will be made is if they give us approval. They'll review your notices and warnings and assess if restoring your account would risk further violations in making a consideration to restart your account. 
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RJ

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There was never any dispute to the law. The gray area has always been at what point the determination of public domain vs copywrited material is made. It appears that Exede belives this can be sone ahead of time. I was under the assumption that i was in compliance with the policy and the law as i had never heard otherwise. As I've said a number of times I don't see the termination policy in the user agreement. You and other Exede employees keep mentioning it. Please at the very least post a link to the policy so I can understand what rules I was expected to follow. If the policy is not part of the documents that make the user contract then I contend that Exede is in breach of contract for terminating my service.
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Acceptable Use Policy referenced in the agreement:

http://www.exede.com/documents/master/acceptable-use-policy.pdf
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RJ

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I'm familiar with the acceptable use policy. It does not define what constitutes an infringement or specify the six strikes rule. It does contain a lot of blanket language that I'm quite sure Exede dosent enforce on a regular basis.
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Brad, Viasat Employee

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I can also mail a copy of your agreement as well
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Contact Exede Legal - you'll get nowhere fast bickering with arm chair lawyers (no offense intended Brad).  
(Edited)
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RJ

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Hi Brad, I wrote in with my account details and received the same response that I had gotten over the phone which did not at all explain how or when I had violated the user agreement. When I replied asking for further information I received an automated email that said the case was closed and I would need to open a new one.
Your post mentioned warnings and continued behavior. I never received a warning of termination and in all cases when I received a notice I complied immediately so there was no violation of the law or user agreement.
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Brad, Viasat Employee

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If you call in at 855-463-9333, we can forward those notices and warnings to an alternate email. They go to the primary email established at the start of the subscription.
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RJ

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The email established at start of service is still my main email address and I regularly receive email from Exede at it. Obviously I can't request messages I am unaware of to be forwarded.
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Will

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A family fleeing the violence in Mexico was staying at their house for a few months. The children of that family downloaded music on torrent. They didn't know it was illegal and were sternly rebuked when it came to light, but apparently the program kept infringing after it had already downloaded. Exede has been completely unwilling to give them another chance, despite the situation and the fact that they live in a very remote area with absolutely no chance of any other kind of internet connection, or the fact that the violations were committed by guests who were children from another country.
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Brad, Viasat Employee

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Unfortunately usually once disconnected due to copyright violation our hands are tied. I've had a few people where a bad roommate was the cause but we had to stand firm. They would have to sign up with a different name than the account holder in order to be reconnected. Our contract states that the customer is ultimately responsible for how the internet is used. I don't intend to come off as uncaring to your friend's good deeds, but usually after the fact the account is flagged and cannot be resumed and requires to be completely reset from the start with a brand new account, agreement, ect under a different account holder's name. It is very unfortunate, but we do this to protect ourselves as well as the customer from a lawsuit from the copyright holders. 
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RJ

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Hi Brad, there is nothing in the DCMA law that requires you not resume service if violations have been corrected. This is an internal Exede policy so your hands are not "tied" This is a company choice that convinently allows you to circumvent your 3 year price guarantee on accounts whose pricing structure you no longer find desirable.
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Brad, Viasat Employee

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Here's a 3rd Party source on the DMCA act. I totally get it's a hot button topic, I once was a college kid living in a dorm so I get why this is an attractive temptation online, but as a company we have to protect ourselves and our customers from legal ramifications. It's from 2011, but I think it explains things maybe a little more clearly http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2388261,00.asp

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