An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electronic Frontier Foundation: No one should have to fear losing their internet connection because of unfounded accusations. But some rights holders want to use copyright law to force your Internet service provider (ISP) to cut off your access whenever they say so, and in a case the Washington Post called “the copyright case that should worry all Internet providers,” they’re hoping the courts will help them. We first wrote about this case — BMG v. Cox Communications — when it was filed back in 2014, and last month, EFF, Public Knowledge (PK), and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) urged the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to overturn a ruling that ISP Cox Communications was liable for copyright infringement. EFF, PK and CDT advised the court to consider the importance of Internet access in daily life in determining when copyright law requires an ISP to cut off someone’s Internet subscription. The case turns in part on a provision in copyright law that gives internet intermediaries a safe harbor — legal protection against some copyright infringement lawsuits — provided they follow certain procedures. Online platforms like Facebook and YouTube, along with other internet intermediaries, have to “reasonably implement” a policy for terminating “subscribers and account holders” that are “repeat infringers” in “appropriate circumstances.” But given the importance of Internet access, the circumstances where it’s appropriate to cut off a home Internet subscription entirely are few and far between. The law as written is flexible enough that providers can design and implement policies that make sense for the nature of their service and their subscribers’ circumstances. A repeat infringer policy for the company that provides your link to the Internet as a whole should take into account the essential nature of internet access and the severe harm caused by disconnection. But music publisher BMG wants to use this provision to force ISPs to become tougher enforcers of copyright law. According to BMG, ISPs should be required both to forward rights holders’ threatening demand letters to their subscribers and terminate a subscriber’s Internet access whenever rights holders allege that person has repeatedly violated copyright law. A subscriber is a “repeat infringer” and subject to termination, they argue, whenever they say so. Cox’s appeal of the ruling raises two very important issues: (1) Who should be considered a “repeat infringer” who should be cut off from the Internet, and (2) whether ISPs must either cede to rights holders’ demands or monitor their subscribers’ internet habits to avoid liability. Slashdot reader waspleg adds: Two landmark Supreme Court cases, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., and Sony Corp. of America v. Universal Studios made clear that if a service is capable of significant lawful uses, and the provider doesn’t actively encourage users to commit copyright infringement, the provider shouldn’t be held responsible when someone nonetheless uses the service unlawfully.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.