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 Chilling Effects Clearinghouse > Piracy or Copyright Infringement > Notices > Cox Abuse Tracking System (NoticeID 1103, http://chillingeffects.org/N/1103) Printer-friendly version

February 18, 2004

 

Sender Information:
MGM
Sent by: [Private]
[Private]
Los Gatos, CA, 95031, US

Recipient Information:
[Private]
[Private]
BR, LA, 70802


Sent via: email
Re: Cox Abuse Tracking System

Dear Customer,

We are writing on behalf of Cox Communications to advise you that we have received a notification that you are using your Cox High Speed Internet service to post or transmit material that infringes the copyrights of a complainant's members. We have included a copy of the complaint letter. Pursuant to the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"), which is codified at 17 U.S.C. § 512, upon receiving such notification, Cox is required to "act expeditiously to remove, or disable access to" the infringing material in order to avoid liability for any alleged copyright infringement. Accordingly, Cox will suspend your account and disable your connection to the Internet within 24 hours of your receipt of this email if the offending material is not removed.

Please be aware that the DMCA also provides procedures by which a subscriber accused of copyright violation can respond to the allegations of infringement and, under certain circumstances, cause his or her account to be reinstated. To do so, however, the response must meet certain criteria. Pursuant to section (g) of the DMCA (17 U.S.C. § 512(g)), you have the right to submit to Cox a counter-notification which, to be effective, must include the following elements:

(a) a physical or electronic signature of the subscriber;
(b) identification of the material that has been removed or to which access has been disabled and the location at which the material appeared before it was removed or disabled;
(c) a statement under penalty of perjury that the subscriber has a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled;
(d) the subscriber

 
FAQ: Questions and Answers

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Question: ISP as Copyright Cop

Answer: Notice that this letter comes from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and not from a copyright owner. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act both protects ISPs from copyright liability (leaving the end user with that liability) and requires ISPs to participiate in a "takedown" process when copyright owners claim infriging use. See the FAQs associated with this notice for more information.


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Question: What constitutes copyright infringement?

Answer: Subject to certain defenses, it is copyright infringement for someone other than the author to do the following without the author's permission:

1. reproduce (copy) the work;

2. create a new work derived from the original work (for example, by translating the work into a new language, by copying and distorting the image, or by transferring the work into a new medium of expression);

3. sell or give away the work, or a copy of the work, for the first time (but once the author has done so, the right to sell or give away the item is transferred to the new owner. This is known as the "first sale" doctrine: once a copyright owner has sold or given away the work or a copy of it, the recipient or purchaser may do as she pleases with what she posesses.) 17 U.S.C. ?109(a);

4. perform or display the work in public without permission from the copyright owner. 17 U.S.C. ?106. It is also copyright infringement to violate the "moral rights" of an author as defined by 17 U.S.C. 106A. Moral rights are discussed here.


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Question: What is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?

Answer: The DMCA, as it is known, has a number of different parts. One part is the anticircumvention provisions, which make it illegal to "circumvent" a technological measure protecting access to or copying of a copyrighted work (see Anticircumvention (DMCA)). Another part gives web hosts and Internet service providers a "safe harbor" from copyright infringement claims if they implement certain notice and takedown procedures (see DMCA Safe Harbor).


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Question: What are the penalties for violating the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions?

Answer: The DMCA allows for both civil remedies and criminal penalties for violations under the anti-circumvention provisions. If the violations are determined to be willful and for commercial purposes or private financial gain, the court can order significant fines and/or imprisonment.


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Question: What is the significance of Section 512(a) of the DMCA to service providers?

Answer: If a service provider falls within the requirements of subsection 512(a), then it will not be liable for monetary, injunctive, or other equitable relief. Specifically, a service provider will not be liable for copyright infringement by reason of (1) the service provider


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Question: Does a cease and desist letter recipient have a duty to remove materials alleged to infringe copyright?

Answer: The cease and desist letter gives its recipient ("you") notice that someone is claiming something you've done or something on your site infringes a copyright. If the materials that are the subject of the notice are in fact infringing, then you do have a duty to remove them, although there may be statutory provisions (DMCA Safe Harbor) that protect you from a lawsuit if the materials were posted by someone else. You may have to give the poster notice of the complaint.

If you do not believe that the materials are infringing, or if you believe that you are making fair use of the materials, you may choose to take the risk of not removing the materials, but a lawsuit might follow in which the complainer tries to prove they they are right and you are wrong. If the accuser obtains a court order, then you must take down the materials.


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Question: What is copyright infringement? Are there any defenses?

Answer: Infringement occurs whenever someone who is not the copyright holder (or a licensee of the copyright holder) exercises one of the exclusive rights listed above.

The most common defense to an infringement claim is "fair use," a doctrine that allows people to use copyrighted material without permission in certain situations, such as quotations in a book review. To evaluate fair use of copyrighted material, the courts consider four factors:


  1. the purpose and character of the use
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work
  3. the amount and substantiality of copying, and
  4. the market effect.

(17 U.S.C. 107)

The most significant factor in this analysis is the fourth, effect on the market. If a copier's use supplants demand for the original work, then it will be very difficult for him or her to claim fair use. On the other hand, if the use does not compete with the original, for example because it is a parody, criticism, or news report, it is more likely to be permitted as "fair use."

Trademarks are generally subject to fair use in two situations: First, advertisers and other speakers are allowed to use a competitor's trademark when referring to that competitor's product ("nominative use"). Second, the law protects "fair comment," for instance, in parody.


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Question: What are the counter-notice and put-back procedures?

Answer: In order to ensure that copyright owners do not wrongly insist on the removal of materials that actually do not infringe their copyrights, the safe harbor provisions require service providers to notify the subscribers if their materials have been removed and to provide them with an opportunity to send a written notice to the service provider stating that the material has been wrongly removed. [512(g)] If a subscriber provides a proper "counter-notice" claiming that the material does not infringe copyrights, the service provider must then promptly notify the claiming party of the individual's objection. [512(g)(2)] If the copyright owner does not bring a lawsuit in district court within 14 days, the service provider is then required to restore the material to its location on its network. [512(g)(2)(C)]

A proper counter-notice must contain the following information:

  • The subscriber's name, address, phone number and physical or electronic signature [512(g)(3)(A)]
  • Identification of the material and its location before removal [512(g)(3)(B)]
  • A statement under penalty of perjury that the material was removed by mistake or misidentification [512(g)(3)(C)]
  • Subscriber consent to local federal court jurisdiction, or if overseas, to an appropriate judicial body. [512(g)(3)(D)]

If it is determined that the copyright holder misrepresented its claim regarding the infringing material, the copyright holder then becomes liable to the person harmed for any damages that resulted from the improper removal of the material. [512(f)]

See also How do I file a DMCA counter-notice?, and the counter-notification generator.


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Question: Who may hold a copyright?

Answer: A copyright ordinarily vests in the creator or creators of a work (known as the author(s)), and is inherited as ordinary property. Copyrights are freely transferrable as property, at the discretion of the owner. 17 U.S.C.


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Question: What may be copyrighted?

Answer: In order to be copyrightable, a work must be

1. fixed in a tangible medium of expression ; and
2. original.

Copyrights do not protect ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles, or discoveries: they only protect physical representations. 17 U.S.C.


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Question: What defines a service provider under Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)?

Answer: A service provider is defined as "an entity offering transmission, routing, or providing connections for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of material of the user's choosing, without modification to the content of the material as sent or received" or "a provider of online services or network access, or the operator of facilities thereof." [512(k)(1)(A-B)] This broad definition includes network services companies such as Internet service providers (ISPs), search engines, bulletin board system operators, and even auction web sites. In A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster Inc., the court refused to extend the safe harbor provisions to the Napster software program and service, leaving open the question of whether peer-to-peer networks also qualify for safe harbor protection under Section 512.

There are four major categories of network systems offered by service providers that qualify for protection under the safe harbor provisions:

  • Conduit Communications include the transmission and routing of information, such as an email or Internet service provider, which store the material only temporarily on their networks. [Sec. 512(a)]
  • System Caching refers to the temporary copies of data that are made by service providers in providing the various services that require such copying in order to transfer data. [Sec. 512(b)]
  • Storage Systems refers to services which allow users to store information on their networks, such as a web hosting service or a chat room. [Sec. 512(c)]
  • Information Location Tools refer to services such as search engines, directories, or pages of recommended web sites which provide links to the allegedly infringing material. [Sec. 512(d)]


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Question: What rights are protected by copyright law?

Answer: The purpose of copyright law is to encourage creative work by granting a temporary monopoly in an author's original creations. This monopoly takes the form of six rights in areas where the author retains exclusive control. These rights are:

(1) the right of reproduction (i.e., copying),
(2) the right to create derivative works,
(3) the right to distribution,
(4) the right to performance,
(5) the right to display, and
(6) the digital transmission performance right.

The law of copyright protects the first two rights in both private and public contexts, whereas an author can only restrict the last four rights in the public sphere. Claims of infringement must show that the defendant exercised one of these rights. For example, if I create unauthorized videotape copies of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and distribute them to strangers on the street, then I have infringed both the copyright holder's rights of reproduction and distribution. If I merely re-enact The Wrath of Khan for my family in my home, then I have not infringed on the copyright. Names, ideas and facts are not protected by copyright.

Trademark law, in contrast, is designed to protect consumers from confusion as to the source of goods (as well as to protect the trademark owner's market). To this end, the law gives the owner of a registered trademark the right to use the mark in commerce without confusion. If someone introduces a trademark into the market that is likely to cause confusion, then the newer mark infringes on the older one. The laws of trademark infringement and dilution protect against this likelihood of confusion. Trademark protects names, images and short phrases.

Infringement protects against confusion about the origin of goods. The plaintiff in an infringement suit must show that defendant's use of the mark is likely to cause such a confusion. For instance, if I were an unscrupulous manufacturer, I might attempt to capitalize on the fame of Star Trek by creating a line of 'Spock Activewear.' If consumers could reasonably believe that my activewear was produced or endorsed by the owners of the Spock trademark, then I would be liable for infringement.

The law of trademark dilution protects against confusion concerning the character of a registered trademark. Suppose I created a semi-automatic assault rifle and marketed it as 'The Lt. Uhura 5000.' Even if consumers could not reasonably believe that the Star Trek trademark holders produced this firearm, the trademark holders could claim that my use of their mark harmed the family-oriented character of their mark. I would be liable for dilution.


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Question: Where can I find the text of the U.S. Copyright Act?

Answer: The federal Copyright Act may be found at http://www.loc.gov/copyright/title17/.


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Question: What does the "reservation of rights" language mean? What are they "waiving" at me?

Answer: Many C&Ds will say something like, "This letter shall not be deemed to be a waiver of any rights or remedies, which are expressly reserved." This is just legalese for saying, "Even if you do what we ask in this letter, we can still sue you later." The language is standard; do not be alarmed. Litigation is extremely unpleasant, and unless your opponent is irrational (always a distinct possibility, of course), it will not bring litigation after it has obtained what it wants.


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Question: What happens if an individual is found to repeatedly infringe?

Answer: The safe harbor provisions require the service provider to include in its copyright infringement policies a termination policy that results in individuals who repeatedly infringe copyrighted material being removed from the service provider networks. [512(i)(1)(A)] This termination policy must be made public in the terms of use that the service provider includes in its contracts or on its web site.


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