The increasing levels of global network abuse have service providers and their abuse teams on high alert. Illegal activity like child abuse, human trafficking, terrorism, and service provider copyright infringement all fall into high priority abuse that puts both service providers and their customers at risk.
In situations like these, the service provider is an unintentional—but liable—infringer. This is because the service provider gives their clients the means to make illegal documents available over the Internet, or download movies and material that infringes copyright. These files can then be accessed and copied by the general public. In cases where service provider copyright infringement, or other illegal material, is discovered, the service provider is often seen as the main violator, even though their only contribution was the provision of the infrastructure used to distribute it.
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Can Service Providers Be Held Liable?
The reason service providers become the targets of the police and the law is that the person distributing the abuse is often hard to track down, whereas service providers are much easier to locate, prosecute, and sue. Large service providers also have greater financial resources at their disposal than the individuals posting the abuse, and therefore become the main focus of the copyright holder when it comes to litigation.
How Service Providers Can Be Protected
A new study commissioned by the entertainment industry shows a rapid increase in Internet infringement – to almost a quarter of all bandwidth in North America, Europe, and Asia. The report commissioned by NetNames shows that 327 million unique Internet users “explicitly sought” infringing content during January 2013, and four years later, the levels are escalating with torrent sites easy to allocate and access.
In order to protect service providers, many countries provide them with “safe harbor” provisions in legislation. For example, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects service providers from service provider copyright infringement in the following situations:
- If the service provider has no knowledge of the copyright infringement
- If the service provider has not benefitted financially from the copyright infringement
- If the service provider immediately complies with the ‘takedown’ standards for removing copyright material from its servers
- If the service provider establishes a system for dealing with service provider copyright infringement complaints.
Another form of protection, which protects both the service provider and the general public, are blocking orders. Instead of involving service providers in long litigious battles, the British Pornographic Industry has ordered major service providers to block access to certain websites and the High Court of England and Wales has ordered major service providers to block access to The Pirate Bay, a popular torrent site.
In Australia, a well-known service provider iiNet successfully defended itself against claims of service provider copyright infringement by proving the service provider’s power is, “Limited to an indirect power to determine its contractual relationship with its customers.” As a result, they are not required to ensure their customers are not infringing copyright.
Ways Service Providers can Protect Themselves
Service Providers can protect themselves from service provider copyright infringement in the following ways:
- Effective policing: Service providers can use a solution like AbuseHQ to help them effectively parse the data on their servers and review it regularly as well as escalate it depending on the local governing law.
- Indemnification agreements: Service providers can request that their clients sign a contract assuming all responsibility for any copyright infringement engaged by the clients. These contracts protect the service provider to a certain extent, but do not remove risk entirely.
How To Effectively Handle Network Abuse
Service provider copyright infringement and other forms of high priority abuse will always involve the service provider and require action from them – both in terms of prevention and detection. AbuseHQ from Abusix will increase your service provider security with one easy-to-use platform that puts all your inbound network abuse, security reports, and actions in one place. Faster insights and improved data ensure your abuse team can process network abuse security reports in 24 hours for greater network security and customer safety.
For more information about how Abusix can help you resolve up to 99% of network abuse incidents, get in touch with a network abuse specialist today.