Time Warner Cable Copyright Infringement Notice

First off, I apologize for the exceptionally long post. I’ll try to find a way to trim it down to size, but sometimes I go overboard when I have a story to tell.

I wonder if I just got an obnoxious rep, or if this is par for the course with Time Warner Cable? Maybe some of you can shed some light. I’ve had an internet account with TWC for about 5 years now, with various roommates coming and going, and all of them using my connection. Many have pirated movies and shows (myself included from time to time), so over time I’ve received a few MPAA complaints. This is what they look like: https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/TtFkn7FOaLVZZopxqKk7hZWmxEqkXu2wGYX7n_vWM8U_82jDpwGpqeHch3ALc31BMCVYszLTL9c

All internet traffic is re-directed to this page until you call the number on there and tell them you’ve repented and cleansed your network of the evil stolen goods. It’s a pain sometimes because they are apparently very understaffed, and rather than being routed to a holding queue, you’re sent to voicemail. Anywhere from 20 – 90 minutes later they call you back. And if you miss that call, you do it again – phone tag until you get lucky.

So this time, once I finally got a hold of someone, I explained about the notice, and they told me exactly what content the MPAA was complaining about (they named the movie). But it went downhill from there. Rather than me promising to remove the infringing content from my network (on some roommate’s computer) and getting my service restored, the rep told me that I had to submit a letter via fax stating that I had removed both the infringing content and the software used to download it, then call back to get my service restored. I wasn’t paying much attention though, so I didn’t catch the part about the software and the names of them.

Later at work I typed out a quick generic letter referring to “infringing content” and that I’d removed it and faxed it off. I called on my lunch break to get my service restored, and this is how the conversation went:

Rep: I’m sorry sir, but unfortunately since you did not name the content and you did not remove the software, I cannot restore your service.

Me: What? I have to name the content. Ok fine. But what’s that about the software?

Rep: You need to remove the software from the computer as well. And name the software.

Me: But why? The software’s not illegal, nor does it infringe on anyone’s copyright. You can’t tell me to remove perfectly legitimate software from someone’s computer on my network.

Rep: Sir, when it’s used to download illegal content, then the software is illegal too.

Me: What?!? You’re kidding, right? That’s not how copyright law works, you know. I can use the software to download all kinds of stuff that’s perfectly legal. TWC can’t dictate what software I use on my computer.

Rep: Sir, it’s in breach of our ToS.

Me: To download illegal content or to use legitimate software?

Rep: The software is illegal when it’s used to download illegal content, and until you submit a fax stating that you’ve removed both the content and the software, and named both of them, I can’t restore your service.

Me: That’s complete bull. You can’t tell me I can’t use perfectly legal software on my computer. But just to get my service restored, I’ll send the fax.

The conversation went a little longer than that, mostly running in circles, me insisting they can’t tell me what software I can and can’t use, and him insisting the software is illegal by association with the content, and then me asking for a supervisor, and him saying he can have one call me back later, etc. I was pretty mad at the end of it all.

So I sent another fax naming the movie and some software (I have no idea who downloaded it or what software they used, so I made that up. It’s not like they can verify either way.) Through a couple more calls and voicemails, I did manage to get my service restored. It was spotty that night, but by morning it was fixed. That morning a different rep called me back to confirm service was restored and all was well. I confirmed and asked again about the policy of requiring software to be removed. He apologized and said that they actually just “recommend” you uninstall the software if all you use it for is illegal activity. Of course that makes sense. He explained that he uses it for legitimate things like Linux distros, etc. and there’s nothing wrong with having the software. Just don’t pirate. On that I can agree.

I asked again, “Then why did the other rep insist I remove the software before restoring my service?” He apologized again and they just recommend it, but interestingly he never said the rep was wrong or shouldn’t have said that or should have restored my service before.

Along the way I took to twitter to voice my complaints, and lo and behold they responded. You can see the whole conversation on the nifty social media platform they use, Social Dynamx, here: https://twc.sdx.socialdynamx.com/portal/conversation/43150

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone else has ever gone through something like that with TWC or any other ISP. Is that how they think they’ll beat piracy? I dunno, but it was pretty frustrating.