AT&T plans to alert over a dozen customers in the next week or two that their service will be terminated due to copyright infringement, anonymous sources told Axios. This is one of the first instances AT&T has ended a customer’s service over piracy issues.
AT&T told The Verge today in a statement:
Content owners notified us when they believed they had evidence that an internet account was sharing copyrighted material unlawfully. Based on the notices we received, we identified the customer on the account and share with them the information we received. We also reached out to the customer to educate them about copyright infringement and offer assistance to help prevent the activity from continuing. A small number of customers who continue to receive additional copyright infringement notifications from content owners despite our efforts to educate them, will have their service discontinued.
These dozen-plus customers have received at least nine warnings that they might be infringing on copyrights before AT&T could cancel their service, as AT&T’s new policies state. AT&T told Axios that owners of the content notified the company when they found an internet connection was illegally distributing copyrighted material. The customers who did not modify their behavior accordingly will now have their services terminated.
In June, AT&T acquired Time Warner, which also gave it ownership of an enormous content network, WarnerMedia. An anonymous source told Axios that it wasn’t immediately clear if WarnerMedia was the entity issuing piracy accusations this time around.
Before the acquisition, it was unclear if AT&T ever had to warn customers directly about copyright infringement issues. It was definitely rare for people to be kicked off their service providers over piracy, unless the scale and distribution of the copyrighted materials was massive.
Update November 6th, 7:55PM ET: This article has been updated with comment from AT&T and a correction that the piracy policies have been in place for years.