Is Google Fiber playing copyright cop?

Google_fiber_logoI’m constantly amused when people project their ideal of an ISP onto Google. After abandoning open access, shutting up on net neutrality, and gorging themselves on handouts, you’d think we’d all be a little bit wiser about how this company operates. It comes as no surprise, then, that Google is apparently also dipping its toe into the copyright cop waters. This is also affecting users in Provo as shown in the below anonymized email:

From: <>
Date: Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 10:11 AM
Subject: FWD: <redacted> Notice of Claimed Infringement from <redacted> at <redacted> – Ref. <redacted>
To: <redacted>

Google Fiber has been notified by a copyright owner or its authorized representative that your Google Fiber service has allegedly been used to access or download infringing copyrighted material. The notice that we received, identifying the copyrighted material, can be found attached to this email.

We have not shared any information about you with the complaining party, nor will we unless we receive a subpoena or are otherwise required by law to do so.

Please be aware, however, that our Terms of Service forbid the use of your Google Fiber account for unlawful activities, including copyright infringement. Repeated violations of our Terms of Service may result in remedial action being taken against your Google Fiber account, up to and including possible termination of your service. If you believe that people outside your household may have had access to your Google Fiber service (such as via an open wireless access point) and are responsible for this activity, you may want to take steps to secure your network.

If you have legal questions about this notification, you should consult with your own legal counsel. If you have any other questions about this notification, please contact the party that sent the attached notice.

So far as I know, UTOPIA providers do not enforce these kinds of terms. XMission in particular has a history of telling anyone without a court order to pound sand.

The most concerning part of these notifications is that they are generated by a private party that has no accountability for its accusations. Google may also not do any kind of investigation to test the veracity (see what I did there?) of the claims being brought to them. It’s entirely possible they’ll take the complaints at face value and, if you get enough, disconnect service without so much as a “how do you do”.

How’s that “don’t be evil” thing working out for you, Provo?

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7 Responses to Is Google Fiber playing copyright cop?

  1. Jarrod Ribble says:

    DMCA? Every ISP will do this, it’s the law.

  2. Christian Faulconer says:

    I think you have to take the anti-Google glasses off now. First, they are required by law to do this as Jarrod said and second, what did they do? They sent a reminder about the TOS and that’s it.

    “We have not shared any information about you with the complaining party, nor will we unless we receive a subpoena or are otherwise required by law to do so.”

    Where’s the beef?

  3. Joey says:

    I actually have multiple instances of an email with almost the exact same wording from MSTAR, XMission, and Comcast over the past few years (that’s what happens when you let guests in your home use your WiFi.)

  4. Justin says:

    Your post is misinformed. Having worked for XMission in the past, I can confirm that XM does indeed forward a copy of the DMCA takedown notice that it receives from the originator of the request to the user. I believe that online service providers actually are obligated to pass the takedown notice along to the user as part of OCILLA. This information is easy enough to read up on if you’re interested. Bottom line: Google is doing what others do in this case.

  5. Jt says:

    This article is really really dumb! You are complaining that they are informing you that someone else has been spying on you! This post just bleeds sheer ignorance!!!

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