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What You Should Know / April 30, 2010 -- The odd thing about these proposals is how little they seem to be needed. AT&T has been forwarding infringement notices to subscribers for some time. It has developed an "Automatic Customer Notification Service" to automate this process, though it will not share user data with rightsholders unless it gets a court order. One might suspect that simple warnings would do no good, but AT&T says that "in our experience, the automated notice-forwarding systems that ISPs have established are highly effective at deterring the offending behavior." Verizon makes the same observation. In a separate letter, Verizon tells the government that it has "implemented a notice forwarding program as part of our commercial relationships with several content owners that we believe strikes an appropriate balance between the legitimate interests of rights holders in protecting their copyrights and the important privacy and other interests of our wireline Internet access customers." The voluntary program was in place for all of 2009, and it has "proven very effective in not only notifying customers about allegations of infringing behavior involving their Internet connection, but also, importantly, at educating customers about copyrights and the importance of stopping any potentially infringing behavior, all with minimal adverse customer reaction." (Verizon also refuses to pass subscriber information to rightsholders without a court order, so this is merely an informational notice.)

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