American internet users could be banned from the internet for life if they subscribe to the ISP Mediacom and persistently break copyright law.
A controversial six-strikes anti-piracy scheme will start in the US this year, but Mediacom has opted for its own stricter measures with a maximum of three strikes.
How will their policy work? When a user receives their first DMCA
notice (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), they will receive a letter highlighting the violation to act as a warning.
The second notice will trigger an account suspension, which can only be reinstated when the user completes paperwork.
The third and final struck will see the user banned for life. This contrasts with the industry-wide six-strike rule, which will still punish persistent violators but never enforce a life ban.
"Given the importance of connectivity these days, it’s extremely unfortunate that any ISP would terminate after three DMCA notices", the Electronic Frontier Foundation told TorentFreak. "DMCA notices are merely accusations — they are not proof of wrongdoing, and ISPs should not treat them as such".
Another problem with any of the proposed rules is that the owner of an internet connection might not be the person committing piracy. A teenager might be using their parent's connection, or a criminal neighbor might exploit the lack of security on a nearby wifi connection. Both situations could impact the subscriber's ability to run a business from home, as one example.
Last year the United Nations declared that internet access is a human right. It could be interesting to see how this plays into any future court cases debating a life ban, though most pirates will probably stop any illegal activity after a warning or two.
What do you think? Will the threat of a lifelong ban stop you from pirating music, or would you just switch providers and ditch Mediacom? Let us know in the comments.