» ISP News » 

Copyright Holders Target Major Internet Backbone Provider

Saturday, June 13th, 2020 (8:29 am) - Score 4,279
world network and broadband connections

Over the past decade it’s become fairly normal to see Rights Holders pursue individual broadband ISPs when one of the internet provider’s customers is suspected of committing copyright infringement (piracy). Now the same is starting to happen further upstream, with major internet backbone provider Hurricane Electric in the firing line.

At the ISP level (Tier 3) it makes sense for copyright firms to target those providers because they actually know the individual users of their service and may also have a limited degree of control and oversight over that user’s traffic. In the UK a broadband ISP cannot be forced by rights holders to disconnect one of their customers for suspected activity, which is partly because they can only identify the bill payer for a service (on a shared network they may not be the ones who committed the offence, such as on hotel WiFi etc.) and IP address based evidence is known to be quite fallible.

The internet is structured through several different Tiers (1, 2 and 3 etc.). For example, further upstream from broadband ISPs you have major backbone and colocation providers (third-party intermediaries), which help to supply and route traffic around the world. Such backbone providers are even further removed from individual internet users and so any action they take may affect an entire network or location, as oppose to a specific user.

In other words, expecting internet backbone providers to control what each individual user does on one of their customer’s broadband networks is akin to asking an ocean to turn off the sea for a specific fish, it’s unworkable without potentially causing widespread disruption.

Nevertheless TorrentFreak reports that Rights Holders, which are connected to movies such as ‘Rambo: Last Blood‘, ‘London Has Fallen‘, ‘Dallas Buyers Club‘ and many others, have recently begun to demand that Hurricane Electric (they do things at both a Tier 1 and 2 sort of level) take action (disconnection) to stop an individual internet user (in this case a single specific IP address) from allegedly pirating their copyright content and pay $500,000 in damages.

The rights holders made their demand after first obtaining a subpoena which required the backbone provider to share the personal details of pirating subscribers (the equivalent UK process is known as a Norwich Pharmacal Order).

In response HE has now filed two lawsuits, one in California and one in Nevada, against the rights holders in the hope of putting a stop to their claims. The backbone provider is essentially requesting a Declaratory Judgement stating that it’s not responsible for copyright infringements that take place through its customers.

Statement from Hurricane Electric

“[The] Defendants’ cease and desist letters are demanding that upstream service providers like HE simply shut down entire Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that provide Internet access to thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of people, based solely on allegations of infringement by even a single unidentified end-user subscriber to an ISP.

Defendants are thus putting HE in an impossible situation, all based on an improper and unlawful overextension of Defendants’ alleged copyright rights.”

The case is important as it could have an impact on some fundamental elements and understandings of how the internet works, as well as responsibility at different levels of traffic flow. “It is simply not appropriate to shut down an entire city, a school system, rural area with subscribers covering a 5-state region, or an airport internet provider … because defendants do not want to bother contacting the ISP providing service,” added HE.

On top of that HE has accused the rights holders letters of being “abusive, tortious, and otherwise wrongful.” On the other hand there is a precedent set for major backbone providers to disconnect entire client networks. In the past both HE and other major carriers, such as Global Crossing, disconnected McColo from the internet due to the large amount of malware and botnets being facilitated by that particular network at the time (the volume of worldwide spam immediately dropped by a noticeable level).

However, disconnecting an entire network for distributing masses of malware is on an entirely different level from expecting the same action because a single internet user chose to pirate some movies. The internet wouldn’t work very well if backbone providers were expected to hold that kind of responsibility.

On the other hand a quick check of the associated IP in this case shows that the address is owned by HE (normally the responsible ISP would be attached to IP ownership), which makes it easier to understand why the rights holders might have targeted them. Sadly TF’s article doesn’t mention which client ISP (i.e. the one actually responsible for the individual user) HE was referencing in their statement. As such some crucial context may be missing.

Share with Twitter
Share with Linkedin
Share with Facebook
Share with Reddit
Share with Pinterest
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
18 Responses
  1. CarlT says:

    Presumably next will be cutting entire nations off by going around their coastlines and cutting all fibre links because someone downloaded a straight to DVD movie.


    1. joe says:

      DOn’t give them ideas

  2. Buggerlugz says:

    The worlds gone mad. Did you see what happened to the Youtube channel B is for build this last week?? He was creating a homage to the “gone in 60 seconds” unicorn car, the mustang fastback Eleanor. Turns out that in the U.S. you can trademark a likeness. So the widow of the guy who wrote the original film has the trademark, got her goons to turn up and forced him to turn over the car to them using IP trademark violations.

    The mind boggles.


    1. Pezza says:

      Yeah I saw that, now that confused me as it’s a car made by Ford, so surely Ford own the copyrights to their own design, but in. Arica it seems Nope a film maker can have the copyright.. pathetic really pathetic and I think it should be illegal to do this.

    2. Gary says:

      Aye, She already had a ‘Licenced’ Elanor builder to protect I suppose.

  3. The pied piper says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if “major internet backbone providers” decided to cut these parasites off from the internet? imagine if people like level3 and cogent decided to simply drop traffic from these people. wouldn’t it be grand?

  4. Darc says:

    Maybe HE should just disconnect all the media companies, then they wouldn’t be able to find any “offending content”.

    1. Olly says:

      BGP doesn’t work like that; connectivity would still be possible to HE sources via other transit and IXPs.

      Unless HE was to block the AS path of legal and media ASNs, in which case, that’d be censorship and the exact thing we want to avoid here as it’ll guarantee a judge rule in favour of the rights holders. For if HE can censor rightful companies, they can also censor wrongful ones too.

      We want a free and open internet with no censorship at all.

  5. James says:

    Buy a seedbox and avoid these problems, simple..

  6. Pezza says:

    This is such a stupid move, like really stupid, I don’t know how they can resolve the odd person who pirates a film but threatening a bloody backbone provider is not the way to do it.. it seems they are so desperate, of course if they made decent films in the first place, or got with the times and offered them for streaming day one and for a decent price too, not the £15 they offered films recently to rent to view on streaming and Sky due to the pandemic and closed cinemas, people wouldn’t pirate so much. But the film industry sure is full of greedy blood suckers, I like it when the stars demand so much money they can’t afford to pay them and instead offer them shares of the films profits as well as a huge pay cheque, like Keane Reaves got for The Matrix sequels..

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Making “decent” films in the first place is certainly a problem for them in this day and age. I think the last truly decent film I saw was “The Town” which is 10 years old!

  7. Gary says:

    Hmm, Don’t shoot the messenger :-/

  8. Mike says:

    If it’s HE IP addresses, then it’s PA address space and in some respects, HE *is* the ISP…

  9. The real James™ says:

    Been testing ISP to see who let you access pirate bay using their DNS server and It’s funny that TalkTalk let’s you access pirate bay but virgin media says this site doesn’t exist.

  10. Olly says:

    Oh no. The rights holders are going to win here, too.

    Let’s take a look at Origin Broadband in particular. Their network has Cogent and HE transit, but it’s split completely in half. Their CG-NAT segment has Cogent transit, and dedicated IP and full fibre has HE. They don’t intermingle.

    Now, to an external party, Origin is the ISP and subnet holder (unless leased, but that’s another subject) and since Origin’s transit to the outside world is single-homed, it is the ultimate transit provider (HE or Cogent) responsible for providing access to the Internet.

    Origin Broadband are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and have been for many years (Google their financial history, lending & spending, hiring & firing, and office moves for more info), so it doesn’t make sense for rights holders to pursue a claim against them nor any similarly sized or smaller ISP. But it does make sense to target the single transit provider that feeds them.

    Small ISPs are exempt from adhering to legal restrictions of content blocking, but transit providers have not been discussed. And here, ladies and gentlemen, lies the golden ticket. ISPs with single homed transit are everywhere, and if rights holders can prove that HE for example are [collectively, over all ISPs] enabling hundreds of thousands of end users access to piracy, the rights holders have a real strong case and it does not look good.

    1. buggerlugz says:

      So its basically ambulance chasing on the internet. Like the internet’s version of cold calling “we heard you were involved in a car accident…”

  11. Timeless says:

    from what l heard there is something pretty major going on at Twitch as well over copyright infringement…

    its like the moment lockdowns started to ease money grubbing firms are out in full force to recoup their losses.

    1. Gary says:

      Lots of issues with streamers using copyrighted images and music these days, I guess as soon as you start to profit or other wise Gain from the use of someone elses stuff you’re on shaky ground.

Comments are closed.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Ultrafast ISPs
  • Vodafone £23.50 (*26.50)
    Speed: 100Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Gigaclear £24.00 (*49.00)
    Speed: 300Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Hyperoptic £25.00 (*35.00)
    Speed: 150Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Promo Code: ROKUGIFT
  • Community Fibre £27.50 (*32.50)
    Speed: 200Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: First 6 Months Free
  • Virgin Media £28.00 (*52.00)
    Speed: 108Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Vodafone £19.50 (*22.50)
    Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • NOW £20.00 (*32.00)
    Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Hyperoptic £20.00 (*25.00)
    Speed 50Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Promo Code: ROKUGIFT
  • TalkTalk £21.00 (*29.95)
    Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Shell Energy £21.99 (*30.99)
    Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. FTTP (3670)
  2. BT (3044)
  3. Politics (1975)
  4. Building Digital UK (1945)
  5. FTTC (1897)
  6. Openreach (1862)
  7. Business (1717)
  8. Mobile Broadband (1501)
  9. Statistics (1430)
  10. FTTH (1367)
  11. 4G (1295)
  12. Virgin Media (1197)
  13. Fibre Optic (1184)
  14. Wireless Internet (1176)
  15. Ofcom Regulation (1167)
  16. Vodafone (859)
  17. EE (845)
  18. 5G (792)
  19. TalkTalk (781)
  20. Sky Broadband (757)
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact