Blog , 03 Aug 2017

How Copyright And Trademark Theft Affects Service Providers

Tobias Knecht,

Founder and CEO, Abusix

While Service Providers face many types of network abuse, protecting copyright and trademarks is increasingly concerning the category.

In the US, The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 and the European E-Commerce Directive (2000), “protects copyright holders from unauthorized electronic transmission” but provides online service providers with limited liability. These acts ensure that service providers are not liable if they do not know about copyright infringements, but take action when notified of a violation. However, they are not required by law to monitor content. These ‘gray’ areas create certain barriers for enforcing digital copyrights.

As the legal discussions between the copyright industry and service providers develop, service providers are still obliged to identify the root causes of network abuse, as well as prevent their community from the copyright and trademark theft where possible and when notified.

Dealing With Unknowing Compromised Customers

In some instances, a customer doesn’t know that they have been compromised by spyware or other malicious programs on their system. Hackers can then illegally download and distribute copyrighted material, or use their credentials and system to attack other systems to obtain copyright material.

Users might also be unaware of infringements when downloading files that are copyright protected or sharing legitimately obtained material via peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software.

To deal with this, service providers should be able to assess which sites have multiple connections open and gauge their usage patterns, as well as how much bandwidth is being used. A service provider can slow down the network, inform their customer that they are abusing service provider Copyright Infringement, and demote associated sites.

See also: How To Make Network Abuse A Priority In Your Service Provider Security Portfolio

Keeping Up With Changes In Liability

Service providers need to be cognizant of legal developments in their respective countries and states. For example, for the first time globally, the UK Appeals Court ruled in mid-2016 that UK-based service providers must censor websites that infringe luxury brands’ copyright and trademark goods.

While these service providers are not forced to proactively monitor their network for these infringements, they must act when notifications from an organization are received and prevent access to offending sites. Under an international framework, service providers who allow the transmission of illegal content but remove or take down the material after receiving notification of copyright will be protected from liability. However, they will be subject to examination within a jurisdiction.

Products like AbuseHQ can help service providers parse the data on their servers and escalate service providers’ copyright infringements depending on the local governing law. An abuse handling desk will help identify and categorize abuse reports, which allows the service provider to act and inform the user that they are abusing copyrighted material.

Intellectual Property Rights And Trademark Protection

While intellectual property rights include trademarks, patents, and related rights, illegal goods are often mixed up in the sale of legitimate products in online markets. As such, injunctions can be imposed if a service provider’s network is used to distribute fraudulent goods—regardless of whether or not a service provider is at fault.

However, this is not meant to penalize service providers, but rather because they are in the best position to halt any infringements. While service providers can obtain injunctive relief, third-party liability discrepancies can still occur, as they depend on the jurisdiction of each country or state. Nevertheless, many service providers have implemented detailed policies and procedures to protect intellectual property rights and curb illegal counterfeiting and distribution of trademark products on their network.

Responsible service providers who protect copyright, intellectual property rights, and trademarks—through remediation and sanctioning of culpable users—should incur fewer costs and reputational harm. The added benefit of enhancing your security policy is that you will be regarded as a responsible service provider, which can contribute to your bottom-line revenue.

See also: How To Make Network Abuse A Priority In Your Service Provider Security Portfolio

Advances in technology have made trademark and service provider copyright infringement significantly easier, which underscores the responsibility of service providers to ensure compliance within their networks. These challenges are further shrouded by increasingly complex legal requirements. To stay ahead of the game and avoid potential litigation issues, service providers should implement an abuse handling system to identify and categorize copyright abuse while adhering to legal provisions.

AbuseHQ improves service provider security with one easy-to-use platform. Faster insights and improved data ensure your abuse team can process network abuse security reports in 24 hours for greater network security and customer safety.

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