John Aprigliano was a little confused when he received a DMCA takedown notice from his cable provider Comcast earlier this month. The letter alleged that Aprigliano had downloaded a movie called Cadillac Records via Bittorrent. The only problem: Aprigliano didn't even know that such a movie existed. From his blog:

"I have come to learn that "Cadillac Records" is a movie with Adrien Brody and that their marketing for this movie must have really sucked because with what ever thousands or millions of dollars they used to promote this movie, I have never heard of it - even once."

Aprigliano called Comcast's tech support to let them know that this was a mistake, and of course the friendly tech support person on the other side of the line didn't believe him. So he called again. And again. And again, until he could finally convince them that he wasn't actually the infringer.

Turns out Aprigliano had gotten a new cable modem from Comcast two months prior to the alleged infringement, but the old modem was still associated with his account, even though it was now in use by some unknown Adrien Brody fan - a confusion Aprigliano could only clear up because he was tech-savvy enough to ask the right questions. Here's a snippet from his paraphrased phone call:

aprigliano: "What was the MAC address of the offending cable modem?"

Tech 2: "OO:BE:..."

aprigliano: "Hold on! That is not my current MAC address. I have had this cable modem, and IP number, since the end of October."

Tech 2: "IP numbers change."

aprigliano: "MAC addresses don't change."

Tech 2: "Yeah. Um. They don't. Please hold."


It's great that Aprigliano got his name cleared, but it's very unfortunate that this took not only a lot of persistence, but also technical knowledge. Most people have never even heard of MAC addresses, much less of the fact that such an address could help to prove their innocence in a case of alleged infringement.

This is especially troublesome because entertainment companies want to make ISPs keep track of such alleged infringements and disconnect repeat infringers, and Comcast has signaled some willingness to participate in this game. One has to wonder how many mix-ups like this will it take before innocent users lose their Internet connection?

(via Dave Zatz, thanks!)

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