Media com

This is a story of how I lost my patience, and was liberated from my cable provider…

I arrived home on a Friday evening after work to find I was unable to access the internet. I found that odd because my service had been pretty reliable.   I called customer service and was on hold for about 7 minutes before being connected to level 1 support staff.  I explained the problem and he checked for any area outages, but was unable to find anything wrong on his end.  He put me on hold for a few minutes then came back and transferred me to level 2 support.  Once again I was on hold for a few minutes before someone answered. It only took them about 5 minutes to discover the problem was something that they could not assist me with.  They had to transfer me to another department for this specific problem.   Once again I was on hold for a few minutes before someone came on the line. I explained the problem that my internet was not working, as well as being transferred around the support department for awhile now.   He verified some information from me and then told me that Mediacom had blocked my access to the internet intentionally due to the second notice they received indicating that I had engaged in copyright infringement.  He had no details on the material or the reporting agency but that the letter that was sent to me would have those details.  It would also have an acknowledgment letter that I needed to sign and return to them to have my internet access reinstated.

I explained that I had not received any previous notice and I use my internet connection to access work computers.  I explained that I would gladly sign anything they wanted as soon as I received it and even take it to the local office. However, I would not be able to go the entire weekend without being able to access my office computer.  I asked what I could to do get my internet enabled again.  He indicated that they would not be able to enable service until they received the signed acknowledgement.  I then explained that I had neither the time nor the patience to deal with an unexplained outage that Mediacom’s own technical support staff were aware of. I also told them that if my service could not be restored in the next 60 minutes I would be switching to their competitor for internet service.  He politely explained how he was sorry there was nothing he could do.

The following day I went to a local mall and signed up for service with Qwest.

The following Monday I received a letter from Mediacom indicating that it was indeed the second notice (where was the first?) that I was in violation of. This letter contained the details of the alleged infringement which I found particularly interesting.

Name of Work: Adobe Photoshop
IP Address:
Date:   2009-01-14
Reporting Agency:  BSA

My first thought was, “What do the Boy Scouts of America have against me?”    Ok, seriously, my real first thought was, “Who would want Photoshop when GIMP or Picasa are free?”

I try to be a proponent of open source software whenever I can.  I don’t use Photoshop for my job, or at home.   I don’t recall having recommended Photoshop to anyone that wasn’t a graphic designer or something like that.  I don’t want to disgrace a product I’m not familiar with but there are classes at the local community college on how to use the product so to me that seems a little complicated.

I searched all of my internet connected computers for the software I was alleged to be sharing but found no Adobe products.  I diligently checked all of my P2P sharing programs and my bit torrent clients to see if I was sharing out anything but still was unable to locate anything with the words ‘Adobe’ or ‘Photoshop’.   Yes, I admit to running some P2P software and I admit to downloading via bit torrent but I deny having or sharing the software I was alleged to be sharing.  The letter from Mediacom did indicate what steps I needed to take if the claim was inaccurate but as I previously stated, I require internet access to connect to computers at my work.  I didn’t have 10 business days for them to restore my connectivity after they received my written counter-notification.  I especially didn’t have time since this was (supposedly) the second notification and upon the third alleged offense, Mediacom would be forced to permanently terminate my online service.

I find the fact that Mediacom’s own support staff were unaware of the cause of my ‘outage’ extremely irritating.  I also find this false accusation rather irritating.  Had I been contacted about sharing any copyrighted material that I accidentally was sharing I would have been angry but it would have been my own fault and I could have moved to acceptance much faster. (grin)

In the end, what they’ve done is given DirecTV and Qwest another customer.   I’d like to know if anyone else has gotten a letter from them alleging copyright infringement.  I can’t be the first…