Sonic.net stopped saving logs for more than 14 days in order to frustrate copyright trolls

Sonic.net is a great ISP. Not only are they technically proficient, but they also spend their own money fighting stupid subpoenas on their customers' behalf. They won't seal a police request unless they get a court order (many big ISPs will refuse to tell their customers about police snooping if the cops ask them not to, even without a judge's involvement). They noticed that neither their sysadmins nor the cops ever needed logfiles going back more than 14 days, and that only scummy copyright trolls benefitted from longer log retention, so they cut their logging to two weeks. Forbes's Andy Greenberg interviews Sonic.net CEO Dane Jasper:

DJ: So, what we saw was a shift towards customers being made part of a business model that involved–I don’t know if extortion is the right word–but embarassment for gain.

An individual would download a movie, using bittorrent, and infringe copyright. And that might be our customer, like Bob Smith who owns a Sonic.net account, or it might be their spouse, or it might be their child. Or it might be one of his three roommates in a loft in San Francisco, who Bob is not responsible for, and who rent out their loft on AirBnB and have couch surfers and buddies from college and so on and open Wifi.

When lawyers asked us for these users’ information, some of our customers I spoke with said “Oh yeah, crap, they caught me,” and were willing to admit they engaged in piracy and pay a settlement. But in other cases, it turned out the roommate did it, or no one would admit to doing it. But they would pay the settlement anyway. Because no one wants to be named in the public record in a case from So-And-So Productions vs. 1,600 names including Bob Smith for downloading a film called “Don’t Tell My Wife I B—F—— The Babysitter.”

AG: Is that a real title?

DJ: Yes. I’ve read about cases where a lawyer was doing this for the movie “The Expendables,” and 5% of people settled. So then he switched to representing someone with an embarassing porn title, and like 30% of people paid.

It seemed like half the time, the customer wasn’t the one right one, but they rolled over because it would be very embarassing. And I think that’s an abuse of process. I was unwilling to become part of that business model. In many cases the lawyers never pursued the case, and it was all bluster. But under that threat, you pay.

CEO Of Internet Provider Sonic.net: We Delete User Logs After Two Weeks. Your Internet Provider Should, Too. (via JWZ)