You may know that DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) prohibits your downloading and sharing any copyrighted material – pirated movies, music, book, TV shows, etc. If your computer IP is detected to take part in such activity, your ISP will receive a DMCA takedown notice – a formal message to report infringing content. The ISP will, in turn, warn your or whoever is know to be associated with detected IP to stop illegal activities. Briefly, this is how copyrights holders protect their intellectual property.
What does it have to do with printers, you may ask?
I’ll tell you what. Some guys (two teacher and a student namely) from University of Washington examined BitTorrent file-sharing networks using specially designed BitTorrent clients to monitor the traffic on these networks. They didn’t actually upload or download any files, but somehow the researchers received over 400 takedown requests. Each of those notices was a false positive accusing them of copyright infringement. The results of the study show that virtually any Internet user has a risk of receiving the DMCA takedown notice.
It still has nothing to do with printers, you may remark.
Yes, but we are almost there. The researchers say in the study that of all the numerous takedown notices they received, 13 were issued for 3 laser printers and a wireless access point. Interesting, right?
The results of the study make it clear that being an advanced user you can make your printer download movies for you and come out clean. On the other hand, the study shows how inconclusive is the method used to identify infringing BitTorrent users.
So if your ISP forwards you a takedown notice, cast the blame on your printer.