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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

US ISPs Ordered To Disclose Subscribers

Two California adult movie studios, Third Degree Films and Patrick Collins Inc., have recently filed a copyright lawsuit against more than a hundred of Maryland residents for unauthorized downloading and sharing some of their movies. At the moment, none of the studios knew the names of the copyright infringers.

Now the situation has changed, as two of Maryland’s biggest Internet service providers – Comcast and Verizon – were ordered by the court to bring over data about twenty-two of their customers, which would help the plaintiffs to identify the people behind the IP addresses. Meanwhile, suspected Internet users are residing across the state in like fifteen cities.

Of course, the strategy employed by porn studios isn’t new. A number of cases throughout the United States were built around the list of IP addresses without real names behind it. The precedent was set by the Recording Industry Association of America when it has tried to establish the identities behind the IP addresses of Internet users ripping music off through Napster.

Patrick Collins Inc. launched the lawsuit back in June against 22 Joe Does who were suspected to download the porn video called “Cuties 2”. Another studio’s case involves 118 pirates who allegedly downloaded “Illegal Ass 2”. The plaintiffs asked a federal judge to order ISPs Verizon and Comcast to help the studio identify the Joe Does. In respond, the judge handed down an order saying that the studios own exclusive distribution rights to video that was being illegally shared in the web through P2P technology, BitTorrent. Therefore, the plaintiffs have been granted their request and the judge ordered both Verizon and Comcast to provide the required data.

Comcast replied that they didn’t just hand the private information over without due process. That’s why they published an announcement to let the subscribers know the company has been ordered by a judge. As for the industry observers, they call such cases “copyright trolls”, because the tactic employed is aimed at extracting quick money from settlements by threatening people with public disgrace and exposure. Indeed, the plaintiffs agreed to voluntarily drop the charges against the individual who has hired attorneys to defend him. Meanwhile, their own lawyer refused to comment on the situation.

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