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Thursday, June 7, 2012

American Entertainment Industry Banned from Commercial Invoicing

An American judge poked at a wasp’s nest when ruling that the mass-lawsuits of the entertainment industry infringe the file-sharers’ right to anonymous speech.

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Florida judge has signed an order which actually protected the accused BitTorrent users from mass lawsuits launched by rights owners and kills all BitTorrent lawsuits in the state courts. The judge did so suggesting that both sides in the case agreed with him and got a legal assistant to draw up his reasoning. Apparently, the entertainment industry claimed that it would never agree to this idea. So, currently the judge has set aside the ruling. But the experts point out that for one brief moment, it was illegal for the creative industry to carry out mass lawsuits in the state. The ruling remains important because it indicates how the judge is leaning in handling mass lawsuits.

Rights owners are claimed to have exploited a loophole based on discovery, which provides them with the ability to continue subpoena tantrums to send out to broadband providers, without having to bring any evidence. The assistant of the judge called the file-sharing lawsuits the “fishing expeditions”, saying that the rights owners are actually trolls.

He added that the lawsuits were used to extort settlements from people who are neither subject to the courts’ personal jurisdiction nor responsible for copyright violation, but do not want to be dragged into a court in the lawsuit that might seek disclosure of the contents of their PCs. Many federal courts have already dismissed BitTorrent lawsuits, but this judge is using the First Amendment. He pointed out that the Supreme Court recognized that the First Amendment does protect anonymous speech and it is therefore impossible for a state court to conclude whether the rights owner’s demand to identify the defendants is legitimate or not. Meanwhile, BitTorrent users’ right to anonymous speech shields users from being exposed through state court lawsuits.

In fact, the discovery process can’t be used for mass file-sharing lawsuits, since subpoenas are supposed to target the end users, not a 3rd-party like Internet provider. Even though the decision has been set aside, it still makes it difficult for the creative industry to see how it’s going to get its trolling antics past this Florida judge.

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