Judge Says No To Hurt Locker Subpoenas

from the follow-the-rules,-guys dept

Last month, we noted that at least one ISP, Midcontinent Communications, was actually fighting the mass subpoenas from US Copyright Group in its attempt to demand money from people associated with IP addresses that allegedly shared the movie Hurt Locker. It looks like the judge has, indeed, quashed the subpoenas, noting a series of procedural problems with them (notably, these are mostly the same procedural problems with the subpoena recently sent to us). This doesn’t mean that things are over, as US Copyright Group can try to follow the rules next time around, but it should be a reminder to companies that just because you receive a subpoena, it doesn’t mean you just have to roll over and hand over information. You have every right to make sure that it’s within what the law allows.

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Companies: midcontinent communications, us copyright group

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Comments on “Judge Says No To Hurt Locker Subpoenas”

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average_joe says:

It’s subpoena, singular, not subpoenas, plural.

Midcontinent listed four reasons for quashing the subpoena:

(1) invalid service of process

(2) the subpoena was not issued under the authority of a court described in Rule 45, i.e., the subpoena should be issued under the authority of the District of South Dakota under Rule 45(a)(2)

(3) the parties whose identities are sought by Voltage have not been notified of the subpoena as Rule 45 requires

(4) money was not attached to the subpoena to reimburse Midcontinent for their costs of producing the information

The judge only had to look to (1) to decide in Midcontinent’s favor: “Service by facsimile transmission in not an authorized method of service under the Rule.” You can’t just fax a subpoena someone. Duh!

Now, I wouldn’t get too excited about this. It was a simple yet stupid mistake by USCG, IMO. They could very easily fix all of these problems and resubmit the subpoena properly. Considering that the 143 defendants in question could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential settlements, I will be surprised if USCG doesn’t fix their mistakes and resubmit the subpoena.

Still, there is plenty of egg on USCG’s face for this mistake. We should all take a moment and laugh at them. 😉

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Is this really you? I think this is the first time I’ve ever read on of your posts that’s accurate, and even happens to agree with mike, nice to see you’ve become more reasonable.

I’ll bet the next time if they properly resubmit it, Midcontinent will fight it again and win. This time, it was denied on procedural grounds simply because that was far easier than fighting it on the basis of it’s substance.

average_joe says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think it’s hilarious that USCG just faxed this subpoena to South Dakota. What were they thinking?

If USCG does it right and resubmits it, it will not be denied. I don’t care how hard Midcontinent fights it. There’s just no legal basis to deny these subpoenas if they are properly submitted.

There’s really no reason to think Midcontinent would even fight it if it were proper. If you read their brief you’ll see that they are all to happy to play along if USCG submits a proper subpoena. They said it’ll take them 3.5 hours to look up the 143 names. I’m sure USCG will be more than happy to take them up on that.

And my posts are always accurate, thank you very much. 😉

average_joe says:

Re: the south dakota decision

You can read the order here: http://www.scribd.com/full/38126847?access_key=key-2j8tnlqyaro2v6j5r6co

This was a pretty unique circumstance. The issue was that Midcontinent wasn’t in the D.C. court’s jurisdiction. I’m pretty sure all of the other ISPs involved are in the court’s jurisdiction. And for ISPs that aren’t, I don’t see USCG making this same mistake again in the future.

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