In the recent amicus filing
by the EFF, Public Citizen and the ACLU in one of US Copyright Group's mass copyright infringement lawsuits
, one of the points that they raised was that these mass filing strategies always snare a significant number of innocent users -- many of whom still feel the need to pay up, as it's cheaper to do so than to hire a lawyer and fight. It looks like that's already happening. Ars Technica is reporting on a number of people proclaiming innocence over the filings
. What you get is a picture of frustration as well. Many were informed by their ISP that they had just a couple days to try to quash the subpoena or their info would get handed over to USCG. Even those that tried to understand the details of what they were being threatened with were left in the dark:
"Originally we got a letter from our ISP stating they have a subpoena for our name and address. We literally had 2 business days to research and try to find legal counsel on this matter. I called a local ISP lawyer here in [state redacted]. His advice was to contact a lawyer over where this lawsuit originated (Washington, DC). Well, we do not have the monetary means or time to try and fight this..."
"I received a subpoena notice from [ISP redacted] on May 4, with a deadline of May 7 for response. It included NO INFORMATION as to what the subpoena was about so I immediately tried to contact the sender of the notice. After countless e-mails & phone calls, I finally reached an informed, live person by calling [ISP's] corporate line (which I found online and was NOT included in the notice).
"I was finally provided a copy of the subpoena itself and I recognized the date that I was accused of downloading Far Cry (a movie I never heard of) as a period when I was having Internet connection and wireless router issues. I suspect my neighbors may have been using my connection without my permission and my ISP should have record of my support calls...
"Unfortunately, I tried to hire an attorney that could help me with this and I was repeatedly told there was little I could do without further information from [ISP], and certainly nothing I could do in the very short period before the subpoena deadline. I did all this in the span of only a few days and STILL DIDN'T GET ANYWHERE. I assume my identity has been sent to the plaintiff and I can only imagine what others are going through trying to figure out what is going on here."
We've had numerous defenders of these sue-em-all programs in our comments say that false positives are few and far between, and that it's "easy" to get the case dropped if you didn't do it. I'm guessing most of those people have never been on the receiving end of a lawsuit. It is not a good feeling -- especially when it is incredibly expensive to defend your innocence. I have no doubt that many, many people on the list actually did make unauthorized copies of these files. But is it worth this sort of collateral damage on innocent people to go after them?