When Even Comcast Is Refusing To Identify Those Accused Of Infringement...

from the copyright-trolls-gone-too-far dept

We've seen various ISPs push back (mostly successfully) on attempts by copyright trolls to lump together hundreds, or even thousands, of separate IP addresses into a single lawsuit for the sake of being able to subpoena identities (and then send threatening "settlement" demand letters). But, still, it's a bit of a surprise to see Comcast get into the game as well, filing a motion with a district court arguing that it shouldn't have to provide such info in response to subpoenas from various copyright trolls. Yes, Comcast has the same basic argument as other ISPs... but Comcast is also the owner of NBC Universal, who is very much on the other side of this issue, and has been one of the strongest copyright maximalists out there. So it's a bit surprising to see them using an argument that, in theory, could come back to make NBC Universal's life more difficult whenever it goes after people for allegedly infringing on its works online. In fact, Comcast argues pretty strongly against copyright trolling in the filing:
Plaintiffs should not be allowed to profit from unfair litigation tactics whereby they use the offices of the Court as an inexpensive means to gain Doe defendants’ personal information and coerce “settlements” from them. It is evident in these cases – and the multitude of cases filed by plaintiffs and other pornographers represented by their counsel – that plaintiffs have no interest in actually litigating their claims against the Doe defendants, but simply seek to use the Court and its subpoena powers to obtain sufficient information to shake down the Doe defendants. The Federal Rules require the Court to deny discovery “to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1). This case requires such relief.
Now, of course, NBC Universal hasn't gone all the way to the level of pure trolling and forcing settlements out of people, but I've yet to see a single situation where the lawyers at NBC Universal were willing to support anything that might make it more difficult for them to go after people for infringement. Perhaps now that they're under the Comcast umbrella NBC Universal will have to tone down its aggressiveness on these issues?

Filed Under: copyright troll, isp, shakedown
Companies: comcast, nbc universal

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  1. identicon
    Mason Wheeler, 15 Jun 2012 @ 2:42pm

    There's a more serious problem...

    ...on the other end of it: They also refuse to identify those doing the accusing.

    One of my coworkers had his connection threatened because Comcast received a DMCA notice that he was pirating a TV show. The reason? He was seeding a torrent of a Linux distribution with a name similar to the show. (I forget what it was, this was more than a year ago and he's not around right now to ask him.)

    He asked Comcast where the notice had come from, and they refused to tell him. This further underscores the problems the DMCA causes for our most sacred legal traditions. We are supposed to have the right to face our accusers when charged with a crime. But by allowing rightsholders to deal with copyright infringement extralegally, that protection, like all the rest of Due Process, is stripped from the accused.

    We will never get our rights back until we push back get the DMCA repealed or struck down by a court.

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