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Federal judge backs mass file sharing lawsuits

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 27 Mar 2011 16:02 User comments (2)

Federal judge backs mass file sharing lawsuits A federal judge has given a boost to rights' holders looking to sue thousands of file sharers in the United States for copyright infringement.
Efforts to sue thousands of people who downloaded and shared movies illegally on the web were challenged by several groups, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Public Citizen. The group has objected to new litigation campaigns that lump thousands of alleged pirated together.

They believe that the mass jointing of multiple defendants violated federal rules of procedure, and that the plaintiffs had inadequately established jurisdiction. Also, they contend that the First Amendment to the US Constitution protected the defendant's right to anonymity.

U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell dismissed all three arguments, contending that the mass-joining of defendants benefits the plaintiffs and the defendants alike.
"Given the administrative burden of simply obtaining sufficient identifying information to properly name and serve alleged infringers, it is highly unlikely that the plaintiffs could protect their copyrights in a cost-effective manner. Indeed, Time Warner urges the Court to sever the defendants for this very reason. Time Warner asserts that, if joinder were disallowed, its burden of complying with subpoenas would be diminished because the plaintiffs would not be able to proceed against all of the putative defendants individually At this procedural juncture, the plaintiffs have met the requirements of permissive joinder under Rule 20(a)(2). The putative defendants are not prejudiced but likely benefited by joinder, and severance would debilitate the plaintiffs’ efforts to protect their copyrighted materials and seek redress from the putative defendants who have allegedly engaged in infringing activity."
She ruled also that it was premature to even bring up questions of jurisdiction before the defendants are even identified, and in these chances when an ISP hands over the details, an individual is dropped from the lawsuit if he/she does not reside in the jurisdiction. The plaintiff can file a new lawsuit in the defendants home state.

Interestingly, the judge did find that file sharing does involve "aspects of expressive communication" that would qualify under the First Amendment, but did not allow it to get in the way of a property owner's right to protect their works.

"The First Amendment interest implicated by their activity, however, is minimal given that file-sharers' ultimate aim 'is not to communicate a thought or convey an idea' but to obtain movies and music for free," she ruled.

Tags: P2P
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2 user comments

127.3.2011 16:53

"communicate a thought or convey an idea"- hybrid mix presentations for all, then.

230.3.2011 19:09

Yes, there is a 'new' wrinkle to trap torrent users. It is maybe a year old. A mercenary hacker download a torrent from a swarm. His client logs all the IP addresses that give the hacker data. They can prove an IP address was distributing without hacking into their computer. That really does not prove a certain person has behind it but the fines are small about 1,000 and most prefer to just hand over the money. You can harvest a million easy from a large swarm.

The EFF helped Jamie and they will probably wreck this trap as well.

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