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Comcast asks judge to throw out anti-piracy subpoenas meant to 'shake down' users

Comcast asks judge to throw out anti-piracy subpoenas meant to 'shake down' users


Comcast is asking a judge to throw out subpoenas against anonymous IP addresses, arguing that the plaintiffs are filing overbroad lawsuits in order to "shake down" users.

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Comcast has signalled that it's tired of being asked to give up names when users are accused of copyright infringement. In a recent case, the US ISP was asked to provide subscriber information for IP addresses by four adult video companies; it's now asking an Illinois District Court to throw out the subpoenas. In a statement to the court, Comcast argued that "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." Because the inquiries are overbroad and the John Does accused of copyright infringement can't fight back in local court, Comcast says, the companies should not be able to require information from it.

Comcast also raised a point that's long been considered common knowledge in copyright suits. "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." This doesn't necessarily mean it's taking an ideological stand, but it's still raised some of the bigger arguments used by consumer advocates. The plaintiffs have responded, complaining that Comcast wishes to hinder "its lawsuit to protect the copyrighted works," and the case is now waiting for a judge's decision. Verizon has recently blocked similar requests, so it's possible we'll see a reduction in the use of IP addresses in these lawsuits.