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Illinois judge quashes request for Comcast subscriber data in copyright infringement case

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A judge has found Comcast not in contempt of court for refusing to give up the information of subscribers accused of copyright infringement and has quashed the subpoenas in question.

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Comcast has been vindicated by an Illinois judge after refusing to give up subscriber information in a copyright case. Judge Gary Feinerman ruled that Comcast was not in contempt of court for ignoring four subpoenas from adult video companies, which were asking Comcast to help them identify people who had allegedly downloaded content illegally. Moreover, the subpoenas themselves have been quashed, and the civil case is closed. While ISPs have stonewalled requests before, Comcast was unusually blunt, arguing not only that the subpoenas asked for information on users who couldn't defend themselves in court but that the video companies were only trying to "shake down" users with settlements, not bring a good faith copyright infringement suit.

Although using IP addresses to identify alleged pirates is a common practice, its effectiveness has been called into question because several people often use a shared connection. ISPs also may be more reticent to hand over data after years of lawsuits.