Copyright In March, a new DC-based outfit calling itself U.S. Copyright Group, basically a bunch of U.S. IP lawyers armed with some German technology for monitoring torrents in real-time, quietly began a campaign of suing thousands of individual anonymous movie downloaders in on behalf several independent producers, including Voltage Pictures, producers of the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. They were able to settle many, but the campaign is playing havoc with ISPs.
Now, the Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq. blog reports, Time Warner Cable is pushing back. In a case involving Uwe Boll’s Far Cry, the ISP has filed a third-party motion with the DC District Court asking it to quash or modify USCG’s subpoena seeking the indentities of 6,284 individual TWC subscribers relating to 1,648 IP addresses. Until now, TWC says it received an average of 567 IP lookup requests per month, mostly from law enforcement and pertaining to cases involving death or serious physical injury. The ISP claims it’s simply not equipped to handle massive, shotgun subpoenas from private parties.
This one could get messy. Whatever conversations may be underway between the ISPs and, say, the MPAA, toward reducing illegal file-sharing, are only going to work if the MPAA can deliver more than just the major studios when it comes time to cut a deal. Why make a deal with the majors, at a substantial risk of subscriber backlash, if you’re still open to being caught in massive fishing expeditions by groups that are not party to the deal? If I’m an ISP, I’m going to want one set of rules that applies to everyone.