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 Minnesota Judges Refuse To Unmask Defendants For Copyright Troll Strike 3

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TémanyitásTárgy: Minnesota Judges Refuse To Unmask Defendants For Copyright Troll Strike 3   5/12/2018, 12:44

With copyright trolling a business model in full force across the world, we've noted that there has finally started to be some pushback against these tactics. In Europe, both courts and ISPs have begun wising up to the notion that IP addresses are an incomplete and faulty piece of "evidence" at best, with both government and industry also finally beginning to question just where user privacy should fit into all of this. In America, unfortunately, copyright trolls have all too often been able to unmask customers through ISPs based on court orders pretty much at will. Strike 3 Holdings is one such troll, with the company being partially responsible for a number of piracy lawsuits shooting out of the gate in 2018 at record speed.

And, yet, it appears that there might finally be some pushback coming to the US too, as two judges in Minnesota have now refused to order ISPs to give up customer information to Strike 3.

Late last month, Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel denied such a discovery motion. As a result, Strike 3 is not allowed to ask the ISP, Comcast in this case, for the personal details of the account holder associated with the IP-address.

According to Judge Noel, these cases present a conflict between the copyright protections of the DMCA on the one hand and the privacy rights of the public as set out in the Communications Act. Here, the scale tips in the favour of the latter.

Frankly, this reasoning should be plainly obvious. A copyright holder marching to an ISP with an IP address that does not pertain to an individual ought not be able to unmask that individual using such faulty evidence. It's long past time that the courts wise up to this and begin taking seriously the rights and interests of the public to not have private third party companies be able to associate them with their online activity.

But this wasn't a one-off. Another court looked at Noel's ruling and decided it was sound.

Last week Magistrate Judge David Schultz cited the ruling in two similar cases, also filed by Strike 3. Again, the subpoena requests were denied to secure the privacy of the alleged BitTorrent pirates.

“From this Court’s perspective there are obvious tensions between DMCA, the Communications Act, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45,” Schultz’s orders read.

“The Court is not unsympathetic to Plaintiff’s need to discover the actual identity of the infringer of its copyright; however, the discovery sought by Plaintiff through a Rule 45 subpoena directly collides with federal privacy protections.”

If this becomes a trend, what will be most interesting about it is that nothing in the laws in question has changed. Such a trend would represent instead an evolution of legal thought by judges on the practices of copyright trolls. It may also represent better informed defendants and ISPs that are aware of how shitty all of this is and also more aware of their respective rights in the law.

To be sure, a couple of rulings is no cause to rest easy. The vast majority of copyright trolling efforts succeed in at least getting this sort of customer information. Still, hopefully other courts will take notice of these rulings and agree that they should not be rubberstamp stops on the way to violating consumer privacy.
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Minnesota Judges Refuse To Unmask Defendants For Copyright Troll Strike 3
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