The movie companies lost a third attempt to unmask Reddit users who posted comments about the hack. In a order The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Wednesday denied the seven-year-old film copyright holders' request for “IP address log information” on six Reddit users.
In a request to compel which was filed last month, film companies Voltage Holdings and Screen Media Ventures argued that “Reddit users do not have a recognized privacy interest in their IP addresses.” But in his ruling Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Hixson said: “The Court finds no reason to believe that the provision of an IP address does not constitute unmasking subject to First Amendment review.” »
Volt Holdings and Screen Media Ventures previously sued internet service provider Frontier Communications, alleging it was responsible for infringing its users' copyrights. Seeking evidence for this case, the movie companies subpoenaed Reddit in an effort to prove that Frontier lacks a meaningful policy to stop repeated copyright violations and that this lack of enforcement has attracted customers to Frontier service.
“Reddit argues that the Court should deny the motion because it is an unmasking subpoena, targeting a potential witness rather than a potential defendant, and is therefore subject to First Amendment review,” notes Hixson's prescription. Reddit also argued that evidence sought by film companies can be obtained from Frontier and Frontier subscribers.
Hixson's order, which was Previously reported by Torrent Freak, said courts use “higher standards for unmasking a non-party witness” than for potential defendants because “litigation can often proceed without interfering with a non-party witness's right to anonymity.” party to the First Amendment.”
Reddit May Protect Users' First Amendment Rights
The ruling is similar to previous ones in which the same court rejected the film industry's attempts to unmask Reddit users. The fact that the film companies were only looking for IP addresses instead of names this time was not enough to sway the court.
The previous cases are called Reddit I And RedditII. Voltage Holdings was one of the copyright holders involved in Reddit Iwhile Voltage Holdings and Screen Media Ventures were involved in RedditII.
Hixson referenced the previous cases in this week's ruling, saying the third is similar in part because “the court handling the copyright litigation has already ruled.” [the movie companies] may obtain identifying information from Frontier for IP addresses known to have been compromised using the Frontier network. As in previous cases, the film companies “cannot demonstrate that the information they seek here is not available from other sources,” Hixson wrote.
Voltage Holdings and Screen Media Ventures cited posts on Reddit in which users claim Frontier has not terminated their internet service despite sending numerous copyright infringement notices regarding torrent downloads. One of the users wrote: “I have received a total of 44 emails from Frontier regarding downloading torrents and stating that this may end the service. They have not done so yet. And I have Kind of feels like they haven't done it after 44 emails. That they won't do it….”
The movie companies argued that obtaining the IP addresses of these Reddit users is relevant and proportional to the needs of the case, as the comments support the allegation “that the ability to effectively pirate content without any consequences is an attraction to becoming a Frontier subscriber…and that Frontier does not have an effective policy to stop repeat infringers.
But Reddit has the right to refuse to provide that information, Hixson decided. “The Ninth Circuit recognized that internet platforms can assert their users' First Amendment rights, based on the close relationship between the platform and its users and the 'real obstacles' users face in asserting their rights. rights to anonymity,” Hixson wrote.