Comcast has started fighting back against BitTorrent lawsuit outfits the company says are simply interested in "shaking down" Comcast customers. An increasing number of copyright holders have been engaging in aggressive "settlement-o-matic" efforts to make a quick buck, sending a subpoena to an ISP to request the personal information behind an IP address, followed by a notice informing the user that they can avoid nasty litigation and pay a settlement.
Dislike of these efforts is common, and the bundling of massive numbers of users into one lawsuit remains legally dubious, but it's interesting to see a major media powerhouse stepping up to them. Torrent Freak
notes that while Comcast used to comply to these subpoenas, they're fighting back against AF HOLDINGS -- a porn publisher trying to score quick cash from porn BitTorrent traders. The company is refusing to comply with a subpoena from the group's lawyer, and kicking back hard at the entire process.
“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," writes Comcast lawyers
. “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," says Comcast.
Comcast's move follows on the heels of similar move by Verizon
, who is refusing to comply with subpoenas from e-book publisher Wiley & Sons. While Comcast and Verizon may not have an interest in helping porn or e-book publishers glean quick cash from their customers, they have both previously helped similar outfits (like the U.S. Copyright Group) when the content in question has been television and film content. Both companies are set to participate in a massive new copyright campaign this July that could involve throttling or filtering Internet connections