When Hard Drive Productions went to court attempting to force ISPs to hand over identities of the people they accused of BitTorrenting their adult film Amateur Allure – Natalia they likely expected it would be a breeze. With the names in hand, Hard Drive would be free to pressure the individuals they claimed downloaded the film into a cash settlement as many media creators turned copyright trolls are wont to do. However, they met a major obstacle in the form of California Judge Howard R. Lloyd.
In the course of the case, “Hard Drive Productions, Inc. versus Does 1-90,” Hard Drive was forced to admit some embarrassing facts. First of all, the company admitted that the tools it used to determine the location of people torrenting their content was could only reliably the country or origin. This was problematic since the court was only allowed to act on individuals within the state of California.
Not only that, Judge Lloyd wrote in his decision that ISPs could only provide the name of a particular account holder, not necessarily the person who downloaded Hard Drive’s content. This fell short of the requirement in such cases that the identity sought by the prosecution be the person directly involved in the case.
Judge Lloyd also showed a remarkably strong understanding of how BitTorrent functions, pointing out that the grouping of unknown individuals into a single lawsuit was invalid since there was no evidence that any of the 90 individuals mentioned in the case ever directly exchanged the file between one another. Judge Lloyd used this as grounds to strip 89 unidentified persons from the case, and insist that if Hard Drive wished to pursue their action that they would have to do so on a pers0n by person basis.
Finally, it was Hard Drives’ own practice of copyright trolling that came back to bite them with Judge Lloyd noting that without an intent to actually bring charges against the individuals named in the case, there was no reason for there to be a case at all. TorrentFreak quoted Judge Lloyd’s decision as saying:
“The court recognizes that plaintiff is aggrieved by the apparent infringement and is sympathetic toward its argument that lawsuits like this one are the only way for it to find and stop infringers. However, the court will not assist a plaintiff who seems to have no desire to actually litigate but instead seems to be using the courts to pursue an extrajudicial business plan against possible infringers (and innocent others caught up in the ISP net).
“Plaintiff seeks to enlist the aid of the court to obtain information through the litigation discovery process so that it can pursue a non-judicial remedy that focuses on extracting ‘settlement’ payments from persons who may or may not be infringers. This the court is not willing to do,”
While the fight against copyright trolls is far from over, cases like this one show that the legal system is getting wise to their ways. Hopefully a few more smart decisions like this will snuff out the nasty practice, and we can get back to the business of putting together some more reasonable copyright laws in this country.
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- The WB sends out fake takedown request
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