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Film Companies Seek ‘Torrenting History’ Related to Redditor


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reddit-logoEarly last year, a group of filmmakers obtained a subpoena which required Reddit to reveal the identities of users who commented on piracy-related topics.

The movie companies said they were not planning to go after these people in court but wanted to use their comments as evidence in an ongoing piracy lawsuit against Internet provider RCN.

Reddit wasn’t willing to go along with the request, at least not in full. The company objected, arguing that handing over the requested information would violate its users’ right to anonymous speech. Reddit later responded similarly to a second and third subpoena request.

Reddit Shared IP Address

Recent legal activity shows that Reddit doesn’t intend to automatically comply with all user information requests. Early last year, it did share some information (including IP address logs) related to user ‘ben125125’. Since the comment mentioned RCN, Reddit felt that was the appropriate response.

ben reddit

After this initial disclosure in March last year, no new information surfaced in 2023. However, a recent court filing shows that the movie companies, including Voltage Holdings and Millennium Media, actively tried to track down the commenter.

The IP address handed over by Reddit was linked to a T-Mobile account. Responding to a subpoena, the provider shared information related to subscriber ‘Mr. S’. According to the filmmakers, the Redditor used this connection to post on the platform.

When Mr. S failed to respond to their letter, the filmmakers obtained a subpoena from the District of New Jersey to compel a response last December. The filmmakers were contacted by phone in early January, supposedly by Mr. S’ family attorney, who promised to send information over email. According to the film companies, a response never arrived.

Movie Companies Seek ‘Torrenting History’

To move the case forward, a few days ago the filmmakers asked the Illinois federal court to compel Mr. S to comply with the subpoena. The request reveals what type of information these companies are looking for.

The plaintiffs have always maintained that they don’t intend to pursue legal action against the targeted Redditors. Instead, they’re seeking information to support their lawsuits against RCN and other Internet providers.

The motion to compel shows that the movie companies are seeking the following information from Mr. S, who is not necessarily the Redditor:

1. All written communications with RCN concerning piracy from Oct. 1, 2017 to the present.

2. Payment records to RCN from Oct. 1, 2017 to present.

3. All personal computing records pertaining to usage of BitTorrent from Oct. 1, 2017 to the present.

4. All social media account usernames used including for Reddit, Twitter and Facebook January 1, 2016 to present.

5. All Reddit posts and messages from Jan. 1, 2016 to the present

6. Records of all movie piracy websites (including but not limited to YTS, 1337x, RARBG, Torrent Galaxy, The PirateBay) that were used at your Internet service.

The above shows that the movie companies would like to see comprehensive details of the subscriber’s torrenting history, including records of visits to The Pirate Bay. In addition, it seeks information on other social media profiles, where more relevant information might be found.

Direct Infringement

The movie companies argue that the requested information is relevant and proportional to the needs of the case. For example, Bittorrent activity will help to show direct copyright infringement by an RCN subscriber.

“[The responses] will prove direct infringement and thus Plaintiffs’ allegation that Defendant’s subscribers directly infringe Plaintiffs’ exclusive rights (and that Defendant is liable for its subscribers’ piracy),” they argue.

At the time of writing, the court has yet to respond to the motion and no objections have been received. The filing is very insightful, though, as it sheds some extra light on what type of information the movie companies are after.

A copy of the movie companies’ motion to compel, submitted at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, is available here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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