Comcast Not Cooperating With Lawyers Looking To “Shake Down” BitTorrent Users

For several years, a small number of law firms have made an awful lot of money by identifying people it believes have used BitTorrent to download copyrighted porn, then nudging those people into paying up rather than having their names be made public. Comcast has decided it doesn’t want to be a part of such behavior and is refusing to comply with subpoenas in these cases.

The subpoenas order Comcast to take lists of IP addresses of suspected BitTorrent users and identify the customers behind those numbers.

Comcast had been complying with the orders, but TorrentFreak reports that the Kabletown folks have decided to put up a fight in an Illinois District Court.

The cable company argues that the subpoenas should be quashed because not all the possible defendants live within the jurisdiction of the court.

Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, Comcast says it believes the copyright holders are abusing the legal system to squeeze money from people who would rather not have their names associated in the public record with downloading porn.

“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,” argues Comcast. “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.”

The plaintiffs’ attorney calls Comcast’s request to quash the subpoenas “part of a wider campaign to deny and delay the Plaintiffs’, and other similar copyright holders’, ability to protect their copyrighted works.”

Comcast Protests “Shake Down” of Alleged BitTorrent Pirates [TorrentFreak.com]

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  1. FatLynn says:

    I think that this alone should keep them out of this year’s WCIA tournament.

    • Opdelt says:

      No. They still use Sandvine.

    • Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

      ^^THIS

    • Tunnen says:

      I’m just waiting to hear that after they get the courts to agree that they shouldn’t have to deal with the subpoenas, they’ll turn around and just give their customer database away to the trolls. After all, how long can you expect them to keep their halo shiny before they find some way to drag it through the mud? =P

    • bwcbwc says:

      Maybe not out of the tournament, but as long as they don’t find a way to screw the pooch, they shouldn’t make it past the first round.

  2. Coffee says:

    Good for Comcast…I hope they stand by their principles and refuse to give the names of these individuals to those greedy, blackmailing bloodscukers.

    Comcast is my favorite company! >.>”

    • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

      I wonder if it really has to do with principles, though. It sounds more like they just resent the idea that they have to spend time and payroll hours doing this research so the copyright holders can profit.

      • Rubberduckgrrl says:

        Agreed. I know for a fact that Comcast has no principles. This is purely money-driven.

  3. The Twilight Clone says:

    I don’t understand why anyone would torrent porn. There is more free porn across thousands of websites than you could watch in a thousand lifetimes.

  4. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    a small number of law firms have made an awful lot of money by identifying people it believes have used BitTorrent to download copyrighted porn

    Download? They’re going after downloaders now?

    • Captain Spock says:

      Bittorrent inherently involves uploading at the same time. It would be specifically for people sharing.

      • JHDarkLeg says:

        I set my upload total to 5KB/s and 9 times out of 10 I can download 100% of the torrent without uploading a single byte. For the rest there’s PeerBlock.

        • TheMansfieldMauler says:

          Right, the few times I’ve used the torrent function on my Buffalo drive I did something similar, and if I remember right I didn’t even open any ports on my router/firewall. I was able to download, albeit very slowly, without uploading.

        • ClemsonEE says:

          For those who actually care about a respective download to upload ratio (you know, the people who keep the torrent alive, and don’t leech like you), we wish you a giant FUCK YOU.

    • castlecraver says:

      TheMansfieldMauler doesn’t seed. Big surprise.

      (I keed, I keed…)

  5. atomix says:

    An ominous sign that the myans predicted for this year.

  6. augiet65 says:

    I wonder who in Comcast’s upper ranks was tied to an IP address on the list that was subpoenaed.

  7. sagodjur says:

    “The plaintiffs’ attorney calls Comcast’s request to quash the subpoenas “part of a wider campaign to deny and delay the Plaintiffs’, and other similar copyright holders’, ability to protect their copyrighted works.””

    Funny, Comcast is an “other similar copyright holder…”

  8. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    OK, How do I check if we have flipped over to the alternate universe?

  9. gman863 says:

    This sounds a lot different. Instead of a lawsuit/supbeona requested for specific behavior recorded by the RIAA or MPAA, it sounds like these orgasam chasers do not have a direct attorney/client relationship with any specific studio or person claiming copyrght infringement.

    I also recently read an article in The Houston Chronicle about this type of suit. Although the PC Columnist wisely advised anyone who is slapped with such a suit to consult a local attorney, he also mentioned many of these suits are (as told in this post) a blackmail attempt. If an attorney for the defendant fires back a nasty letter, most will turn tail and drop their blackmail attempt (similar to shady debt collectors) and move on to a more gullable target.

    Finally, it’s nice to see that Comcast, for once, actually cares about their customers and doesn’t want to spend its extra time and money going on a research expidition to find…ooops. Disregard last thought about this being a customer-focused move.

    • custommadescare says:

      So here’s a question.

      Say you get one of these letters that says you owe xxx amount for downloading whatever it is.

      If you hire a lawyer and the opposing firm “drops the case”, can you then take them to small claims court for the attorney’s fees?

      Considering that this appears to be law firms that really don’t have any stake in the artist/digital copies that they are going after, I would think that this is more like a “legal” blackmail scam.

      • gman863 says:

        I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t advise you on the legality or chances of success in filing a countersuit.

        The only other thing I’ve heard is NOT to negoiate directly with the shady attorneys. If you settle with one (even for pennies on the dollar), your name will go onto a sucker list and many more will contact you with the threat of additional lawsuits.

        • custommadescare says:

          Oh, I wasn’t asking because this effected me.

          I was more curious as to how people that may (or may not) have been rightfully targeted can try and recoup their money from hiring their own lawyer.

          I can’t really find any info if someone had counter sued and won against one of these law firms. But I do think it would set an interesting precedent if that happened and they won.

          • mistersmith says:

            Nobody counter-sues them. But I got a letter from Comcast saying my info had been subpoenaed, I drafted a motion to the court to quash the subpoena, and it worked — and the copyright trolls dropped the suit.

  10. Portlandia says:

    What is this trickery? Next think you know BofA will not be foreclosing on houses they don’t have mortgages on!

  11. dicobalt says:

    Has Comcast developed a spine or are the CEOs sick of paying staff to fulfill these legal requests? Hopefully it’s a little bit of both.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      You’re forgetting the other possibility…they don’t want to lose a paying customer (since they’d probably not get a cut of the judgement in the other company won)

  12. mikesanerd says:

    I find myself expecting a story in a couple of weeks that Comcast is going to start using this tactic themselves, and this is just an attempt to preemptively crush the competition. …I think Consumerist has made me jaded.

  13. Bane of Corporations says:

    As a longtime comcast customer (best option in my area) I’m used to comcast doing a lot of dumb stuff and poor customer service and high prices. It’s nice to see them actually do something good for their customers and their complaint sounds like exactly what the RIAA and MPAA have been doing for years…. a decade? now. But you know, it could also be their just protecting their customer’s money to protect their subscriber numbers and bottom line, I could see more people dropping cable if they had to pay out thousands of dollars for “infringement”.

  14. The Cupcake Nazi says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. To this, I have the same response I did for the people taking photos outside porn shops and posting them to their barely-viewed church website:

    “We’re gonna expose you for looking at porn”
    “OK, hang on, let me pose for the photo so you get a nice shot. Do you want me to write my name down? I don’t want you to spell it wrong!”

    • MrEvil says:

      My friends and I used to do this to a bunch of religious nutjobs back in my home town. All of us are single and were planning on getting the hell out of that sorry town ASAP.

      Nothing brings out my inner troll like “Christian soldiers” proselytizing.

  15. frank64 says:

    It appears Verizon has done the same thing at times, but other times has even given information not requires.. I got that from links in the main article.

    They also are advocating a 6 strikes plan that will give downloaders warnings before they do anything serious. This is supposed to be started in July, but is being delayed. 6 strikes seems a little too lax. I think something in between the huge fines and the 6 strikes would be the right balance. Like I said yesterday something like 5 times the value.

    http://torrentfreak.com/us-six-strikes-anti-piracy-scheme-delayed-120518/

  16. oldwiz65 says:

    I am impressed with Comcast! At least they are trying to stand up for their customers. Besides, an IP address can change from day to day, plus there’s no way to prove that someone didn’t hijack the defendant’s wi-fi.

  17. bravo369 says:

    I applaud Comcast however how come they only do this when it pertains to porn. Yes it’s a blackmail racket by the lawyers but so is what the RIAA and MPAA are doing. I don’t see comcast fighting them. So I give a small pat on the back to Comcast but unless I start seeing the same for movie and music lawsuits, I won’t give them too much credit.

    That brings up the point, with Comcast and Universal merging, can comcast look at their own logs and no longer need a court order?

  18. aleck says:

    I guess in this case Comcast has no gain in this game and would rather not piss off their customers. When RIAA or MPAA comes knocking, they would roll out the red carpet.

  19. frodolives35 says:

    Stolen pron watched while eating greasy food drinking cold beer. Not for me but someone must be in heaven.

  20. parnote says:

    Woohoo! Way to go (finally!) Comcast. You may have just kept yourself out of the Consumerist WCIA competition with this move.

    Might this be the first sign of a better Comcast to come?

  21. Nyxalinth says:

    A friend of mine tried to torrent a popular computer game. He did the download–several gigs worth–and tried to open it. His computer acted like there was nothing in the file to open. He had no idea what to do, so that and the fear he might have downloaded a virus instead stopped him from trying it again.

  22. physics2010 says:

    In totally unrelated news…. “DOJ Reportedly Investigating Cable Companies For Squashing Online Competition” Don’t want to play ball with us? Fine we’ll just investigate you for something.

  23. Tacojelly says:

    Good for you Comcast. Keep it up and you might earn yourself a GOOD reputation.

    • NoTrolls says:

      From what I have been able to find out Comcast is getting paid $45.00 per IP address they turn over to the trolls…I have been studing this for the last week and Comcast is not on the customers side…beware!

  24. NoTrolls says:

    Comcast is now turning over names in the state of Florida.