Comcast Claims Copyright On Publicly Available Letter, Threatens To Sue Site For Publishing It

comcastconfidentialIt’s no secret that Comcast is not the most loved company, but only a few days ago some folks were happy with Comcast after a court document showed it had provided information indicating that lawyers for porn producers had planted material on a file-sharing site. Now Comcast is claiming that its copyright has been violated by the news site that published the publicly available document.

TorrentFreak was the first to publish the letter in which Comcast responds to a subpoena. In the letter, the cable company identifies the name and address of a customer attached to an IP address believed to be behind the tempting porn uploads. Whoever was uploading the porn just happened to be in the same Minneapolis office as the lawyers who then threatened to sue people for downloading it.

Between this revelation and Comcast’s earlier stance against providing customer information to porn-troll lawyers, it seemed like the company was fighting a good fight for once.

But then earlier today, TorrentFreak reported that it had received a cease and desist notice from Comcast through third-party brand-protection company Cyveillance. It claims that the website used Comcast’s intellectual property without permission and in violation of federal copyright laws.

“Unfortunately, the email above provides no indication of what we have done wrong,” writes TorrentFreak. “It simply states that we infringed on Comcast’s copyrights without explaining what the actual infringement entails.”

So the site contacted Comcast, where someone clarified that the company is specifically requesting the removal of the letter in which Comcast reveals the identity of the subscriber behind a specific IP address.

Thing is, this letter is part of a publicly available court record, so it’s unclear exactly where the copyright infringement might have occurred.

Cyveillance eventually told TorrentFreak that it had been instructed by Comcast to “hold off on working on the removal of the post in question,” but has not responded to the site’s e-mails since Monday.

Of more immediate concern to the site, Cyveillance has told TorrentFreak’s hosting company about the cease and desist request, and yesterday the hosting company alerted the site that if the material in question isn’t removed within 24 hours, its IP address would be blocked.

Thus, Comcast went from looking like an enemy of porn-troll lawyers to being an enemy of journalists making fair use of publicly available documents. Comcastic!

UPDATE: Comcast is now saying that the cease and desist notice was sent in error and that the company has told TorrentFreak to disregard it. We’re trying to confirm if anyone has also told TorrentFreak’s hosting company that this notice should be disregarded.

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