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Piracy The Courts

Comcast Allegedly Confirms That Prenda Planted Porn Torrents 175

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the copyright-lawyer-doesn't-know-copyright dept.
lightbox32 writes "Porn-trolling operation Prenda Law sued thousands for illegally downloading porn files over BitTorrent. Now, a new document from Comcast appears to confirm suspicions that it was actually Prenda mastermind John Steele who uploaded those files. The allegations about uploading porn to The Pirate Bay to create a 'honeypot' to lure downloaders first became public in June, when an expert report filed by Delvan Neville was filed in a Florida case. The allegations gained steam when The Pirate Bay dug through its own backup tapes to find more evidence linking John Steele to an account called sharkmp4." The problem for Prenda being that initiating the torrent would give anyone who grabbed it an implied license.
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Comcast Allegedly Confirms That Prenda Planted Porn Torrents

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  • Next step (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @03:14AM (#44615455) Homepage

    The only thing that would make this any juicier now is if Prenda itself didn't have the rights to distribute that porn.

  • Re:no (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Solandri (704621) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @05:27AM (#44615911)

    ." The problem for Prenda being that initiating the torrent would give anyone who grabbed it an implied license.

    Good luck using that idea in court.......

    The reasoning seems pretty sound to me:

    If Prenda did not have the right to distribute the media, then you could make a fairly convincing argument that those who took part in the torrent cannot be fined more than the copyright owners choose to fine Prenda for committing the exact same crime.

    If Prenda had the right to distribute the media and chose to distribute it via bittorrent where they knew people would grab a copy for free, then they were implicitly giving away the media for free and anyone who participated in the torrent did not infringe the copyright. If I stand on a street corner and hand out copies of my book, I cannot then turn around and sue anyone who takes a copy for theft. It's only when someone I did not authorize stands on a street corner handing out copies of my book that I can sue him (and the recipients if they knew the book giveaway wasn't legal) for theft.

    The only way I can see this going in Prenda's favor is if the court decides that if you willingly give away your stuff to people who believe it's stolen, then they can be sued for theft. But that makes no sense because you'd be suing people for theft when no stealing occurred, even if the people believed they were stealing. If the speed limit is 55 mph, and I think the speed limit is 45 mph and go 55 mph, a cop can't write me a ticket for breaking the speed limit.

  • by quantaman (517394) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @05:28AM (#44615915)

    For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately "roughed up" the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko's to upload clips from computers that couldn't be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt "very strongly" that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.

    Viacom's efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.

    Given Viacom’s own actions, there is no way YouTube could ever have known which Viacom content was and was not authorized to be on the site.

    Although summary judgment was granted to Google on other grounds, I'd say this argument has at least a fair chance of success.

    I'm not sure the Viacom situation applies. Legally Viacom would have been well within its rights to upload a clip, then demand YouTube take down an identical clip uploaded by a user, it's their content. The argument Google made is that Viacom made it unclear when it was uploading clips, even a take down request could turn out to be targeting legit content, making it impossible for YouTube to ensure only authorized content remained.

    I think the difference is the people sharing the files never had any expectation that the uploaded Prenda content was legit, so they weren't in the same dilemma as Google. Of course that doesn't mean a judge will be ok with the honeypot idea.

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