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The Courts Piracy Your Rights Online

Federal Judge Rules P2P Users Aren't In a Conspiracy 66

Fluffeh writes "Judge Holderman ruled against copyright holders who were trying to paint a rather distorted picture. They sue just one Internet user, but use that lawsuit as a pretext to subpoena other defendants who had participated in the same BitTorrent swarm. The plaintiffs in these lawsuits claim that the other users had participated in a "conspiracy" to assist one another in distributing particular copyrighted works. Because the copyright holder's threat is based on the cost of litigation (and risk of public embarrassment — as this is a tactic used increasingly by the pron industry) more so than the damages a defendant would face in the event of a loss, innocent defendants have virtually as much incentive to settle as guilty ones do. That's not how things are supposed to work, and more and more judges are refusing to play along. Coupled with recent rulings in Florida, the copyright holders seem to be finding less and less favor with judges."
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Federal Judge Rules P2P Users Aren't In a Conspiracy

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  • Re:Innocent what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @12:31AM (#39545951)
    Innocent of conspiracy. That's pretty important for a lot of reasons, most of which are legal.
  • Re:FTFY (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kirijini ( 214824 ) <kirijini&yahoo,com> on Monday April 02, 2012 @01:53AM (#39546297)

    Federal judges are protected by article III of the Constitution, and cannot be removed from office except by impeachment. Many judges never really retire, either, they just become "senior" judges with reduced case loads. They are nominated for their offices by the president and confirmed by the senate.

    They aren't free of corruption (see Justice Thomas, or more specifically, his wife), but the federal judiciary is remarkably free from corporate pressure, and it really is the closest thing the USA has to a bastion of liberty and freedom.

  • Re:April Fools? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bl968 ( 190792 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @02:30AM (#39546407) Journal

    Actually it looks legit. see the ruling file at [] It's dated Friday...

  • Re:Innocent what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kirijini ( 214824 ) <kirijini&yahoo,com> on Monday April 02, 2012 @03:27AM (#39546641)

    Actually, by "innocent", the summary is referring to defendants who have not downloaded the porn - that is, people who are actually innocent of copyright infringement.

    The problem is that if the porn companies screwed up and have a bunch of wrong IP addresses in addition to correct ones (that is, people who did download the porn as well as people who didn't), the people at the end of the wrong IP addresses will still get a letter threatening a lawsuit in which they will be publicly accused of downloading "bareback college studs" (or whatever) unless they pay up two thousand dollars. Regardless of whether they're innocent, most people would rather pay up (and keep the whole thing secret) than mount an expensive legal defense.

    Most federal judges are not impressed with this "settlement extortion" legal strategy, and aren't letting porn companies (and similar plaintiffs) get away with this on the cheap. What I mean by that is, the porn companies* are getting people's names and addresses, which they need to send the threatening letters and settlement demands, by suing thousands of defendants at the same time. Not only is this very questionable so far as the rules of civil procedure, they also only pay one filing fee even though they're essentially suing thousands of people. The courts would really prefer that the porn companies pay the $350 filing fee for each defendant they sue, because these massive lawsuits generate huge amounts of paper work, and clog up the system to the detriment of other lawsuits that are perhaps actually about obtaining justice rather than extorting settlements.

    *there's reason to believe that the porn companies don't really care that much, and these massive lawsuits are instigated by a handful of lawyers who think they've found an easy way to hack the legal system and make a bunch of money. These lawyers do these suits on a contingency basis - that is, the porn companies aren't actually paying the lawyers to file the law suits; instead, they split whatever profits they get from settlements.

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