Thursday, July 1, 2010

Court Orders US Copyright Group To Work With Time Warner, EFF To Craft More Informative Letter To Those Being Sued;, 7/1/10

Mike Masnick,; Court Orders US Copyright Group To Work With Time Warner, EFF To Craft More Informative Letter To Those Being Sued:

"The saga of US Copyright Group (really DC-based law firm Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver) continues. As you may recall, the firm is filing lawsuits against tens of thousands of people accused of file sharing certain movies, such as Uwe Boll's Far Cry and the Oscar-winning Hurt Locker. The lawsuits lump thousands of "John Does" into a single suit located conveniently (for Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver) in Washington, DC. Time Warner Cable has been resisting the demands to identify so many of its subscribers, and EFF, Public Citizen and the ACLU joined forces to point out that it isn't legal to lump together so many different totally unrelated defendants into a single case in an unrelated jurisdiction. US Copyright Group defended the lumping together by claiming that since BitTorrent worked by different people sharing little bits, perhaps all of the thousands of people shared together. The judge seemed skeptical.

However, rather than throw out the lawsuits against all but one of the defendants, the judge is asking the various parties -- US Copyright Group, Time Warner Cable, EFF, Public Citizen and the ACLU to all work together to craft a note that can be sent to individuals targeted in these lawsuits. The idea is that this note, unlike the one people get directly from USCG, will inform people of their rights, including the right to challenge the jurisdiction of the lawsuit (and, I assume, the fact that they're randomly lumped in with other people).

My guess is that the judge is still uncomfortable with all these lawsuits being lumped together, but realized that none of the parties in the court room are really the right ones to be challenging the specifics of the lawsuit. That needs to come from someone actually being sued. Thus, this agreed-upon letter could still lead to a lawsuit that says such joining of massive lawsuits into one is not allowed.

Still, given USCG's statements in the lawsuits to date, and the text of the current letters it sends, I'm guessing that there's going to be a lot of disagreement about what goes into this new mutually agreed-upon letter."

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