updated 07:15 pm EDT, Fri March 25, 2011
Ongoing lawsuit centers around illegal downloads
US District Court judge Beryl Howell has ordered Time Warner to hand over identities of 250 subscribers accused of illegally downloading movies. The order appears to reject Time Warner's argument that the request is excessively time consuming and expensive. The subpoenas involve three cases from movie production companies Maverick, Donkeyball Movie, and Call of the Wild Movie.
Although the judge rejected Time Warner's request to block the subpoenas from Donkeyball and Call of the Wild, the cable provider does not have to submit information regarding downloads of Maverick movies due to a technicality surrounding the subpoena, according to a post on LegalTimes' blog. Maverick chose to fax the subpoena, rather than serve it in person as required by law. The company has 10 days to handle the situation properly, however.
The three production companies are involved in separate cases that seek compensation from several thousand defendants accused of illegally downloading movies protected by copyright. The downloads were allegedly completed using the popular BitTorrent protocol for peer-to-peer file sharing.
Time Warner appears to be one of the only Internet providers that is fighting the subpoena requests, as Judge Howell argued that other companies complied to the requests without a problem. Maverick also offered to pay to hire an additional employee to help Time Warner determine identities tied to each IP address.
In general, Howell rejects the use of First Amendment rights to anonymity as a shield to protect the BitTorrent users from allegations of copyright infringement. The cases are still in the initial stages, leaving the outcome to be determined.