Comcast refuses IP lookups, calls anti-piracy case a 'shake down'

By on June 15, 2012, 7:30 AM

Comcast may be complicating the lives of copyright holders everywhere by rejecting recent requests made to link subscriber information to IP addresses. In an ongoing legal kerfuffle with AF Holdings, adult film publisher and plaintiff, Comcast requested an Illinois district court dismiss the piles of subpoenas it has received.

Comcast argues that AF Holdings has zero interest in actually prosecuting potential copyright offenders. Rather, the cable company believes AF Holdings merely wishes to obtain subscriber information and "shake down" individuals for private, out-of-court settlements -- a phenomenon which often occurs as law firms attempt to collect as much in damages as possible on behalf of their clients, even when the defendants are decidedly innocent.

The implication is that the adult film industry is attempting to abuse both the court system and Comcast's resources in order to line its own pockets with money -- basically extortion fees from people who are afraid of becoming embroiled in a lawsuit. Here's part of Comcast's strongly worded statement:

Third, plaintiffs should not be allowed to profit from unfair litigation tactics whereby they use the offices of the Court as an inexpensive means to gain Doe defendants' personal information and coerce 'settlements' from them. It is evident in these cases – and the multitude of cases filed by plaintiffs and other pornographers represented by their counsel – that plaintiffs have no interest in actually litigating their claims against the Doe defendants, but simply seek to use the Court and its subpoena powers to obtain sufficient information to shake down the Doe defendants. The Federal Rules require the Court to deny discovery 'to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.'

Source: AF Holdings vs. Comcast,

Although Comcast has been complicit with such subpoenas in the past, the cable provider has possibly changed its tune. While Comcast appears to be siding with its subscribers in an effort to protect their privacy, there are more pragmatic reasons for refusing AF Holdings' requests: effort and expense. 

As we've seen in past copyright cases, large numbers of IP lookup requests can take months to perform, even with a full-time staff. A high-profile instance of this was a "reverse class-action" lawsuit by Voltage Pictures in 2011. Prosecutors targeted 25,000 individuals but the entire case was scrapped after prosecutors could not provide enough information to move forward after 180 days.

AF Holdings responded to Comcast's statement by accusing the company of buying and time and prejudice against the adult film industry. AF Holdings also says any delays due to Comcast's refusal will result in additional damages to plaintiffs.

"Comcast’s delay in objecting to the Plaintiffs’ subpoenas is part of a wider campaign todeny and delay the Plaintiffs’, and other similar copyright holders’ ability to protect their copyrighted works. Comcast routinely objects to subpoenas issued to it by producers of adult content. Even after courts regularly order Comcast to comply with the subpoenas, Comcast fights tooth and nail to resist complying."

"Comcast has yet to provide that plaintiff with the information it sought in its subpoena. Comcast is not a super judge that can pick-and-choose which subpoenas it wants to comply with simply because it dislikes the adult content producers that issued the subpoena."

Source: AF Holdings vs. Comcast,

User Comments: 9

Got something to say? Post a comment
soldier1969 soldier1969 said:

This is me standing up and applauding this today, As a Comcast internet customer - Thank you.

Guest said:

With great power comes great responciblity or lacking that a lot of abuse.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

I like how in Comcast's statement they call them "pornographers". Comcast is evidently not one to mince words. Also, I can see this drawing customers in who practicing pirates.

Jesse Jesse said:

As much as I dislike comcast, I really like this.

McNasty said:

You're wrong Comcast plays ball with everyone except the adult film industry. If this request came from Disney, Comcast would have played ball. In fact they already do.

McNasty said:

The very next article tells why Comcast is ignoring the adult film industry...

Comcast conducting trial run of $60 first-run movies over VOD

Yeah so they are not willing to protect the adult film industry's IP. But they will protect other studios for a favor. America as usual FULL OF BS.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

You're wrong Comcast plays ball with everyone except the adult film industry. If this request came from Disney, Comcast would have played ball. In fact they already do.

Yep. You're right on the money here.

Guest said:

QUOTE: "AF Holdings also says any delays due to Comcast's refusal will result in additional damages to plaintiffs."

Nice to see the bully tactics are wide spread, in this argument they only show their true colors.

As for damages they are already making the statement they are owed money before there is any legal course taken, this would fall under slander would it not or rather an allegation without and grounding evidence..

Maybe the Adult film industry should think long & hard.. (no pun intended)

Guest said:

My question is who pays to do the research to get the names? If they are forced to do this every time then our costs as consumers will go up. I am against that. It just so happens that porn is a big business on the net.

I also say thank you Comcast for standing up to what is usually a witch hunt to try to recover money they feel they have lost due to pirating. Imagine how many people who have unsecured wireless networks are being used by the real culprit to download pirated material. But because they are unwitting and uneducated about locking down their wireless they get targeted as being pirates.

What happens next anyway. The guy that shares his magazine gets sued?

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