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Verizon Faces Lawsuit For Defending Alleged Pirates

By - Source: TorrentFreak | B 19 comments

Verizon is facing a lawsuit from three adult film studios for protecting its customers' rights to privacy.

Verizon Wireless is facing a lawsuit filed by a group of adult movie companies for protecting alleged BitTorrent pirates. They claim that the Big Red's refusal to hand over personal details via court-ordered subpoenas is more than an attempt to protect its customers – it's to protect profits generated from BitTorrent infringements.

Verizon's reluctance to hand over personal details in John Doe witch hunts isn't anything new – the company has clearly expressed that IP addresses linked to copyright infringement doesn't necessarily mean the subscriber is the one breaking the law. Verizon follows the latest trend that anyone accessing the wireless network could be held accountable, but it's impossible to narrow it down to just one individual. Is it the family's son? The leeching neighbor next door?

Unfortunately, in many cases, the consumer associated with a specific IP address is the one who gets sued even though he/she may not be guilty. This is how the RIAA and MPAA has scared millions out of Americans over the years, threatening to sue for millions if the accused doesn't settle for a lesser amount.

Up until now, Verizon doesn't play that game, refusing to fork over information that could allow for the "harassment" of its customers. "[The subpoena] seeks information that is protected from disclosure by third parties’ rights of privacy and protections guaranteed by the first amendment,” Verizon's counsel informed the copyright holders in a recent case.

Fed up with Verizon's stance, Malibu Media, Patrick Collins and Third Degree Films have filed a complaint against the company at a federal court in Texas, asking the court to hold the Big Red in contempt and force Verizon into answering the subpoenas.

"Verizon objects to the subpoenas on various grounds, all of which lack merit," the lawsuit states. "Accordingly, Plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court overrule each of Verizon’s objections, compel immediate compliance with Plaintiffs’ subpoenas and hold Verizon in contempt for failing to obey the subpoenas."

The complaint goes on to describe Verizon's refusal as an act in bad faith, that the company expects to continue to profit from BitTorrent infringement "at the expense of other, lower-tier ISPs and the consuming public at large." There are no incentives for ISPs like Verizon to aggressively identify infringers on their network, and said ISPs and their cohorts allegedly even enjoy virtual immunity from liability under the DMCA and other laws.

"This scenario presents multiple concerns of fairness and accountability," the lawsuit states.

Verizon is one of many who have chosen to participate in the Copyright Alert System plan which will send warnings to customers who download pirated content from peer-to-peer networks. Verizon plans to throttle the more stubborn downloaders, but only temporary. At no point will an alleged user's information be handed over for legal purposes.

"We believe this program offers the best approach to the problem of illegal file sharing and, importantly, is one that respects the privacy and rights of our subscribers. It also provides a mechanism for helping people to find many great sources of legal content,” Verizon said.

The full report can be accessed via TorrentFreak here.

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Top Comments
  • 26 Hide
    wannabepro , November 27, 2012 2:19 PM
    Bravo Verizon.
  • 24 Hide
    sliem , November 27, 2012 2:20 PM
    Screw RIAA and MPAA!
  • 19 Hide
    axiler , November 27, 2012 2:31 PM
    Just gained a whole new level of respect for Verizon.
Other Comments
    Display all 19 comments.
  • 26 Hide
    wannabepro , November 27, 2012 2:19 PM
    Bravo Verizon.
  • 24 Hide
    sliem , November 27, 2012 2:20 PM
    Screw RIAA and MPAA!
  • 12 Hide
    cats_Paw , November 27, 2012 2:20 PM
    Verizon, you got a provider in Poland?

    If we dont support this sort of behaviour, soon the Internet will become a very very dark and censored place. I dont like piracy much myself, but i have to say that many companies flat out lie to consumers, and its not like you can return the game to the local store if you do not agree with the "Terms of Agreement".

    I mean, where can i read those before i actually buy the game? Or, why can companies change their Terms of agreement whenever they add any nw contenet (and the changes have nothing to do with the contenet but rather with how much information they can gather on you)?

    Those abuses are punished by law in EVERY other sector, but somehow not in gaming. On the other hand, Pirates are treated like common criminals.

    So verytime somone does something that "matters" in keeping customers safe from a fraudulent system, i am quite happy about it.
  • 19 Hide
    axiler , November 27, 2012 2:31 PM
    Just gained a whole new level of respect for Verizon.
  • 11 Hide
    Parrdacc , November 27, 2012 2:33 PM
    WOW! I hope I read that right. Good show Verizon. Perhaps there is still hope after all.
  • 13 Hide
    Swisser873 , November 27, 2012 2:44 PM
    Yes definitely an A+ move by Verizon.
  • 15 Hide
    inerax , November 27, 2012 2:54 PM
    Lets get the judge that said an IP does not = a person!!!!

    Do this the right way and SMASH this the first time!
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , November 27, 2012 2:55 PM
    It is really too bad though that these companies can file these motions in any district that they like. Of course they chose Texas...they should be forced to file in New York which is where Verizon is headquartered.
  • 6 Hide
    bigdragon , November 27, 2012 2:56 PM
    Good job, Verizon. I don't want to be harassed for money by some greedy video company. I already get lots of that in my spam email folder.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 27, 2012 3:36 PM
    in completely non related news ... everybody moves to Verizon...
  • 8 Hide
    jonjonjon , November 27, 2012 3:37 PM
    i agree. dont let the media cartel shakedown people. we will take you to court and everyone will know you downloaded 'insert here' porn if you dont pay us now. with that said i dont believe verizon cares one bit about "protecting" their customers. this is a good PR move and they dont want to loose customers.
  • -1 Hide
    clonazepam , November 27, 2012 4:32 PM
    Verizon's doing a good thing there... but its not like they are shredding the data for all time... they are still hanging onto it...
  • 3 Hide
    das_stig , November 27, 2012 4:46 PM
    So the Mafia hold the account holder liable. When will they go after the likes of Sony, whose IP address where tracked to illegal downloading of BT's or is it a case of not biting the hand that signs some of the cheques, double standards by them and I hope VZ hold out and tell them to STFU !!
  • 9 Hide
    jazz84 , November 27, 2012 5:36 PM
    Wait... I find myself agreeing with and applauding Verizon? What manner of dark sorcery is this?

    /cognitive dissonance: how does it work???
  • 3 Hide
    geminireaper , November 27, 2012 8:09 PM
    good luck. Verizon has the most powerful legal team on the planet. The legal team will monky stomp a hole in Malibu.
  • 2 Hide
    hapkido , November 27, 2012 8:37 PM
    There are no incentives for ISPs like Verizon to aggressively identify infringers on their network...

    An ISP has no obligation to police the internet. They are a service provider, not a legal authority.

    The problem is these are criminal allegations (someone is stealing from them) that are handled in civil court. Burden of proof is much higher in criminal court, which is why they want to skirt the system. They should have to go through appropriate legal channels (probably the FBI in many cases) if pirating really is the same thing as stealing.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 27, 2012 9:55 PM
    Gee I wonder who has more money to throw at this lawsuit? I bet it's the porn guys.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 27, 2012 11:18 PM
    If they are forced to release the information about individuals then maybe Verizon should be "forced" to block all their customers from the companies that are suing. Only fair right protecting customers from future harassment.
  • 0 Hide
    f-14 , November 29, 2012 2:47 PM
    were i verizon i would just make sure to bring up all the pornography laws and laws regarding sex and telecumminications as a felony and these studios contribution to breaking all these FCC laws and have verizon make a cease and desist injunction against all of these porno companies and contributing to the delinqunecy of minors as there is no protections put in place upon them to prevent minor from watching them and i would do this in every state that has anti pornography laws and bury them in court for the next 30 years.

    yes alot of this would be self implicating on verizon, but if you're going to go down, take down every one trying to take you down as well. the anti pornography laws in all the other states would be enough to make any porn company shut their yaps.
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