A sizzling potato: Attorneys litigating a film piracy case have demanded the identities of 9 Reddit customers who “may” have mentioned piracy on the platform. Reddit turned over a number of the info on one (or two) of the customers that gave the impression to be partaking in a “how-to” dialogue on bootlegging films; the plaintiffs need the entire customers uncovered. Reddit says, “No. We’ll see you in court docket.”

On Tuesday, Reddit filed authorized paperwork with the Northern District Courtroom of California refusing to unmask customers in response to a movement to compel submitted final week. The authorized jousting stems from a lawsuit between film studios and Astound Broadband (previously RCN) over piracy.

Background: In 2021, Bodyguard Productions, Millennium Media, and a number of other different movie studios filed a lawsuit in a New Jersey federal court docket towards RCN. The go well with claims that RCN knowingly allowed its clients to illegally obtain 34 copyrighted films, together with Hellboy, Rambo V: Final Blood, and others.

The studios subpoenaed Reddit to show over the “IP deal with registration and logs from 1/1/2016 to current, title, e-mail deal with, and different account registration info” of 9 Redditors. Its basic foundation for wanting the data was that it believed these customers have been concerned with pirating films by RCN as a result of that they had engaged in discussions on the topic.

After trying into the accounts, Reddit launched some info on a minimum of one consumer however stated the remainder have been unrelated to the lawsuit. Its authorized counsel claimed that the subpoena amounted to a “fishing expedition” and that Reddit wouldn’t violate customers’ First Modification rights with out stable proof of their relevance to the case.

So final week, the plaintiffs filed a movement to compel with a California federal court docket. On Tuesday, Reddit’s authorized group responded with an opposition submitting. In it, Reddit factors out that the posts of the customers in query are “utterly irrelevant” to the lawsuit underneath litigation.

“4 of the seven customers at subject don’t seem to have ever even talked about RCN, based mostly on the proof provided by Plaintiffs. They merely check with ‘my supplier’ or ‘our ISP.’ And people references are all made in a dialogue about Comcast, not RCN. Two of the three remaining customers did point out RCN however have been discussing points (reminiscent of their customer support expertise) unrelated to copyright infringement or Plaintiffs’ allegations. And the ultimate consumer vaguely talked about RCN arguably within the context of copyright infringement as soon as 9 years in the past, effectively past any arguably related timeframe for Plaintiffs’ allegations.”

Reddit’s authorized group additionally asserted that the plaintiffs’ declare that these customers have been “very doubtless” referring to RCN is speculative, and the court docket ought to reject the argument.

“A single RCN competitor, Comcast, has greater than thirty instances RCN’s market share,” Reddit’s rebuttal reads. “This context is essential to understanding simply how absurd it’s for Plaintiffs to recommend that any point out of an unnamed ISP in a dialogue about Comcast is ‘very doubtless’ discussing RCN. It is akin to suggesting that every time a consumer mentions a ‘automotive’ on a Reddit dialogue about Ford, they’re ‘very doubtless’ speaking about an Alfa Romeo.”

Reddit additionally maintains that the data the plaintiffs are fishing for could possibly be extra readily and precisely compelled from the defendant, RCN, throughout discovery. The platform’s attorneys declare that the court docket shouldn’t pressure their consumer to unmask its clients based mostly on the plaintiffs’ “wild guesses about which Reddit customers may be RCN clients or may have engaged in copyright infringement in some unspecified time in the future within the final decade.”

All through Reddit’s rebuttal, the authorized group references a number of situations of case priority that set a authorized bar the studios fail to fulfill of their argument. Courts have already affirmed that the First Modification covers on-line anonymity. They’ve additionally established that litigants can’t unmask customers who don’t have anything to do with the lawsuit until a “compelling want” outweighs the consumer’s First Modification rights, citing Wealthy v. Butowsky and Doe v. 2TheMart.com.

Attorneys for each side are set to argue the movement within the Northern District Courtroom of California in San Francisco on March 23.

Picture credit score: Nick Youngson

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