Reddit Pressured to Identify Users Related to Copyright Lawsuit
Reddit is under pressure from film studios to reveal the identities of nine users who discussed piracy to assist in an ongoing lawsuit against the cable Internet provider RCN. It is alleged that these users spoke about RCN’s “lax” policy in regards to terminating repeat copyright infringers.
Bodyguard Productions, Millennium Media, and other movie studios initially filed the lawsuit against cable provider RCN in 2021 over 34 movie downloads. US copyright law says that Internet service providers must close the accounts of repeat infringers “in appropriate circumstances” but the studios allege that RCN did not put in a reasonable effort to do this.
The studios sent a subpoena to Reddit last month asking for information on 9 users who discussed pirating with RCN in an effort to gather more evidence. The plaintiffs specifically requested the users’ “IP address registration and logs from 1/1/2016 to present, name, email address and other account registration information.”
Reddit did respond with some of this information for 1 user but not the others, arguing “the requests for identifying information associated with the additional eight accounts are more in the nature of a fishing expedition and are neither relevant nor permissible under the First Amendment.”
In response, the plaintiffs have filed a motion to compel Reddit to turn over the remaining data. The motion states “"The evidence Plaintiff requests from Reddit in the Rule 45 subpoena is clearly relevant and proportional to the needs of the case". The plaintiffs have also argued that the information they’ve requested does not implicate the First Amendment right to anonymous speech.
The filmmakers emphasize that they have no interest in bringing legal action or making financial claims against the Reddit users. Furthermore, no users have objected after being notified about their possible identification.