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Civil Rights Groups Criticize Movie Industry Lawsuit

June 9, 2010 by  

Civil rights groups criticize movie industry lawsuit The United States Copyright Group has filed a brief that threatens to sue Time Warner Company (TWC) for copyright infringement if the company does not reveal the information about consumers who downloaded films using the BitTorrent application. However, civil rights groups have asked the court to block the subpoena.

The law firm filed the brief on behalf of a group of independent film producers, including those behind “The Hurt Locker,” who are planning to simultaneously sue thousands of BitTorrent users for allegedly downloading pirated movies, according to

However, TWC claims that complying with the request would take so much time that it would make it impossible for the company to comply with any law enforcement requests for information, as it only keeps its IP backup logs for six months, the news provider stated.

In addition, civil rights groups have criticized the way the brief has been framed, saying it may violate individuals’ rights to privacy and due process.

"Lumping thousands of unconnected individuals into a few cases in a court far from where they live, without providing them adequate notice and a real opportunity to challenge the subpoenas, is not [the way to do it]," said Aden Fine, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU in Washington, D.C., added that people have the right to view internet content anonymously, and that if someone wants to find out their identities, they must "make an adequate factual showing in a proper court, whether the anonymous individual is accused of copyright infringement, defamation or any other improper conduct." ADNFCR-1961-ID-19823077-ADNFCR

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  • Dan Burke

    Unfortunately, there is so much I don’t know here that I don’t want to make any direct comments on this case. What I want to do if I can stay true to it is to just point out a few possible outcomes.

    I am in IT, not an expert by any means. While there are many experts in IT all for internet neutrality, what I wonder is if this will lead to implementing what I fear. I fear government officially getting into internet traffic regulation. While I am all for the copyrights of these companies bringing a case against TWC, I do not trust government getting involved. It would be one thing if this all stayed in the courts and the case stayed to just those infringing upon the copyrights. However, I am well aware that the internet is not as anonymous as many of us seem to believe it is. Each computer network interface has a unique MAC address. In addition to this, there is plenty of information in the communications packets your computer sends out and later attached to it as it makes it way through the internet that could be used to track it down. Take those movies that show them tracking back a computer on the internet. While I am simplifying the process, you could think of it stripping away the layers of envelopes on the letter your computer sent. The first return address would give them a router, and from there they then strip away the second return address so on and so forth until they reach a local network address and the MAC of your computer (which as I mentioned is unique). Most of us don’t know how to hide our MAC or confuse our internet communications for those who might wish to track us down. So if I already believe us are far more searchable then we already realize, why do I fear government getting involved? If I believed government would just force TWC to give up the information if a real case could be shown for copyright violations, then I probably wouldn’t worry too much. It would be like a subpeona to get your address from your insurance provider in the case of insurance fraud (I am not sure if this is a legal comparison, or if even legal, but I hope you get my point). Now here’s where I fear government. Once they get involved we could be looking at government installing network monitoring on the internet. Devices that could record all network traffic on the premise of policing the internet. These devices already exist and are used in corporate settings. Quite often corporations use these devices to filter out some detectable viruses from getting into their network as well as preventing corporate secrets from leaking out. They aren’t always perfect in keeping corporate secrets secret, but they are usually invisible to the end user and some are quite capable of scanning emails and webpages as they are passing through the filter, usually looking for key words or phrases to block. Think hard. Think real hard. If government employed devices that monitored all internet traffic to prove that internet providers were not controlling the bandwidth assigned to different traffic, then government would be one step closer to controlling the content on the internet. In short, with government controls in place, they could filter this comment so it would be stopped and never be posted and we would never know if it was the website’s own filters that stopped me or an invisible government filter we weren’t told necessarily told about. And when they discuss network neutrality, you realize that in order for your ISP to control bandwidth designated for network traffic, then they actually have to be employing filters that scan your computer communications even if all it does is identify the difference in characteristics between streaming video and basic webpage. How do you think China filters the content that reaches their population? Yes, there are those that try to find ways around the filters, but you have to admit that government interjection into the internet gives the government quite a lot of control over the information they do not approve of.

  • s c

    The ACLU is a gang of ultraliberal progressive thugs who demand to be seen as rights-protectors. In fact, while they go through the motions of ‘caring’ about rights, they’re also hard at work destroying other rights.
    I refuse to trust any group that made its reputation via ‘say this, do that.’ The ACLU is not to be trusted. Going to bed with anyone and everyone to ‘protect rights’ (and make lots of easy money at the same time) is immoral at best.
    Only a space cadet progressive could justify the effort, and only a space cadet progressive could find ways to bless or support the ACLU. The ACLU should not exist. Period.

    • http://?? Joe H.

      now what would our poor American criminals do without their cherished lawyers union?? I’m just kiddin’, drop em in the St Andrius Fault!!!

  • http://OHIO-STATE-FOOTBALL.INFO Vernell Zich

    Hi there could I quote some of the information from this post if I reference you with a link back to your site?

    • Personal Liberty Support


  • frank

    I dont know about the ACLU in chicago they let those crooked cops comit any crime crime they dont go after them in this city, The cops are in crime ring ever since Al Copone was here and they still are.


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