Thursday, May 29, 2014

Federal circuit limits copyright trolls in aggregating lawsuits

Electronic Frontier Foundation is reporting a major victory in the Federal Circuit (in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals) limiting the ability of “copyright trolls” to aggregate defendants in one suit (usually involving file sharing and P2P).  Mitch Stoltz explains the decision with opinion link here
The litigant was Prenda Law (AF Holdings v. Does 1-1058), which reportedly tried to force ISP’s to provide the identities of persons or parties who had used connections associated with IP address.  The federal circuit ruled that defendants can be assembled into one suit only when they used the same resource at the same time.  Also the court apparently ruled that plaintiffs have to take more steps to determine where defendants actually are located geographically. 

EFF has also been discussing the issue of any potential downstream liability for copyright for offering WiFi connections.  The DMCA Safe Harbor limits downstream liability for publication service providers, but right now it doesn’t make much sense that a coffee shop or motel offering WiFi could be held liable for illegal downloads by customers.  I guess I could wonder what would happen if a hotel offered P2P itself in a business center, but it wouldn’t have any control over what is on a guest’s laptop or tablet.  I’m just back from a trip myself.  

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