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Mass BitTorrent Lawsuit Judge Orders User-Friendly Notices


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Judge Rosemary M. Collyer orders US Copyright Group, Time Warner Cable, and the EFF to create notices for the ISPs accused subscribers that will help educate them about the case and their legal options, such as challenging the court's jurisdiction. Time Warner Cable notes that it doesn't have a single subscriber in the court's jurisdiction.

Yesterday the US Copyright Group's mass BitTorrent lawsuit targeting tens of thousands of BitTorrent users moved forward with a federal court in Washington, D.C. hearing oral arguments by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) as to why the suits improperly lump thousands of defendants together.

It's a "shortcut that deprives the defendants of fair access to individual justice," says the EFF.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Public Citizen have all teamed up to quash subpoenas to identify accused BitTorrent users that have been submitted by the US Copyright Group.

They point out that courts there cannot even hear the cases because the USCG has yet to prove that they even have jurisdiction over the John Doe defendants that the subpoenas are supposed to identify, and that even the USCG admits that an IP address can provide a "a general geographic area for the users."

Even Time Warner Cable, which the USCG has accused of "contributory copyright infringement" for protecting the identities of the accused, noted that it has no subscribers in the District of Columbia, and yet has had to face the USCG group there as it fights to limit subpoenas to a previously agreed to rate of 28 IP addresses p/mo.

Judge Rosemary M. Collyer decided that even though the USCG has a right to pursue legitimate copyright infringement claims she wants to ensure that the interests of the accused are protected as well, and that they each have a chance to raise legal objections. With this in mind she ordered the USCG, Time Warner Cable, and the EFF to work together to draft a notice that could be sent to Time Warner Cable subscribers whose information is being sought by the USCG.

"The notice is intended to help educate the defendants about the case and their legal options, such as the option to challenge jurisdiction," says the EFF.

The jurisdictional issue is still a sore point for the EFF for it thinks it's unfair that the accused will have to defend themselves in a DC courtroom, regardless of where they live, at great cost in time and money.

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