In a big victory in the fight against copyright trolls a judge in West Virginia has blocked an attempt to unmask accused file sharers in several predatory lawsuits involving the alleged illegal downloading of pornography. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that the film companies were abusing the law in an attempt to pressure settlements.
In these cases -- as in many others across the country -- the owners of the adult movies filed mass lawsuits based on single counts of copyright infringement stemming from the downloading of a pornographic film and improperly lumped hundreds of defendants together regardless of where the IP addresses indicate the defendants live. The motivation behind these cases appears to be to leverage the risk of embarrassment associated with pornography to coerce settlement payments despite serious problems with the underlying claims.
In the seven West Virginia cases collectively suing over 5 400 people Time Warner Cable moved to quash subpoenas seeking the identities of accused filed sharers. EFF’s supporting amicus brief specifically noted the problems with suing hundreds of unconnected individuals in the same lawsuit. The judge's ruling today closely followed EFF's reasoning ordering the plaintiffs to re-file their actions against each defendant individually.