In this case, we are representing an anonymous Reddit commenter who is facing an abusive copyright claim from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the supervising body and publisher for the Jehovah’s Witness religious organization. We have filed a motion to quash a subpoena Watch Tower has obtained and executed on Reddit to compel it to unmask the online commenter.
Early in 2019, Watchtower subpoenaed Reddit for information on our client—in theory, so that it could bring a copyright lawsuit in court. But, as we argue in our motion, in reality, there is no copyright lawsuit Watch Tower cold bring. Much of the material posted is not even copyrightable, but regardless, the posts are lawful fair uses—legal ways to use copyrighted material without permission.
Courts routinely quash subpoenas like this one if they don’t pass constitutional scrutiny, and we hope that they will do so here. Internet users have the right to speak anonymously and hear what others have to say without worrying that baseless copyright claims could compel disclosure of their identities or justify the private and public harms that would ensue.