The Federal District Court in the Middle District of Florida today denied the motion of sixteen record companies to force the Internet Service Provider Bright House to provide the identities of 25 individuals accused of copyright infringement using the FastTrack peer-to-peer network. The Court decided that the record companies had improperly joined the 25 individuals, who had nothing in common other than their ISP, into a single lawsuit. The court noted that joining the defendants together would result in "unreasonable prejudice and expense to the Defendants" and cause "great inconvenience" to the court.
"Courts are beginning to recognize that the record companies crusade against filesharers is stepping on the privacy and due process rights of those accused," noted Cindy Cohn, EFF's Legal Director. "These decisions are simply requiring the record companies to follow the rules that everyone else has to follow when bringing litigation."
The Orlando decision is here.
This decision adds to the difficulties faced by the record companies in pursusing filesharers. Yesterday a court in Canada rejected a similar request on several grounds, including that simply making available files on a filesharing network did not violate Canadian copyright laws and that the privacy of Internet users outweighed the strength of the record companies' case.
The Canadian decision is available here.