Earthlink Reaches ‘Interim’ Settlement With Filmmakers To End Piracy Liability Lawsuit *TorrentFreak
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Internet service provider Earthlink has reached an interim settlement with several filmmakers, to end an ongoing piracy liability lawsuit. Rights holders accused the company of turning a blind eye to piracy and demanded far-reaching action, including disclosing the identities of suspected hackers. The terms of the settlement remain private but may include a damages component.
A litigious group of filmmakers, led by Voltage Pictures, is working hard to hold internet providers accountable for hacking customers.
Film companies own the rights to well-known films such as “Ava”, “I Feel Pretty”, and “The Cobbler”, which are shared publicly via BitTorrent. The lawsuits are aimed at deterring this activity.
This month, the filmmakers sued AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, accusing the companies of turning a blind eye to the piracy. These cases were dismissed “without prejudice” last week for unknown reasons, but may be refiled at a later date.
While these major cases were in the spotlight, a lawsuit against the smaller ISP Earthlink went largely unnoticed. That case was filed in June by many of the same filmmakers who accuse the provider of failing to act against repeat offenders.
The legal documents include many of the same allegations. Rightsholders sent numerous piracy notices to the ISP, which allegedly failed to take action against repeat infringers to preserve its revenue.
“Defendant knew that if it terminated or prevented repeat subscribers from using its service to infringe, or made it less attractive for such use, defendant would enroll fewer new subscribers, lose existing subscribers, and ultimately lose business. income,” the complaint reads.
Warning letter 2020
The lawsuit didn’t totally come out of nowhere for Earthlink. In 2020, the filmmakers have already contacted the internet service provider, complaining of widespread copyright infringement. They instead offered an agreement to settle the matter out of court.
The letter in question identified the IP addresses of more than 1,100 alleged offenders, including many repeat offenders. In some cases, more than 100 notifications were sent for a single IP address, with no meaningful response from Earthlink.
The filmmakers have concluded that the ISP is liable for these breaches which could result in millions of dollars in damages. However, they offered Earthlink the chance to avoid a lawsuit, provided it agrees to the following terms.
– Immediately terminate accounts that have received more than six hack warnings
– Take appropriate action against repeat offenders in the future.
– Pay a portion of the alleged hacking damages
– Forward subscriber details of suspected hackers
Requires going to court
Earthlink never responded to this letter which prompted the filmmakers to take the matter to court. In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Georgia in June, many of the previous claims reappeared.
The complaint seeks an order that imposes a three-step termination policy for alleged pirates, for example. Additionally, Earthlink should block access to known pirate sites and disclose the identity of pirate subscribers.
Coupled with millions of dollars in potential damages, the stakes are obviously high. This was also evident for Earthlink, which joined the negotiating table this time around.
Last week, both sides informed the court that a “provisional” settlement had been reached.
No details of the settlement negotiations have been released and it is unclear if there are any damages involved. It is clear, however, that the lawsuit will be thrown out if all the details are finalized.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the developments in the Earthlink case are different from the AT&T, Comcast and Verizon lawsuit. The latter were dismissed without prejudice, without any mention of arrangement.
It’s unclear if the filmmakers have other ISPs in their sights, but that certainly wouldn’t be a surprise.