Movie Companies Use DMCA ‘Shortcut’ To Expose Suspected CenturyLink Pirates *TorrentFreak

When copyright holders observe an IP address sharing unauthorized content in a BitTorrent swarm, they must match that IP address to an actual name and physical address if they want to go further.

Since there is no online resource that can reliably provide this information, copyright infringement lawsuits – especially those seeking a cash settlement from a target – are often brought against defendants. “John Doe”. As these cases progress, rights holders may seek permission to obtain personal information from ISPs, which judges may or may not agree to.

However, while bringing these matters to a judge is one option, another route exists. It requires no reasoned consideration by a judge as to whether such disclosure is the appropriate course of action, as it bypasses the judge completely.

Controversial: DMCA subpoenas target mainstream ISPs

So-called DMCA subpoenas are regularly used by anti-piracy groups to obtain the personal data of those who operate pirate sites and services. Typically, they are filed against companies such as Cloudflare and Namecheap, which are then required to pass on the contact details of their customers.

In the majority of lawsuits in the United States against repeat Internet users, the discovery process is used to identify alleged offenders, but occasionally the DMCA subpoena route is taken. This not only avoids most of the cost, but also limits the risk of a judge getting in the way.

In the early 2000s, when the RIAA launched its infamous “Sue-em-All” campaign, it also went down this route, but after ISP pushback, the practice appeared to be banned, at least against service providers. “simple ducts”. But of course the status quo is there to be challenged, so over time and with the support of new case law, some copyright holders have again tested the DMCA subpoena route, not without success.

CenturyLink customers should be exposed

Voltage Pictures, Millenium Funding and LHF Productions appear regularly in our reports due to their contentious nature. They sued (and settled with) torrent sites like YTS and sued VPN providers. They’ve also filed hundreds of lawsuits against users in the US and Canada, and are currently trying their luck in the UK.

In a petition filed last week in a Colorado court, LHF, Millennium, Voltage and Killing Link sought a DMCA subpoena against CenturyLink Communications, one of the largest ISPs in the United States.

It alleges that 13 of the ISP’s customers downloaded/shared multiple films, including London Has Fallen, Angel Has Fallen, Kill Chain, Homefront, Status Update and Ava, the film at the center of a related settlement campaign against alleged hackers in UK.

“The subpoena authorizes and directs the service provider receiving the notice and subpoena to promptly disclose to the copyright owner or person authorized by the copyright owner information sufficient to identify the alleged infringer of the material described in the notification to the extent that such information is available to the service provider,” the application reads.

So if the RIAA ran out of road with DMCA subpoenas, why are they used here?

Movie companies present their reasoning

Citing a 2005 case between the RIAA and Charter Communications, the film companies note that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Section 512(h) (limits of liability for service providers) “does not apply only to ISPs that directly store, hide, or provide links to infringing material” and this decision was based on the finding that the DMCA notices described in subsection (c)(3)(A) could not be enforced. to an ISP acting as an intermediary.

That doesn’t put CenturyLink in the clear, they add.

“The Tenth Circuit has not yet concluded whether 512(h) applies to ISPs that operate as a conduit for infringing material. However, the Fourth Circuit recently concluded that notices similar to those described in subsection (c)(3)(A) were sufficient to trigger an ISP’s loss of the DMCA safe harbor,” they write, citing a “recidivist” lawsuit filed by BMG against Cox Communications.

“As a result, the owner respectfully submits that the Tenth Circuit would likely conclude that 512(h) also applies to ISPs that directly store, cache, or provide links to infringing material,” the app reads, with a reminder. that a judge is not necessary to issue the summons.

“[T]The clerk must deliver and sign the proposed summons. 512(h)(4) provides that the clerk, it is not a judge who must issue and sign the proposed summons. (emphasis in original)

What happens next?

The claim was filed on January 18 and a day later the clerk signed and then served the subpoena against CenturyLink Communications (dba Lumen Technologies Group). This means that the ISP will be required to hand over the personal data of suspected hackers. The big question is what happens next.

Documents filed with the court indicate alleged violations dating from January 1, 2020 to January 16, 2021, so it can be assumed that CenturyLink can link them to an account holder. If the ISP passes this information on, the movie companies can do what they want with it, as long as the purpose is “to protect the rights granted to the copyright owner.”

This could mean a letter of settlement in the mail or a full lawsuit aimed at achieving the same result. However, given the track record of these companies acting together in much more complex cases against pirate apps (Showbox for example) and other online services, it’s possible that these clients could do something else to help in another case. , perhaps instead of being prosecuted.

A tangled web of the same companies and people

Finally, it’s interesting to see some familiar names crop up in various parts of this action. It’s certainly no surprise to see attorney Kerry Culpepper making an appearance as he has in many similar cases. But there are others too that demonstrate the interconnected nature of anti-piracy litigation across continents.

Copies of infringement notices sent to CenturyLink complaining about their customers’ behavior were sent by Copyright Management Services (CMS) in the UK, whose former CEO was Patrick Achache, who was also COO from the famous piracy monetization company Guardaley. Achache is also the managing director of Maverickeye, an anti-piracy tracking company that provides evidence for lawsuits and settlement campaigns for film companies.

CMS is now controlled by Lubesly Tellidua, a beauty queen from the Philippines who is also linked to Achache and Guardaley. At least one notice has been sent by Anna Reiter, who also worked or works at Guardaley.

Other notices were sent to CenturyLink by Catherine Hyde, some under the title of Copyright Management Services Ltd and others under a second company, PML Process Management Ltd of Cyprus. Hyde worked with H&B Administration LLP and TCYK LLC to extract cash payments from suspected hackers in the UK. She is listed as working at H&B now.

Last year, H&B Administration LLP changed its name to FACT Administration LLP because of its close ties to the Federation Against Copyright Theft. Several film companies are also members of the LLP, including Voltage Pictures, which is currently running a cash settlement campaign against suspected pirates in the UK, using data provided by Maverickeye.

Former LLP members include Copyright Management Services, which provides the address “43 Berkeley Square” in its infringement notices to CenturyLink. That every anti-piracy entity (and in some cases the film companies themselves) mentioned in this article either shares this same address or has close ties to it is not at all surprising.

Documents related to the subpoena request can be found here (1,2,3,4 pdf)

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