Prolific ‘Copyright Troll’ seeks evidence of BitTorrent hack of…..Netflix? * TorrentFreak
Companies that file hundreds or even thousands of copyright infringement lawsuits in an effort to seek settlements to avoid litigation are often referred to as “copyright trolls.”
In the United States, the undisputed leader in this space is adult video company Strike 3 Holdings, owner of brands such as Blacked, Tushy and Vixen. In 2021 alone, the company filed more than 1,900 such lawsuits in US courts, but to our knowledge, not a single case has ever gone to trial.
That doesn’t mean Strike 3 isn’t ready to fight cases tooth and nail, though.
While most actions are quickly settled behind the scenes, some may face a fiery fight back from the defendants. One such case has been going on for over two years already and has just taken a surprising turn, even by “copyright troll” standards.
Background to the case against ‘John Doe’
The initial lawsuit was filed in a Florida court against an anonymous defendant in March 2020 and was followed by an amended first complaint in August of that year. According to Strike 3, the defendant used his Frontier Communications account to download and share 36 of his tracks “over an extended period” using BitTorrent.
Also presented as evidence (which is said to have been collected by Strike 3’s “VXN Scan” monitoring tool) are lists of BitTorrent activity from the same IP address that allegedly shares other rightsholders’ content. The titles are redacted from public records, but the obvious suggestion is that the infringement goes beyond the plaintiff’s titles.
In November 2020, the defendant responded to the amended complaint, largely with denials or lack of knowledge, as well as a counterclaim. He said that since Strike 3 failed to prove any infringement, the court should issue a declaration of non-infringement along with an award of damages, in favor of the defendant.
Mediation in the case came to nothing, so once again Strike 3 went on the offensive trying to obtain information from third-party online services. That’s not unusual on its own, but Strike 3 seems to be pushing the limits way too far for the defender.
Finding information from Google
In addition to seeking information from the ISP Frontier Communications (which is standard in such cases), Strike 3 also seeks access to massive amounts of defendant’s user account data stored at Google.
Included in the request are all documents identifying basic Google Account registration data, all data Google holds about the subscriber’s alternate email addresses, all IP addresses used to access the Google Account since July 2019, all connection logs for the same period, as well as records relating to purchases made on ALL Google services and products.
Strike 3 also wants technical specifications for each device used by the defendant to access all Google services and products, documents identifying each file uploaded to Google Drive, all videos uploaded to YouTube and – this is a scorcher – all records held by Google relating to Internet searches conducted by the defendant for terms such as “torrent”, “utorrent” and “vpn” dating from July 2019.
This initial trove of personal information is not enough for Strike 3. He also wants to access the defendant’s Netflix account to obtain evidence relating to his adult film trial, although Netflix does not offer any pornography.
So what information does Strike 3 want from Netflix?
Basic personal information held by Netflix about subscribers is detailed in a support page but like many similar platforms, Netflix also builds user profiles to feed its algorithms. This data includes user interactions (viewing history and ratings) as well as specific preferences and likes.
To somehow support its claims that the defendant is responsible for seeding 36 adult movies using BitTorrent, Strike 3 wants all basic Netflix registration data (full name, email address, phone number ) along with additional information, including a list of devices used to access the Service.
The adult film company also demands “clickstream information,” which is details of all actions taken by the defendant while logged into Netflix. This includes the profile and device names used, details of each Netflix page visited, the URLs of websites the defendant visited before accessing Netflix, and the dates and times this happened. .
In common with the subpoena Strike 3 wants to send to Google, much of the information requested from Netflix is stripped from the subpoena. However, we can still see that Strike 3 wants to dig deep into the defendant’s devices with requests to receive unique device IDs, device manufacturers, manufacturers of specific components such as processors, and much more.
Things get even more intrusive with Strike 3’s request for access to the defendant’s gaming activities on Netflix, including games played, length of gaming session, and just about anything the porn company can. to recover.
Unsurprisingly, defendant John Doe pushes back against this massive discovery effort.
Motion to rescind Google and Netflix subpoenas
In a motion filed with the court, lawyers for the defendant say there is no cause or cause for the documents to be subpoenaed, in particular because they represent an invasion of privacy and are not commensurate with business needs.
Google’s first subpoena objection lists numerous issues, noting that documents stored at Google would reveal private and personal information, including privileged communications with an attorney. The YouTube data claim is “irrelevant” because there is no evidence that the defendant hosts infringing videos on the platform.
On the issue of search query data, the motion notes that such searches should be considered private as they may also contain “highly personal and sensitive matters, such as confidential medical information, racial or ethnic origins, political beliefs or religious or sexuality. ”
With respect to Netflix, the petition states that the request for access to “highly invasive personal information unrelated to the simple question of whether Strike 3 movie data was downloaded to John Doe’s computer” is unacceptable, while access to game records is “irrelevant” as Strike 3 does not distribute games.
“There is no evidence that Netflix or Google had any involvement in the production, distribution or funding of hardcore pornography. Instead, Strike 3 seeks irrelevant information from these two companies in an effort to harvest John Doe’s personal account information from these two sources. This is clearly a privacy breach. None of this personal account information is relevant to this case,” reads the request.
In summary, counsel for John Doe believes that no reasonable attorney could believe in good faith that these broad subpoenas meet the court’s proportionality requirements. Strike 3 should be sanctioned and the court should overturn the subpoenas, the motion adds.
The first amended complaint and response here and here, subpoenas to Google and Netflix, and motion to quash (all in pdf)