EFF Asks Judge to Protect BitTorrent Downloaders from Predatory Lawsuits

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed an amicus brief in which it asks an Illinois judge to quash subpoenas issued in pay-up-or-else lawsuits involving alleged illegal downloading of pornography. The EFF hopes to stop copyright trolls — content owners and lawyers who team up to extract settlements from thousands of defendants at a time.

“Copyright owners have a right to protect their works, but they can’t use shoddy and unfair tactics to do so,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “We’re asking the court to protect the rights of each and every defendant, instead of allowing these copyright trolls to game the system.”

The EFF estimates that in less than a year 75,000 people have been sued in the US for downloading porn off BitTorrent.

“As of January 14, 2011, by an informal count, well (over) 75,000 people have been sued in similar (in some cases nearly identical) complaints arising from the alleged infringement of pornographic movies. This includes 4507 individuals sued in the Northern District of Illinois alone, in nine separate lawsuits. In addition, mass copyright complaints based on non-pornographic movies have also been brought against over 13,500 people in the District of Columbia.”

The full amicus brief is available in the EFF site along with some additional commentary.

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