Every day, DMCA-style notices are sent to regular Internet users who use BitTorrent to share copyrighted material. These notices are delivered to users’ Internet service providers who pass them on in the hope that customers correct their behavior.
The most well-known notice system in operation in the United States is the so-called “six strikes” scheme, in which the leading recording labels and movie studios send educational warning notices to presumed pirates. Not surprisingly, six-strikes refers to users receiving a maximum of six notices. However, content providers outside the scheme are not bound by its rules – sometimes to the extreme.
According to a lawsuit filed this week in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (pdf), one unlucky Comcast user was subjected not only to a barrage of copyright notices on an unprecedented scale, but during one of the narrowest time frames yet.
The complaint comes from Rotten Records who state that the account holder behind a single Comcast IP address used BitTorrent to share the discography of Dog Fashion Disco, a long-since defunct metal band previously known as Hug the Retard.
“Defendant distributed all of the pieces of the Infringing Files allowing others to assemble them into a playable audio file,” Rotten Records’ attorney Flynn Wirkus Young explain.
Considering Rotten Records have been working with Rightscorp on other cases this year, it will come as no surprise that the anti-piracy outfit is also involved in this one. And boy have they been busy tracking this particular user. In a single 48 hour period, Rightscorp hammered the Comcast subscriber with more than two DMCA notices every hour over a single torrent.
“Rightscorp sent Defendant 112 notices via Defendant’s ISP Comcast from June 15, 2015 to June 17, 2015 demanding that Defendant stop illegally distributing Plaintiff’s work,” the lawsuit reads.
“Defendant ignored each and every notice and continued to illegally distribute Plaintiff’s work.”
While it’s clear that the John Doe behind IP address 188.8.131.52 shouldn’t have been sharing the works in question (if he indeed was the culprit and not someone else), the suggestion to the Court that he or she systematically ignored 112 demands to stop infringing copyright is stretching the bounds of reasonable to say the least.
In fact, Court documents state that after infringement began sometime on June 15, the latest infringement took place on June 16 at 11:49am, meaning that the defendant may well have acted on Rightscorp’s notices within 24 hours – and that’s presuming that Comcast passed them on right away, or even at all.
Either way, the attempt here is to portray the defendant as someone who had zero respect for Rotten Record’s rights, even after being warned by Rightscorp more than a hundred and ten times. Trouble is, all of those notices covered an alleged infringing period of less than 36 hours – hardly a reasonable time in which to react.
Still, it’s unlikely the Court will be particularly interested and will probably issue an order for Comcast to hand over their subscriber’s identity so he or she can be targeted by Rotten Records for a cash settlement.
Rotten has targeted Comcast users on several earlier occasions, despite being able to sue the subscribers of any service provider. Notably, while Comcast does indeed pass on Rightscorp’s DMCA takedown notices, it strips the cash settlement demand from the bottom.
One has to wonder whether Rightscorp and its client are trying to send the ISP a message with these lawsuits.
Update: Apparently Dog Fashion Disco have reformed.