MarkMonitor Wants to Keep Court Transcript Away From “Pro-Piracy” Forces

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MarkMonitor has asked a Florida federal court to destroy or permanently seal documents discussing its anti-piracy systems. The information could be beneficial to "pro-piracy" forces, MarkMonitor fears. The documents are part of a now-settled lawsuit between record labels and ISP Bright House. Interestingly, the destruction request piqued the interest of another ISP: Cox.

markmonitorFor more than a decade, anti-piracy company MarkMonitor has been a trusted partner of the major record labels.

Among other things, the company provided evidence and testimony for the piracy lawsuit against Internet provider Bright House that was settled two weeks ago.

Shortly after the settlement was announced, MarkMonitor asked the court to make sure that sensitive evidence doesn’t see the light of day. The company notes that, among other things, a recent hearing transcript discusses sensitive details about its anti-piracy detection system.

MarkMonitor Wants to Keep Anti-Piracy Secrets Safe

The documents in question are now shielded and the anti-piracy company would like it to keep it that way, to prevent adversaries from gathering knowledge.

“The transcript contains information and reference to MarkMonitor’s source code that is private, proprietary, confidential and commercially sensitive trade secret information regarding its antipiracy detection system,” MarkMonitor writes.

“Public disclosure of MarkMonitor’s proprietary verification process to its competitors or others would cause significant injury to MarkMonitor,” the company adds.

The company argues that the transcript isn’t relevant to the public at large. It discusses proprietary code and includes evidence of a dispute between businesses. However, that can be valuable information to competitors.

The “Pro-Piracy” Sector?

The term competitors should be used quite broadly here. It doesn’t only refer to rival anti-piracy outfits but also to “others that wish to publicize or exploit MarkMonitor’s highly sensitive technical information in the pro-piracy sector of the general public.”

The transcript isn’t the only document MarkMonitor would like to keep away from the public. The filing lists several others that contain sensitive information, including an email about decompiling tools.

“Exhibit T is an email discussing decompiling tools that can be used to unpack MarkMonitor’s confidential and proprietary binary files into readable code, which could be harmful in the wrong hands. Accordingly, this exhibit should be destroyed or permanently sealed.”

This isn’t the first time that MarkMonitor has shown concern over its anti-piracy details being exposed. A few months ago, the company submitted a similar request that dealt with information and documents that were shared in this lawsuit.

At the time, the anti-piracy outfit was particularly concerned that TorrentFreak would publish the information in a news article. This time around we are not mentioned by name, perhaps in part because restricting the public newsflow is not a particularly good argument.

Cox Is Interested in MarkMonitor’s Evidence

Aside from competitors, pirates, and news outlets, there is another group that has an interest in the ‘sensitive’ information. Shortly after MarkMonitor submitted its motion, Internet provider Cox Communications stepped in.

Cox is not a party to this lawsuit but it is involved in a similar piracy battle with record labels, where it was ordered to pay a billion dollars in damages. This case, where MarkMonitor also provided evidence, is currently under appeal.

The ISP suggests that MarkMonitor may want to get rid of the evidence because it could otherwise be used in that legal battle. This is just a theory, for now, but that’s enough for the ISP to intervene.

“Although Cox has not seen the documents that are the subject of MarkMonitor’s motion regarding return or destruction of materials, the context of the Motions strongly suggests that the documents at issue are directly relevant to pending issues in Sony,” Cox’s lawyer writes.

“Cox believes that MarkMonitor lacks a proper basis for maintaining these materials under seal or otherwise preventing their appearance in the public record of this litigation,” the company adds.

Cox plans to file an official motion to intervene this week. In the meantime, the company also informed the record labels and the RIAA, that it is their duty to preserve all relevant documents.

A copy of MarkMonitor’s request to return or destroy the sealed documents is available here (pdf) and Cox’s response can be found here (pdf)


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