Two weeks ago a group of adult movie companies sued Verizon for failing to hand over the personal details of alleged BitTorrent pirates.
The Internet provider had ignored court orders and Malibu Media, Patrick Collins and Third Degree Films asked the court to hold Verizon in contempt and compel the company to respond to the subpoenas.
This week Verizon responded to the claims with a frontal attack.
Verizon is asking a Texas federal court to grant discovery so the ISP can expose how the “copyright trolls” in question operate. Verizon’s motion is short, but leaves very little to the imagination.
In its filing Verizon states that the copyright holders “pursue a scheme which, if not illegal, is at a minimum of a type to which the courts should not lend their powers and support.”
The provider has therefore decided to turn the tables. Instead of exposing the identities of their customers, they want to be granted discovery themselves so they can request sensitive information on the companies involved. An unusual request at this stage of a case, but needed because many of Verizon’s customers are unable to defend themselves.
“The circumstances are also unusual because the persons subject to potential abuse by the Plaintiffs’ approach are unlikely to be able, for financial reasons, personal reasons, or Plaintiffs’ tactical approach to those who do actively oppose them, to effectively oppose the Plaintiffs’ oppressive and unfair methods,” Verizon writes.
By exposing the tactics of these copyright holders, Verizon hopes the court can make an informed decision as to whether the alleged BitTorrent users should have their identities revealed. This exposé includes uncovering the tangled web of individuals behind these lawsuits, and the tactics copyright holders use to get defendants to hand over their money.
“Verizon intends, among other things, to seek discovery from the senior level managers of the Plaintiffs and from the persons affiliated with the Plaintiffs whose declarations have been used to support the Plaintiffs’ requests for discovery,” Verizon writes.
“Verizon further intends to seek discovery into the business model of Plaintiffs and whether the Plaintiffs are good faith publishers of the material they purportedly seek to protect as opposed to whether Plaintiffs’ business model is primarily profit from their aggressive and abusive copyright enforcement efforts,” they add.
The ISP concludes its request by equating the tactics of the copyright holders to schoolyard bullies who run away scared if their targets fight back. A seemingly fitting description as none of their cases have ever made it through a full trial.
“Plaintiffs’ tactics appear to be much like those of schoolyard bullies who push and shove until firm opposition is met when they shrink away. Plaintiffs, and those like them, have apparently avoided having to deal with these issues by not pursuing those who would raise these issues,” Verizon concludes.
From the filings it becomes clear that Verizon is determined to end the trolling tactics of the adult studios, and they’re not scared to invest money into the fight.
TorrentFreak talked to attorney Graham Syfert, who has a lot of experience with these mass-BitTorrent lawsuits, and he believes that this case could have a wide impact.
“If discovery is granted these companies will be subject to the same scrutiny as a Plaintiff in a trial, and those depositions and answers could be used in cases nationwide,” Syfert told us.
This means that if Verizon gets their way, and they uncover enough dirt, some of the most active copyright trolls may be put out of business. In any case, we can expect fireworks.