A Reddit User Admitted To Pirating a Movie 12 Years Ago. Movie Studios Want To Unmask Him.

A privacy invasion.

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In what appears to be an escalating incursion into a user’s digital privacy, a collective of film companies continue to implore the court to compel Reddit to surrender its users’ personal details. This move is part of an ongoing piracy liability case against Internet Service Providers. Reddit, however, steadfastly resists, staunchly defending its users’ rights to anonymous speech.

While governments and law enforcement agencies have increasingly sought user details from Reddit — with over 1,000 requests, 277 search warrants, and 582 subpoenas last year, Torrent Freak reported — Reddit has staunchly resisted, drawing a firm line in the sand to protect its users’ privacy.

The battle over privacy rights came to a head earlier this year when film companies, involved in litigation against ISP RCN, attempted to extract personal details of Reddit users via a DMCA subpoena. Reddit objected, criticizing the subpoena as a sweeping and excessive invasion of user privacy, rather than a reasonable search for evidence. Reddit made a stand, yielding the details of only one user and rejecting the rest, underscoring its commitment to the right to anonymous speech.

The court sided with Reddit, ruling that the right to anonymity outweighed the copyright holders’ interests. US District Court Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler further reinforced this stance, suggesting the film companies could obtain necessary information through alternative channels, such as directly from the ISP in question.

Undeterred by the earlier legal setback, the film companies are now making a similar push against ISP Grande, targeting a fresh group of Reddit users. Reddit, maintaining its position as a defender of user privacy, declined to release the requested information, triggering another motion to compel in court.

The film companies assert that they have exhausted all other options for evidence and insist on the need to reveal Reddit users’ identities. However, their earlier attempt to contact Grande’s repeatedly pirating subscribers failed to yield useful results, forcing them to resort to targeting Reddit users once again.

In response to this potential breach of privacy, Reddit has reiterated its commitment to preserving its users’ rights to anonymous speech. Reddit contends that the film companies have not presented a convincing case to justify the infringement of privacy, arguing that its users are not an “irreplaceable source” of evidence.

Reddit has further pointed out that the film companies already procured the identifying details of 118 of Grande’s most frequent pirating IP addresses. This action, according to Reddit, debunks the claim that violating user privacy is the only path to necessary evidence.

Reddit also questioned the film companies’ approach, noting they have yet to subpoena the Grande subscribers they contacted, an alternative step that could have been taken before pursuing Reddit users.

The film companies have singled out a Reddit user, “xBROKEx,” citing a 12-year-old comment admitting to pirating the movie The Expendables.

Reddit counters that this attempted breach of privacy is unwarranted, given that the statute of limitations for copyright infringement is just three years.

Ultimately, Reddit implores Judge Beeler to maintain the protection of user privacy, stressing that the film companies’ current case is even less compelling than before. The ongoing saga underscores Reddit’s unwavering commitment to defending the privacy rights of its users against invasive legal attempts.

Reddit’s motion to oppose the unmasking of the user can be found here.

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