Rightscorp cuts-and-runs as soon as it is challenged in court

Rightscorp — a firm that asks ISPs to disconnect you from the Internet unless you pay it money for alleged, unproven copyright infringements — was finally challenged in court by an ISP, Texas's Grande Communications; as soon as it looked like it would have the legal basis for its business-model examined by a judge, the company cut and ran, withdrawing its threats.

The extortion business model is one of the ugliest innovations of the 21st century, and judges are generally pretty skeptical of it. Companies like Rightscorp are only viable because the sums they seek are lower than the cost of asking a lawyer whether you should pay them. But once a judge tells them they don't have a legal leg to stand upon, every future potential victim is only one search-query away from figuring out why they should tell them to go screw themselves.

Grande's advisory to the court about Rightscorp's tactics is a thing of beauty.

"Presumably, Rightscorp is hoping that the regional ISPs, with smaller in-house legal departments, will be likely to simply comply with its subpoenas, especially given that those subpoenas bear the signature of the Clerk of the Court."

Grande then goes on to state that jurisprudence has long-established that DMCA subpoenas can't be used to identify file-sharers. Instead, Rightscorp should file a copyright infringement lawsuit as many other copyright holders have, so that a judge can properly review the evidence and arguments.

The ISP believes that Rightscorp is trying to bypass the scrutiny of a judge in order to avoid due process from taking place. This should not be allowed and Grande therefore asks the court to quash the subpoena.

"Rightscorp's purpose in improperly issuing subpoenas under [the DMCA] is clear: to avoid judicial review of the litany of issues that would arise in seeking the requisite authorization from a court for the discovery of the sought-after information, including issues relating to joinder, personal jurisdiction, and venue."

"In similar contexts and in no uncertain terms, the courts have stated that bypassing procedural rights of individual subscribers in order to harvest personal information en masse from a single proceeding will not be tolerated," Grande adds.

U.S. Internet Provider Refuses to Expose Alleged

(Thanks, Edward!)