Judge: Gay Porn BitTorrent Defendants Can't Shield Identities

Nov 4, 2011 1:30 PM PST

BOSTON — A federal judge this week declined a bid by BitTorrent defendants to cloak their identities out of fear of being "outed" for allegedly infringing on gay porn.­­­

With the ruling, U.S. Judge William Young said that 38 John Does in a Corbin Fisher copyright infringement case are prohibited from proceeding any further using pseudonyms and has denied motions to quash subpoenas served by Corbin Fisher on their ISPs.

Two of the 38 defendants alleged to have traded "Down on the Farm" had asked to grant anonymity to all of the defendants in the case. So far, Corbin Fisher has dismissed 20 individuals from the case, which was filed in May. Presumably those cases already have been settled.

"This case, which involves the alleged infringement of homosexual pornography, only creates an innuendo as to the defendants’ sexual orientation," said Young, noting that "the court presently expresses no opinion on whether homosexuality continues to be a protected privacy interest warranting anonymity." 

Nonetheless, Young said,  should individual defendants be concerned about the public scorn of being publicly "outed" as discovery proceeds, he would entertain those arguments on an individual basis.  

"If such a privacy interest exists, the court will be careful to draw a line between the 'mere embarrassment'  of being publicly named in a lawsuit involving hardcore pornography, which does not provide a basis for anonymity, and concern over the exposure of one’s sexual orientation," Young said in his ruling. 

Marc Randazza, general counsel for Corbin Fisher, told XBIZ that the ruling was plain and simple. "[The] court did not buy the homophobic argument that gay porn equals outing equals embarrassment."

"Let's remember something here — if you're a leecher, you don't get the same access to free porn as a seeder," he said. "A seeder could be using the film as mere 'currency' to get other films.

"Therefore, the mere fact that someone is torrenting a Corbin Fisher movie does not say that they are gay, straight, or otherwise."  

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