Appeals Court to Hear Porn Piracy Case on Monday

Apr 13, 2014 6:00 AM PST

WASHINGTON — The Electronic Frontier Foundation will ask a federal appeals court on Monday to prevent AF Holdings from obtaining the identities of more than 1,000 users who may have downloaded a copyrighted adult film via bit torrent.

EFF is backing ISPs in an effort to quash subpoenas issued in the case.  The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and the ACLU of the Nation’s Capitol joined EFF in an amicus brief, arguing that AF Holdings unfairly sued the John Does in Washington, D.C., even though the users were located all over the country. 

AF Holdings argues that it is allowed to obtain the identities of the ISPs’ customers in Washington, D.C., even, because they might reside in the district or the alleged infringement may have occurred there. But the ISPs that were subpoenaed – including Cox, AT&T and Verizon – told the court that it was easy to discover that only 20 of the IP addresses were associated with Washington, D.C.

Representatives for ISPS will offer the principal argument, the EFF said. However, the court took the unusual step of allowing friends of the court to appear and argue as well.

EFF director Corynne McSherry — speaking on behalf of EFF, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of the Nation's Capital, Public Citizen and Public Knowledge —  will urge the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to reverse a lower court decision that allowed the plaintiff to seek identifying information for the Does without complying with basic procedural rules.

The EFF said in a release that AF Holdings is linked to Prenda Law, "a firm that is facing allegations that it used stolen identities and fictitious signatures on key legal documents and made other false statements to the courts."

"AF Holdings will have an opportunity to address the court but has so far not designated a representative for the hearing," the EFF said.

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