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1: Sixth Circuit Suggests Liability For Copyright Infringement May Justify Reduced First Amendment Protection For Anonymous Speech
First off today, Reed Smith and Mondaq reports that the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a 2-1 ruling implying that, in cases where an anonymous user is accused of committing copyright infringement, there may be weakened first amendment protection for unmasking them.
The case pits Signature Mgmt. Team against an anonymous (John Doe) defendant. According to Signature, Doe posted a link on his blog that linked to a pirated copy of a book by them. Among the relief Signature seeks is the unmasking of Doe. However, the lower court disagreed, saying that unmasking Doe was not necessary to prevent future infringement, especially since Doe had declared he had destroyed all copies of the infringing work in his possession.
Signature appealed that ruling and the Sixth Circuit appeared to agree, saying that there needs to be a balance between first amendment rights to anonymity and protecting copyright. However, according to the court, the ruling is just a first impression and is “a presumption in favor of unmasking anonymous defendants” not an order. The dissent felt that the majority did not go far enough and sought for more broad unmasking of anonymous infringers.
Next up today, Ernesto at Torrentfreak writes that a coalition of Canadian ISPs and movie studios are working on a deal to block suspected pirate sites without a court order.
The coalition, which includes local ISPs Bell, Rogers, and Cineplex would be the first of such plan to not go through local courts. Though site blocking has become increasingly widespread globally, it’s usually handled through courts that order injunctions. This would be a voluntary plan but it would only target sites that “blatantly, overwhelmingly or structurally” engage in copyright infringement.
Despite the targeting of the worst offenders, many still worry that the site blocking could be misused to target sites not explicitly for copyright infringement. The plan is expected to be submitted to the CRTC, the Canadian telecom regulator, sometime this month.
Finally today, Blake Hester at Rolling Stone reports that Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, has settled one lawsuit against a gamer that it accused of cheating and has responded to another.
Back in October, Epic Games filed two lawsuits following a wave of bans that kicked thousands of cheaters of the game. In their lawsuit, Epic claimed that the players engineered Fortnite’s code to give them an unfair advantage when playing the game.
One of the players, Charles Vraspir, has settled the lawsuit and agreed to a permanent injunction with a penalty of $5,000 should he violate it. However a second lawsuit against a 14-year-old gamer, Caleb Rogers, has not been settled and Roger’s mom has responded on his behalf. In that case he was accused of not only cheating but posting a YouTube video explaining the cheats. When Rogers contested the DMCA notice Epic filed, Epic filed a lawsuit. Roger’s mom responded, saying that he was not bound by Epic’s TOS and that Epic violated his privacy by including his full name in the lawsuit. Epic has responded disputing that he was not bound by the TOS but saying it was unaware of Roger’s age when it filed and will begin using his initial.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.