By Eriq Gardner
Time Warner Cable says that recent lawsuits targeting tens of thousands of individual movie pirates are excessively burdensome and expensive, so it wants a court to intervene.
In March, we first broke news that the U.S. Copyright Group had started a massive litigation campaign
against users of BitTorrent on behalf of some indie producers. Last week, the firm announced it was upping the stakes by signing up Voltage Pictures
to sue tens of thousands more individuals for pirating "The Hurt Locker" and other films.
Now, in a case involving Uwe Boll's "Far Cry," TWC has filed a third party motion
to quash or modify the subpoena request, asking a judge to limit discovery to no more than 28 IP address lookup requests per month "because that is the outer limit of what TWC can reasonably handle."
In addition, TWC says that courts have repeatedly held that a plaintiff may not join in a single action multiple defendants who have allegedly downloaded or facilitated copyright infringing works. TWC makes no specific request, but suggests that the U.S. Copyright Group should be forced to pay separate filing fees for each defendant that it sues.
The move suggests that one of the nation's largest ISPs is attempting to slow a massive piracy case. In court papers, TWC outlines the burden it now faces.
Going into detail about the subpoena requests, TWC says in a memorandum
that until recently, it received an average of 567 IP lookup requests per month, virtually all from law enforcement involving cases where death or serious physical injury were at issue.
Now, in the cases involving U.S. Copyright Group (not including "The Hurt Locker" case, which has yet to be filed but should be coming soon), TWC has been asked to provide identifying information about 6,284 anonymous defendants relating to 1,468 IP addresses.
"Each of [USCP's] Dunlap's cases is far out of line with other comparable copyright infringement cases," says the memorandum, filed by Alexander Maltas at Latham & Watkins.
TWC says it has four full-time employees who handle subpoenas, warrants, court letters and other requests for information. Recently, the company has had to retain a temporary worker to aid the full-time team because of the data crunch.
TWC and the U.S. Copyright Group came into an agreement a few months ago to limit requests to 28 per month in exchange for limiting the cost per IP address requested to $32.50. But since then, TWC has been served with more subpoenas, which TWC says was a breach of its agreement. Now, TWC wants to limit its exposure and make the plaintiffs pay the full cost in advance.