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Time Warner stands up to bullies

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 9:39am
Brian Santo

Time Warner Cable is continuing to hold its ground in its standoff with the U.S. Copyright Group.

The U.S. Copyright Group is a law firm with a fancy-schmancy new name designed to make it sound as if it’s a trade group. The firm represents the producers of a small handful of Hollywood films (notably “The Hurt Locker”) who want to sue individuals who are illegally sharing their movies.

The law firm has identified the addresses of hundreds of these individuals and has gotten subpoenas it could use to compel Internet service providers (ISPs) to identify their customers by name so that they can be sued. Companies such as Verizon and Comcast have complied. TWC has not.

TWC would comply, it says, except the U.S. Copyright Group is asking for hundreds and hundreds of records. That taxes the company’s staff, which is already handling hundreds of similar requests from law enforcement. TWC is asking U.S. Copyright to either scale back its numbers or pay for all of the extra work it’s making for TWC.

Maybe Comcast and Verizon, both much bigger than TWC, consider the added expense chump change. But TWC is claiming that the volume of requests represents a financial burden. Either way, its counter-proposal is hardly unreasonable.

U.S. Copyright is a private operation working for private clients, after all; it’s not a law enforcement agency.

So U.S. Copyright is ratcheting up the heat, insinuating that TWC merely wants to earn a reputation as a protector of illegal file sharers in an effort to sign up more subscribers who wish to engage in illegal file sharing.

It’s a scummy tactic, but that will be irrelevant if U.S. Copyright prevails in part because of it. Nobody likes being bullied, and U.S. Copyright is using bullying tactics from the first. Fine, that’s what lawyers do.

Three cheers for those who stand up to bullies.


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