In its legal argument with Time Warner Cable, the U.S. Copyright Group has filed a brief with the court that contains a clear threat that it will sue TWC directly for copyright infringement.
The U.S. Copyright Group, a law firm until recently known as Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver, is working on behalf of a number of film companies that intend to sue consumers who illegally download their films, largely using BitTorrent. The law firm has issued thousands of subpoenas with various ISPs to identify those consumers.
Some prominent ISPs, reportedly including Comcast and Verizon, are complying with requests by the U.S. Copyright Group. TWC apparently has no objection to identifying those who are infringing copyrights; instead, the company complained that it has the resources to satisfy double-digit requests, but responding to thousands of subpoenas represents an unreasonable financial burden.
The U.S. Copyright Group response is a brief, the filing of which was first reported by Ars Technica, that accuses TWC of deliberately refusing to comply for the express purpose of attracting illegal downloaders with the implied promise of providing them with a refuge from lawsuits of the sort brought by the U.S. Copyright Group.
According to Ars Technica, part of the brief reads: "TWC highlights the fact that it is not a party to this case," he wrote, "but it appears that TWC is utilizing that fact to garner public support for its position and possibly in an attempt to gain more subscribers who would value TWC's efforts to protect the privacy of demonstrated copyright infringers. To the extent TWC’s tactics are just that – letting the public know that TWC is a good ISP for copyright infringers because TWC will fight any subpoenas related to infringers’ activities – TWC exposes itself to a claim for contributory copyright infringement."
The brief cites the case in which Grokster was sued for precisely that, lost and was shut down.