Comcast Claims Copyright Over Prenda-Related Subpoena

Excerpted from a recent Comcast staff meeting held, inexplicably, in a public n IRC chat room:

<comcast_rulez36> you guys been paying attention to the Prenda case?

<Comcastaway> dude

<Comcastaway> I heard Mark Lutz didn’t even show up for his deposition today

I lost track after Popehat went off the radar.  Is he in jail or something?

<comcast_rulez36> No man, he just posted an update

<comcast_rulez36> But we just got to nail ‘em.  You know how we usually make it difficult for copyright trolls to get subscriber information? Well, when I got a subpoena for John Steele, lol.

<TimeWarnerSUX> wait, why does his IP matter?

<comcast_rulez36> Because it shows that Prenda was torrenting its clients’ obscure porn movies so that it could sue them.

Wow..  That’s insane.  But a pretty good way to fight piracy is to encourage piracy amirite?

<comcast_rulez36> I know.  Can this get any more bizarre?

<TimeWarnerSUX> I just got the craziest idea dude

You guys wanna try to jump the sharkmp4?

The transcript ends there, but I’m reliably informed that Comcast then sent the vaguest possible cease-and-desist to news site TorrentFreak, which had posted the publicly-available subpoena response:

Comcast_Threat_Torrentfreak

Comcast’s agent, Cyveillance, then clarified that it was concerned about the “subpoena form”, ostensibly because it contains “subscriber information.”

If Comcast were concerned about its subscriber information becoming public, perhaps providing it in response to court orders without a protective order in place was a poor strategy — even when the target is a creep sharing porn on the internet. And, yes, even when it’s (allegedly) John Steele.

Moreover, the use of copyright as a sword to accomplish goals unrelated to the protection of intellectual property is misplaced.  We’ve seen this before with cease and desist letters claiming copyright in cease and desist letters (seriously).  While documents submitted to a court likely don’t lose their copyright protection by virtue of being publicly available, using them to report on a widely-watched case is unquestionably fair use.  A copyright enforcement agency like Cyveillance — creepy name, guys — should really double-check its position when it encounters its clients’ material on news sites.

Oh, and I’ve uploaded a copy of the subpoena response — a public record — here.