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Time Warner Cable won’t turn in porn pirates

avatar-porn-parodyEarlier this year, attorney Evan Stone filed three lawsuits on behalf of porn distributor Larry Flynt Publishing in response to the thousands of users accused of illegally sharing the company’s adult film This Ain’t Avatar XXX. However, Internet service provider Time Warner Cable is making things difficult.

Attorney Evan Stone, who filed the suit, told CNET, “If you’re a pirate in these times, TWC is the ISP to have.” In order for Larry Flynt Publishing to have a case, Stone needs TWC to name names, something the company is hesitant to do. He already knows the defendants’ Internet protocol addresses, but needs the ISP to then offer identities and addresses to match. Stone claims that TWC is only willing to offer up 10 names a month, which he calls “totally unsatisfactory.” At that rate, it would take 33 years to identify the alleged pirates. AT&T and Verizon were also reportedly wary about giving Stone access to customer names.

In an interesting turn, Larry Flynt Publishing decided it isn’t on board with its attorney. The company partners with TWC, and in favor of not rocking the boat, decided to back away from the matter. As a result, Stone will no longer be representing the company.

Despite the fact that he will soon be parting ways with Larry Flynt Publishing, he continues to argue his case, saying that he was able to define that the accused were clearly scheming to illegally share pirated copies of the film. And defending This Ain’t Avatar: XXX from being illegally circulated wasn’t Stone’s only priority. The Dallas Observer points out that prosecuting porn pirates has become the attorney’s crusade. He filed several hundred lawsuits in Dallas Federal Court this fall for various titles that had been illegally downloaded, and that number eventually soared to over 9,000. Originally, Stone seemed to believe his war on the illegal sharing of adult content would be an open and shut case. “Almost everybody that has replied to my letters has replied, ‘Hey you caught me, I’m ready to comply,’” he told the Dallas Observer in the fall in response to the perpetrators he was able to identify.  Stone also claimed that porn distributors were on board with the lawsuits because “The adult industry isn’t as worried about bad press. If it’s going to recoup revenue, it’s going to recoup it.”

Stone has recently dropped many names from the case, and some suggest he is extorting alleged file sharers into settling out of court for a few thousand dollars. This yields a moral gray area, Washington-based lawyer Paul Alan Levy explains. “It’s possible that what’s happening here is pure extortion, and it’s possible that what’s happening is just enforcement of the copyright laws. The business model is [to] bring lots of cases, settle them without taking them to trial. We don’t know yet whether these folks are willing to go to trial.”

Regardless of the current state of Stone’s other cases, he isn’t the first attorney to have difficulty working with TWC. Attorney Kenneth Ford found himself in a similar situation with the Internet service provider when he was unable to glean enough names while attempting to launch 22,000 separate cases concerning pirated porn. Last week, a judge threw out all but one case, telling Ford a separate suit would be required for each alleged pirate. Trying to make a case against P2P file sharers is becoming increasingly challenging, and so far, a dead end.

And it isn’t just adult films: TWC persisted against the US Copyright Group when it was facing copyright infringement for the illegal sharing of various indie films and of course, Oscar winner The Hurt Locker. TWC labeled the accusations “nonsense” and responded by saying it receives a vast amount of IP address lookup requests a month, some of which involve emergency and life-threatening situations, and it simply could meet the additional demand.

It seems for the time being that TWC is one ISP that has its users’ backs, and any entity that wants to targets its customers should be ready to wait.