Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer just put the kibosh on the US Copyright Group’s five-year plan to sue over 16,000 people for copyright violations incurred through sharing films online. While such copyright claims filed against online users are nothing new, the USCG has two huge, gaping holes in its litigation: to date, it hasn’t been able to provide the identity of a single individual user whom they are suing against (only users’ IP addresses), and it subsequently requested five years from the federal courts to do so.
This request was to be applied to the USCG’s cases for the films Far Cry and The Steam Experiment. Originally, Judge Collyer set the deadline to name defendants to July 2010, which was extended to November 18th; this time, the USCG requested 58 months time to name defendants in its cases. The extensive time frame comes at the behest of Time Warner, who as an Internet Service Provider complained about the cost of having to perform so many lookups for the USCG, and had a federal judge reduce its workload to 28 lookups a month, split between each case..
Judge Collyer responded by calling the request, “patently unfair and prejudicial to all John Does who have been identified by an ISP,” and gave the USCG until December 6th to come up with identities of those users included in its claim; any other IP addresses without names are exempt from the case.
A lawyer representing file-sharing defendants told Ars Technica that the order was “what it looks like when a judge starts to lose her patience,” and that Collyer wants the USCG to “shit or get off the pot.”
While it seems as though the USCG is just another bumbling, clumsy copyright troll, it allegedly knows a majority of the names behind the Far Cry and Steam Experiment cases; should this be true, those names will be given in court on December 6th.