The copyright industry’s obsession with pursuing alleged infringements borders on the pathological

As Walled Culture the book (free digital versions) details, for decades the copyright industry has lobbied consistently (and successfully) for more and harsher laws targeting alleged infringement. Against that background, it is hardly uprising that these laws are used on a massive scale every day. But some companies take this to extremes. Here, for example, is a story on Ars Technica from earlier this year:

In an attempt to prove that RCN (now known as Astound Broadband) turned a blind eye to customers illegally downloading copyrighted movies, the [film] studios subpoenaed Reddit seeking identifying information for specific users who commented in piracy-related threads. While some of the comments were posted in 2022, other comments were made in 2009 and 2014.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2021, which means that the studios were demanding the names of people for posting a comment anonymously more than a decade ago. Fortunately, the judge quashed the subpoena, for reasons discussed in the Ars Technica post. Despite that clear defeat, the same film studios are back demanding:

“Basic account information including IP address registration and logs from 1/1/2016 to present, name, email address and other account registration information” for six users who wrote comments on Reddit threads in 2011 and 2018.

Once again, the film studios are obsessing about something somebody wrote 12 years ago. Aside from the fact that the studios are repeating an argument they have already lost before, it is absurd for them to be wasting people’s time and money on something that was written this long ago, that may or may not have some tenuous connection to alleged copyright infringement.

This level of obsession with a tiny and most likely irrelevant post that took a few seconds to write over a decade ago, borders on the pathological. It is another demonstration of how copyright not only distorts technology, markets and the law, but has also warped the minds of some people.

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