Record Labels Oppose ‘Incendiary’ Evidence From ‘Pro-Piracy’ Site Boing Boing *TorrentFreak

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A post from the popular blog Boing Boing is at the center of a new dispute in the piracy lawsuit between several major record labels and ISP Grande. The dated article contains allegations of extortion-like business practices by hacking tracking firm Rightscorp. Music companies call the blog an unreliable “pro-piracy” source. Grande, meanwhile, notes that the article was valuable enough to be documented by Warner’s anti-piracy expert.

Three years ago, several of the biggest music companies in the world, including Warner Bros. and Sony Music, sued internet provider Grande Communications.

Record labels accused the Astound-owned ISP for not doing enough to stop the hacking of subscribers. Specifically, they alleged that the company failed to terminate repeat offenders.

After several delays, the trial is in full swing, with both sides trying to convince the jury that their version of events is the correct one. This has already led to several disputes, including when Grande surprised labels by featuring testimonials about subscribers who had previously denied hacking allegations.

These hacking allegations, sent to the ISP by the anti-piracy team Rightscorp, are at the center of this case. The labels argue that Grande has taken no meaningful action in response to the reviews, while the ISP counters that the reviews are unreliable and inaccurate.

Article emailed to Boing Boing

To bolster her case, Grande informed the labels of a piece of evidence she intended to present at trial today. The document in question is an email sent by Warner anti-piracy expert Howie Singer to himself several years ago. The email contains a copy of a blog post published by Boing Boing.

The copy isn’t the issue here; it is the subject of the article that is important. The article covers a Rightscorp call center script that surfaced in an earlier lawsuit. Boing Boing called the storyline a “terrifying extortion”.

Boing Boing’s article


These documents have always been part of Grande’s evidence, so their introduction comes as no surprise. The problem lies with the labels’ claim that pitching them to the jury today would be problematic. In a motion filed in court yesterday, they formally request the exclusion of the two.

“Any fair review of this evidence reveals that Grande’s sole purpose in presenting this evidence is to provoke jury outrage based on an inflammatory misrepresentation of Rightscorp’s business practices by a hostile media source,” the labels inform. to the court.

“Pro-piracy website? »

The article is irrelevant because it says nothing about the accuracy of Rightscorp’s hack detection technology. Instead, it’s an article from a “third-party pro-piracy website” that discusses other aspects of the business, the music companies add.

“[T]The BoingBoing evidence is not relevant to the issues in this case. Rightscorp’s technology is at issue in this lawsuit, but not its business methods, and certainly not how a hostile third party could misrepresent those methods.

“[T]BoingBoing’s evidence should be excluded as it is merely out-of-court statements from a pro-hacking third-party website,” the labels insist, calling the evidence hearsay from an unreliable source.

Shortly after the music companies submitted their petition, Grande filed its response. The ISP informs the court that the labels previously attempted to exclude the article from the evidence list, but the request was denied.

The plaintiffs provide no evidence for their claim that Boing Boing is a pro-piracy site, the response adds, while mentioning that it is an award-winning web blog that has been around for over 30 years.

Credibility of Rightscorp

Great note further that the evidence does not pertain to the veracity of Boing Boing’s statements. Instead, it’s offered to show that Warner’s own anti-piracy expert was aware of it and found it important enough to document.

“The evidence that the plaintiffs seek to exclude is highly relevant because it shows that the plaintiffs themselves acknowledged that Rightscorp was attempting to extort consumers,” Grande notes.

Rightcorp’s hacking evidence plays a crucial role in this case, but the labels have never used the company to send out their own warnings. Instead, they bought data from Rightscorp later to support their own legal campaign.

Where music industry insiders previously tried to distance themselves from Rightscorp, they are now trying to convince the jury that its copyright infringement detection technology is accurate. The Boing Boing email adds color to this argument, according to the ISP.

“It would be extremely damaging to Grande’s defense if the Court allowed the plaintiffs to make these arguments while preventing Grande from showing that the plaintiffs’ internal communications refute their litigation-driven narrative,” the ISP states.

“Plaintiffs cannot affirmatively present Rightscorp’s activities and system as legitimate while suppressing evidence that shows they know the opposite to be true. These documents show that the plaintiffs knew exactly who they were partnering with in this lawsuit. »

The trial is due to continue today. So far, the court has yet to rule on this latest dispute, but the matter could be settled behind closed doors, without any public record.

A copy of the record companies’ in limine motion is available here (pdf) and Grande’s answer can be found here (pdf)

Amanda J. Marsh