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WOW hits back in movie producer led repeat infringer case

By | Published on Monday 27 September 2021


US internet service provider WOW has filed a motion to dismiss a copyright lawsuit that was recently launched against it by a consortium of independent film producers.

The movie companies – many linked to Millennium Media – have recently been following the music industry’s lead in trying to hold American ISPs liable for their users’ copyright infringement.

That’s based on the argument that the net firms haven’t done enough to deal with repeat infringers among their respective user bases. Internet companies need to have and enforce repeat infringer policies in order to benefit from the safe harbour protection that is available under US copyright law, which allows them to avoid liability for any infringement that occurs on their networks or servers.

After BMG and then the majors successfully held Cox Communcations liable for its customers’ infringement, a number of lawsuits against other ISPs followed, initially filed by the majors, and more recently from Millennium Media and its fellow film-makers.

The film firms’ lawsuit against WOW followed the format of the earlier label-led litigation, although it also included evidence from a BitTorrent service which it said proved the ISP’s customers had infringed the plaintiffs’ copyrights. It also demanded that WOW instigate a three strikes system for dealing with infringers and block some websites, as well as paying the movie producers damages.

Responding, WOW presents many of the same arguments put forward by other ISPs targeted with lawsuits of this kind. However, it also makes some big allegations against the anti-piracy agency the film producers are working with, called Maverickeye, while bigging up its own anti-piracy credentials.

Basically the ISP dubs the plaintiffs and Maverickeye as “copyright trolls”, accusing them of sending out a stack of stern legal letters to suspected file-sharers with the aim of getting a quick payment from the recipients rather than actually pursuing any infringement cases through the courts.

According to Torrentfreak, WOW states: “Plaintiffs and Maverickeye are part of a well-known web of copyright trolls. Until now, plaintiffs’ modus operandi has been to file John Doe lawsuits in the hope of securing quick settlements and to dismiss them at the slightest resistance”.

“Additionally”, it adds, “courts and litigants in these cases have persuasively accused Maverickeye of serious wrongdoing, such as submitting fraudulent ‘expert’ declarations from fictitious persons, violating state law by engaging in unlicensed surveillance, and even conspiring with copyright owners to offer copyrighted content over BitTorrent and then sue anyone who tries to download it”.

As for its own record in tackling piracy among its userbase, the ISP goes on: “WOW has a robust programme under which it notifies account holders of infringement allegations, suspends their internet access if the allegations continue, and then permanently terminates the account upon receipt of additional complaints”.

We now await a response from Millennium, Maverickeye et al.