Miami Judge: BitTorrent Download Are ‘Protected Anonymous Speech’

Posted on Mar 22 2012 - 4:17am by Editorial Staff

A Miami judge Marc Schumacher has issued a landmark order on a case that includes over 600 BitTorrent downloaders, according to TorrentFreak.  The main argument of the judge is that the “fishing expeditions” violate BitTorrent users’ right to anonymous speech, which is said to be protected by the constitution. Thanks to a loophole in Florida that allows copyright holders to subpoena internet providers with almost little or no evidence.

“[These suits are].. used to extort settlements from defendants who are neither subject to the courts’ personal jurisdiction nor guilty of copyright infringement, but who are fearful of the consequences of being publicly named as a defendant in a suit that seeks disclosure of the contents of their personal computers.”

“The Supreme Court often has recognized that the First Amendment protects anonymous speech. Other federal courts have held that Internet users sharing copyrighted works via the BitTorrent application are themselves engaged in anonymous speech that warrants First Amendment protection,” the judge writes in his order.

TorrentFreak later confirmed that the order in question has been vacated and signed by Judge Schumacher by mistake, assuming all parties agreed on it.

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