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Round three of Reddit versus the movie industry ends in yet another win for the social network site, because the First Amendment didn’t suddenly change overnight

Persistence is an admirable trait, or at least it is when you know the result is not only achievable but a worthwhile accomplishment. But when two film companies tried once again to force Reddit to provide IP addresses for anyone discussing piracy on the site, despite having tried twice before to no avail, you’d be forgiven for thinking they must have something special to bolster their case this time around. Sadly for them, it turns out the First Amendment isn’t just something you can bypass through persistence.

The ongoing battle of heads versus a brick wall initially began with a group of film companies taking legal action against cable firm RCN, because users on that ISP had downloaded copies of a number of their movies. The group wanted Reddit to provide fulsome details, such as IP and email addresses, of the user but were unsatisfied by how much information Reddit handed over.

That resulted in an attempt to have the social network site legally compelled to hand it all over, but it unsurprisingly amounted to nothing. As did attempt number two and, as reported by Ars Technica, a third attempt has met the same fate.

So what went wrong? Reddit’s lawyers argued that the film group’s motion to force the information to be handed over was tantamount to being a Doe subpoena, a legal summons to identify an unknown defendant in a legal case. However, the lawyers claimed that what was being demanded of Reddit was unmasking potential witnesses, not defendants, and thus the motion is subject to First Amendment scrutiny.

In short, it’s seemingly about freedom of speech and the right to anonymity.

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Given that this is what kneecapped the previous attempt to force Reddit into handing over users’ details, the film group’s legal team this time just requested IP logs, rather than specific user identities, and argued that this bypasses the whole First Amendment issue.

The court disagreed, finding little evidence in the film group’s case to suggest that the use of IP addresses alone doesn’t count as unmasking that is subject to FA scrutiny.

In addition, the US Magistrate Judge said that if Reddit posts themselves are good enough evidence for any legal action against cable companies ‘allowing’ users to commit media piracy, then there’s simply no call for the IP addresses.

The movie companies can still move to sue the relevant cable companies, of course, but it’ll have to be done with all the info that Reddit has coughed up already. Unless they’re planning round four, of course, which they probably are. In the meantime, best to keep any chitchat about pirating movies off a public social platform, yes?

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