Film companies lost another attempt to force Reddit to identify anonymous users who discussed piracy. A federal court on Saturday quashed a subpoena demanding users’ names and other identifying details, agreeing with Reddit’s argument that the film companies’ demands violate the First Amendment.
The plaintiffs are 20 producers of popular movies who are trying to prove that Internet service provider Grande is liable for its subscribers’ copyright infringement because the ISP allegedly ignores piracy on its network. Reddit isn’t directly involved in the copyright case. But the film companies filed a motion to compel Reddit to respond to a subpoena 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.
“The issue is whether that discovery is permissible despite the users’ right to speak anonymously under the First Amendment,” US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler wrote in her ruling against the film copyright holders. “The court denies the motion because the plaintiffs have not demonstrated a compelling need for the discovery that outweighs the users’ First Amendment right to anonymous speech.”