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Court forces PornHub to reveal names and viewing histories of some users

Published Apr 12th, 2017 6:04PM EDT
Pornhub viewing data
Image: Pornhub

An anti-piracy court case in California could have an embarrassing ending for some individuals, as adult video site Pornhub is being forced to hand over the name, IP address and viewing history of some users who are suspected of uploading copyrighted material.

A subpoena issued by the court orders Pornhub to give Foshan Ltd, the copyright owner of a number of adult videos, information on who uploaded the videos to Pornhub. Since Pornhub hosts content uploaded by third parties (YouTube but with more boobs), it’s protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) from damages related to copyright infringement.

However, in order for the DMCA protections to apply in this case, Pornhub has to help Foshan hunt down the users who uploaded copyright materials. In this case, Foshan wants Pornhub to hand over “Information sufficient to identify infringers of the material identified in the attatched DMCA notification and list (see Exhibit A), including but not limited to names, email addresses, IP addresses, user history, posting history, physical addresses, telelphone numbers, and any other identifying or account information.”

The subpoena gives Pornhub until May 1st to hand over any identifying information it might have on those users. Foshan can then presumably use that data to go after individual users for damages.

This kind of copyright infringement case is relatively standard, but the Pornhub application is particularly bad for the users being accused. Mostly, it’s the risk of embarrassment: copyright infringement is bad enough, but getting a letter in the mail claiming damages thanks to your love of “Barely Legal Threesomes” is the kind of thing that makes you move to a different country.