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Reddit hits back at Atlantic’s bid to identify Twenty One Pilots leaker’s IP address

By | Published on Tuesday 16 August 2016

Twenty One Pilots

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Reddit is pushing back against Warner Music’s Atlantic Records, which is trying to identify the IP address of the user who recently posted a pre-release link to a single by Twenty One Pilots on the discussion site. Reddit reckons that Atlantic has not presented a strong enough case to be given access to information about the leaker.

As previously reported, Atlantic recently revealed that it was forced to rush release Twenty One Pilots track ‘Heathens’ because of the leak, which screwed up a marketing plan that included carefully timed exposure on various streaming platforms. All of which meant the track didn’t perform as well as expected, reckons the major.

The record company is trying to identify who posted the link to the track on Reddit. This is seemingly in no small part because the music firm reckons that an employee must have been involved somewhere along the line. And while the legal case against a random individual posting a link to a pre-release track which they may not themselves have uploaded is complicated, if an employee was behind the link, that’s a much more straightforward case of breach of contract, ie of the terms of the employee’s employment contract.

However, in a legal response published by Ars Technica, Reddit has dubbed Atlantic’s legal efforts to secure the IP address of the leaker as “an impermissible fishing expedition” on the basis the music firm “has failed to show that its claims are meritorious”.

Reddit argues that the record company has failed to establish that it actually has a contractual relationship with the leaker. Though the label might counter that doing so is tricky while the Reddit user who leaked the track remains anonymous.

As well as that, Reddit has other arguments too. First, that it is unclear what action, if any, Atlantic would take if it turned out the leaker was not an employee. Secondly, no request for information has been made from the storage site where the leaked track was actually stored, though it’s possible the upload was approved, just not the publishing of the link to where the recording was available.

Either way, Reddit reckons that “a petition for pre-action discovery should be granted only if a petitioner demonstrates that he has a meritorious cause of action and the information sought is material and necessary to an existing and actionable wrong”, before adding “mere conclusory statements of suspicion and conjecture are insufficient”.

It’s now for a judge to decide whether to force Reddit to share the information about the leaker that Atlantic has requested.