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Reddit says it won’t give Atlantic Records the IP address of a Reddit user who posted a link on the site of a single by Twenty One Pilots a week before the song’s planned release.
The song, “Heathens,” was originally uploaded on June 15 to the file-sharing site Dropfile.
That same day, the file landed on Reddit.
According to a lawsuit (PDF) in New York State Supreme Court, the file was posted to the Twenty One Pilots subreddit with the title “[Leak] New Song – ‘Heathens’ at the URL https://www.reddit.com/r/twentyonepilots/comments/4oa475/leak_new_song_heathens/.” The Poster submitted the link under the username “twentyoneheathens,” according to Atlantic.
Atlantic and its subsidiary label, Fueled by Ramen, want the IP address of the Reddit leaker.
The company said the file fell victim to “widespread distribution” on the Internet, so the company released the single June 16, a week ahead of schedule; the label also said the early release hindered a planned rollout on Spotify, iTunes, and other platforms.
Atlantic says the leaker must be an Atlantic employee who was contractually obligated not to leak the track, which is featured in the movie Suicide Squad that debuted earlier this month.
Reddit, however, said (PDF) that Atlantic “has failed to show that its claims are meritorious.” Reddit claims Atlantic has embarked on “an impermissible fishing expedition,” saying:
Atlantic claims that, once the Court orders discovery regarding the Reddit user’s identity, Atlantic will pursue claims for breach of contract and for breach of fiduciary duty against the user. Of course, in order to obtain pre-action discovery, Atlantic must demonstrate now that it has meritorious claims against the Reddit user. However, Atlantic has failed to show that its claims are meritorious for two, simple reasons.
First, it has failed to establish that it has a contractual relationship with the Reddit user.
Second, it has failed to establish that it has a fiduciary relationship with the Reddit user.
Because Atlantic has not demonstrated that it has meritorious causes of action against the unidentified Reddit user, its petition for pre-action discovery related to such user should be denied.
Reddit also told Manhattan Justice Joan Kenney that “Atlantic does not describe the claims it would bring against a non-employee Reddit user who discovered the link on Dropfile.to and posted it to reddit.com without assistance from an Atlantic employee or an employee of Fueled by Ramen, the members of Twenty One Pilots, or their manager, each of whom had access to the song at the time of the leak.”
What’s more, Reddit suggests that Atlantic is targeting the wrong website. “Notably, Atlantic has failed to describe its efforts, if any, to obtain such information from Dropfile.to, the website to which the song was uploaded,” Reddit’s brief said.
It also said 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.”
Reddit said that “mere conclusory statements of suspicion and conjecture are insufficient” for a court to issue such an order so that Atlantic can ascertain whether “to sue or ought not to sue.”
“Because Atlantic seeks to use pre-action discovery as an impermissible fishing expedition to determine if it has a plausible claim for breach of contract or breach of fiduciary duty against the Reddit user and not as a means to match an existing, meritorious claim to an individual, its petition for pre-action discovery should be denied,” Reddit said.
A decision by Kenney is pending.