Judge Orders BearTrapping.com to Reveal Subscriber IP Addresses

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge on Monday ordered the operator of gay site BearTrapping.com to reveal IP addresses of subscribers who may have had a part in the file sharing of 40 Titan Media videos.

Titan’s parent, IO Group, filed suit against BearTrapping.com operator Gary Niederhelman in September, seeking an injunction and damages totaling $6 million over the alleged pirating of Titan-branded videos.

U.S. Judge Jeffrey S. White said that after Titan receives the IP addresses provided by Niederhelman, Titan may serve on Internet service providers subpoenas to obtain subscriber information.

Niederhelman, in a letter to the court last month, contends that all of the content on BearTrapping is user-generated and unmonitored, and that he is protected from liability on infringement claims through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe-harbor provisions.

Those provisions protect service providers from liability for hosting pirated clips uploaded by users.

Niederhelman, of New Jersey, further maintains that the infringing content was immediately removed from his servers upon hearing from Titan.

But Titan attorney Gill Sperlein told XBIZ that Niederhelman didn’t take the most basic steps of ensuring such protection under the DMCA and that the gay studio and distributor will continue with the suit. “I do not think he has DMCA protection,” said Sperlein, who did not elaborate on the matter.

BearTrapping, a men’s social-networking site that includes uploaded video, has about 184,000 member accounts, but only about 2,100 of those are subscribers, said Niederhelman, who noted that the video portion of the site is not a major component of the site.

“Easily 99.9 percent of all subscribers to the website subscribe in order to read email and facilitate person-to-person communication and are completely unaware of the video content available on the site until after they have subscribed,” he said.