Condé Nast Makes Strong Case To Unmask Blogger Who Posted Leaked Content
Condé Nast has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against unknown users who allegedly hacked into the company's computer system, downloaded unpublished photos and articles, and then published them online.
In papers filed in federal district court in New York, Condé Nast alleges that a host of material -- including a big chunk of GQ's December issue -- surfaced last month on the blog FashionZag. The lawsuit alleges that the material appeared on FashionZag around two months after an unknown user obtained access to Condé Nast's computer system and copied more than 1,100 files.
Initially, FashionZag posted five alternate covers of the December GQ, according to the lawsuit. Condé Nast says it successfully sent a takedown notice to ImageBam.com, which hosted the photos, but that FashionZag then uploaded material to bayimg.com -- an image hosting site created by the founders of The Pirate Bay.
By Nov. 14, FashionZag allegedly posted almost all editorial content and photos from the December issue. "This subsequent posting, mischievously presented under the heading 'GQ December 2009: The Rest of It,' was willfully done by defendants to thumb their noses at Condé Nast and the copyright law," the complaint alleges.
Condé Nast additionally says that FashionZag posted material from the December issues of Vogue, Teen Vogue and Lucky.
The publisher is alleging copyright infringement and violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and is seeking damages and an injunction.
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge John G. Koeltl allowed Condé Nast to immediately subpoena Google and AT&T to discover the identities of the bloggers and alleged hackers. Google hosts the FashionZag blog, and the IP address of the alleged hacker resolves to AT&T, according to the legal papers.
Santa Clara University Law professor Eric Goldman says Condé Nast appears to have a solid case and to have alleged sufficient facts to unmask the FashionZag blogger and the original hacker. "It's a well-pleaded complaint," he says. "On its face, they made the case that there's a problem."