Court: Microsoft Can Subpoena Comcast Customer Info

The software giant wants the identities of alleged "pirates."

A federal judge in Washington State has approved Microsoft’s request to subpoena Comcast for the identities of its Internet customers that Microsoft says is pirating its products.

Judge Ricardo Martinez approved the request Tuesday, in a move that drew attention from across the tech world.

Microsoft filed a copyright suit in February against 10 “John Does” it says “activated and attempted to activate at least several thousand copies of Microsoft software, much of which was pirated and unlicensed.” The suit was first reported by

Many of the allegedly illicit product activations came from a single IP address assigned to Comcast.

“The only reliable way Microsoft can determine the Doe Defendants’ actual identities is by obtaining the subscriber information associated with the Infringing IP Address from the (Internet service provider) who assigned the Infringing IP Address to the Doe Defendants,” Microsoft’s lawyers wrote in a motion filed last week.

Those lawyers added: “Microsoft believes Comcast has access to the subscriber information associated with the Infringing IP Address from records kept in the regular course of its business. However, Microsoft also understands that Comcast will not provide subscriber information to a third party without the consent of the subscriber or a court order.”

Martinez granted the order Tuesday. A Comcast spokesperson did not immediately offer comment.

There is some skepticism in the tech community, though, that the order will be productive for Microsoft. The Register, a UK-based website, observes: “It would be a significant gaffe on behalf of the alleged pirates if the IP address data pointed to their real identities.”

See the order below.