Pornhub.com, one of the world’s most popular websites, has been asked to disclose the names, IP addresses, email addresses, user history, physical and postal addresses, telephone numbers and “any other identifying… information” of some of its users who have uploaded video content without the permission of the copyright holder.

A subpoena was issued in California by film studio Wankz.com, owned by Seychelles based Foshan Limited, which claims that over 1,000 of its videos have been uploaded to the pornography site without its consent. Pornhub.com must either comply with the disclosure, or file an appeal, by 1 May 2017.

Pornhub.com relies heavily on user uploaded content and states it maintains the “safe harbour” principle under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the United States. This ensures that, upon becoming aware that it hosts content protected by copyright without the owner’s permission, so long as it removes such material, it shall be exempt from copyright infringement liability.

The site also abides by a DMCA takedown policy which allows content owners to remove their material without the consent of any other party. In this way the content is removed without having to identify those who uploaded it.

What is unclear as of yet is what Wankz.com will do with the information sought. It may be trying to identify which of its premium users are uploading the content to Pornhub.com without permission, which breaches both the studio’s copyright and the terms of service contract with users.

Wankz.com could also use the information to make a demand for payment against those who uploaded the content, forcing users to pay a settlement fee for the non-disclosure of their personal details. Theoretically the names and addresses of those in breach could be revealed alongside the titles of the films uploaded, but this has been deemed as extortion by those looking to diminish the power of “copyright trolling”.

Ultimately this is a cheap and easy way to expose infringers and the potential for embarrassment may help deter further uploading. It may provide a more permanent solution to the whack-a-mole dynamic of the DMCA takedowns which merely remove content and fail to expose infringers.