A new breed of lawsuits—often called BitTorrent, “copyright troll,” or “John Doe” lawsuits—allege copyright infringement by uploading or downloading a movie, e-book, or software application without permission…
Through the use of BitTorrent or similar peer-to-peer file sharing applications, which enable the user to become part of a “swarm,” and then download fragments of the copyrighted material over time. Sometimes these lawsuits also allege a breach of a website’s terms & conditions or terms of service (T&C or TOS), or violation of some state or federal computer law (such as “hacking”).
Although peer-to-peer file sharing is an efficient means of distributing data, its users make themselves vulnerable to copyright infringement lawsuits because their use of the file-sharing software exposes unique identifying information such as their IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, which can be used to identify them through their internet service provider (ISP). Oftentimes the person targeted or named in a BitTorrent lawsuit is completely innocent, and has nothing to do with the alleged infringement. These innocent people are implicated only because they are the owner of a house that has a working Wi-Fi connection, which then gives roommates, houseguests, neighbors, or even strangers outside the building an opportunity to use the homeowner’s internet service to download copyrighted material. Statutory fines for willful infringement can be as high as $150,000 per act.
Settlement demand letters from the copyright troll law firms are usually intimidating; they’re intended to raise your anxiety by mentioning the potential statutory damages, and then offer you a way out by paying a settlement that represents a fraction of the amount of the maximum statutory damages. In many cases, however, the copyright trolls don’t even hold valid copyrights, or lack some other essential element of a claim for copyright infringement. That is just one reason that you should not respond to or have any direct contact with them, or with their attorneys. Once you contact them, they will know your real identity, and they will use aggressive and intimidating tactics to pressure you into paying a settlement. Although we can help you after this happens, your options and leverage are significantly diminished once the copyright trolls know who you are.
The decision to settle to avoid being named or fighting a lawsuit in court is a decision that should be made carefully, and only after consulting with a qualified BitTorrent defense attorney who can analyze your specific facts and circumstances, and advise you of the the risks. At The Privacy Firm, before we offer any advice, we will verify that the copyright troll actually holds a valid copyright registration for the material in question, and whether there are any potential deficiencies in the registration. If there are any deficiencies, the copyright troll may not be entitled to receive anything from you, or their likelihood of recovery could be a fraction of the amount they state in their threats and letters.
If you do decide to settle, we can help you get a much lower amount than what you can likely negotiate on your own, and in many cases you can remain anonymous. At The Privacy Firm we only defend BitTorrent and copyright troll lawsuits, which means that when you speak with one of our attorneys or staff, you can be 100% sure that your identity and information will be held in the strictest confidence. You can trust us because we don’t work for the copyright trolls.
Because we handle these cases routinely, we are able to provide you with first-class representation for a reasonable flat fee, which represents a substantial discount from the hourly rates charged by most law firms. Call us or email us today to find out how we can help you.
What is an ISP Subpoena?
You may receive a notice from your Internet Service Provider, or ISP (e.g., Cablevision, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox, Verizon DSL/FiOS, WOW! Cable Internet & Phone) that they received a subpoena demanding that they release your name and address. If you do nothing, your ISP will release your name and address to the plaintiff’s attorneys on the date indicated in the notice. Then the plaintiff and its attorney may sue you directly for copyright infringement or claim some breach of the website’s terms of service, or claim you hacked into their computers. To protect your rights, you need to speak to a qualified ISP subpoena defense attorney NOW. Do not assume that your ISP will act on your behalf to protect your rights—they won’t!
Do not wait until you’re personally named in a lawsuit, or the plaintiff’s attorney starts emailing you and calling your house or your place of business leaving recorded accusations that you illegally downloaded pornographic or other illicit copyrighted materials.
At The Privacy Firm we only defend ISP subpoenas, we don’t issue them, which means that when you speak with one of our attorneys or staff, you can be 100% sure that your identity and information will be held in the strictest confidence. You can trust us because we don’t work for the copyright trolls. Because we handle these cases routinely, we are able to provide you with a first-class defense for a reasonable flat fee, which represents a substantial discount from the hourly rates charged by most law firms. Call us or email us today to find out how we can help you.
Should I Settle? Should I File a Motion to Quash?
If you have received a notice from your ISP or a summons and complaint naming you in a federal court copyright infringement lawsuit involving a BitTorrent, you may be confused. It is imperative that you consult with an attorney who knows this area of law so that you can preserve your rights, and decide the best course of action for you to take based on your individual circumstances.
A settlement buys you peace of mind and, if you settle through an attorney, it also buys the ability to settle and make payment anonymously. It also ensures the plaintiff a profit. Failure to settle may put you at risk of having to appear in court, and the possibility of being liable for a large amount of money. Not settling forces the plaintiff to have to prove its case in court—something they may or may not be able to do. If the plaintiff cannot prove its case in court, you may have to pay nothing to them. NEVER IGNORE A SUMMONS & COMPLAINT! If you do, you could end up with a large default judgment entered against you.