Illegally downloading and sharing a movie on a torrent website can result in a very costly movie viewing (without the popcorn)!
Here is another blog about a movie company that has a registered copyright that they seek to enforce against a “P2P” (peer-to-peer) file sharing torrent user. In this blog, we discuss the CRIMINAL PRODUCTIONS INC. lawsuits being filed in federal court in Arizona, Washington, Colorado, New York, Maryland, Kentucky and Oregon. We can help you evaluate you options if you received a Subpoena or a Summons. We accept federal copyright lawsuits nationwide, subject to local rules.
What is a subpoena?
According to findlaw a subpoena is:
“A writ commanding a designated person upon whom it has been served to appear (as in court or before a congressional committee) under a penalty (as a charge of contempt) for failure to comply”
In , once the Plaintiff movie production company files a lawsuit, they usually file a motion for “expedited discovery” with the Court seeking to be allowed to start the discovery process and send subpoenas to your Internet Service Provider (“ISP”). These subpoenas are then sent (assuming the judge approves the motion) and to your ISP such as Charter, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and Century Link, and a notice of the subpoena is then sent to the subscriber how can (a) do nothing and risk a default (b) respond by filing a motion to quash the subpoena or seek a protective order or (c) work out a settlement with the opposing counsel.
What is a summons?
According to findlaw a summons is:
“A document in a civil suit that is issued by an authorized judicial officer (as a clerk of court) and delivered to a plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney for service on the defendant and that notifies the defendant that he or she must appear and defend (as by filing an answer) within a specified time or a default judgment will be rendered for the plaintiff.”
In essence, it is a piece of paper that says “SUMMONS” on it and informs you about a complaint that was filed naming you as a Defendant (either directly) or possibly as a “John Doe” Defendant. If you do not answer the complaint (or respond by filing a rule 12(b) motion to dismiss in federal court) a “default judgement” could be filed against you. This means, the Plaintiff would have a legal right to seek to collect the money the judge awarded. In other words, you could have your wages garnished, assets seized and the creditor can seek other ways to collect their money like putting an abstract of judgement on your real estate.
Normally, it is preferable to avoid having someone get a default judgement against you as the copyright law allows for up to $150,000 per infringed movie, music, or software title (our firm also helps companies facing software audits from vendors Like Autodesk and Microsoft / BSA).
What happens if you don't respond to the complaint?
If the copyright infringement torrent lawsuit was filed in federal court (ex. in the Northern District Court of California) the Defendant will have 21 days to file an answer, or a motion to dismiss, or get a stipulation from opposing counsel to extend the time to respond. If you do not reach out to the intellectual property lawyer for the movie company, you may find that a “default” is taken against you. These can be tough to “unwind” once judgement is entered. Some Defendants in Bittorrent download “swarm” cases like to take their chances, but it is not without potential consequence.
Sample allegations in the Criminal Productions complaint
Here are is a sample of some of the allegations made in one complaint I found on Pacer Online:
“Criminal is a major motion picture released in theatres in April 2016. The motion picture Criminal is action thriller about what happens when the memories, secrets and skills of a dead CIA operative are implanted into the mind of an unpredictable dangerous prison inmate in hopes that he will be able to complete the operative's mission.”
“The defendant has also been observed as associated with the peer-to-peer exchange of hundreds of other copyrighted titles through the BitTorrent network, including observed and confirmed acts of distribution of the title (2016). As such the defendant's conduct is clearly willful and persistent.”
“The defendant's IP addresses were at that time of observed infringement managed by Internet Service Provider (“ISP”) Comcast, who on information and belief generally assigns an IP address to a single party for extended periods of time, often for months, and provides Wi-Fi systems with notable pre-installed security and passwords”
“The use of BitTorrent requires multiple intentional acts. A user must load specific software, use the software to join the network, search for a file, and then select the file they wish to download. As each user or peer joins the network and requests a copy of a file, they form a type of social contract to not only download the file, but to be a part of the network to allow the file to be downloaded by others. Each new peer requesting the file receives pieces of the data from each peer who already has downloaded the file, and then in turn makes that content available to others.”
The complaint seeks monetary damages, statutory damages (which under the copyright laws can reach $150,000 per willful infringement of a movie title), and injunction and attorney fees. If you received a notice of copyright infringement, cease and desist letter, subpoena or summons for a lawsuit call us before you throw the letter in the trash (if that's what you plan on doing).
Contact a federal copyright torrent “swarm” law firm
We can help you evaluate you legal rights, potential defenses and options. We offer low flat rate fees for many cases, depending upon what stage of the case you are in. Call us for a no cost initial consultation at (877) 276-5084. We have helped many individuals get their cases settled, usually anonymously unless you are already named in the lawsuit.