The high cost of Torrent Piracy – WWE “Eliminator” cases seeks damages from “John Doe” Defendants across the United States
VIDEO: What is a Bittorent file sharing lawsuit? Click on the picture above to watch our popular video which explains how torrent lawsuits work. Make sure to Click on the Red “V” to SUBSCRIBE.
We have talked on many of our blogs and videos about torrent peer-to-peer file sharing and the risks of copyright infringement lawsuits. Here is another company that is seeking to go after torrent users who illegally download and share their copyrighted content. If you received a notice of a lawsuit or subpoena from your ISP, give us a call to discuss. We have helped many Bittorrent defenders from around the United States get these copyright cases settled for the lowest amount possible.
WWE is going after those who downloaded the movie illegally and also those who have made the download available to others. What this means is that even if you only allowed the file to “seed” you could be sued and forced to deal with a federal court lawsuit seeking up to $150,000.
WWE reportedly uses forensic software to identify IP address associated with the alleged illegal downloads and the complaint may contain a summary of the piracy log. Here is an example of what you might see.
Suits filed in Connecticut, Utah,Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Nevada
Here are some of the law firms you may find filing these copyright lawsuits:
Gohn Hankey & Stichel LLP 201 North Charles St., Suite 2101 Baltimore, MD 21201 Case 3:17-cv-00572-JAM
Kirton McConkie PO BOX 45120 SALT LAKE CITY, UT 84145-0120 (801)328-3600 Case 2:17-cv-00546-PMW
Culpepper IP Firm 75-5737 Kuakini Highway Suite 102 Kailua Kona, HI 96740 808-322-3389 202-204-5181 (fax) 1:17-cv-00165-RLP-NONE
HAMRICK & EVANS LLP,
7670 W. Lake Mead Blvd.
Ste. 140 Las Vegas, Nevada, 89128
Sample allegations in the federal court lawsuits
Here are some sample allegations you may see made in a John Doe lawsuit brought by , vs. DOES 1- 18, Defendants:
Plaintiff WWE Studios Finance Corp. is owner of rights in the motion picture Eliminators (“Copyrighted Motion Picture”) featured in theaters. Plaintiff brings this action in an effort to stop Defendants and others from copying and distributing to others infringing copies of the Copyrighted Motion Picture. 4. Defendants are infringing through use the BitTorrent file sharing protocol. Defendants' infringements allow them and others to unlawfully obtain and distribute copies of the Copyrighted Motion Picture that the developer and producer expended significant resources to create. Each time a Defendant unlawfully distributes an unauthorized copy of the Copyrighted Motion Picture to others over the Internet, each person who copies that motion picture can then further distribute that unlawful copy to others without any significant degradation in sound and picture quality. Thus, a Defendant's distribution of even a part of an unlawful copy of the Copyrighted Motion Picture can further the nearly instantaneous worldwide distribution of that single copy to an unlimited number of people. Further, Defendants acts of distributing the Copyrighted Motion Picture support, maintain and further a for-profit exploitation by Defendants and others of the Copyrighted Motion Picture. The Plaintiff now seeks redress for this rampant infringement of its exclusive rights.
Eliminators contains wholly original material that is copyrightable subject matter under the laws of the United States. It is easily discernible as a professional work as it was created using professional performers, directors, cinematographers, lighting technicians, set designers and editors and with professional-grade cameras, lighting and editing equipment. It has significant value and has been created, produced and lawfully distributed at considerable expense. Eliminators is currently offered for sale in commerce, played/playing in theaters and available for rental and/or purchase from Amazon, iTunes and Netflix, among others.
Upon information and belief, each Doe Defendant 1-18 (Exhibit B) copied and/or distributed or allowed to be copied and/or distributed Plaintiff's Copyright Motion Picture Eliminators using a file bearing the hash number SHA1: 53FB1F5227AF516DCDA02C0C651326D87D65C813. The true name of each Defendant is unknown to Plaintiff at this time. Each Defendant is known to Plaintiff only by the Internet Protocol (“IP”) address below used by each Defendant and which address is assigned by a local Internet Service Provider (“ISP”) to the user or subscriber:
Plaintiff also knows the date and at the time at which the infringing activity of each Defendant was observed, as explained in detail below. Through published geolocation data, the IP address used by each Defendant has been traced to the District of Utah. Based on this information Plaintiff believes that information obtained in discovery will lead to the identification of each Defendant's true name and location and permit Plaintiff to amend the Complaint to state the same. In addition, activity of each IP address of Defendants has also been observed and associated with significant infringing activity and associated with the exchange of other titles on peer-to-peer networks. The volume, titles and persistent observed activity associated with each Defendant's IP address indicates that each Defendant is not a transitory or occasional guest, but is either the primary subscriber of the IP address or someone who resides with the subscriber and/or is an authorized user of the IP address. The volume of the activity associated with each Defendant's IP address further indicates that anyone using or observing activity on the IP address would likely be aware of the conduct of Defendant. Also, the volume and titles of the activity associated with each Defendant's IP address indicates that each Defendant is not a child, but an adult, often with mature distinct tastes.
PEER-TO-PEER NETWORKS AND THE USE OF BITTORRENT PROTOCOL Defendants are each a participant in a peer-to-peer (“P2P”) network using the BitTorrent protocol. The BitTorrent protocol makes even small computers with low bandwidth capable of participating in large data exchanges across a P2P network. To begin an exchange in a traditional P2P network, the initial file-provider intentionally elects to share a file with a torrent network. This initial file is called a seed or seed file. Other users (“peers”) choose to connect to the same torrent network and connect to the seed file to download it. As additional peers request the same seed file each additional user becomes a part of the network from where a copy of the seed file can be downloaded. However, unlike a traditional P2P network, in a torrent network the seed file is broken into many pieces with each peer receiving a different piece of the seed file from users who have already downloaded that piece or all the pieces of the seed file that together comprise the whole. This piecemeal system with multiple pieces of the seed file coming from peer members is commonly referred to as a “swarm” in which the peers are cross-sharing all the pieces of the seed file until each peer has acquired all the pieces. Such file sharing networks can be properly used to share files where such file sharing is authorized. In this case the torrent sharing of the copyrighted work is not authorized. The effect of using torrent technology to share unauthorized copies of copyrighted works makes every downloading peer also an uploading peer of the illegally transferred seed file or pieces thereof of the copyrighted work.
This means that every “node” or peer user who has improperly obtained an infringing copy of the copyrighted material in a torrent network can also be a source of improper or infringing download, and thus a distributor for that infringing file. This kind of distribution mechanism of a BitTorrent network leads to a rapid, viral spreading of infringement throughout peer users. As more peers join the swarm, the availability of successful infringing downloads of the pieces of the seed file increases. Essentially, because of the nature of the swarm downloads described above, every peer is an infringer sharing copyrighted material with other infringing peers. In this case Defendants' actions are part of a common design, intention and purpose to hide behind the apparent anonymity provided by the Internet and the BitTorrent technology to unlawfully copy and distribute pieces of the Copyrighted Motion Picture in a manner that, but for the investigative and monitoring technology used by Plaintiff, would be untraceable, leaving the Plaintiff without the ability to enforce its copyright rights. By participating in the “swarm” to download Plaintiff's Copyrighted Motion Picture, the Defendants agreed with one another to use the Internet and BitTorrent technology to engage in violation of federal statute to accomplish and unlawful objective.
COMPUTER FORENSIC IDENTIFICATION OF BITTORRENT INFRINGEMENT In this case Plaintiff has identified each infringing Defendant. This is done by identifying the IP address assigned by the ISP used by each Defendant and the date and at the time at which the infringing activity of each Defendant was monitored and observed. This monitoring and observation is accomplished using forensic software to collect, identify and record the IP addresses used by seeders and peers using BitTorrent protocol to unlawfully share, copy, reproduce and distribute copyrighted works. More specifically, forensic software is used to scan P2P networks for the presence of infringing transactions with respect to a particular copyrighted audiovisual work. Whenever a digital copy of an audiovisual work is prepared by a seeder for distribution the computer system assigns a unique, coded, string of characters called a “hash checksum” (“hash ID”) to that seed file or piece(s) thereof. The hash ID is a string of letters and numbers generated by a commonly used mathematical algorithm known as US Secure Hash Algorithm 1 or “SHA-1.” The unique hash ID then accompanies a copy of the file or parts thereof whenever a copy is made or sent to another. In this way the computer system software facilitates the monitoring and identification of computers that are used to transmit a copy or a part of a copy of a digital media file identified by a particular hash ID because the computer having its own unique, certain IP address can be shown to receive or transmit files with particular hash IDs at a particular date and time. To confirm reliability of such monitoring and identification, the forensic software uses recognized Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) to establish a direct electronic connection to each Defendant's computer.
This permits the forensic software to establish and maintain a network conversation through which the forensic software and the Defendant's computer exchange packets of data with each other. The exchange of data between the forensic software and the Defendant's computer directly identifies the Defendant's computer by its unique IP address and that on a given date and at a given time Defendant's computer possess files with particular hash IDs. Additional software using geolocation functionality is then used to confirm the geographical location of the computer used in the infringement. Though an IP address alone does not reveal the name or contact information of the account holder, in this case the Doe Defendant, it does reveal the likely general location of the Defendant. IP addresses are distributed to ISPs by public, nonprofit organizations called Regional Internet Registries.
These registries assign blocks of IP addresses to ISPs by geographic region. In the United States, these blocks are assigned and tracked by the American Registry of Internet Numbers. Master tables correlating the IP addresses with local regions are maintained by these organizations in a publicly available and searchable format. An IP address' geographic location can be further narrowed by cross-referencing this information with secondary sources such as data contributed to commercial databases by ISPs. This regional data of IP addresses puts the Defendants in this judicial district. The end result of the forensic software are evidence logs of infringing transactions and the IP addresses of the users responsible for copying and distributing the audiovisual work, here Eliminators. The IP addresses, hash IDs, dates and times, ISP and geolocation contained in Exhibit B correctly reflect infringers using the IP addresses and that they were all part of a “swarm” of users that were reproducing, distributing, displaying and/or performing the copyrighted work
Internet piracy and in particular BitTorrent piracy of copyrighted work, though known as peer-to-peer file sharing, enables Defendants to not only avoid the expense of buying, renting or buying a ticket to view legitimate copies of the Copyright Motion Picture, but to also receive benefits of value. For example, P2P file sharing is often a for-profit business as many software clients, torrent sites and networks generate millions of dollars in revenue through sales and advertising. To increase the value of the advertising and sometimes subscription access sold by torrent sites, many torrent sites work to expand the pool of available titles and speed of downloads through increasing the number of member peers and thus the desirability of their clients and networks. To accomplish this, torrent sites reward participating peers who contribute by giving them faster download speeds, greater access, or other benefits.
Defendants, with knowledge of the infringing conduct, failed to reasonably secure, police and protect the use of his/her Internet service against use for improper purposes such as piracy, including the downloading and sharing of Plaintiff's Copyrighted Motion Picture by others. Defendants had the right and ability to supervise and control the activity constituting the infringement. In doing so, each Defendant has directly, indirectly and/or contributorily violated Plaintiff's exclusive rights of at least reproduction, preparation derivative works and distribution of the Copyrighted Motion Picture. Each Defendant's actions constitute infringement of Plaintiff's exclusive rights protected under 17 US.C. § 101 et seq. The Copyright Motion Picture contains a copyright notice advising the viewer that the motion picture is protected by the copyright laws. Each of the Defendants' actions with respect to copyright infringement and other acts described herein were made with full knowledge of Plaintiff's ownership of the copyrights in the motion picture. The conduct of each Defendant is causing and, unless enjoined and restrained by this Court, will continue to cause the Plaintiff great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money. The Plaintiff has no adequate remedy at law. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §§ 502 and 503, the Plaintiff is entitled to injunctive relief prohibiting each Defendant from further infringing the Plaintiff's copyright and ordering that each Defendant destroy all copies of the copyrighted motion picture made in violation of the Plaintiff's copyrights. By reason of the foregoing acts, if such remedy is elected at trial, Plaintiff is entitled to statutory damages from each Defendant pursuant to 17 USC §504, et seq. Alternatively, at Plaintiff's election, Plaintiff is entitled to its actual damages incurred as a result of each Defendants' acts of infringement plus any profits of Defendants attributable to the infringements in an amount to be proven at trial.
Sample “Relief” that may be requested in a Eliminator Lawsuit
Plaintiff prays for judgment against each Defendant as follows:
A. A finding and judgment that each Defendant has infringed Plaintiff's copyright in the motion picture Eliminators.
B. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §502, an order preliminarily and permanently enjoining each Defendant from directly or indirectly infringing Plaintiff's rights in Eliminators including without limitation by using the Internet to reproduce or copy, distribute or otherwise make available for distribution to the public Eliminators, except pursuant to a lawful license or with the express authority of Plaintiff.
C. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 503, an order that each Defendant destroy all copies of Eliminators that Defendant has downloaded onto any computer hard drive or server without Plaintiff's authorization and shall destroy all copies of Eliminators transferred onto any physical medium or device in each Defendant's possession, custody, or control.
D. An order that each Defendant file with this Court and serve on Plaintiff, within 30 days of service of notice of judgment, a report in writing under oath setting forth in detail the manner and form in which Defendants have complied with the terms of the ordered relief.
E. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504 or other applicable provision, for actual or statutory damages from each Defendant, at the election of Plaintiff, and a finding of willful infringement.
F. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505, for Plaintiff's reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.
Contact a Torrent Defense IP Law Firm
If you need help weighing your options, we can help. When it comes to hiring a Torrent Defense Law Firm, it is very important to make sure your firm has handled a good number of these cases. Our law firm can handles Copyright Infringement cases across the United States, subject to local Court rules. Click here to see our Federal Court Experience. Click here to see our Clicnt Reviews.
Call us at (877) 276-5084. We offer a free initial consultation and low (predictable) flat rate legal fees for most cases.