There have been thousands of copyright infringement cases related to peer-to-peer networks. The consequences of being involved in a copyright lawsuit can be, but do not need to be severe. We provide the opportunity to settle and avoid expensive litigation, often at a fraction of the minimum statutory damages with prompt action. If you are responsible for infringing activity and receive a notice you are advised to seek independent legal advice.
As noted by Chief Judge Mosman:
Notwithstanding contrary information available through the Internet, if a subscriber or defendant ignores a Court Order, a subpoena seeking the subscriber's deposition, or a Summons and Complaint, then plaintiff may ask the Court for relief, including an award of attorney fees, and possibly the entry of a default judgment for money damages.
Accordingly, it is important that subscribers and defendants seek proper legal advice concerning their rights and obligations.
- Standing Order 2016-7 (Available at: https://www.ord.uscourts.gov/index.php/court-info/standing-orders)
Resolving maters promptly before a lawsuit is always preferred. Often even if litigation needs to be filed, matters can be resolved for minimum damages ($750), costs and fees. But as litigation continues costs and fees escalate, sometimes to thousands of dollars. If the infringing activity continues, the damages can be in the thousands of dollars.
One thing that is important is not to ignore the problem. (See Killer Joe v. Doe, 6:15-cv-00494 : Contempt order and sanctions against subscriber for ignoring proceedings.)
But most important, stop the piracy
Some exemplar cases:
There have been a number of copyright infringement cases related to peer-to-peer networks:
Damages award: $222,000 for 24 songs
Damages award: $675,000 for 30 songs
Damages award: $128,350.50 for various adult movies and deliberately destroying evidence by reformatting hard drive containing evidence of infringement.
The consequences of being involved in a copyright lawsuit may be severe. We provide the opportunity to settle and avoid expensive litigation, often at a fraction of the minimum statutory damages. If you are responsible for infringing activity and receive a notice you are advised to seek independent legal advice.
Bona Fide Claim of Copyright Holders
When caught between the conflicting privacy rights of internet users and intellectual property rights of copyright holders, in the context of illegal downloading and sharing of music, which rights should prevail?
Online copyright piracy is widespread and copyright holders are having a hard time pursuing the infringers because of their anonymity on the internet. The only real remedy available to copyright holders is to seek the Court's assistance for the issuance of a Norwich Order, a pre-action discovery mechanism to compel a third party, such as online service providers, to provide the subscribers names behind the internet addresses that have infringed the intellectual property rights of copyrights holders.
In the recent case of Voltage v. Does, 2014 FC 161, the Court held that copyright holders only need to prove that they have bona fide claim to be entitled with the Norwich Order. It added that to establish a bona fide claim, copyright holders need only to show that they have no other improper purpose for seeking the identity of the infringers and that there is a genuine intention to bring an action for copyright infringement. If a higher prima facie standard would be required of them to be granted with the Norwich Order, this will effectively strip them of a remedy.
As the Court rightly puts it, intellectual property laws came about to protect the promulgation of ideas. In particular, copyright laws provide incentives for innovators such as artists, musicians, inventors, writers, performers and marketers to create new ideas. With the protection that copyright laws offer, ideas are expressed and developed rather than remaining dormant.
Copyright is a valuable asset which should not be easily defeated by infringers. Online copyright infringement robs copyright holders of the fruits of their efforts, and diminishes their incentive to express their ideas. The Court noticed that internet technology must not be allowed to obliterate the personal property rights of copyright holders which are deemed important by society. Although privacy concerns must be considered, the Court said that the same must yield to the public concerns for the protection of intellectual property rights in cases where infringement threatens to erode these valued rights.
The Court opined that privacy considerations should not be used as a shield for wrongdoing and must yield to an injured party's request for information from non-parties. Citing Yiu, the protection of intellectual property is ipso facto assumed to be worthy of legal protection where a valid cause of action is established.
In the instant case, the Court rules that the enforcement of Voltage's rights as a copyright holder outweighs the privacy interest of the affected internet users. However, it must also be ensured that privacy rights are invaded in the most minimal way possible.
Voltage Pictures Chase Infringers in Canada for Hurt Locker Copyright Infringement
On August 29, 2011, Voltage Pictures LLC requested for a court order from the Federal Court of Montreal, Quebec in Canada to know the identity of the infringers who illegally acquired copies of the movie "Hurt Locker" through the internet.
The plaintiff requested for such an order to allow them to conduct a "written examination for discovery" from 3 internet service providers (ISPs): Bell Canada, Cogeco Cable Inc., and Videotron GP, whose customers have been downloading the aforementioned film illegally and sharing it to peers.
The court order would permit Voltage Pictures the acquisition of important infringers' data from the 3 ISPs, particularly the names and addresses of those customer accounts associated with the IP addresses caught infringing their copyrighted material at specified dates and times.
Because the defendants downloaded, copied, and distributed the film "Hurt Locker" without the authorization of the plaintiff (who also serves as the owner of the film's copyright), Voltage Pictures requested the Canadian ISPs to disclose their customer information so they can make use of the collected data to send formal notices and bring action against the alleged copyright infringers.
The Federal Court of Appeal confirmed the order because as per BMG Canada Inc. v. John Doe, 2005 FCA 193,  4 F.C.R. 81:  ... in cases where plaintiffs show that they have a bona fide claim that unknown persons are infringing their copyright, they have a right to have the identity revealed for the purpose of bringing action....
Voltage Pictures was also able to meet the criteria of Rule 238 of the Federal Courts Rules (BMG, above, at paras. 33 and 34), which "allows for the holding of an examination for discovery of a third party where the third party has relevant information on an issue in the action." Paragraph 238(3)(c) of the Federal Courts Rules, on the other hand, states that "defendants should not have the possibility of hiding behind the anonymity of the internet and continuing to infringe the copyright of Voltage Pictures LLC."
Since the Federal Court of Montreal found the plaintiff's claim factual, they granted the motion without costs. However, Voltage Pictures also agreed to "reimburse any reasonable expenses incurred by the internet service providers in collecting the information" that they need. The court judgment signed by Judge Michel M.J. Shore stated that within 2 weeks, the specified ISPs should be able to provide the names and addresses of related customer accounts through a Microsoft Excel file and "encrypted on a compact disk or any other electronic medium."