New Jersey has received 14 new BitTorrent-based copyright infringement lawsuits from Strike 3 Holdings and Malibu Media. Strike 3 Holdings filed 8 nearly identical cases on February 21 and Malibu Media filed 6 on February 14 – Valentine’s Day. Strike 3 Holdings owns the rights to Vixen, Tushy, and Blacked, while Malibu Media owns the right to X-Art. Although different companies, they both file very similar lawsuits and follow a similar strategy to turn BitTorrent downloading into a revenue stream.
They both begin with hiring an investigator that monitors BitTorrent traffic, including downloading the Plaintiffs’ films. The IP addresses are then geolocated to determine what state the IP address likely originates from and the Plaintiffs file a John Doe lawsuit against the IP address subscriber. The Plaintiffs claim that in order to properly serve the defendant, they must identify the John Doe and ask the courts for a subpoena for the identity from the internet service provider (e.g., Charter, Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner, etc.).
This is when most subscribers find out about the lawsuit. ISPs are required by the Cable Privacy Act to inform subscribers that their personally identifying information has been subpoenaed and give the subscribers a chance to file a Motion to Quash to prevent their identity from being released. Motions to Quash are complex in these cases as the subpoena is between the Plaintiff and the ISP, making the subscriber a third party.
Many defendants wish to defend anonymously because federal civil lawsuits are generally public record and easily searchable. For those who wish to minimize the suit’s effect on their private and professional lives, it is vital they retain counsel without delay.