Illinois has recently been hit with 33 BitTorrent lawsuits from Strike 3 Holdings (15 cases), Malibu Media (14 cases), and Bodyguard Productions (4 cases). Although each company is separate and owns the rights to different films, all the lawsuits are similar. They allege that investigators monitor BitTorrent traffic and have recorded IP addresses as infringing on their copyright by downloading and sharing their films. Strike 3 Holdings owns the rights to Vixen, Tushy, Blacked; Malibu Media owns the rights to X-Art films; and Bodyguard Productions owns the rights to the 2017 film “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”. Bodyguard Productions differs from Strike 3 Holdings and Malibu Media in that they sue multiple IP addresses per lawsuit. So, although they filed 4 lawsuits in Illinois, they actually name 51 IP addresses.
These are known as John Doe lawsuits because they do not directly name the defendant, instead referring to an IP address and then using the court to subpoena the identities from the various internet service providers (e.g., Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, Optimum Online, etc.). Most people discover the lawsuit when they receive a notice from their ISP stating the subscriber’s identity has been subpoenaed and the subscriber must file a Motion to Quash in order to prevent the release of their information. Motions to Quash in these cases are complex because the subpoena is between the Plaintiff and the ISP, meaning the subscriber is a third party.
Once the Plaintiff has the identity of the subscriber, they amend their complaint to name the subscriber (or, perhaps an adult male in the household). Federal lawsuits are easily searched by the public and may come up in public search engine results. Many people prefer to remain anonymous and not be publicly named (whether they are liable for the infringements or not). In order to help ensure your anonymity, it’s important to retain counsel without delay.
These notices are serious. If you do not respond, your ISP is obligated to provide your identity to the Plaintiff, which allows them to serve you with a summons and complaint. Once you are served, you typically have 21 days to respond in Federal court. If you do not respond to the complaint in court, the Plaintiff can ask for a default judgement, where damages can be in the $1,000s per infringement plus attorneys fees and costs.
For more information on what these lawsuits mean for internet subscribers, please check out our FAQ section.
If you have received a notice in one of these cases, please don’t hesitate to call me immediately at 888.801.8681. If calling after-hours, please leave a message with your name, number, and case number; I do return calls after-hours.
I have years of experience defending file-sharing lawsuits and can help you achieve the best outcome possible. I have defeated several copyright plaintiffs in lawsuits around the U.S.; I also fought Malibu Media in their first trial. I’ve represented over 600 defendants in both settling and litigating file-sharing lawsuits. I’ve written a subpoena defense guide for your information, as well.
I look forward to speaking with you and helping you put this matter behind you. Please don’t hesitate to call. 888.801.8681.