For several years, Strike 3 Holdings was one of the most prolific filers of Federal copyright infringement claims, especially against “John Doe” Defendants, identified only by an IP address. They would then file a motion for early discovery to serve a subpoena on an internet service provider, such as Comcast, to get the identity of the Defendant who they claim downloaded their films (marketed under the brands Vixen, Tushy, and Blacked) through bittorrent networks. However, each Federal lawsuit filed cost them hundreds of dollars and not all subpoenas led to a Defendant they could move forward with a lawsuit against (e.g., a coffee shop). A growing number of Federal judges were scrutinizing these subpoenas and Strike 3 was being forced out of more and more courts.
It now appears that Strike 3 Holdings is cutting costs and avoiding Federal oversight by applying for dozens and dozens of subpoenas at once in Miami-Dade county court in Florida through a little-known type of complaint known as a Bill of Pure Discovery. Despite the fact that Florida county court doesn’t have jurisdiction over copyright claims or most of the subscribers identified, Strike 3 has been able to get approval for hundreds of subpoenas for internet subscriber identities. For example, on June 3, Strike 3 filed for 94 identities from across the country, including subscribers in California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Once Strike 3 Holdings has the identity of a subscriber, they demand a settlement carefully calculated to be just below the amount of an effective defense. If a settlement isn’t offered promptly, they file a Federal lawsuit against the subscriber. Strike 3 also waits until each IP address is accused of dozens of infringements. Each infringement is worth, at minimum, $750 in statutory damages, meaning many of these cases could result in tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars if the Defendant lost in court. For example, the complaint from June 3 alleged 28 – 249 infringements per IP address. This means at minimum, each Defendant could be liable for between $21,000 – $186,750 in statutory damages. These lawsuits are serious and Strike 3 is notoriously aggressive.
Many defendants have fought Strike 3 subpoenas by filing Motions to Quash (a request to cancel the subpoena) and are successful at first, as Strike 3 will drop the Defendant from that case. However, this may not be the end. Strike 3 Holdings can become more aggressive after seeing resistance and seem to be willing to file Federal lawsuits in the correct jurisdiction in order to get an identity and sue.
Sometimes, filing a Motion to Quash is still advantageous. I’ve defended hundreds of cases against Strike 3 Holdings across the country, both in negotiating settlements and litigating in court. If you’ve received a notice from Comcast Communications and you’re considering a Motion to Quash, settling, or fighting in court, please call us at 888.801.8681 or email. Please have your case number and IP address ready. We’re happy to explain your options for defense and recommend the best way forward.