The new year has brought new BitTorrent-based copyright lawsuits by Malibu Media and Strike 3 Holdings. Pennsylvania has been flooded with more than 20 new cases with Malibu Media filing 7 new cases on January 8 and Strike 3 Holdings filed 14 more on January 22 and 23. These two notorious copyright Plaintiffs are different companies (Malibu Media owns the X-Art brand and Strike 3 Holdings owns Tushy, Vixen, Blacked, and Blacked Raw) but operate very similarly. Both allege an overseas investigator recorded an IP address downloading and sharing the Plaintiff’s copyrighted adult films.
Once an IP address has been observed downloading multiple films, the Plaintiff files a lawsuit against the alleged infringer as a “John Doe”. They then subpoena the internet service provider (e.g., Comcast, Verizon, Optimum Online, Time Warner, etc.) and compel them to identify the subscriber the IP address was assigned to. The Plaintiff typically names the subscriber as the Defendant and then serves them with a summons and complaint.
Often, a subscriber first learns the lawsuit when they receive a letter from their ISP notifying them of the subpoena and the possibility to file a Motion to Quash – a request to the courts to stop (or “quash”) the subpoena. Motions to Quash are complex in these cases as the subpoena is between the Plaintiff and the ISP, meaning the subscriber is a third party. If a subscriber wishes to remain anonymous, it is important to secure representation as soon as possible.