If you have received a notice of a lawsuit or a notice from your internet service provider (ISP) that your information will be released in a copyright lawsuit, you are understandably nervous. No one wants to find out that they may be part of a lawsuit.
What you may not know is just how prevalent and common these cases are. You also might not know that, in some cases, the plaintiffs are not the most upstanding legal professionals. In fact, sometimes that are merely “copyright trolls” who focus their attention on bringing lawsuits rather than distributing copyrighted material for a profit.
Some of these cases are truly ugly
In a case from a few years ago, a copyright-trolling law firm created their own pornographic films and uploaded them to a well-known BitTorrent site in order to get people to stream or download the material. They did this knowing that the BitTorrent site would involve people downloading the material and they did it intentionally for the sake of tempting people to acquire the material for the sole purpose of suing them for it.
What we can learn from this case
There are two primary lessons to glean from this story.
First, while this case does not illustrate what normally happens, it does illustrate the type of things that happen in cases like this. Especially in BitTorrent copyright infringement cases involving the transfer of pornography, there is an understandable fear of public humiliation involved, so people quickly settle these suits in order to keep it out of the press.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys know this, and they often exploit it to get quick settlements on what are often very weak claims they would probably not win.
Second, many of the cases never see the inside of a courtroom. The plaintiffs, in most cases, are trolling. They sometimes send out hundreds of these letters for a single lawsuit. It’s a numbers game. Enough defendants will pay a quick settlement that the plaintiffs and their lawyers will make enough money. In some cases, they have no intention of going to trial.
The point is: if you have received a letter from your IP provider or from an attorney bringing you in as a defendant to a BitTorrent copyright lawsuit, it might be a bluff. An experienced copyright lawyer can look at the facts of the case and help you determine whether you should simply pay the settlement price or fight against copyright trolling.