If you have been reading this website or blog post content, or if you have done any research about BitTorrent copyright infringement litigation, you have almost certainly come across Strike 3 Holdings. This company is one of the most prevalent copyright trolls.
Although many parties simply comply with the company’s demands for settlement in order to avoid reputational and financial damage, one defendant recently pushed back with a contempt of court claim.
BitTorrent copyright litigation involves lawsuits against people for downloading illegal material through BitTorrent file-sharing sites. A copyright troll is a company that buys up copyrights to numerous films, songs and other material that can be shared online. Then they bring lawsuits against people for illegally downloading their copyrighted material. Many of these lawsuits are frivolous or unfounded, but they pressure people into settling with them. People are afraid of the damage that can result from a lawsuit like this – it could ruin their reputations and possibly ruin them financially – so defendants often settle quickly to make it go away.
The recent case
As reported by TorrentFreak online, a Maryland man was pressured by the process server to engage in settlement negotiations. The server showed up at the defendant’s door, handed him the papers naming him as a defendant in a lawsuit and announced, in front of the man’s wife and kids, that he was being sued for illegally downloading and viewing copyrighted pornographic films. Then the process server told the defendant to call the plaintiff attorney named on the papers to begin discussing settlement terms.
In Maryland, where this case took place, the courts have laid down clear guidelines for serving process in these cases. In those guidelines, it is clearly forbidden for anyone associated with the plaintiff to initiate settlement negotiations without prior court approval.
Contempt of court
Because the defendant is convinced that he is innocent of the claims made against him, and because of the harassment he received, he is filing a counterclaim for contempt of court against Strike 3 Holdings.
The case is still in process, so there is no way to know how it will play out, but this is a clear counterattack against the ongoing harassment and unethical litigation practices of copyright trolls everywhere.
Different rules in different jurisdictions
The claim discussed here is from Maryland, where there are clear court limitations on plaintiff procedures in these cases. However, not every state has the same rules on the books. In fact, each state is unique and has its own sets of rules. It is important to talk with a lawyer right away if you have been served with notice that you are being sued for copyright infringement.