Program Details

The Rise of Mass Copyright Litigation

Content Partner:  Boston Bar Association
Price: $55.00*
Member Price:  $45.00
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Certainly, copyright infringement is a legitimate basis for suit, and if many people engage in copyright infringement, many people may be sued. But the general safeguards developed by federal courts to ensure that defendants get a fair chance to present their defenses always apply. 

The past year has seen the emergence of a new litigation strategy in federal district courts: mass copyright cases joining together hundreds and often thousands of Doe defendants at once. These cases involve significant and substantive ex parte activity before the individual defendants are even aware of the litigation, much less in a position to respond.

The cases generally follow the same path. A complaint is filed against unnamed “John Does” involving a single claim of copyright infringement over copyrighted work(s). The cases are brought in the jurisdiction where the plaintiff’s attorney is located. The copyrighted works are independent or pornographic films. One title, for instance, is Nude Nuns with Big Guns; others have titles even less safe for work. Immediately after filing, the plaintiff moves for leave to issue subpoenas to the ISPs of the defendants in order to obtain their identifying information.

Once leave is granted and the information obtained, plaintiffs’ attorneys send demand letters to the now-identified individuals sued, giving them a choice: They can attempt to defend a suit in a far away court, risking liability up to $150,000 in copyright statutory damages plus attorney fees and costs. Or, they can pay a settlement in the $2,900-$5,000 range. Because the settlement amount is less than the cost to defend, and the downside risk of litigation is so great under copyright’s damages scheme, the pressure to settle rather than raise legitimate defenses is high. Thus, a court’s decision granting leave to issue discovery often gives the plaintiffs in these cases the only remedy they really want: the ability to demand settlements from the Doe defendants.

We’ll discuss the major players and what they’re doing right—and wrong.

Practice Areas: Entertainment & the Arts, Licensing & Intellectual Property Rights, Sports Law
Online Media Type: Video
Production Date: 01/26/2012 12:30 PM EST
Level: Intermediate
Category: Standard
Duration: 1 Hours, 0 Minutes
Online Format: Live

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Total Credits: 1
Specialty Credits: 
Status: Reciprocal Credit Available
Expiration: N/A
Training Type: Online

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Jason E. Sweet - Booth Sweet LLP
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