Monday, July 30, 2012

Copyright Infringement: Downloading, Part 2

Back in March, I talked a little about downloading copyright cases.  We can help you if you receive correspondence from someone accusing you of copyright infringement via downloading of material. 

Here is the big picture on how we can help out.   First, I should make clear my thoughts on how best to handle these cases is evolving.  For some clients, the best option will certainly be to try to settle the case by paying a negotiated amount to the copyright holder.  We can usually save clients some money by helping with the negotiations, and are glad to help.  

Settling works, but we are increasingly interested in handling these matters in other ways.  The way the legal system is supposed to work for copyright infringement is as follows:

1:   A infringes B's copyright.  
2:  B sues A in a proper lawsuit in a proper jurisdiction. 
3:  B then has the burden of proving that A infringed his copyright.  

These downloading copyright cases are different.  In my opinion, these cases are a sort of an extortion where the copyright owners file cheap cases in which big groups of defendants are improperly joined together in a single lawsuit in the wrong jurisdiction.  Then the accusers pretend that an IP address  is the same thing as a person, and that proof of downloading at an IP address is proof that the owner of the IP address is the infringer.  Add in the common fact that any times the copyright owners are known to be the ones who plant their works on bit torrent sites as bait.   And never mind that the copyright owners don't really want to prove anything, as they instead offer a settlement fee that is low enough to discourage fighting.

So the whole thing is somewhat offensive to my understanding of how these things should be.  So I generally recommend a strategy other than settling. Here's what I like to do.  After being retained,   I will figure out the current state of your case, and get some information from you on your situation with regard to the infringement - stuff like is your ip router open to others, are you the only user, etc.  Then I'll figure out how to best respond in a way that might make you an unattractive defendant for what i have come to believe is a misuse of the system.  The whole thing is based on what is best for you, with a goal of not paying the settlement unless it is warranted. 

As always, drop me a note at if you have any questions.

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