TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Movie Studios to Sue Internet File Traders

Re: Movie Studios to Sue Internet File Traders

Lee Hollaar (
Fri, 19 Nov 2004 23:30:14 UTC

In article <> (charsand) writes:

> I heard somewhere that those caught could receive not only fines, but
> jail time-is this true?

Not from an RIAA or MPAA suit. All they can get is an injunction
against future file sharing and civil damages. But statutory damages
of up to $150,000 per movie or song can be awarded without proof of
actual damages. Plus court costs and attorney fees.

But there is also criminal copyright infringement, a felony about
certain levels which most large "file sharers" exceed. Like all
federal criminal prosecutions, it must be brought by the
U.S. Attorney, not the copyright owner.

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: It would not suprise me at all. Nor
> does it surprise me that they just toss out lawsuits all over the
> place without even having the *name* or *any identity* of the persons
> they intend to sue. I can see where 'John Doe' might be a valid way
> to sue someone you had caught when you could not otherwise get his
> name, but lawsuits at random against John Does 1 through 9999 (fill
> in the names, addresses and particulars when you find the person)
> seems to me to be a gross abuse of the legal system. But they seem to
> be setting out the lawsuits, then finding the person later on and
> already having the suit set up. Not a good faith thing, IMO. PAT]

As much as one might hate the RIAA or MPAA, it's not reasonable to
blame them for filing "John Doe" suits or not contacting the people
before filing suit.

Originally, under the DMCA a copyright owner that only knew the IP
address of an alleged infringer could get their name and address from
their ISP using a special subpoena. Verizon resisted those subpeonas
and convinced the DC Circuit Court of Appeals that they were not
authorized against file-sharers because a misdrafting of the DMCA.

See RIAA v. Verizon, 351 F.3d 1229, 69 USPQ2d 1075 (CA DC 2003).

That means that in order to get a user's name from an ISP, a "John
Doe" suit must be filed first, and then the name is subpoenaed from
the ISP. More expense, same result. Hard to see how ISP customers
were helped, since in the end the loser has to pay these added costs.

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