A sharp rise in copyright infringement lawsuits during the past year targeting internet subscribers whose accounts are connected to illegal downloads has compelled leading copyright defense attorney Jeffrey Antonelli to issue a warning to web users whose accounts have been flagged by copyright owners. Most copyright lawsuits are filed by law firms hired by corporate entities accusing unknown defendants of stealing copyrighted movies. Anyone who pays a monthly internet bill could be targeted in these cases, prompting the team of copyright defense attorneys at Chicago law firm Antonelli Law
to offer tips to Internet users who receive a notice or summons from their Internet Service Provider about a BitTorrent copyright lawsuit.
While there are many different types of copyright infringement lawsuits that vary depending on the production company and the particular film named in the case, most cases begin the same way: with a letter sent to the internet subscriber notifying them that a copyright owner has connected their IP address with an illegal download. If the copyright owner presses forward with legal action, a settlement demand could follow. In some cases, production companies have asked respondents targeted in the cases to pay up to $10,000 to avoid having their name revealed by the court and having to endure ongoing litigation, according to Antonelli.
"In the lawsuits, a production company alleges unnamed defendants downloaded a BitTorrent file to obtain a movie online," explained Antonelli. "Because your name is linked to an IP address, law firms acting on behalf of the copyright holder can expedite the discovery of the name of the person who pays the internet bill."
There are steps internet account holders targeted in these cases can take to protect themselves, explains Antonelli. The law firm's team of seasoned BitTorrent defense litigation attorneys, which has defended more than 1,500 clients in copyright infringement cases, advises Internet users to start with prevention by making sure they know exactly who is using their Wi-Fi connection.
"Many people think that by leaving their Internet connection unsecured without a password, that they're being nice neighbors or welcoming to guests," Antonelli said. "But that generosity can be setting you up for big problems."
When someone receives a letter from their Internet provider for an illegal download, it should be taken seriously. Because every case is unique, an attorney can help discuss the risk level associated with the individual litigation. Defendants targeted in the lawsuits can choose to fight the case, settle with the production company, file a motion to quash the case, or ignore it all together. All options are associated with some level of risk, however, but Antonelli said it is likely to cost the defendant far less to settle than it is to defend the case.
"It's not an admission of guilt, but an agreement that can be made out-of-court," he said. "Other clients want to fight the case on the principle that they didn't commit the piracy."
When a subpoena is quashed or vacated, it prevents a consumer's identity from being released to the plaintiff's counsel unless or until a judge rules on the motion. While motions to quash can work in some cases as an effective legal strategy, there are some cases where the strategy is less effective.
An experienced copyright defense attorney is able to advise clients targeted as alleged infringers of the best way to handle their specific case to achieve the best possible outcome.
"An attorney becomes your intermediary so that the other side can no longer contact you," Antonelli said. "It can be a benefit to a defendant's peace of mind to have someone who understands copyright law on their side."
Click here for more information about Antonelli Law's ISP Subpoena & Copyright Defense group. To learn about the option to file a motion to quash, visit http://www.antonelli-law.com/Motions_to_Quash.php