You are probably here reading this because you or someone in your household received a
letter from your ISP (Internet Service Provider) like Comcast informing
you they received a subpoena from a movie company. The subpoena relates
to a federal copyright infringement lawsuit that alleges your internet
service was used to illegally download a copyrighted movie or software
product. The subpoena is demanding the name and address of the internet
The letter will typically say:
1) A subpoena was been received to reveal your identity in relation to a copyright infringement lawsuit.
2) The ISP will turn over your name and address to the movie company ("Plaintiff") who filed the lawsuit if you do not file a motion to quash or vacate the subpoena, typically in two weeks to 30 days from when you received the letter.
3) Sometimes, the ISP will advise you to speak with a BitTorrent defense lawyer listed with the EFF Subpoena Defense such as Antonelli Law.
The Comcast letter and subpoena probably relates to a federal
copyright infringement lawsuit alleging that someone in the home
illegally downloaded a movie using file-sharing software such as
BitTorrent. It could also involve a "streaming" program like Popcorn Time that also uses BitTorrent software.
If the Court does not “quash” the subpoena then the ISP (your internet company such as Comcast) will release your name to the company who filed the copyright infringement lawsuit. Once their attorney finds out your name, you will either be sent a letter demanding money to make the lawsuit go away, or you will be sued. Perhaps both.
First, Don’t panic. As long as you do not ignore this (especially if you are served with a summons) as long as you pay attention to this and speak with a lawyer you will be most likely be fine. It may cost you some money to resolve this, but it is highly likely it will not ruin your life.
Second, talk to a lawyer who is experienced in these kinds of lawsuits.
A BitTorrent defense lawyer is experienced with computer networking,
computer forensics, and litigation. But perhaps more importantly, a
BitTorrent defense lawyer knows better than most how the BitTorrent
copyright litigation “game” is played – the plaintiff attorneys, the
plaintiff’s “experts,” weaknesses of plaintiffs’ legal and technological
claims, and other factors learned by hard work and many clients in
Third, don't delete or throw away anything. Once you have the ISP letter, if the case goes to court the movie company's lawyers will claim that anything you did since receiving the ISP letter, such as changing hard drives, reinstalling an operating system, etc etc is "spoliation of evidence" and will ask the judge for severe sanctions against you.
Antonelli Law has a great deal of experience representing people in these kinds of federal lawsuits from California to New York and many states in between. In fact, we have represented nearly 2,000 clients nationwide. We "know the ropes" of these kinds of cases.
Copyright infringement lawsuits can be tricky, involving statutory
damages and attorney fee awards if you lose. Don’t use someone like your
real estate or divorce lawyer. We accept attorney referrals, and
Antonelli Law has the experience to competently help you.
Click here to contact us for a free attorney consultation or call us at 312-201-8310.
The companies first hire law firms to file copyright infringement lawsuits in federal courts around the country. In the lawsuit’s Complaint and motions filed with the Court they allege:
1) They own the registered copyright to a protected “work” in copyright legalese (meaning usually the movie), and
2) They have the IP address(es) involved in the download/swarm, but need the court’s assistance to uncover the internet account subscriber who is associated with the IP address(es) involved in the downloading/swarm.
Note: Since the company does not yet know the identity of the person they believe is responsible for the copyright infringement activity, the lawsuit title (called “caption”) is Plaintiff against one or more unnamed Defendants usually called “Does” as in John Doe, Jane Doe, or Does 1-15.
So, the lawsuits are often filed with captions such as:
Others will file against unnamed defendants in the following ways:
Popcorn Time Users 1-10
Does 1-10 in Swarm Hash File Number
Motion for Expedited Discovery
In the next step, the company asserting the copyright, called the Plaintiff, files a motion with the court requesting special permission to issue a subpoena to the ISP that their database says services that IP address (this is the non-technical explanation). Under federal rules (Rule 45), a subpoena can normally only be issued much later in the development of a lawsuit.
Because the Plaintiff believes it cannot serve its lawsuit onto the person who pays the internet bill, called the Internet “subscriber”, until they know who that person is, the Plaintiff has to file a special motion to expedite discovery. If the Court grants the motion, the Court will usually do so but will provide a number of rules that must be followed. See this example of a Court order allowing a special subpoena to an ISP. This will result in a letter to the ISP subscriber often referred to as “the ISP letter”, which is often your first notification that you are becoming the target of a federal copyright lawsuit.
The ISP Letter – Your Notice of the Lawsuit - Don't Erase Anything!
Once the Court issues its Order allowing expedited discovery permitting the Plaintiff to issue subpoenas to the ISP (Internet Service Provider), once the ISP receives the subpoena it will then send you a letter informing you:
1) A subpoena has been received to reveal your identity in relation to a copyright infringement lawsuit.
2) If you do not file a motion to quash or vacate the subpoena, then after a certain amount of time such as two weeks or 30 days, the ISP will then turn over your name to the Plaintiff who filed the lawsuit.
3) Sometimes, the ISP will advise you to speak with an attorney such
as those listed with the EFF Subpoena Defense which Antonelli Law is.
What Do I Do After Receiving the ISP Letter?
As described above, you should consult with a BitTorrent defense lawyer experienced in BitTorrent copyright defense. Copyright infringement lawsuits are serious business because they involve potentially large statutory damage and attorney fee awards. But don’t panic. There are ways to deal effectively with the lawsuit, protect your identity in many cases, and even settle the lawsuit before you are ever served with the lawsuit. You can also discuss with your attorney how to begin planning to defend against the lawsuit.
This is especially important when dealing with a Malibu Media LLC lawsuit. Malibu Media LLC lawsuit settlement demands have exceeded $50,000 so litigation to defend against their claims of copyright infringement is justified far more often.
Once you receive the ISP letter, the Court believes you are “on notice” of the lawsuit and therefore you have a duty not to delete or get rid of anything the Court might believe would be relevant to the lawsuit. Examples of things you must NOT do are: erasing or reformatting your computer hard drive, or throwing the computer away.
Why Should I Hire Antonelli Law?
Our high level of service sets us apart. If you need to speak with an attorney about receiving an ISP notice or summons about a BitTorrent copyright lawsuit anywhere in the country, call us for a free initial consultation with an attorney at 312-201-8310 or use our contact form or email us for an immediate reply to get started.
We appreciate the confidence other attorneys have shown referring their clients to our firm for this niche area. We are available to attorneys around the country for co-counsel assistance.
ISPs That Receive Subpoenas to Reveal Subscribers’ Identities
ISPs that receive subpoenas to reveal the identities of Internet subscribers based on their IP address include:
…. and more.
“Copyright trolls” are law firms or individual lawyers who adopted a lucrative scheme to profit from copyright infringement allegations through what many call extortion. Copyright trolls represent holders of copyrights on movies (mostly pornography), software, and electronic books. We have represented many people targeted by these firms and know what you are going through.
To get an overview of this type of litigation and what you might expect to experience, click here for Jeffrey Antonelli’s article Torrent Wars: Copyright trolls, legitimate IP rights, and the need for new rules vetting evidence and to amend the Copyright Act published by the Illinois State Bar Association’s Intellectual Property section, October 2013.
The article “John Doe Copyright Suits’ No.1 Target” quoting Jeffrey Antonelli is also helpful to understand the rise of BitTorrent “John Doe” copyright lawsuits, including by Malibu Media LLC.
Recent Press on Antonelli Law
Click here for an NPR/WBEZ interview with attorney Jeffrey Antonelli.
“Often times people tell us, look, I can’t deal with this. This will put my job at risk. Or my reputation in the community–to have me named in a copyright lawsuit involving pornography could be devastating. So, I want to settle.”
Our Legal Services
We offer a reasonable Flat Fee for motions to quash, helping you settle and remain anonymous in many cases; and reasonable fees for defending you if you are named as a defendant in a copyright infringement lawsuit. Selected severe financial hardship cases are handled on a reduced or pro bono basis. Attorney Antonelli has more than 16 years of litigation experience in a broad range of commercial litigation as plaintiff and defendant, and every attorney at Antonelli Law is admitted to federal court.
In addition to being highly experienced in BitTorrent defense litigation and complex litigation in general, the attorneys of Antonelli Law are remarkable human beings with compassion, honesty, and integrity in their very fabric and give exemplary attention to our clients. We hope these qualities are as helpful to you in your case as our legal expertise. At the time your BitTorrent matter is resolved, we hope you will confidently feel we did the best possible job for you. Many client return to us for other legal issues in the future, and a number of left positive reviews on Yelp, Avvo, and blogs focused on this area of law.
We have years of solid litigation experience representing consumers and businesses and concentrates in representing people accused of BitTorrent copyright infringement. Our last complex trial involved computer firewalls, sophisticated commercial networks, and a Microsoft certified expert. in short, Antonelli Law provides serious legal advice for your copyright troll defense.
Attorney Jeffrey Antonelli is admitted to the federal trial bar of the Northern District of Illinois, the Central District of Illinois, and all the federal courts of Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. We have co-counsel for federal copyright infringement cases in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia. When a case calls from other states than these we proceed with pro hac vice admission as we have numerous times.
Hiring Antonelli Law Is No More Expensive than Hiring a Local Attorney in Your State
Hiring Antonelli Law to represent you in your federal case is not more expensive, or more difficult, compared to hiring a local attorney assuming you could find one experienced in BitTorrent copyright infringement defense. Federal court practice allows us to represent clients in any federal court in the country.
Why isn’t it more expensive? Federal courts require attorneys to file their papers electronically and often conduct hearings by telephone. This makes frequent trips to the courthouse unnecessary. Clients normally pay only for the normal travel time to the courthouse any local attorney would charge.
Finally, we have local counsel in a number of states who have earned our trust and can appear in court if necessary on an expedited basis. We will make arrangements to be in court personally when necessary such as non-routine hearings or a trial.