Would you like to be identified by name in a federal court case that alleges you illegally downloaded, watched and shared pornography? Probably not.
Would it affect your job, your career, your reputation? Probably so.
Suing Marylanders by the hundreds, Malibu Media is using strong-arm litigation tactics to intimidate unsuspecting Marylanders to pay money to settle alleged copyright violations they may not have even committed. Malibu Media, LLC, is a California company that produces and/or owns the copyright to adult “soft-porn” movies and video content. Much of this content is available for viewing on the Internet.
Hundreds of Marylanders have received or will receive a letter from their Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as Comcast or Verizon, telling them that they’re being sued for copyright infringement by Malibu Media. Attached to the letter you receive from your ISP is a subpoena that requires the ISP to give Malibu Media your name, address and account information unless you “move to quash” the subpoena by a certain date. Also attached is a Complaint suing the “John Doe” account holder of a certain IP address. That “John Doe” IP address is linked to your Internet account with your ISP. The Complaint alleges that the “John Doe” has downloaded Malibu Media-owned porn films and seeks hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. Once the ISP turns over the account information and your name, your name ends up on the pleadings as the named defendant.
If this has happened to you or if you’re an attorney and this has happened to your client–Do not panic! You are not alone.
Malibu Media has figured out that most folks are so terrified of their name being revealed as a viewer of pornography that they’re willing to pay Malibu Media thousands of dollars to settle before their name is revealed, regardless of the accuracy or validity of the Complaint’s allegations.
Malibu Media has engaged in these tactics across the country, particularly in California and Illinois. But now Malibu Media has set its sights on forcing settlements out of Marylanders. Malibu Media is making lots of money settling alleged copyright violations with minimal effort. At last check, Malibu Media had sued thousands of individuals using a Complaint that is largely boilerplate. Imagine if 2000 people paid Malibu Media $5,000 each-Malibu Media has made $10,000,000.00 (yes, TEN MILLION DOLLARS).
Because folks often do not understand complex digital copyright laws and the Internet, they think they may have actually broken the law. Or they think maybe their spouse or child did. They’re afraid they can’t afford a lawyer or that their job will be affected if their name is revealed. But, quite often, the case is defensible, and Malibu Media’s initial subpoena to the ISP may be quashed by a Motion. You can “quash” a subpoena by filing (or getting an attorney to file) a motion to quash with Court on the grounds that the subpoena is not proper under the law. If the Court grants the motion to quash, this means that your ISP does not have to comply with the subpoena and it does not have to turn over your name. If you quash the subpoena and if an attorney helps you discover what defenses you have, the odds are that Malibu Media will go away. It does not want to waste its money actually litigating the case. It usually just wants quick, but costly, settlements that you should not have to pay.
Some commentators and reporters call Malibu Media and companies like it “cyber copyright trolls” or “porn trolls.” Whatever you want to call it–there’s no question that what they’re doing is very profitable for them and very terrifying for you.
If you or someone you know has been sued by Malibu Media, you should contact an attorney experienced in cyberlaw and digital copyright. At SilverMcKenna, the Internet and Privacy Law Practice Group at Silverman/Thompson/Slutkin/White LLC, we protect your name and we aggressively defend those sued by Malibu Media, and we do so in ways that are affordable for our clients. We have seen many of these Complaints, and we can and will help you.
Please contact Anne McKenna at 410-385-2225 for more information.