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BitTorrent Law

Exculpatory Evidence Request

While recent favorable court decisions have slowed the
scattered dollarswave of mass BitTorrent lawsuit filings, the plaintiffs are now targeting individuals out of court whose names and addresses were obtained under subpoenas in prior John Doe lawsuit. Plaintiffs including Patrick Collins, Inc. and Malibu Media, LLC are contacting Internet subscribers by mail and phone, requesting that they complete a form, under oath, which they refer to as an “Exculpatory Evidence Request.” In most instances this form asks a series of prying personal questions regarding the members of the Internet subscriber’s household and their Internet use history, under the threat of suit should they not file an acceptable “exculpatory” response within 10 days. Although some court orders require the plaintiff to seek information prior to serving a summons on the recently identified “John Doe” defendant, there is no rule of civil procedure or discovery that requires the Internet subscriber to make such so-called exculpatory disclosures.

If you are located in Florida or Washington, D.C. or connected in any way to an infringement case filed in Florida or Washington D.C. and have received such a letter or a phone call, please contact our office immediately to discuss your legal rights.

If you or your Internet Protocol (IP) address has been named in a BitTorrent copyright infringement lawsuit now pending in any division of the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Middle, or Southern Districts of Florida, the Miami-Dade Circuit Court, the District of Columbia Superior Court, or the D.C. Court of Appeals, we are ready to assist you in defense of such action whether in and out of court.

William R. Wohlsifer, PA accepts representation of persons accused of unauthorized Internet use to download copyright protected material using a BitTorrent protocol or other P2P (Peer-to-peer) file sharing protocols. In addition to defending alleged illegal download of movies, we also defend against alleged infringement actions concerning the downloading and sharing of video games or music. Many of these cases are settled simply because the person charged does not want to be associated with the allegation of infringement. Often, the alleged wrongdoer will receive a letter from the plaintiff’s counsel suggesting that damages under the U.S. Copyright Act, Title 17 USC §§ 501-506, can be as high as $150,000 if “. . . the court finds, that the infringement was committed willfully.” This threat is generally followed by the plaintiff’s offer to settle the claim and keep the alleged infringer’s identity confidential for a lesser proposed settlement amount.

Under a consolidated order entered on February 16, 2012, 27 cases alleging illegal download of adult videos were merged under court order in one case to proceed in Tallahassee, Florida, as Consolidated Case No. 4:11-cv-570. All of these cases were dismissed (3,547 defendants) for procedural reasons. William R. Wohlsifer, PA participated in defense of these actions by filing an Opposition To Plaintiff’s Show Cause Response. We have also represented more than 100 individual BitTorrent defendants in US District Court and State Court cases.

The Internet user’s participation in such legal action often begins upon receipt of a letter from their Internet Service Provider (ISP). If you or your Internet Protocol (IP) address has been named in a lawsuit now pending in any U.S. Court throughout the State of Florida, we are ready to assist you in defense of such action both in and out of court. Please contact us for a free telephone consultation review of your case.

William R. Wohlsifer, Esq., has been interested and has practiced in the area of Internet and copyright law for many years. (Please see his article, Proof of Publication in Cyberspace, E-Commerce Law, Aspen Law and Business, New York, NY (Oct. 2001); Republished in Business Law Quarterly, The Florida Bar Association, Tallahassee, FL (Nov. 2002) available on this website under “Our Attorneys/Journal Publications.”)

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