Seattle Trademark Lawyer
Seattle Entertainment Lawyer


Archive for March, 2013

What Should I do If I Get A Copyright Infringement Demand Letter?

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

ImageReceiving a subpoena letter related to a copyright infringement case from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as Comcast or Century link or receiving a demand letter offering to settle your case prior to litigation can be a shock to the system. Most people have never received these letters before and are struggling to figure out what they mean.  In short, movie studios or other copyright holders are cracking down on unauthorized file sharing and downloading through computer applications such as Bit Torrent.  The unauthorized downloading and file sharing is a violation of Federal copyright law and may be punishable by up to $150,000 fine. The copyright holders generally don’t want to seek such extreme penalties and are only looking to recoup money lost due to the illegal file sharing and to generate income for investors and non A-list actors who receive money from the films.  Not everybody involved in the entertainment business is rolling in dough.  Just last week I met with an actor who had a small role in Fight Club and was now seeking to declare bankruptcy due to his $30K salary from acting and overwhelming debt.

If you are somebody who has received a letter from your ISP informing you that you are part of a lawsuit and your name will be provided to an attorney or you have received a demand letter offering to settle the lawsuit against you, you have a few options, but none of them are great. In any event, I would encourage everybody to discuss this matter with a qualified copyright attorney to go over your options.

1.  You could retain an attorney to file a motion to quash the subpoena to try and prevent your information from being disclosed to the copyright infringement attorney.  These motions are usually unsuccessful and your name and information will be disclosed upon filing such a motion.  Hiring an attorney can be costly (at least $5,000 according to this Seattle copyright attorney), however some attorneys may be willing to negotiate a settlement on your behalf for an hourly rate.

2.  You could settle your case for copyright infringement by calling up the copyright infringement lawyer who filed the case or sending an email wishing to settle. In my experience the copyright holders are willing to settle for less than it would cost to hire a lawyer and go to litigation.  Litigation is time consuming and costly and in the end, most cases end up settling out of court.

3.  You could choose to ignore all demand letters and attempts to settle your case.  This option involves some risk on your part.  Generally, failure to settle early on will result in the amount the copyright holder is willing to accept to rise as costs to continue to seek a settlement are incurred.  Further, a copyright infringer risks being named as a defendant party in the case which is public record and could face a penalty of up to $150,000 if a default judgment is entered. You can ask your attorney to reivew the cases of  Paramount Pictures Corp. v. Davis, 234 F.R.D. 102, 77 U.S.P.Q.2d 1933 (E.D. Pa. 2005); U.S.C.A. Arista Records, L.L.C. v. Tschirhart, 241 F.R.D. 462 (W.D. Tex. 2006); U.S. ex rel. Koch v. Koch Industries, Inc., 197 F.R.D. 488 (N.D. Okla. 1999) and BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum (D. Mass.) [1:07-cv-11446].

At the end of the day, if you have received one of these letters you will need to make a decision that is best for you. Know that copyright holders need to protect their rights so that they can continue to make films that cost millions of dollars to make and the people working in the entertainment industry need to make a living and earn an income off of the royalties of the works whether you see a movie in the theater, rent from Netflix or download a song on ITunes.

Litigation related to Copyright Infirngement Cases Involving Feature Films on the Rise

Friday, March 1st, 2013

This Seattle copyright attorney was on the local news yesterday talking about illegal downloading of feature films, the increase of lawsuits in the area and potential consequences. For the full story check out the Komo 4 News website. Here is the full text:

SEATTLE — Washington state has become a hotbed for illegal downloading, but the culprits are quickly finding out that what they thought was a free movie could end up costing them thousands of dollars.

Hollywood is coming to Seattle, but not to make a movie. Rather, studios representatives are in town to track down people who’ve illegally downloaded their products.

Many movie fans think that’s a good idea, because filmmakers deserve to be paid for their work.

“Well, that’s what artists do. Artists need to be paid for what they do for a living and you’re not there to just give it away,” one moviegoer said.

That includes artists who worked on an animated feature called “Zambezia.” The movie doesn’t officially come out until March, but that hasn’t stopped people from illegally downloading pirated versions.

“A lot of it is coming from something called bit torrent, where people download individual pieces from different users and create what’s known as the swarm,” said Seattle attorney Richard Symmes, who’s leading the charge against the downloaders.

Washington’s tech savvy population is now a copyright litigation hotbed, and a studio is coming to town to track down those who have illegally downloaded its movies.

Symmes said the move isn’t about greed, but about the studios being fairly compensated so they can pay their employees.

A private company has managed to get the IP addresses of the local offenders, and local Internet providers are now being subpoenaed to get the names of those subscribers.

Symmes said anyone who has illegally downloaded movies could be in for a court battle.

“It would probably be more expensive to go ahead and fight this rather than take a nominal settlement and just make this go away,” he said.

Symmes expects the IP list to grow as other film studios join in.

Symmes Law Header Right Side

Contact


Richard J. Symmes, Esq
E-Mail :: (206) 682-7975

Seattle, Washington location:
1001 Fourth Avenue, Suite 3200
Seattle, Washington   98154

Get Directions to Symmes Law Offices
Get Directions to our
Seattle Office Here

See us on:
Facebook  Twitter

Contact us online:





Call Today!

(206) 682-7975

 Symmes Law Group Logo