A lawsuit relating to online copyright infringement of synthesizer software using “peer-to-peer” networks was filed recently in Connecticut District Court. The case is captioned reFX Audio Software, Inc. v. Does 1-89. The complaint alleges that certain individuals and Connecticut residents committed acts of copyright infringement through the use of a common “peer-to-peer” (“P2P”) file transfer protocol known as BitTorrent.
A common tactic in mass copyright infringement lawsuits is the use by plaintiffs of “tracking software” which identifies the internet protocol addresses (“IP Addresses”) that were allegedly used to commit acts of software piracy.
By way of background, Internet service providers, (i.e., Comcast, Cox, etc.) provide the account holders with specific IP addresses from which users can access the Internet. In these lawsuits, attorneys bringing the lawsuits allege that each IP address is unique and is therefore linked to a specific user account. In order to identify the allegedly infringing users, reFX hired a Connecticut attorney to file a motion with the court, asking to conduct discovery in order to learn the identities of the account holders. If granted by the court, the attorney for reFx will issue a subpoena to each of the Internet providers requesting that they turn over information (typically name, address, telephone number) for the account holder.
On March 20th Judge Janet Hall granted Plaintiff’s motion for leave to take discovery in the reFX Audio case. As a result, certain Internet providers have now sent letters to cable customers and account holders notifying them of the pending lawsuit. Typically, Internet providers will wait 60 days to allow the account holders to seek legal counsel prior to providing the court-ordered personal information.
If you have received a letter from your Internet provider identifying your IP address as having participated in the alleged copyright infringement of reFX software, read here from our earlier post on the issue for next steps and to consider if you need to hire an attorney to represent you.
We already have received calls in response to this lawsuit. Many callers have read or been told to ignore these letters. Each circumstance is typically unique in these cases, and there is no one size fits all defense. Do not assume that ignoring the letter will result in the problem going away. While it is true that in some cases ignoring the letter is an appropriate response, it many other cases the risks are too high to simply ignore the problem. Once you are fully informed of all of your options such as, filing motions to quash, settling or compromising the claim, defending the action, or ignoring it, you can then decide the proper cost/benefit for your case.