Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome to USCopyrightGroupDefense.com. This website is provided by CyberLaw P.C., an independent Washington, D.C. law firm concentrating in internet and intellectual property law. You can speak to an experienced copyright attorney licensed in the District of Columbia that can assist defendants named in U.S. Copyright Group Cases.
Who is U.S. Copyright Group? Who are they suing?
U.S. Copyright Group is an organization of lawyers that are bringing copyright cases against large groups of “John Doe” defendants. The law firm behind U.S. Copyright Group is Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver, PLLC in Leesburg, Virginia. The defendants in U.S. Copyright Group cases are usually individuals participating on peer to peer (P2P) networks using a BitTorrent Protocol. U.S. Copyright Group calls the defendants “John Does” because they don’t know the actual identity of the people they are suing when they file the lawsuits.
What is happening in these lawsuits?
In most cases, U.S. Copyright Group is filing suits against a large group of anonymous “John Doe” defendants using only Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to identify each defendant. By filing the cases in United States District Courts, U.S. Copyright Group hopes to obtain the power to use subpoenas in the civil discovery process.
Once they obtain such power, U.S. Copyright Group issues subpoenas to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), requesting that the ISPs provide identifying information, like a name and address, about particular defendants based on their IP addresses. U.S. Copyright Group has already used such powers to issues subpoenas to ISPs such as Road Runner, Comcast Cable, Verizon, BellSouth, Cox, Qwest, Charter Communications, Cablevision and more.
Once U.S. Copyright Group obtains identifying information about a defendant from the applicable ISP, the U.S. Copyright Group lawyers will usually send a letter to the defendant demanding a payment for the individual defendant’s alleged copyright infringement. These letters typically steer defendants to a web site, where defendants are directed to enter a payment in order to settle the matter with U.S. Copyright Group’s client.
Where are these lawsuits being filed?
Most of the cases are being filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, located in Washington, D.C. This is a federal court that usually handles disputes arising in or connected to Washington, DC. U.S. Copyright Group has already filed several cases, many of which are ongoing. New cases may or may not be filed in the future.
Why are the suits being filed?
U.S. Copyright Group is filing these cases because it alleges that the defendants violated its clients’ copyrights when the defendants share files via peer-to-peer networks. To date, most cases have involved digital copies of movies. For example, in one case, Maverick Entertainment Group, Inc., a client of U.S. Copyright Group, alleged that a group of approximately 4,300 anonymous defendants infringed movies with titles such as “13 Hours in a Warehouse,” “A Numbers Game,” “Border Town 2009,” “Deceitful Storm,” “Fast Track No Limits,” and “Stripper Academy” among others.
How do I know if I am a defendant in one of these cases?
You may find out about your defendant status in several ways. First, some people may be notified that they have been named in the suits when they receive a formal summons from the court via a process server or mail. There is also the possibility that you will receive a letter that requests that you waive service, called a “Waiver of Service.”
Second, and more likely, you may hear about your status as a defendant if your Internet Service Provider (ISP) sends a courtesy letter to you. In most cases, this letter notifies you that the ISP has received a subpoena from the court, and that the ISP will be disclosing information about you if you do not take a legal action to prevent it.
The third way you may hear about your defendant status is to receive a letter from U.S. Copyright Group itself. These letters typically notify defendants that they are being sued, but offer an opportunity to settle the matter by paying the plaintiff represented by U.S. Copyright Group to settle the matter.
If you receive any of these types of notices, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you give yourself the best possible chance to preserve all of your legal rights.
Can I simply ignore the notices about my status in the case?
As a general rule, ignoring any notice of your status as a defendant in a court proceeding is not a recommended course of action. At the absolute minimum, you should consult with an attorney to understand your legal rights and obligations.
What are my options if I am named in one of the lawsuits?
The good news is that many defendants likely have viable defenses in U.S. Copyright Group suits. For example, many defendants that are not local to Washington, DC may have a personal jurisdiction defense. This defense arises when a defendant is not sufficiently “connected” to Washington, D.C, and would have no expectation of defending a lawsuit in that jurisdiction.
Other defendants may have defenses grounded in rules of civil procedure. For example, some courts have decided that it is improper to name thousands of defendants in the same lawsuit when the facts and defenses are not sufficiently common, because it makes administration of the lawsuit more difficult.
Still other defendants may have been victimized by a third party’s use of their assigned IP address or internet connection. For example, if you could affirmatively prove that a third party hacked into your wireless router, that defense would be appropriate. There may also be other applicable defenses depending on the specific facts of your matter.
Because each individual defendant’s situation is different, it makes sense to speak to an attorney who can assist you in understanding your legal rights and options. CyberLaw P.C. offers a completely confidential consultation. Simply call 202-904-2818 or fill out this short form to speak with an experienced copyright attorney that can advise you in the matter.