US Supreme Court settles long standing “circuit split” on copyright law

In Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com (586 US ___ (2019)), the US Supreme Court unanimously required copyright holders to await issuance of a copyright registration before initiating copyright litigation via the federal court system. The decision was notable because until the opinion, certain federal circuits found that approval of the application for registration by the Copyright Office was the threshold, known as the “registration approach.” On the other hand, some federal circuit courts, including the Ninth and Fifth Circuits, found that registration was effective upon the filing of the registration application including the associated deposit and fee (the “application approach”).

Fourth Estate drafts and licenses original news articles for client websites while retaining copyright in the articles themselves. Wall-Street.com is a news website that licensed news stories from Fourth Estate. The two parties maintained a services agreement for news articles which required Wall-Street.com to remove all articles provided by Fourth Estate in the event the agreement was terminated. After the agreement was at one point terminated, Fourth Estate required that Wall-Street.com remove their content from its website. After the content was not removed, Fourth Estate initiated a claim for copyright infringement against Wall-Street.com in the eleventh circuit. Writing for the court, Justice Ginsburg found that “Registration occurs, and a copyright claimant may commence an infringement suit, when the Copyright Office registers a copyright. Upon registration of the copyright, however, a copyright owner can recover for infringement that occurred both before and after registration.”

This change is insubstantial, given that there are multiple avenues for an applicant to seek an expedited registration. For $800.00, works can be registered in a matter of days and not months. As a separate option, the Copyright Office maintains the ability to “pre-register” certain works that may be inclined to be infringed on by others. So, while the split was finally settled, the consequences of settling the split were fairly minor. At least copyright holders around the US can look forward to a consistent set of rules rather than a geographically based patchwork of laws that can affect your interests based on your physical location.

Bodyguard Productions – Hitman’s Bodyguard Colorado subpoena defense

Over the last several months hundreds of Colorado residents have been delivered subpoenas from their internet service providers like Comcast and Centurylink stating that their personal information is being sought by Bodyguard Productions, LLC, the holding company suing for copyright infringement for the 2017 film the Hitman’s Bodyguard starring Ryan Reynolds. Note that unlike other films sued over in the State of Colorado, this film actually held the #1 spot at the box office for several weeks during 2017, so many fans of the film and Ryan Reynolds may be caught up in this dragnet.

 

If you received a subpoena from your ISP stating that they will be turning over your personal information to Bodyguard Productions, LLC, or if you received a letter from a law firm in Colorado asking you to contact them in relation a claim of copyright infringement, talk to an attorney first. John A. Arsenault has defended several hundred people accused of copyright infringement in the State of Colorado alone and understands the possible strengths and weaknesses of your specific facts. Mr. Arsenault is familiar with the various law firms involved and can help you assess the options you have via a free consultation. If you want to discuss your options anonymously with a Colorado licensed attorney who understands the facts surrounding these types of copyright infringement claims, follow the Contact Us tab to contact John Arsenault today.

I.T. Productions Copyright Infringement Defense in Colorado

Did you receive a subpoena from your internet service provider (ISP) stating that they are being ordered to turn over your personal information in a federal lawsuit, specifically I.T. Productions? Numerous targets across the Colorado Front Range have received notices over the past few months over the film I.T. As the Bit Torrent infringement litigation model continues to be accepted by federal courts, film studios and other Plaintiffs will continue to file lawsuits as a revenue model and to recover damages from unsuspecting downloaders. I.T. Productions is the company prosecuting on behalf of the film I.T., a 2016 Pierce Brosnan movie. If you have received a subpoena from your ISP we can help defend against a subpoena or against the Plaintiff depending on what stage in the litigation you are in. Our infringement defense team can also help you seek a dismissal or a settlement depending on your factual circumstances. Many caught up in these kind of drag nets often have a valid defense that may result in a dismissal and they aren’t aware of their factual circumstances. Contact our copyright infringement defense attorneys today for a free consultation to discuss your options.

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QOTD Film Investment, Ltd. lawsuits come to Colorado and elsewhere

Queen of the Desert or “QOTD” was a 2015 American film starring Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, and James Franco and directed by Werner Herzog. The story is about Gertrude Bell, the British traveller, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer and political officer following her from her 20’s up through her death. While the subject of the story has a colorful interesting life, the means in which it was portrayed in the film was more like a docudrama and less like a big budget film. Unfortunately the film did not perform as well at the box office as the producers may have liked. As a result, the film company has filed several lawsuits across the United States including Colorado against Bit Torrent users for alleged copyright infringement. If you are in receipt of a subpoena from your ISP in relation to QOTD or Queen of the Desert (not to be confused with Queen of the Damned), then contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation with a Bit Torrent copyright defense lawyer today. Here is a list of the west coast filings for QOTD in federal court.

Southern District of California
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe 3:16-cv-00749
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe 3:16-cv-00756
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe 3:16-cv-00759
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe 3:16-cv-00773
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe 3:16-cv-00926

District of Colorado
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe 1 et al 1:16-cv-01366
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe 1 et al 1:16-cv-01260

District of Nevada
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Does 1-30 2:16-cv-00928
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Does 1-37 2:16-cv-00929

District Court of Oregon
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe 3:16-cv-00930
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe 3:16-cv-00523
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe 3:16-cv-00524
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe 3:16-cv-00525
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Does 1-7 3:16-cv-00246
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe 3:16-cv-00715

Western District of Washington
QOTD Film Investment Ltd. v. Doe et al 2:16-cv-00371

LHF Productions, Inc. sue downloaders in Colorado, California, Washington State for copyright infringement

LHF Productions, Inc. or “London Has Fallen” is a Nevada company who produced and distributed the recent action movie London Has Fallen starring Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman. While LHF won’t win an Oscar for Best Picture, it is an entertaining movie that people want to watch. Being unsatisfied with the number of people sharing the movie via Bit Torrent, LHF Productions has taken upon itself to start suing downloaders for copyright infringement in federal court in states such as Colorado, Washington, California, Oregon and elsewhere.

ISPs have begun to receive subpoenas because the Plaintiffs have initiated expedited discovery to ascertain the identities of the John Does. If you are in receipt of a subpoena issued from a federal court sent by your ISP, then you or someone in your household is a target of this Plaintiff. Before contacting the Plaintiff, it is highly important to discuss this matter with an experienced copyright attorney. Wessels & Arsenault offers experienced copyright infringement defense regarding online activities. Our attorneys know more about computers and the internet than most other attorneys and can use that to their advantage. If you are in receipt of a subpoena stating they will turn over your personal information in this or another Bit Torrent copyright infringement lawsuit, contact us at 303-459-7898 for a free consultation with an experienced Bit Torrent copyright defense attorney.

In Colorado, the case numbers are:

LHF Productions Inc. v. Does 1-19 16-cv-01309

LHF Productions Inc. v. Does 1-10 16-cv-01230

In California, the case numbers are:

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-01157

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-01158

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-01035

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-01045

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-00999

In Oregon, the case numbers are:

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-00745

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-00746

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-00716

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-00717

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-00591

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-00592

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-00594

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 3:16-cv-00595

In Washington State, the case numbers are:

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 – 16 2:16-cv-00621

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 – 17 2:16-cv-00623

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 – 17 2:16-cv-00551

LHF Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 – 10 2:16-cv-00552

 

Production company Clear Skies Nevada LLC sues Colorado residents for allegedly downloading “Good Kill”

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Although released last year, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) drama Good Kill directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca) and starring Ethan Hawke is the center of attention regarding recent lawsuits filed in Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin. Internet subscribers have begun to receive subpoenas from their internet service providers informing them of the pending order to disclose their personal information. The accused are alleged to have used the Bit Torrent network to distribute the film.

Unfortunately these letters are serious and reflect an actual lawsuit that has been filed in U.S. Federal District Court for copyright infringement. These letters do not also tell a subscriber what their options are. Please do not ignore these letters and instead contact an attorney to discuss with you the various options you have. Our attorneys have handled countless numbers of Bit Torrent related cases and can likely help you out by explaining to you your options so you can at least make an informed decision about how to handle the subpoena. Contact a Colorado Bit Torrent defense attorney today to talk about your options via a free consultation. Our number is 303-459-7898

Cobbler Nevada, LLC comes to Colorado to sue for Bit Torrent downloads

Cobbler Nevada, LLC is currently suing multiple defendants in the State of Colorado over the film “The Cobbler” starring Adam Sandler for a Bit Torrent download. According to wikipedia.org, The Cobbler grossed a whopping $24,000 in domestic revenue after it was released in March of 2015 with a budget estimated to be about $10,000,000.00. So, in order to recoup that the holding company appears to have created a LLC with the right to sue under certain circumstances. The early discovery subpoenas for these lawsuits went out late last month and early this month to Comcast and Centurylink. If you received a letter for Cobbler Nevada, LLC from your ISP stating that they will disclose your information if you do not act by a certain date, please contact our law firm for a free consultation with an experienced copyright infringement attorney.

New Bit Torrent Plaintiffs Good Man Productions, Inc. and Poplar Oaks, Inc.

Although it has been a while since we posted a new article on our website, a lot has changed. First, there are a lot more copyright lawsuits out there in federal court as related to Bit Torrent downloads, and people are searching for answers. Over the years, our law firm has defended hundreds of individuals against these types of Bit Torrent copyright lawsuits.

Good Man Productions produced a movie in 2014 starring Steven Seagal called “A Good Man.” Interestingly, the film was owned by Voltage Pictures (maker of the Hurt Locker), and so they decided to continue their trend of suing individuals for allegedly downloading the content through Bit Torrent (very different from their original strategy of suing thousands in a single forum).

Poplar Oaks, Inc. produced a 2014 film called Puncture Wounds starring Chung Le and Dolph Lundgren. The film is an action movie about a veteran who experiences PTSD after returning home from Iraq. While we cannot comment on the quality of the film, downloads via Bit Torrent are certainly being flagged by monitoring companies.

The attorneys at Wessels & Arsenault, LLC are already helping clients currently involved. If you are being contacted by your ISP or one of these Plaintiffs about a lawsuit, please contact us for a free consultation with one of our copyright infringement defense attorneys. We have a number of strategies that we can consider to help minimize the Plaintiff’s claim and hopefully reach a dismissal.

 

 

Copyright Office rules that “jailbreaking” a smartphone doesn’t infringe copyright laws

Every three years the US Copyright Office via the Librarian of Congress reviews hot copyright issues to ensure that the copyright laws stay current as applied to specific technologies.  The rulemaking statute was part of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).  The Librarian’s rulemaking power comes from 17 USC 1201(a)(1).    The Register of Copyrights provides recommendations about the specific questions that the Librarian can choose to enact.  http://www.copyright.gov/1201/.  Because findings are issued only every three years, yesterday’s decisions are especially interesting.

During this session, the Librarian inquired into whether “the prohibition on circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works is causing or is likely to cause adverse effects on the ability of users of any particular classes of copyrighted works to make non-infringing uses of those works.”  One specific question for the Librarian was whether owners of smartphones can modify (“jailbreak”) their device to use unauthorized applications.  The concept of “jailbreaking” involves modifying the OS of your smartphone to permit any number of modifications or customizations to the software.

Apple first argued in opposition that the rulemaking section of the statute did not protect unauthorized modifications to smartphones such as jailbreaking.  This was because the section was only supposed to apply when the copyright owner’s interests aren’t harmed from the reported infringing activity.  The substance of Apple’s argument however, was that “jailbreaking” a smart phone should result in copyright infringement which includes liability of up to $2500 USD per violation and possible jail time for willful infringement.  Apple’s argument is that jailbreaking phones results in pirated intellectual property, decreased performance, and an increase in support costs for smartphone manufacturers.  Moreover, no fair use argument existed according to Apple because jailbreaking a phone diminishes the value of the copyrighted works (in this case the OS).  http://www.copyright.gov/1201/2008/responses/apple-inc-31.pdf.

Proponents of jailbreaking (the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) amongst others) argued that jailbreaking a smartphone gives users ultimate choice over the phone and what applications that should be run on it.  Using an industry analogy, the EFF argued that if a car manufacturer were to retain control over a vehicle after the sale and prohibit owners from adding aftermarket parts, the prohibitions would be considered by almost anyone to be wholly unreasonable.  In addition, jailbreaking a smartphone is considered a fair use of the work that serves as an affirmative defense to actual copyright infringement.

The Librarian concluded in favor of smartphone owners, finding that circumvention of the copyright protections is permissible when “circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.”  This means that those seeking to jailbreak their iphone or Android handsets can lawfully do so so long as they own the programs they are attempting to make compatible.  This doesn’t mean that you should go out and jailbreak your phone, but you can at least go to sleep knowing that if you do choose to jailbreak your phone you are not a criminal at this time.