Copyright infringement and the internet - if your kids (or you) download...


member since 1999
Life lesson #..... I've lost track. Thought I'd share in case I'm not the only completely out of touch parent/person out here.

Got a letter from my ISP advising me that ABC company has filed suit in Federal Court alleging copyright infringement that occurred on my IP address at X date and time (a date and time I was not even home!!) and per the subpoena that ISP was served, they will be handing my name and address (since bill is in my name) over to ABC company on Z date. Um.... say WHAT?!?!?!?

(insert virtually the entire range of human emotion possible - anger, panic, fear, tears, rage, etc.)

I remember the Napster hubub many years ago but quite frankly have no clue about downloading movies or music, outside of iTunes.

Long story short - apparently there are programs (not servers, like I think Napster was???) now that somehow facilitate sharing of movies. I still don't completely understand how they work, but if you've got one of these programs and are sharing, somehow it shows up on your IP address. And then somehow the copyright holder can get this information and they file a lawsuit in Federal Court for copyright infringement. They subpoena the ISP for billing name and address associated with the IP address. My ISP notified me (not sure they all do) that they will be handing the info over unless my attorney quashes the subpoena, blah blah blah, insert legalese here. So *then*, ABC Company's attorney will notify me that I infringed on their copyright and will demand settlement.

And again, I say WHAT?!??!?

These companies are suing folks as John Does #1 through whatever. Multiple multiple suits. In talking with attorneys to find out what the heck is going on here, as well as researching online, apparently the SOP is you have to hire an atty ($500-1200 is what I was quoted) who will handle the settlement, which will be between $2000-6000 usually. Because if you don't settle, ABC Company will haul your posterior into court. Wonderful.

EXCEPT - I did nothing wrong. I don't download stuff, ever, period. husband doesn't have a computer. The 2 younger kids didn't download. Which leaves difficult child who is in and out of here, difficult child's friend who is living in our basement, and 2 of their friends who are in and out. And whoever else has come in the back door while I'm sleeping. All adults. Of course, blanket denials from the lot of them. Our router at the time has since died and been thrown away, and my brother informed me that the security protocol on it (WEP?) was less than secure, so for all I know it was someone sitting in front of my house. Regardless, I'm beyond ticked off.

My name will be on the inevitable suit. That I'm supposed/expected to settle. For doing absolutely nothing wrong. I hired the atty yesterday and decided today that I am going to fight this garbage.

I follow rules. I believe in right and wrong. This smacks of blackmail - pay the comparatively lesser atty fees and settlement, or risk $150,000 maximum judgement for intentional infringement or $30,000 max judgement for unintentional infringement if you lose in court, plus I don't even want to know what in atty fees. And in fact, this tactic apparently began with x-rated films, because who wants to be publicly named as a viewer of that genre of film? by the way, film I'm accused of down and/or up loading is not x-rated, just to be clear, LOL.

So.... if anyone besides you is using your internet connection, you need to make sure they know not to download movies or music or whatever is copyrighted. You need to double check your kids' computers to make sure they do *not* have these programs (torrents?). You need to make sure it's a secure router if you're using wifi. Because if a copyright is infringed and your name is on the cable/internet bill, you are the one who is going to get sued.

And we continue to have some fun around here. :)


Shooting from the Hip
We got a "warning" about downloading a Star Trek movie.

Except... We didn't. Belle was in jail. Rose is incapable as yet. Jett is completely uninterested. husband and I as well.

Our WEP is completely secure. Had it tested by the ISP. There's no one who would have, and husband and I are the only two who even know how...