The music industry is now coming after internet subscribers.

NOTE: The above video (NSFW) is from 2006.  While it (and many others) were made to address the Napster lawsuit (which was a lawsuit against a COMPANY), they apply more than ever now (where the plaintiffs are suing individual bittorrent users).

Lurking in the midsts of our bittorrent lawsuits has been a silent party who has been watching everything we have been doing in the pornography lawsuits and the “B-Rated” movie cases. This silent party is the RIAA, the MPAA, and the record labels who started all of these lawsuits years before the John Steeles, the Dunlap Grubb & Weavers, and before the Mike Meiers of the world got involved, grew their copyright troll legs, and started suing John Doe groups of internet subscribers. I used to refer to the record labels as the “sleeping giants,” because their lawsuits got really quiet after they scored their million dollar judgments (now reduced) against defendants such as Jammie Thomas-Rasset and Joel Tenenbaum.

However, one case at a time, I’ve been seeing the record labels rear their ugly heads again. The record labels have now started suing John Doe Defendants in EXACTLY the same way as the copyright trolls have been for the past two years.  In a way, you could thank the porn industry for repaving the way for the music industry to prey on its fans.  The record labels appear to be using the same tactics — file for early discovery against a set of IP addresses, contact and harass the John Doe Defendants en masse, and scare each one (or their parents) into settling for thousands of dollars for each download (and unlike the John Steeles of the world, the music industry has actually have brought defendants to trial, are well funded, and have achieved million-dollar verdicts).  The threat as we have heard ad nauseam is that if the accused downloader doesn’t settle the plaintiff’s claims of copyright infringement against him or her, they will “name” them as a defendant in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

One such record label troll is “Century Media Ltd.” who is suing on behalf of their “Iced Earth” band (think  Jon Schaffer and Greg Seymour) for the download of their 2011 heavy metal album “Dystopia.”  The interesting thing about the lawsuit, however, is that Century Media has retained copyright troll Jay McDaniel of the McDaniel Law Firm in New Jersey to sue defendants, and it is unclear to me why.  Jay McDaniel runs what I call a “settlement factory,” where he spends his time fighting motions to quash in court, and while not in court, he has his staff attorneys contact defendants attempting to convince them to settle.

CASES FILED BY JAY R. MCDANIEL OFMCDANIEL LAW FIRM PC IN THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY:

Century Media Ltd. v. Swarm Does 1-2,192 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03867)
Century Media Ltd. v. Swarm Does 1-944 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03868)
Century Media Ltd. v. Swarm Does 1-225 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03869)
Century Media Ltd. v. Swarm Does 1-214 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03870)
Century Media Ltd. v. Swarm Does 1-77 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03911)
Century Media Ltd. v. Swarm Does 1-3,811 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03912)

I count almost 7,500 Doe Defendants in these NJ cases alone, and more are being filed as we speak. And, as far as I can see, the plaintiff attorneys are setting the subpoena deadlines far into the future, so we will not be hearing more about these until after October 1st, 2012 (this appears to be Comcast’s deadline before they hand out subscriber information for these cases).

Now while we try our best to keep a professional tone in these cases, I think the following video properly describe the mentality of those suing defendants today:

On a personal note, while I respect the interests of the artists and the musicians who deserve to have their copyrighted media sold to willing consumers and fans at reasonable prices (and it would be nice if the record labels properly compensated the artists and musicians for their work), I choose to represent the so-called “pirates” as well (many of whom have actually downloaded what they have been accused of and would happily do so again). It is my opinion as an attorney that it is a misuse of the copyright laws to sue defendants for $150,000 per title (statutory damages for willful copyright infringement) when the actual damages suffered by the record labels and the production companies are at best a small fraction of this statutory amount.

So… Has the sleeping giant woken up from its slumber?  Will we see more?  Or is Century Media Ltd. merely an overly ambitious record label who thought it would be better for business to assault its’ fans rather than to devise ethical means to convince them to buy their music album?

7 thoughts on “The music industry is now coming after internet subscribers.”

  1. I understand artists, record labels, movie producers deserve protection for their works. What I don’t understand is the way these people/companies treat their fans. They want thousands and thousands of dollars and want to defame your name because you downloaded a song, full CD, or a movie. It is proof right there that they don’t care one bit about their fans. They only care about the almighty dollar. No song, full CD, movie (porn or mainstream), warrants thousands of dollars. If that’s what they want….. then sell the content for thousands of dollars.

    Send out the DMCA notices first. If a subscriber is getting multiple notices, then there is proof to go after that individual rather than putting hundreds or thousands of Does in a lawsuit.

    One thing that is not discussed much is technology. It advances everyday! File sharing will continue no matter what. As one torrent site goes down, another will pop up. It’s something that will not be stopped, and while the trolls, RIAA, and MPAA would continue to file lawsuit after lawsuit, they are blinded to the never ending battle. People do not want to spend $20 for a CD anymore for 1 or 2 good songs and have the rest of the CD suck. They would rather find it online and get what they want.

    They know with these lawsuits they are pushing their fans away (not all), but again, they don’t care. They want ‘their money’. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I know people won’t get sued for the cost of a CD, mainstream movie, or porn movie because it would not be cost effective. But what is happening now is beyond appalling.

  2. I would hardly say the “music industry” is going after people, century media is an independent label that’s not even a member with the RIAA if it means anything. A few movie studios started this entire copyright troll campaign and still today, its an action that is brought on by the studio themselves(and very few of them at that) to try to make a quick buck and not a campaign brought on behalf of all of Hollywood by the MPAA, which would be similar to what the RIAA did years ago. We seen a book publisher do the same thing with the “for dummies” series and when the porn companies decided to make a business out of lawsuits its only to be expected that people will watch and a few individuals from all different kinds of entertainment industries would give it a try, of their own free will and not at the hands of a trade group representing a majority of the industry.

    I do think its worth noting that century is doing this, but this is not the same as the RIAA campaign years ago.

    1. I agree in part. The lawsuits are filed by one record label having multiple bands, Iced Earth being one of them. However, for a few years now, the “music industry” has been the “sleeping giant,” obviously missing from these bittorrent cases, and I have had to ask myself why on many occasions. Could it be that they have been allowing the porn companies to pave the way for their own lawsuits?

      My opinion is that *ANY TOE DIPPED [BY A MUSIC COMPANY] INTO BITTORRENT LITIGATION WATERS IS A RED FLAG* BECAUSE NO DOUBT, OTHERS WILL FOLLOW IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS. I also believe that suing individual John Doe Defendants and extorting money from each is NEVER OKAY — whether it is done by a record label or a (porn) production company.

      What concerns me is that judges are squeamish when the party suing represents “MUSICIANS AND ARTISTS,” and are more likely to allow lawsuits to move forward when there is a piece of music being asserted as being the copyrighted work rather than pornography. I fear that with this weakness on behalf of the courts, that they will forget that it is wrong to apply copyright infringement statutory damages to the average internet user downloading a clip or an album using bittorrent (just as they did when they used Napster). It wasn’t okay then, and it wouldn’t be okay now. The problem is that the pornography trolls have paved the way for this to happen, and now Century Media is following suit.

      1. I agree with what you say, I was just pointing out that its the individual label doing this and not the RIAA ( which century is not even a member of). We could see some more but its highly likely it will be individual labels giving it a shot rather than the RIAA come out and say “ok back to 5 years ago.”

        One that comes to mind is nuclear blast, another independent label, one of their artist was already involved in a small suite they were not even aware of that was brought by some outside company who had digital rights to their music or something.

        http://loudwire.com/nuclear-blast-announces-dropping-of-lawsuit-against-all-shall-perish-downloaders/

        I can guarantee they are watching at least.

  3. Interesting article about music industry copyright trolling at torrentfreak

    http://torrentfreak.com/bmg-demands-20-for-pirated-bruno-mars-eminem-downloads-120914/

    Looks like BMG is trying to avoid courts entirely, using ISP notices to subsribers to send settlement offers to alleged infringers. Since it’s “only” $20 for a song, I guess a lot of people might be willing to pay that amount to stay out of trouble. If they can get a couple thousands to pay, that’s a still a nice amount of money for them.

  4. “So… Has the sleeping giant woken up from its slumber? Will we see more? Or is Century Media Ltd. merely an overly ambitious record label who thought it would be better for business to assault its’ fans rather than to devise ethical means to convince them to buy their music album?”

    I suspect Century Media is an isolated case. The RIAA / MPAA and other big players entered into a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the ISPs that has a warning system in place:

    http://torrentfreak.com/isp-six-strikes-anti-piracy-scheme-120803/

    Apparently they will only sue persistent pirates, or send out a notice that they want a $20 settlement:

    http://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-riaa-ponder-suing-persistent-bittorrent-pirates-120618/

    http://torrentfreak.com/bmg-demands-20-for-pirated-bruno-mars-eminem-downloads-120914/

    I doubt it’s because they care about their fans, but more along the lines that the ISPs don’t like mass torrent suits. That’s probably why the ISPs have been fighting them, and I’m guessing they pressured the MPAA / RIAA to do the Memorandum of Understanding.

    But while the RIAA / MPAA have to work with the ISPS, the independent studios don’t. Hence, I suspect the mass torrent cases will continue to be filed by smaller studios and porn companies who don’t have a relationship with the ISPs.

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