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Copyright Infringement and Illegal Downloads

Thousands of people download movies from legal peer-to-peer (P2P) sites like BitTorrent with impunity, but just because the hosting site is legal doesn’t mean that the files are not subject to copyright laws. If the movie is copyrighted and you download it, you can be sued for copyright infringement. This is something that numerous people all over the US are finding out to their dismay after they illegally downloaded the 2013 film “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Dallas Buyers Club LLC has already filed more than 1,000 lawsuits against individuals who were initially identified only by the internet protocol (IP) addresses, and whose identities were culled from internet service providers after being served with a subpoena. In many cases, the defendants settle between $2,000 and $5,000 rather than go to court, making for a pretty expensive movie that can be downloaded legally from sites like Amazon for less than $10.

However, when it comes to litigation, there are some issues with using the IP address to identify the culprit. For one thing, the internet service provider can only identify the person who pays the bill, who may or may not be the one doing the actual downloading, and who may or may not be aware of such activity. It is even possible, in this wireless age, for the actual culprit to be a neighbor piggybacking on the signal. This is clearly a challenge for Dallas intellectual property lawyers on both sides of the fence, as well as for lawyers outside Dallas, TX.

Copyright infringement through digital piracy is an ongoing problem with copyright owners, and even with increasingly sophisticated traceback capabilities, it is too easy for a case to fall apart if the defendant does not want to settle and mounts a viable defense. Moreover, the defendant may actually be perfectly innocent, so a lawsuit would have wasted the time and resources of both the plaintiff and defendant.