To my readers:
A few days ago, Wall Street Journal reported that a Minneapolis federal court found Jammie Thomas-Rasset guilty of violating copyright law. Jammie is a single mother. The court ordered that she pay $1.5 million for sharing 24 songs over the internet. The plaintiff was the Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”).
I’m posting this piece of information to impress upon those contacting our law firm — the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC — that contrary to what you’ll read on the forums, the threat of being sued is real. This is just one example of a case where the accused internet user likely read about low settlement amounts, and when the RIAA offered her a $25,000 settlement [where the proceeds of that settlement would go to a music-related charity fund], she rejected that offer because she didn’t believe such a lawsuit could happen to her.
I want to point out that judgement is for sharing a number of SONGS. Our potential clients are looking to defend against downloading MOVIES. Think for a moment about the seriousness of this. Lucas Entertainment, Far Cry, and the Hurt Locker subpoena requests are all claiming the same violation of the same copyright law that was enforced against Jammie Thomas-Rasset just last week.
When someone calls me and balks at the prospect of paying a few thousand dollars to settle a MOVIE copyright violation, I scratch my head and wonder if they realize what they are up against.
With the representation the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC provides our clients, before we suggest that our client consider paying anything, we insist that the media company demonstrate that they have evidence linking our clients to the accused infringing download.
It also goes without saying that simply informing the media companies that their accused potential defendant is represented by an attorney, the media company is put on notice to only contact the attorney and not the client. By doing this, they are forced to adhere to the state and federal debt collection statutes, and the consumer statutes protecting the accused from any deceptive statements that might be given to an unrepresented accused internet user. Lastly, when writing the settlement, we make sure the release that accompanies the settlement contains language that prevents the media company from using the settlement as an admission of guilt and turning around and suing the internet downloader for the SAME DOWNLOAD they just paid to settle. It sounds unthinkable, but remember, it is the internet service provider (the ISP) who is served with a subpoena request demanding that they turn over their subscribers’ records. Once the media companies have this information, they immediately contact the to-be defendants and solicit a settlement. Remember, they do this without naming the defendant in the lawsuit. The settlement does not stop the company from coming after the defendant again in a formal lawsuit (using the settlement agreement as an admission of illegal activity).
In short, as twisted as this might sound, this is the reality of what is going on. Be careful out there. Hire an attorney and properly defend yourself. Play their negotiation game, and hope that they either drop the charges or offer an amicable settlement. When they do, be reasonable. Many would-be clients are kicking themselves for not spending $12 at the theater, or paying a Netflix membership when they had the chance. Now they must deal with this, and it is unfortunate.
However, ALWAYS REMEMBER that the goal is to avoid the lawsuit being filed against you. Because if a lawsuit is filed in your jurisdiction accusing a copyright violation, it is no laughing matter.