Copyright Law & BitTorrent Defense

Feel free to contact Billy by email at billy@firmequity.com or Ben by phone 312-479-8611 to discuss your copyright or BitTorrent matter. Billy and Ben specialize in representing John Does who have been targeted by BitTorrent trolls.


We represent clients in a variety of matters related to copyright law, including filing copyright applications with the United States Copyright Office. However, the bulk of our copyright practice focuses on defending John and Jane Does accused of copyright infringement because of BitTorrent downloads. We are listed as BitTorrent defense attorneys with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and with the pro-John Doe blogs DieTrollDie and Fight Copyright Trolls.


FirmEquity, and Billy in particular (billy@firmequity.com), has represented hundreds of John and Jane Does caught in the fishing expeditions of copyright trolls. We charge a $500 flat fee to handle negotiating settlement on your behalf in all cases not involving Malibu Media. If your case is with Malibu Media, we charge a flat fee of $750 because cases with Malibu take more time to settle. These fees include any out-of-court negotiations and also include protecting your identity from the plaintiffs, assuming you're still anonymous. If you don’t wish to settle or cannot afford to settle, we also charge $500 to shield you from harassment by the plaintiffs and to monitor the docket of your case. If you choose to first go the shield route and then later decide to settle, we will not charge you an extra $500. While we are not at this time your attorney and we are not giving you legal advice on how to proceed, here are some initial thoughts on these cases.


You could choose to ignore the subpoena and the lawsuit entirely but only if you are part of a group John Doe lawsuit. You cannot ignore an individual lawsuit against you. All Malibu Media suits are individual suits. Over time, the plaintiff's firm will increase the amount of their initial offer to settle. It is a gamble. However, it is possible that the court will dismiss your case for improper jurisdiction, for the inability to accurately identify someone from their IP Address, or on other grounds. The plaintiff may also move on to easier targets. The plaintiff’s firm will likely harass you with one or two phone calls per week. They may also email or mail you. They often contact John Does at their work.


If you ignore them, they will learn your identity because the subpoena request of your information will be released by your ISP. This also risks the chance that an employer or your family will discover the lawsuit, if that's a concern. Given a recent Illinois Supreme Court order, the subpoena has a lower chance of succeeding for the plaintiffs if it is filed in an Illinois state court.


If you hire an attorney to settle the matter, the opposing law firm will almost always wish to proceed with a settlement. Settlements with CEG-TEK are $250-$300 per download. Settlements with Michael Hierl of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym are variable, depending on a number of factors. In 2017, Hughes Socol has filed against a significant number of John Does in ME2 Productions cases. Malibu Media's settlements are higher than others, often in the $6,000 to $15,000 range. Settlements can sometimes be less with particular plaintiffs if you can prove financial hardship with documentation. If you wish to hire us to handle settlement of this matter, we charge a flat fee of $500, unless the case is with Malibu ($750 flat fee). You would send the settlement to our law firm client trust account and we would pay the plaintiff’s firm from our client trust account in order to protect your identity. You would remain anonymous throughout the process, assuming settlement is accomplished before the deadline in the ISP notice you received. Settling before the deadline listed on the notice you received is the only sure way of protecting your identity. If you're not as concerned with protecting your identity, you can choose to negotiate settlement on your own.


If you do not wish to settle, another option that we offer is to serve as a "shield" from all communications from the plaintiff’s firm and to monitor the docket for a flat fee of $500. This approach does not work if you are being sued as an individual, such as cases with Malibu Media. That fee would not include filing motions or appearing in court on your behalf, however, it would prevent the plaintiff’s firm from contacting you directly. Once they know that we represent you, they cannot contact you without going through us. We will also monitor the docket to ensure that none of your rights are being foreclosed. We have found that a substantial percentage of our clients are innocent. This shield and monitor route is a good option for people who feel strongly about their innocence or people who simply feel that settling with copyright trolls gives them an unsavory taste. Given the unlikelihood of you being served, the plaintiff's seizing your computer, or you being taken to a trial, this could be a good option for you. If you choose to first go the shield route and then later decide to settle, we will not charge you an extra $500. In other words, the original retainer of $500 will cover the cost of shielding and later settling.


If you feel very strongly about your innocence or the unethical copyright troll model, you could choose to file motions to quash the subpoena or motions to dismiss for either improper joinder or jurisdiction. This will cost a minimum of $1,500 in attorney's fees. There is no guarantee that these motions will be granted by the judge, in fact, most are denied. Further, a motion to quash will not terminate the lawsuit or undermine the copyright infringement claim on the merits. It will only make it more difficult for the law firm to figure out your real identity. With that said, we see motions to quash fail in various courts. However, whether this route is a good option is highly dependent upon the court and judge hearing your specific case. we would need to look at the history of the particular court and judge hearing your case before recommending this route.


We have been involved in litigation with just about every copyright troll in Illinois and around the country. We have dealt with Mary Schultz, Yousef Foroniya, Patrick J. Cerillo, Jon Hoppe William Tabot, Jacqueline Jackie James, and Paul Nicolleti of Malibu Media; Paul Duffy and John Steele of Prenda Law; Michael Hierl of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym (i.e. TCYK, The Divide, Dallas Buyers Club, Khumba, Bicycle Peddler, Cobbler Nevada, Torn Pictures, Cook Productions, Queen of the Desert QOTD Film Investment, Fathers and Daughters Nevada, Survivor Productions, LHF London Has Fallen Productions, ME2 Productions); Keith Vogt (Nu Image); Ira Siegel of CEG TEK International; Jay R. Hamilton of Hamilton IP Law; Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd (i.e. reFX Audio, Purzel Video); Brown & Kannady; Stone & Schneider (a.k.a. Windy City Law Group); Chaz Rainey of Hamrick & Evans LLP; and Van R. Irion of Irion Law.


In sum, there is no magic bullet. You do have options but they are either costly or risky. The best choice for you depends on your personal tolerance for risk and for being named in a lawsuit. There is not one correct path for every John or Jane Doe. We advocate aggressively for all of our clients to obtain the best possible results, regardless of which litigation path you choose. We suggest that you also do research on your options at websites like DieTrollDie and Fight Copyright Trolls


Feel free to contact Billy by email at billy@firmequity.com or Ben by phone 312-479-8611 for a free consultation to discuss your copyright or BitTorrent matter.

William Joseph MillsReviewsout of 21 reviews
William Joseph MillsClients’ ChoiceAward 2015
Member of The Internet Defense League