We have worked with firms throughout the country providing them with solid, dependable local counsel services.
Are the subpoenas issued to me?
No, not the subpoenas described here. The subpoenas are issued and directed to the ISPs associated with specific IP addresses (this could be a cable company like Comcast, an academic institution like Purdue University, or a traditional ISP like Comcast. Should you be the individual associated with an IP address at a particular time, the subpoena may seek information about you from the ISP. However, the subpoenas is issued and directed to the ISPs.
How did the Plaintiff find me?
There exists a debate on how plaintiffs obtain the IP addresses of alleged infringement.
Where an IP address is publicly identified with particular works uploaded to certain networks, a plaintiff may simply read the IP address.
We also suspect that some plaintiffs may have established dummy sites or tagged certain files released onto file-sharing networks. Thus, like the use of tagged money, these files can be traced and report back to the plaintiff relevant IP addresses.
With an IP address, a plaintiff can easily determine through various online sources to which ISP the IP address has been assigned. This information provides the plaintiff with the party to whom a subpoena should be served seeking information about who use the IP address on a particular date and time.
The plaintiff would then send a subpoena to the ISP seeking the identity of the individual who used the IP address on the particular date and time.
Finally, there has been some suggestion that plaintiffs may merely "make up" or choose random IP addresses for purposes of litigation and settlement. This would expose plaintiffs and attorneys to sanctions. While this may have occurred in some rare circumstances, the presumption should be that this has not occurred in any specific situation. Indeed, of the hundreds of cases we have handled, only a few might possibly have been in this situation.
How do I determine my IP address?
If you don't know your computer's IP address, you usually can check it in your TCP/IP settings or the complete header in the email you send from your computer (ie send yourself an email). If you still cannot determine your IP address, contact your ISP. Some ISP customers pay for static IP addresses that remain the same for as long as the customer continues to pay for them (this fee is in addition to typical Internet packages). Most ISP customers obtain dynamic IP addresses. While the IP address may remain the same from day to day, or even week to week, the ISP may assign a new IP address without notice to the customer. Under the old dial-up method of connecting to the Internet, customers would be assigned a new IP address each time one connects to the Internet.
For the foregoing reasons, an ISP customer's IP address at the time she receives a ISP notice may very well be different from the one identified in the ISP notice that she had at the time of the alleged conduct.
Please also understand that if your computer is on a network, you will have an internal network IP address. Usually, these IP addresses begin 192.168.xxx.xxx. This is not the IP address for which you should be looking.
IP addresses in the form 10.x.x.x and 172.16.x.x thru 172.31.x.x have also been reserved for private networks. [Thank you to James Ford for this technical clarification.] Consequently, you should not be looking for IP addresses falling within these blocks as well.
You should also note that there has been a recent shift to IPv6 IP addresses that differ signficiantly from the old IPv4 addresses described above.
How do I know whether my ISP received a subpoena?
In most cases, the ISP will provide you notice soon after receiving the subpoena. We do not recommend calling your ISP to ask whether it received a subpoena in relation to your IP address. Such an inquiry would only prompt suspicion and you might not obtain a correct response in any case.
Will my ISP provide me notice of a subpoena received seeking my information?
Most do. However, the answer depends on your particular ISP who, upon inquiry of its legal or subpoena response department, will be able to tell you its practices in response to subpoenas.
Should you receive notice from your ISP that it has received a subpoena, you should contact an attorney immediately. The ISPs often provide a limited amount of time to see evidence of an objection filed with the court (eg motion to quash) before releasing information.
Will my ISP reveal my identity to a plaintiff?
The answer to this question again depends on your ISP. Contact your ISP's legal or subpoena response department for more information on its specific policy.
Many ISPs will provide the customer with an opportunity to object prior to disclosure of your identity. Consequently, should you receive notice from your ISP through email or snail mail, contact an attorney immediately.
Identity Revealed by ISP
What happens when my identity has been revealed to a plaintiff by my ISP?
When the ISP reveals an identity to a plaintiff's attorneys, the ISP will reveal the identity of the customer in whose name the Internet account is registered, not necessarily the individual who engaged in the conduct alleged to be unlawful.
As mentioned elsewhere, a lawsuit will have already been filed against one or more John Does prior to the ISP receiving a subpoena and disclosing any information. The information revealed by the ISP in response to a subpoena will be associated with a particular IP address related to one of the specific John Doe defendants in the litigation. Consequently, in effect, the "individual" has already been sued.
A plaintiff will typically use the identifying information obtained from an ISP about a particular customer to contact the individual and provide an opportunity to settle the matter. There will likely be a specific deadline by which to contact the plaintiff's attorneys.
If one does not settle, the plaintiff may name you in the lawsuit or file a separate suit with you named individually (eg from John Doe to Charles Mudd). The consequences may also become more severe in terms of settlement when this occurs.
Will I be sued if the plaintiff obtains my identity?
As mentioned above, you ikely will have been sued as a "John Doe" by the time the plaintiff receives your identity. However, if the questions is whether you will be named as a defendant in the litigation under your real name obtained by the plaintiff, this is possible.
What do I do if my ISP has revealed my identity to a plaintiff?
Call an attorney immediately. Beyond this, each individual will be faced with individual circumstances that warrant individual responses and legal representation.
Has a copyright troll plaintiff actually sued anyone by name?
How will I learn that I have been sued?
With John Doe suits, you will usually learn from your ISP that a plaintiff has targeted your IP address. As such, this means that you have been sued as a John Doe associated with your particular IP address. While it may appear that you have not actually been sued yet, this represents a significant misunderstanding. Sometimes, a party may proceed against a John Doe. Moreover, unless one intervenes, a plaintiff usually obtains the identity of the John Doe. In such a case, the plaintiff can replace John Doe #XX with your personal name (eg John Doe becomes Charles Mudd).
Where you have been named in litigation, you will likely learn of the litigation by being served with a summons and complaint by a sheriff, special process server, or United States Marshal.
Previously, when the RIAA initially began suing individuals, media contacted certain of the individuals named in the litigation. Should this still occur (when one is personally named in the suit), it is always wise to consult with an attorney before communicating with the media (if ever). Simply state "No Comment" should you be contacted. Your statements to the media may be used against you. The media can be a great tool and resource. However, proceed with caution and consult an attorney before communicating with the media.
In other situations, you may learn from your academic institution or employer that you have been targeted. You should be cautious. Some academic institutions have been reported to instigate disciplinary proceedings. Should disciplinary proceedings be a possibility, we recommend that you consult with an attorney. However, we also encourage prompt attention to all requests by the academic institution. They may offer resources to assist you. YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT ILLEGAL FILE-SHARING MAY LIKELY VIOLATE COMPUTER USE POLICIES AT ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS and EMPLOYERS with GOOD REASON.
What do I do after I learn I have been sued by a plaintiff?
Consult an attorney immediately.
I have been sued, but its no where near where I live. Did they make a mistake?
While possible, it's unlikely. The most recent suits have been initiated near or in the jurisdiction in which the ISP intended to be subpoenaed happens to be located. The location or court in which the particular case has been filed should not be construed as a mistaken identity or mistake by the plaintiff.