In recent years Strike 3 Holdings, LLC has sued many people in Florida state court, even though most of the defendants live in a different state. This raises the question of why a person would be sued for downloading pornographic content in a state in which the person doesn’t live.
We were also wondering the same thing. Having represented hundreds of clients over the past several years, we noticed an uptick of cases filed in Florida by Strike 3.
The Pure Bill of Discovery
It turns out, there is a very specific reason that they are doing that. Strike 3 files action for what’s known as pure bill of discovery. The sole purpose of this is to uncover the identity of possible defendants in a copyright lawsuit.
This is different from the typical path, where a rights holder may discover an IP address that has infringed, file a lawsuit naming the IP address, serve a subpoena on an internet service provider, and try to obtain a person’s identity that way. Instead, they sue a mass of people, sometimes hundreds at a time, in Florida state court.
This is a significant cost savings for Strike 3. If it did not file this type of complaint, Strike 3 would have to file an individual lawsuit for each person and incur a separate filing fee each time. Once it has a person’s information, Strike 3 can do some digging to find out if this person has enough assets to be worth suing.
It May be a Mistake to Oppose or File a Motion to Quash the Florida Lawsuit
Some lawyers have steered their clients in the wrong direction. They opposed those lawsuits in Florida, filing motions to quash them. A motion to quash serves to reject a legal document or request, such as one for information about the owner of an IP address, on a legal basis. The most common reason for filing a motion to quash is that the request is illegal or improper.
However, to file this motion usually requires disclosing the client’s information–and this was Strike 3’s objective to begin with!
(NOTE: A motion to quash is a useful tool that can be used to defend against copyright infringement or other lawsuits outside of Florida state court and in certain other situations. An experienced attorney can advise when a motion to quash is a good strategy.)
Although many attorneys have made valiant attempts to oppose those lawsuits, whether successful or not, an opposition gives Strike 3 exactly what it wants. Once Strike 3 has someone’s personal information, it can simply go ahead and sue that person in federal court.
It seems logical that a person who has been sued by Strike 3 in Florida state court might hire a Florida attorney to oppose the lawsuit. But that person can end up hurting themselves financially because, win or lose, they could end up being sued by Strike 3 in federal court anyway. This second suit will require further litigation (and attorney fees). In addition, Strike 3 will have spent more money on legal fees, which will increase the size of the settlement it will likely seek to offset those expenses.
What to Do About the Strike 3 Florida Lawsuit
The best course of action is to head off the lawsuit altogether, before too much money has been spent by Strike 3 or the defendant, and before the identity of the defendant can be discovered. To do that, a person should hire a copyright infringement attorney with experience fighting cases in federal court. The sooner a person negotiates a settlement, the better. Firstly, the person will save on legal fees. Secondly, it saves the plaintiff (Strike 3) legal fees.
While a person may not care about saving Strike 3 money, it matters. After all, the more money it costs to reach a settlement, the larger the settlement the company will demand.
Make no mistake: copyright infringement carries serious penalties. A copyright holder can demand up to $150,000 in damages per work. And most of these cases involve multiple works being infringed.
By addressing the matter quickly with an experienced attorney, a person is likely to be able to settle for far less money.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Strike 3 Holdings, LLC suing John Doe defendants in Florida?
Strike 3 is using an aspect of Florida law to create a double-edged sword for those who wish to fight the lawsuit: either continue fighting in Florida state court and likely have one’s information revealed, or file a motion to quash (because he/she doesn’t live in Florida), which will likely require revealing the defendant’s identity anyway. Either way, Strike 3 will be able to now sue the person directly.
Should I ignore a Strike 3 holding lawsuit filed in Florida?
Never ignore a copyright infringement lawsuit even if it has been filed in a state in which you do not live. Instead, hire an attorney right away.
What are the penalties for a Strike 3 Holding copyright lawsuit?
While copyright infringement is a criminal offense, the lawsuit is purely seeking monetary compensation, often tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What kind of settlement can I expect?
The answer to this question will depend on how quickly the lawsuit can be addressed and settled. The more time that goes on, the more expensive it will get, as Strike 3 spends money on attorney and court fees, as well as learns more about the defendant and his/her financial status.
Why Fight a Strike 3 Lawsuit Right Away?
The first notice a person will typically get when facing a copyright infringement lawsuit for downloading illegal content is a letter from their internet service provider (ISP). This letter itself is a response to a subpoena that the ISP has been served by Strike 3 Holdings, LLC, a copyright holder of pornographic content, seeking information about the person who downloaded their copyrighted material. The letter typically advises the subscriber that they have a certain amount of time to file a motion to oppose or quash the subpoena.
If you’ve received a letter like this, a clock has begun ticking! As such, it is critical that you hire an attorney to fight the lawsuit right away to protect your identity and reduce any potential settlement.
Your Identity Can Be Revealed
The purpose of the subpoena is to require the ISP to reveal the subscriber’s information to the plaintiff (i.e. the copyright holder). For now, all the plaintiff has is the subscriber’s IP address. However, the IP address doesn’t have a name or physical address behind it. The subpoena compels the ISP to reveal the identity of the person being sued.
One of the many reasons it is important to act fast after receiving such a letter is that, after a certain amount of time has passed, the ISP will be required to disclose that information to the plaintiff.
More Time Can Mean More Money
Another reason to act sooner has to do with legal fees. The more time that goes on, the more work that has to be done by the plaintiff’s lawyers. There’s the filing fee, then they will have to hire a process server to serve a subpoena, and then the defendant with the complaint. In addition, they may spend time trying to discover who you are and how much you are worth. As time goes on and the lawyers spend more time on this case, the more money the plaintiff is going to want to recover from this lawsuit.
Hiring an attorney early serves two purposes: it’s more likely the client’s identity will be protected and the settlement amount will be smaller.
What If I’ve Waited Too Long?
Far too often, a person sees this letter and assumes it’s a scam. As a result, too much time passes, and the copyright hold obtains the person’s information.
If too much time passes and it seems unlikely that you will meet the deadline, the best course of action is to remove any and all information about yourself from the internet that could give a hint as to your net worth.
For example, you may have social media posts that are public. Those accounts could have photos of your house or car. In addition, these posts might indicate that you live in a nice neighborhood or went to an expensive college. Such things increase the value of the case in the plaintiff’s eyes. It means they are going after someone with “deeper pockets”, as opposed to someone with lesser assets.