US Music Pirates Face New $150,000 Damages Claims

In what appears to be the first action of its type since the RIAA abandoned its controversial anti-filesharing campaign, Internet users sharing music are again being targeted in the United States. In a lawsuit filed in Florida the identities of 80 individuals are being sought with one aim in mind - to threaten them with $150,000 damages awards in order to force settlement of a few thousand dollars.

In December 2008, the RIAA announced that it would end its lawsuit campaign in which it targeted alleged file-sharers for cash settlements.

The venture, which lasted 5 long years, saw the group target some 18,000 individuals and generate some of the most controversial anti-piracy headlines of the last decade.

Recent years have seen the same strategy revived, largely by adult studios. With less of a reputation to preserve and possessing additional leverage as their victims fret over their taste in media becoming public, news of the lucrative schemes spread deeper into the porn industry and beyond.

Eventually mainstream movie companies such as The Hurt Locker’s Voltage Pictures chanced their hand, and even more recently book publisher Wiley jumped on board.

Now, after several years’ break, music lawsuits are back on the agenda.

As revealed by a lawsuit filed April 20th in the US District Court For The Middle District of Florida, American metal band All Shall Perish are seeking to identify dozens of their fans who allegedly shared their music on BitTorrent without permission.

Founded in 2002, All Shall Perish are on the Nuclear Blast label. Through their lawsuit, filed by World Digital Rights, they are seeking to convert 80 IP addresses, harvested from a BitTorrent swarm sharing their album “This Is Where It Ends”, into real-life identities.

“Upon information and belief, each defendant went to a torrent site to download a torrent file and then downloaded and uploaded the copyrighted Work within the BitTorrent network,” court papers read.

Among other things, the plaintiff demands that each defendant is held “jointly and severally liable for the direct infringement of each other defendant” and held liable for statutory damages of $150,000.

A jury trial is demanded but as everyone knows by now, no robustly defended case will ever get to court. Settlements of a few thousand dollars will be offered and paid by terrified individuals, whether or not they are guilty.

This is the second BitTorrent infringement case filed in recent days by the Dorta & Ortega law firm. Worryingly, both cases have their roots in Germany where lawsuits of this nature are running riot. If these succeed, more will surely come.

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