Strike 3 Holdings is a familiar name in US federal courts. In recent years, the adult entertainment company has filed thousands of lawsuits against alleged copyright infringers.
While many of these resulted in private settlements, Strike 3 has also experienced some setbacks. This includes a scathing opinion that was released by Judge Royce C. Lamberth.
In 2018, Judge Lamberth accused the company of being a “copyright troll,” that uses “famously flawed” technology to prey on “low-hanging fruit,” flooding the courthouse “with lawsuits smacking of extortion.”
The Judge denied early discovery, which meant that Strike 3 couldn’t find out who the subscriber of an IP-address was, something that’s crucial in their cases.
The case in question is currently being appealed, with Strike 3 claiming that it wasn’t treated fairly, perhaps in part due to the adult nature of its works. This was discussed in detail during a hearing last week at the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Among other things, the appeal court judges questioned Strike 3 about possible false accusations, where the subscriber on an IP-address is not the infringer. The company admitted this indeed happens in roughly a quarter of all cases. However, to determine that they first have to know who the subscriber is.
This is where Strike 3’s attorney Lincoln Bandlow provided some interesting background. To back up some of their claims, the company has been scouring social media sites for possible leads. In some cases, that helps to serve as indirect evidence.
“We have cases where we get the name and address and we can look. We found somebody who’s tweeted ‘Love your content, do more works with this particular talent, etcetera, etcetera.’ Clearly that’s somebody who likes the works and there’s reason to believe that they are the ones who have infringed,” the attorney writes.
According to Bandlow, Strike 3 conducts a substantial investigation to back up their initial claims. And if it turns out they have the wrong person and can’t identify the target, the case is dismissed. However, in order to get to that point, they need to know who’s behind the IP-address.
This position was countered by the amicus curiae appellant, which wants the district court order to be upheld. While this decision is ultimately up to the appeals court, the social media angle also applies elsewhere.
Earlier this week we stumbled upon a new case Strike 3 filed at a federal court in Connecticut, which also mentions social media.
The lawsuit in question is different from the traditional ‘trolling cases’ where Strike 3 doesn’t know the defendant. In this case, it already obtained the subscriber information through the Florida state court, which we reported on previously.
Having a name and address upfront allowed Strike 3 to dig up some extra information, more than just an IP-address, which in this case includes social media info.
“Defendant’s social media webpages establishes that Defendant is interested in…,” the complaint reads, listing a summary of redacted interests.
While the adult entertainment company redacted the details, they likely relate to adult interests, or perhaps something piracy related. Whatever the case, it shows that people who put this type of information on social media may eventually have to face it in court.
Whether the judge in this case will see if as sufficient is another question. However, it clearly shows that the traces people leave online are not always as innocent as they seem.