As previously reported, a lawsuit filed April 20 in the US District Court For The Middle District of Florida is targeting fans of American metal band All Shall Perish (ASP).
The case is special in two distinct ways. First, this is the only time that alleged sharers of music have been targeted in US copyright settlements suits since the RIAA ended its lawsuit campaign years ago.
Second, and most crucially, this campaign being carried out by Panama-based World Digital Rights on behalf of All Shall Perish’s label Nuclear Blast, was initiated without the band’s knowledge or permission and has been continued in the face of their protests.
TorrentFreak has stayed in touch with the band’s manager Ryan Downey who told us that on a number of occasions Nuclear Blast have given him assurances that the campaign had been called off.
But in May we learned that Judge Sheri Polster Chappell had granted World Digital Rights permission to obtain the identities of 80 alleged file-sharers from US ISPs. We now know that at least one – Cox Communications – received a request from World Digital Rights on May 21 to identify at least one individual.
In a letter dated June 20 Cox wrote to that customer noting the following:
In the interim the unnamed defendant appears to have sought legal advice and on July 5 his or her lawyer filed a motion to quash with the US District Court For The Middle District of Florida.
The motion states that World Digital Rights “…subjects John Doe 12 to the undue burden and expense of involvement in litigation that should never have proceeded in the first place.”
Interestingly enough, and especially considering the band’s objections to the action, the problem appears to be a question of who claims the copyright to their album. Under the Copyright Act, no civil action for infringement can be carried out until a copyright has been officially registered.
However, according to the motion to quash, World Digital Rights “..fails to establish a prima facie copyright claim because the Work on which Plaintiff claims copyright ownership is not registered with the Copyright Office.”
John Doe 12’s lawyer says that she called the United States Copyright Office and discovered that the album ‘This Is Where It Ends’ by All Shall Perish has not been registered as required.
“The Subpoena should be quashed because Plaintiff has failed to establish that this copyright infringement claim should actually be heard in this court,” Doe 12’s lawyer adds.
It seems absolutely incredible that this process is continuing without the permission of the band, so with that in mind and to be absolutely certain nothing has changed, TorrentFreak triple-checked with their manager, who responded in no uncertain terms.
“The band is obviously not involved in this bullshit as you know. I’m not going to keep repeating myself on that. And there’s nothing to contradict that. NOTHING,” Downey told us.
“This was done without the band’s knowledge or cooperation and has continued AGAINST their extremely vocal protests in private and in public. Last time I’ll answer that.”
This whole situation drives a juggernaut through the notion that copyright infringement actions are there to protect the artists and although we’re no legal experts, we were surprised that John Doe 12’s lawyer didn’t raise this issue with the Court. TorrentFreak wrote to her and asked for comment, but we received no response.
As possibly the most objectionable copyright troll lawsuit continuing in the United States today, a fitting end would be for it to collapse in the biggest and most public way possible. This is not what copyrights are for.
If any reader has received a letter from World Digital Rights, please write to us in total confidence at the usual address.