By now most BitTorrent users should be well aware that their IP-addresses and downloads can be easily monitored.
This has resulted in hundreds of thousands of lawsuits against alleged video pirates, both in the U.S. and abroad.
In the U.S., most of these cases are filed by Strike 3 Holdings. The company produces adult entertainment videos made available via the Blacked, Tushy, and Vixen websites. When the videos are shared on pirate sites, Strike 3 takes action.
More Pirates, More Lawsuits?
These lawsuits can be a lucrative business, especially when targeted defendants opt for quick settlements of a few thousand dollars. The money comes on top of the deterrent factor, which is often cited by copyright holders as one of the main reasons to take action.
These lawsuits deter many alleged pirates and maybe some of their neighbors too, but the copyright-infringement problem is rather persistent, as is exemplified by Strike 3’s own track record.
This week, we decided to take a look at the number of file-sharing lawsuits filed in the United States in 2022. The data shows that one company has been particularly active: Strike 3 Holdings.
From January 1 to today, Strike 3 submitted 2,788 complaints in various courts around the U.S., targeting “John Doe” subscribers. This is a record-breaking statistic. Never before has a copyright holder filed this many lawsuits against alleged file-sharers in a single year.
For comparison, in 2017 all rightsholders combined filed 1,019 file-sharing cases. In the following years, this number increased mostly thanks to Strike 3, which set the previous record at 2,094 in 2018.
Strike 3 filed its first case in 2017 and since then has submitted over 9,000 complaints at federal courts.
Strike 3 is currently responsible for most legal action against file-sharers in the U.S. Other independent movie studios also file piracy-related lawsuits, but these are limited to a few dozen at most.
With this level of workload, it’s no surprise that most cases are resolved relatively swiftly. Of all lawsuits filed in the first half of the year, more than 90% have already been closed. This happens when the parties reach an out-of-court settlement or if Strike 3 drops a complaint for other reasons.
There are also instances of defendants simply ignoring Strike 3 lawsuits. When that happens, Strike 3 often requests a default judgment from the court, which can go either way depending on the circumstances.
A massive award for damages is one potential outcome. Last year a federal court in New York ordered a local resident to pay $108,750 in damages for sharing 145 pirated videos via BitTorrent. Other courts have denied similar default judgment requests.
Due to the costs involved, it’s rare for accused pirates to fight back and then secure a win, but when Strike 3 filed a lawsuit against a “John Doe” who turned out to be a 70+-year-old retired police officer, the tables were turned.
Another “Doe” is putting up a spirited fight in a separate case, one that’s currently heading to trial. If that goes ahead, it will only be the second time that’s ever happened.
Overall, we assume that Strike 3 must be quite pleased with the results of its legal campaigns. If it was a money-losing operation, they probably wouldn’t file thousands of complaints every year.