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“Zombie Subpoena” threatren unrepresentated John Doe

July 8, 2013

TorrentFreak: “Killer Joe and the Zombie Subpoena’s That Aren’t” by Ben Jones is about copyright litigation in Georgia regarding alleged illegal downloads of the movie “Killer Joe“; described by Wikipedia as “a 2011 American Southern Gothic black comedy crime film”, with Matthew McConaughey described on IMDB : “When a debt puts a young man’s life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.”

Unfortunately Jones doesn’t use “zombie” in the article (only the headline) but the subpoenas described were ordered by the Court and then action against 80 of the John Doe defendants was dismissed, citing a May 28th order of Chief U.S. District Judge Julie E. Carnes. But as Jones explains:

no-one seems to have told the ISP’s that. While eager to get the subpoena to the ISP’s to get the details, the same zeal seems not to be applied to telling those same ISPs to stop. That’s because at least three different people have apparently contacted just one attorney, Blair Chintella, about this case, after being notified by their ISP, after May 28th.

Bravo to Mr. Chintella for optimizing his practice toward these kinds of peer-to-peer copyright infringement claims. And one of the biggest issues in these cases is that defendants not try to handle this without an attorney. These are John Doe subpoena of the Internet Service Providers. The copyright holder is asking the Court to force the ISP to reveal who private personal information about the alleged download. If the copyright holder knew who the downloader was they would sue them by name them, but they don’t and it’s important defense to try to prevent the plaintiffs from getting that information. If the alleged infringers try to handle their case without competent representation they are likely to inadvertently reveal their own personal information.

This is why “zombie subpoena” are particularly worrisome in John Doe cases. If these are still out there and the ISPs potentially pass along subpoena from a dismissed case, the user might give himself up. I guess this is ok if he feels liable and wants to pay whatever asked to settle the claim. But what if it was a spoofed IP address, what if the user never downloaded “Killer Joe” and now that they have given their name to the copyright-plaintiff they are sued in Federal Court and forced to pay lawyers for expensive litigation. Instead, if you get any kind of subpoena or any claim of copyright infringement it is best to get legal advice immediately, but particularly if you are only named as John Doe.

Meanwhile some moments of irony:

1) this is the best press “Killer Joe” could hope to get this summer, maybe I’ll think about renting it next time I see a Blockbuster (ha, of course I mean RedBox – or whatever NetFlix is called now) – And “Killer Joe” is almost like “Killer Doe”, right? And that plot of “Killer Joe” suggest matricide, recall the “Halloween” movies by Rob Zombie and the true story of 17yo who killed his mom after watching

2) a quick scan of Ben Jones previous articles at TorrentFreak are about similar copyright litigation issues, and have recently included the following words in headlines: “Copyright Trolls”, “Judge Fires Phasers” and “Pirate Party” – so “zombies” was really a natural extension. Internet copyrights get the best character metaphors! See also other ZombieLaw Trolls, Star Trek and Pirates.

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