So, you're being sued for piracy

What's that? You just got a letter asking for money because you downloaded a movie? Here's what you should do.

By Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, PC World |  Networking, piracy

Copyright trolls don't want to go to court. Doing so is costly and risky--neither of those things is good from the standpoint of a copyright troll. It's much cheaper and easier for them if people who receive letters simply pay up, instead of forcing an actual court case.

If you are ever on the receiving end of a copyright-infringement accusation from a troll, it will likely be in the form of a settlement letter. A letter is not a lawsuit, and you will face no legal repercussions if you ignore it. However, Art Neill, lawyer and executive director of New Media Rights, says that this doesn't mean you should ignore it.

If you receive a settlement letter through your ISP, your name has not yet been revealed to the group that is trying to get your money. Keep it that way. Maintain your privacy at all costs, says Neill, and contact the plaintiff's attorney only through your own attorney or anonymously (that is, through an email address that won't identify you personally).

Here's why anonymity is so important: Judge Harold Baker recently ruled in VPR Internationale v. Does 1-1017 that an IP address was not a person, and blocked Canadian film company VPR Internationale from forcing ISPs to give up personal information tied to IP addresses. In this case, if people had given up their names to the film company before the judgment was passed, the company would still be able to sue them--using their names.

That said, if you decide to settle, it isn't wise to do so anonymously. Some copyright trolls give you the option of settling through a website or over a phone number, and identifying yourself only by your IP address. This is a bad idea, Neill says, because IP addresses can be dynamic, and keeping your name out of the settlement may get you sued again.

Don't Waste Your Time and Money (You'll Need It)

If you're innocent, or if you think you have a case, the goal is to spend as little money as possible. If you did download files, deleting them won't save you (though you may receive a "cease and desist" letter requesting that you remove them).

Also, running out and purchasing a physical copy of the material you've downloaded will do no good--though it might help you make the (irrelevant) argument that piracy helps sell products, says Jason Rosenfield of Scenic Labs. If you already own a copy of the material, and you can prove that you purchased the copy before you downloaded the file, you may be protected under "fair use."

Though a settlement letter is not a lawsuit, it's still a good idea to contact an attorney.

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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