In May and June of this year, Attorney Richard Fee’s I.P. Enforcement Law Group filed 14 Dallas Buyers Club lawsuits, and summons have begun to circulate. These suits, filed on behalf of Plaintiff, Dallas Buyers Club, LLC, are for the alleged infringement via BitTorrent download of the film Dallas Buyers Club, starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, and Jared Leto.
Why Does a Box Office Hit Turn to BitTorrent Litigation?
Dallas Buyers Club is a rather atypical film to BitTorrent litigation, which is usually resolved for B-movies, porn, or films that have may have lost money at the box office. In contrast, Dallas Buyers Club has garnered multiple accolades, including six Academy Award nominations, and by January had already earned $16.8 million.
In other words, Dallas Buyers Club is a successful film. So why use to BitTorrent litigation to turn a profit? One theory is that the film company itself, Dallas Buyers Club, LLC is not the one most benefiting from these films, but rather the benefits are flowing to other vehicles driving the litigation.
Another theory is that the film company is on a crusade to combat piracy. As Cassian Elwes, Dallas Buyers Club‘s Executive Producer, explained in a panel discussion at Cannes this year:
The Hurt Locker made $15 million at the box office, sold 6 million tickets, but got 10 million illegal downloads. None of those people bought legally –what if 5% did? That’s $2 million. You could make film for that.
Others argue that BitTorrent downloads do not hurt but rather help drive sales at the box office. Therefore, as to Mr. Elwe’s question of “what if those people bought legally,” the answer might be: They simply would have not downloaded, never talked their friends into watching the movie, and the box office sales would not have been as high as they were.
With these conflicting perspectives, the concern to combat movie piracy continues to be an ongoing debate.
BitTorrent Lawsuits in Florida: Not Like the Others
The suits in Florida are in addition to many others throughout the country for the same film. The suits in other states differ from those in Florida, though, because they are filed against mass groups of John Does. Back in December 2012 and the months that followed, Florida’s Middle and Northern Districts began severing BitTorrent cases one after another, like dominos. Therefore, each suit filed in Florida is usually filed against only one Defendant at a time.
What to Do if Served with One of the Dallas Buyers Club Lawsuits
First and foremost: DO NOT IGNORE IT. If you do, you risk a default being entered against you, which means a money judgment that can be collected for many years to come. So take it seriously – this is federal litigation, the real deal!
If you have been served, you are going to have to file a response with the Court within 21 days.
If you have been sued in Florida, you can can call our office at 407-965-5519 or email us to discuss your options. We will then help you determine your best defenses and strategies in how to deal with the BitTorrent lawsuit. Every case is different and depends on the factual details behind your specific situation.
If you’re in another state, check out the EFF Subpoena Resources page, which lists many attorneys who defend in these cases. The list has grown greatly in the last couple of years and remains a valuable resource.