2018 saw a record number of lawsuits filed against alleged online file-sharing pirates in the US. The new cases filed against BitTorrent users alone skyrocketed in 2018. More than half of these lawsuits related to copyright infringement were initiated by just two companies.
Over the last 10 years or so, the US courts have tried legal cases against many alleged online pirates. Illegal file-sharing, whether intentional or not, has become a major focus of corporate copyright holding legal departments.
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Recent Changes in Lawsuits Against BitTorrent Users
When this practice of taking BitTorrent users started really getting popular with corporate law firms, they were serving thousands of individuals with each case brought before the court. This is not the case these days, with most legal actions now being brought against single individuals up to a couple dozen.
This movement away from court cases full of anonymous John and Jane Doe defendants is not indicative of less court cases pertaining to file-sharing on the dockets. In 2018, the number of cases brought before the courts against BitTorrent users was truly record breaking.
In the first half of 2018 alone, more than 3300 lawsuits were filed on the grounds of copyright infringement. Most of those cases were brought against single individuals.
The previous year saw less than one third the number of similar lawsuits, with research carrid out by the Lex Machina site pointing to just 1019 file-sharing cases in 2017. For perspective, the previous record number of cases set in 2015 was 2887.
Primary Copyright Lawsuit Plaintiffs
Most of this copyright infringement lawsuit activity has been initialized by Strike 3 Holdings and Malibu Media, which are a pair of adult entertainment industry companies.
For many years, Malibu Media has been one of the most litigious entities in copyright infringement cases. They are the company behind all the X-Art series of adult movies. Court records from 2017 alone show Malibu Media filing 1231 court cases.
Trumping Malibu Media’s record, Strike 3 Holdings filed 2092 copyright infringement court cases in 2018. This company runs the Vixen, Blacked, and Tushy websites to distribute their adult entertainment.
The court cases filed by both Malibu Media and Strike 3 Holdings are nearly identical in every way. This is easily explained by the fact that Emilie Kennedy, in-house counsel for Strike 3, used to represent Malibu Media.
Between the two companies, they brought over 3300 new copyright infringement cases before US courts in 2018. To put this in perspective, the third place litigator was Bodyguard Productions with only 70 cases filed.
These three companies’ lawsuit filings totaled over half of all copyright infringement cases in the US last year. The number of such cases totaled just over 6000 in 2018 according to trusted legal site Justia .
At this time, these three companies seem to be the only ones filing lawsuits and taking BitTorrent users to court in the US. This could change very soon if it is seen that there is money to be made with this litigious practice.
Safeguard Yourself in 2019
While some courts are becoming more skeptical of copyright infringement lawsuits in general, this practice so far continues unabated into 2019. Only time will tell if it carries over into mainstream free movie streaming online.