Copyright Headline Intellectual Property

Copyright Infringement Subpoena: To Challenge Or Not To Challenge

In order for a copyright holder to get personal information of someone whom is considered to be illegally infringing the copyright, the copyright holder likely must subpoena the infringer’s internet service provider (ISP).  The person accused of infringing activity has the right to file a motion to quash the subpoena; however, the accused infringer will not prevail on that motion if he bases it on a denial of liability.

Courts have held that a general denial of liability is not grounds for quashing a copyright holder’s subpoena.  While the person accused may have valid defenses to a lawsuit filed by the copyright holder, those defenses are not at issue until the person is actually named as a party.  Thus, in order for an accused infringer to prevail in the motion to quash the subpoena, he must provide something greater than a general denial of liability.

But what exactly must be shown?  It is unclear.  In fact, some courts are starting to refuse to even consider arguments offered by the accused infringers who submit motions to quash subpoenas.  The court mentioned in the link above took notice that other courts have “uniformly held that the privacy interest in [ISP account] information is minimal and not significant enough to warrant the special dispensation of anonymous filing.”

Based on that ruling, is it even worth it for an accused infringer who is close to 100% sure that he did not infringe any copyright to file a motion to quash the subpoena?  That is something the accused infringer should consult an attorney about prior to filing the motion or holding back from filing it.  Sometimes filing the motion will just place an unnecessary target on the head of the accused, but if there is absolutely nothing to hide, then it may be worth the filing.