Review calculates statutory damages per infringement via BitTorrent protocol

OHIO – Plaintiff TCYK LCC filed two separate lawsuits against Does 1-47 and 48-98 for allegedly violating copyright laws by downloading and sharing plaintiff’s motion picture, The Company You Keep, via BitTorrent protocol. One of the IP addresses was traced to one Joe Snodgrass and another to one Charles Ghent. Judge Marbley presided over the cases.

In the Snodgrass case, TCYK LLC initially sought $150,000 in statutory damages. Nonetheless, the Court owns the substantial discretion to set the statutory damages within the allowable range, guided by certain variables:

“When determining the proper amount of statutory damages, courts have looked to: (1) whether defendants’ infringement was willful, knowing, or innocent; (2) defendants’ profit from infringement; (3) plaintiffs’ loss from infringement; and (4) deterring future violations by defendants and similarly situated entities.

The facts of this case do not justify plaintiff’s requested award. Although the entry of his default has established a copyright infringement by defendant, it is not necessarily the case that defendant was the original user who made plaintiff’s work available to the public. Moreover, there is no evidence that defendant profited from the infringement. The nature of BitTorrent is such that defendant would not likely have reaped any profit from his participation in the infringement of plaintiff’s copyright except for the amount that defendant saved by illegally downloading the motion picture.”

In both cases, the Court held that an award of $6,000 in statutory damages properly answers for the plaintiff’s loss, the defendant’s gain, and the public’s appeal to deter future copyright violations as “in the vast majority of [cases involving intentional copyright infringement by use of BitTorrent or other file sharing protocols], courts have found damages of no more than $6,500 per infringement to be sufficient compensation for the injured copyright holder.”

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