While the pragmatic scope of our services depends entirely on each client's particular circumstances, there are certain matters which are common to nearly all clients' inquiries:
The first thing you should NOT do is call plaintiff's attorney, despite it perhaps being suggested by your ISP in the subpoena notification letter. Internet research into the matter should be made with caution as there are countless blogs and internet fora dedicated mostly to bemoaning plaintiffs' counsels and ISPs and not focused on providing pragmatic solutions for the average John Doe. Misinformation is rampant, and simply trashing John Steele, apparently a popular thing to do online, does not make the problem go away.
A motion to quash a subpoena, if granted, effectively discharges the receiving party's obligation to comply. While it may seem obvious that a plaintiff from Arizona would have a jurisdictional problem with suing a Virginia resident in an Illinois court, it is important to remember that what is happening now is not that scenario. A plaintiff's request to the court that plaintiff be allowed to determine who you are and where you are located (the "they can just plug my IP address into a WHOIS search to know where I am" argument is both technically inaccurate and long-dead) is held to a different standard. Filing a motion to quash or some other non-dispositive motion is an option, but know that each jurisdiction entertains these types of lawsuits differently. A John Doe must take into consideration the case, the jurisdiction in which it is brought, the case's procedural history, and of course the cost to-be-incurred before proceeding with such motions.
Possibly. Facts to be considered in litigating the case if/when you were named as a defendant would include whether your wireless router was unsecured, whether you were home at the time of the alleged infringement, and whether a forensic analysis showed any trace of the allegedly-downloaded file on your computer hardware. Of course, a determined plaintiff would also seek to obtain information from whoever else may reside at the location and involve them in the lawsuit as well. Due to the cost and public and protracted nature of substantive litigation, very few John Does opt, or have had the opportunity, to engage the matter to this point.
Your ISP will disclose your subscriber information to plaintiff's counsel. About two weeks later, they will send you a demand letter. You may also receive phone calls from plaintiff's counsel to the same effect. There have been instances where plaintiff's counsel has determined and utilized a John Doe's contact information, and even that of the John Doe's friends and family, prior to the ISP's disclosure.
No, and the statement is quite shortsighted. To proceed against you, the plaintiff has to name you individually as a defendant. Not only has the number of pending multiple-John Doe suits increased every month for the last two years, but individual former-John Does have been named in lawsuits across the country for about the last eight months. Indeed, the time for plaintiff to individually bring its copyright infringement and/or Computer Fraud and Abuse Act claims is three years and two years, respectively. To use a common example, the fact that Mark Lutz from Prenda Law has not called you for two months is somewhat irrelevant in the long run.
Receiving a subpoena notification letter from your ISP, or a demand letter from plaintiff's counsel, is undeniably unfortunate. There are a few pragmatic paths forward, and which one fits you best will depend on a variety of factors such as the case in which you are indirectly involved, where you are located, your employment, your finances, and your tolerance for risk.
We have spoken with and assisted hundreds of anonymous and exposed-John Does caught up in this plague of litigation. From this experience, we have realized that there is not only a staggering amount of misinformation and subjective analysis of these cases, but that many anxious John Does are talked into carelessly addressing the situation or coerced into paying for questionably-effectual legal services. We invite anyone who is involved in any of this litigation to contact us for an objective analysis of his paths forward.