Siemens Goes Copyright Troll, Files Infringement Lawsuit Against 100 John Does
from the really-now? dept
While we’ve seen plenty of stories of movie/video companies (often porn companies) filing mass copyright infringement lawsuits against a large group of “John Does,” generally more established companies have stayed away from the whole mass Doe copyright trolling game. It appears that Siemens is looking to change that. As noticed by the CopyrightClerk website, Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. filed a mass infringement lawsuit against 100 John Does. It’s not clear how Siemens found these individuals, but it only has IP addresses (which more and more courts have been ruling is simply not enough to identify alleged infringers). Furthermore, a growing number of courts have been rejecting mass Doe lawsuits, noting that it’s improper to lump them all together into a single lawsuit, as the defendants are not connected.
In fact, what’s really odd is that by joining them all together, Siemens may significantly limit any damages it might get. That’s because it’s effectively suggesting a single act of infringement across all defendants. And while the lawsuit seeks statutory damages “for each infringement of each Copyrighted Software,” some lawyers have pointed out that 17 USC 504 (the part of copyright law dealing with statutory damages) limits the statutory damage award to “all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work.” In other words, the total statutory damages for each work that is listed in the action has to be $30,000 (or $150,000 if willful). Thus, by lumping them all together, even if the court allows the joinder, it would be at most $150,000 per software infringed (the lawsuit lists 3 potential products), meaning that the defendants would be “jointly and severally liable” for the total amount — but it’s not like they’d get $150,000 from each of the 100 Does.