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.

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Companies: siemens, siemens product lifecycle management software

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Comments on “Siemens Goes Copyright Troll, Files Infringement Lawsuit Against 100 John Does”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Looking at the type of software involved, it is not the sort of software bought by individual, although some individuals would get a copy just to play with it. This may include individuals wishing to learn the software to make themselves more employable.
Even Microsoft realizes this with regards to visual studio and make a free version available so that people can learn it.

Anonymous Coward says:

not clear how Siemens found these individuals

they uploaded the file and looked at the ips that downloaded , unless the site that hosted them is working for them ,that should be the first question asked by any of the doe’s and pretty much a killer for any file hosting site that gives away it users ip’s.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They pretty much call anyone who disagrees with their opinions a troll. If you feel that people should be able to be compensated for their labor and that these same people should be able to control what happens to their labor, you’re a troll if you ever try to stop abusers. By their definition, women who report rape are sex trolls who were obviously just asking for it.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It appears to be that your definition of troll is anyone having the temerity to filing a lawsuit, any lawsuit, to redress the wrongful appropriation of their products.

What we actually believe, and what you falsely believe we “appear” to believe are, as per usual, vastly different.

But, you know that.

I think it’s rather obvious how this activity is a form of trolling. That you don’t see that speaks volumes about how you view the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Having followed your many articles lambasting anything in law that does not neatly merry up with your economic opinions, having followed your professed animus towards anyone who seeks to assert rights conferred to them by law, having followed, having observed your constant repetition of what you are so cocksure is the meaning of the word “progress” as it appears in Article 1 of the US Constitution, having followed your many proclamations that you are not anti-patent or anti-copyright, but then use every excuse in the book to why in each case you review that a patent is obvious and a copyright undeserved, your proclamations ring even more than hollow…the reflect an underlying despise for the law, having (fill in the blank).

No, you seem to want people to accept that you are an honest broker in these matters, a proposition so totally unsupported here that one has to be quite gullible to believe otherwise.

If you have dealt even in the slightest with Siemens you would realize just how ludicrous it is to call this lawsuit the work of a troll. I have represented many parties in domestic and international dealings with Siemens, and in each case they were professional and straightforward…a commendable trait that is shared by most companies/corporations similar in size and focused on delivering top quality products and services to their customers.

There are, of course, “pond scum” parties that are classic examples of trollish behavior. Siemens is not even close to what those parties foist on others, and to suggest otherwise informs me that your understanding of how companies like Siemens go about conducting business is sorely lacking.

Siemens is a class company engaged in an incredibly wide area of technology covering many industries. To trumpet “Siemens is a troll” is based out of ignorance that would easily be dispelled if you took the time to study how it conducts business in its many technology sectors.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: What Might Be Happening (to Anonymous Coward, #22)

Let’s assume for purposes of discussion that there is real joinder between the hundred John Does.

Suppose that there are a bunch of small companies, employing used NC machine tools to produce things on a mass-production basis. There are at least two areas where this is likely to arise. One is auto parts, where there is a market for comparatively small quantities of critical parts such as fuel injectors. The original manufacturer of the automobile more or less deliberately under-supplies this market, because it wants the customer to buy a new car instead of just dropping in a new set of injector nozzles. Under the circumstances, an independent auto-parts maker can do business even if its manufacturing costs are ten times those of the auto manufacturer. The after-market nozzles might cost two hundred dollars instead of twenty dollars. However, most of the other engine and transmission components are not that finicky, and can be retrieved from a junkyard at near-zero cost, and an automobile can be restored to service for, say, five hundred dollars.

Another such market might be certain small medical devices, which are grossly overpriced in terms of their size and complexity.

Under this kind of regime, a small manufacturer with one or a few machine tools might not have enough design work to employ a designer or engineer, but might need to have a computer running the Siemens software to plug the machine tool into. Such a company would have a comparatively large number of assemblers and salesmen, etc., tending to justify its existence as a separate company. There might be a freelance designer, who has a number of such industrial clients, and sets them up with everything they need to crank out parts, including software. Siemens would probably become aware that one registered copy of the program was calling home, collecting software updates, etc., from all over the place. Siemens would probably be reluctant to employ “crippleware” tactics with any software which was actually controlling a machine tool, because the risk of being charged with manslaughter in case of an industrial accident is too great.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Your comments have been interesting, but have absolutely nothing to do with my comment concerning personal experience dealing with Siemens on many matters involving both mutual and adverse interests. Surely you cannot be trying to suggest or imply that I am simply making things up re Siemens. If so, then you would be totally off base and completely mistaken.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“My friends”?

Did you note my dealings with Siemens have been in the context of representing others? Some involved strong mutuality of interest to pursue specific business opportunities domestically and internationally. Some involved clearly divergent interests where dispute resolution was the objective.

Never is any of the latter instances were Siemen’s representatives and employees anything other than fully professional.

Call them whatever you wish, but “troll” could not be more off the mark.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Would you rather the company be required at the very outset to file 100 separate complaints with the court that are exactly the same and tax the court resources 100 fold?

All being sought is information associated with IP addresses. I rather doubt Siemens, with such information in hand, will follow the lead of those parties that have been pilloried here (and with justification).

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Would you rather the company be required at the very outset to file 100 separate complaints with the court that are exactly the same and tax the court resources 100 fold?

If it has evidence that each of the 100 is infringing, then yes. As you well know (or, if not, you should) lumping together unrelated parties into the same lawsuit is an abuse of the court system. It places the defendants in an unfair position of defending actions they had nothing to do with involving parties they have no interaction with.

This is why so many of these kinds of lawsuits have ended with a court ordering the defendants severed.

Anonymous Coward says:

“they uploaded the file and looked at the ips that downloaded , unless the site that hosted them is working for them ,that should be the first question asked by any of the doe’s and pretty much a killer for any file hosting site that gives away it users ip’s.”

Maybe, but that doesn’t make sense to me. The bittorrent litigation accuses people of *distributing* a copyrighted work, because bittorrent makes you upload and download simultaneously. If you simply downloaded a copy off a file hosting site, you didn’t upload anything. Thus, you were not distributing it.

I could easily see where they’d go after the individual who originally uploaded the file to the file hosting site, because that meets the definition of distributing a copyrighted work. But the people who downloaded it… no.

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