Complaint Seeks to Hold Data Service Provider Liable for Subscribers’ Infringement of Copyrighted Works

Voltage Holdings, LLC v. Wonder One, LLC et al., Civil Action No. 1:22-cv-02576-SEG (N.D. Ga. June 28, 2022)

Plaintiffs Voltage Holdings, LLC, Wonder One, LLC, Venice PI, LLC, and Mon, LLC filed suit against Defendant Earthlink, LLC for copyright infringement and violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, on June 28, 2022. The Complaint alleges that Plaintiffs are producers and owners of copyrights in 17 motion picture works (listed in Exhibit A), including works such as “A Family Man” and “Once Upon a Time in Venice,” that are sold online and in retail stores.

Plaintiffs allege that Defendant, who is a premium internet service provider, and third-party Charter Communications Operating, LLC were parties to a High-Speed Service Agreement (“HSSA”) pursuant to which Charter sold Defendant high-speed data service over Charter’s cable network that Plaintiff marketed and resold to consumers as EarthLink. Charter (formerly Time Warner Cable, Inc.) also supplied to Defendant 1 million IP addresses for Defendant to supply to subscribers to facilitate access to Defendant’s high-speed service.

The Complaint alleges that Defendant promoted its high-speed data services as capable of downloading and uploading large amounts of content and that many of Defendant’s subscribers subscribed to Defendant’s service because it “allows them to download movies and other copyrighted content–including unauthorized content–as efficiently as possible.” Plaintiffs allege that at all relevant times, “Defendant knew that its subscribers routinely used its network for illegally downloading and uploading copyrighted works” but that Defendant failed to take any corrective action. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege they notified Defendant of this unlawful activity and sent over 3,700 take-down notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act but that, despite these notices, Defendant “turned a blind eye to the massive infringement” because Defendant “knew that if it terminated or otherwise prevented repeat infringer subscribers from using it service to infringe, or made it less attractive for such use, Defendant would enroll fewer new subscribers.” Notably, Plaintiffs do not accuse Defendant of directly infringing the copyrighted motion pictures but rather seek to hold Defendant liable for its subscribers’ infringement, arguing that “Defendant’s subscribers access torrent sites from IP addresses provided by Defendant” and that “Defendant’s subscribers reproduce[], distribut[], and publicly perform[] copies of Plaintiffs’ Works from the Earthlink IP addresses” with Defendant’s knowledge or, at the very least, without Defendant’s intervention. Plaintiffs also allege that Defendant controls their subscribers’ access and that the copyright infringement arises from Defendant’s advertisements.

The Complaint asserts causes of action for (1) contributory copyright infringement, (2) vicarious copyright infringement, and (3) secondary liability for Digital Millennium Copyright Act violations. Plaintiffs seek an injunction and order requiring Defendant to block subscribers from accessing piracy websites where Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works are available and to disclose the identities of subscribers who use Defendant’s service to infringe Plaintiffs’ works. Plaintiffs also seek actual damages and Defendant’s profits or, in the alternative, statutory damages, as well as attorney’s fees. The case has been assigned to Judge Geraghty.

Categories: Copyright, N.D. Ga.

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