Ok, I'll stop. Now leave me alone.
December 6, 2010 2:16 PM   Subscribe

YANML. Please help me find a lawyer to resolve a subpoena sent to my ISP, and give me an idea of what to expect from this situation.

I received a letter from my ISP saying they had gotten a subpoena for the account name for file sharing (almost certainly a single file via bittorrent). I am in the Boston area, and the suit was filed in the Chicago area. The account with the ISP is under a relative's name, and I hope to keep them out of this process as much as is possible.

I have a little under 30 days to respond in some fashion, and think it's time to find a lawyer to help me. This is all new to me, so I have a few questions:

(1) How do I actually go about finding a lawyer for this? I've been to the EFF subpoena defense list, but don't know who to get in touch with. Looking at some of the Boston names gives some personal injury lawyers, and some that seem to be on the side of protecting intellectual property. Would it be better to go with a lawyer in Illinois? How do I tell who is the most qualified?

(2) Quashing the subpoena is a possible avenue from what I understand. Assuming the subpoena is quashed, does this mean I'll be left alone, or is it just a stalling tactic?

(3) How much should I expect to be charged for legal counsel in this process? I've never had to retain a lawyer before.

(4) From what I understand, a lot of times these suits can be made to go away out-of-court for some amount of money. Does anyone have any idea what kinds of cost this would be?

(5) Are there any suggestions for ways to get this problem out of my life?

I have some money in savings that can be flexibly applied to solve this problem. In an ideal world, I would be able to quickly exchange some reasonable amount of money to keep my and my relative's name out of any legal proceeding.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
From this point, odds are one of two things happens:

1) Nothing. Frankly, this is the most common outcome. A lot of these subpoenas are filed purely as a scare tactic.

2) Pre-Settlement letter. At some point you'll be contacted by a law firm offering to not bring charges in return for a one time payment. The going amount for a movie seems to be about $1500-$2500. This is significantly cheaper than actually hiring a lawyer to go to trial, so if you are in fact guilty of what you're being accused of, it's probably better to take the offer.
posted by Oktober at 2:30 PM on December 6, 2010

Safest bet: Do not respond at all, speak to a lawyer first.

What kind of response are they requesting? It should not take any response from you for them to comply with a subpoena for records that they hold, so I'm wondering if they are just asking for you to confess to something?
posted by Menthol at 2:32 PM on December 6, 2010

Not much of an answer, I admit, but that EFF subpoena defence fund link includes the email addresses of two Illinois lawyers. Contact one of them.

Many lawyers will conduct an initial consultation free of charge (at least in my country, they do), but you should check this before you meet with them.

Good luck.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:33 PM on December 6, 2010

I actually personally know both people on the EFF subpoena defense list for IL. Since the suit was filed in IL, I'd recommend getting an IL lawyer. Kevin Thompson is at a bigger firm and would probably be more expensive. Charles Mudd runs a small shop that focuses on internet issues. I did some volunteer work for him and would definitely recommend him for this. You can get his info at his website.

I would call both of them and see who you like more. They're both great guys and you'd be in good hands either way.
posted by Arbac at 2:39 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

Dont say anything until you've talked to a lawyer, especially not anything admitting anything.
posted by elpea at 3:11 PM on December 6, 2010

If you are looking at lawyers to talk to and you are in the Boston area you might be interested in the work Booth Sweet LLP have been doing in this area, going after the people who go after movie downloaders. They're in your area and have an interesting class action thing going and they're nice guys. I went to college with Dan Booth. They could probably give you some information about who in the area is worthwhile to talk to if they can't help you directly.
posted by jessamyn at 3:24 PM on December 6, 2010

Seconding Dan Booth and Booth Sweet if you're in Boston (his offices are located in Cambridge around Central, I think); I went to law school with Dan, and I have great respect for him as a lawyer. He also happens to be the nicest fellow.
posted by dam1975 at 3:32 PM on December 6, 2010

I have to second Arbac's advice. Call a Chicago lawyer since you may end up having to quash the subpoena there. It is not the case that this is a scare tactic. If the subpoena isn't quashed, the ISP is going to give them the information. Plaintiff paid good money to get it because they plan to use it for something.

Also follow jessamyn's advice: talk to Boston lawyers who do this work.

While some lawyers may give you a free consultation, defense work is usually hourly; expect to pay a consultation fee.
posted by Hylas at 5:17 PM on December 6, 2010

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