Bit torrent lawsuits sound like they'd be a thing of the past, but they're not. In fact, your internet service provider might have recently sent you a notice that you're being sued over file sharing.
As someone facing this situation, you are right to be surprised. Many people used these services, which presented sharing as a fair and legal way to obtain music and files. However, download copyrighted materials and using them without permission is against the law.
If you've been notified that you're being sued, keep in mind that all that is currently known is your IP address. It could be anyone in the household using a computer that is the true culprit, if anyone at all. Right now, no one has released your name to those pursuing a lawsuit, but it's possible that your ISP will have to release that information.
What happens if you don't respond to the notice?
If you don't respond, then it's likely that a default judgment will be issued. These are automatic decisions made as a result of your not taking time to defend yourself. The court then rules in favor of the other party.
What can you do to defend yourself?
If you want to fight back, there are two primary options. They are a Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Quash. The Motion to Dismiss asks the court to dismiss the lawsuit. A Motion to Quash asks the subpoena for your information to be invalidated. In many cases, these two options work and help you protect yourself.
Is there an option to settle and resolve the case?
Usually, there is. However, it may cost you thousands of dollars to essentially "pay back" the plaintiff for the property that was stolen and used in violation of the copyright terms. Your attorney can talk to you more about whether this is a good option, especially if you could settle for little and make the entire situation dissipate.
Every person who has been on a computer has likely interacted with illegal downloads or shared files. It's so common that it's almost impossible to find a person today who didn't use bit torrent or other similar services. You still need to know your rights, because groups of people doing something wrong can all be held accountable. It's best if you have a strong defense and take the case seriously to protect yourself.