In the digital age, copyright infringement has become a pressing concern for content creators and distributors. One company that has gained notoriety for aggressively pursuing copyright infringement cases is Strike 3 Holdings, an adult entertainment company. In this article, we will discuss how we were able to convince a federal judge to seal our client’s identity after another lawyer accidentally filed the ISP letter with our client’s name in a public filing in a Strike 3 lawsuit.
The Rise of Strike 3 Holdings
Strike 3 Holdings has made a name for itself by filing thousands of copyright infringement lawsuits against individuals accused of downloading and distributing their adult content without authorization. They claim to employ sophisticated software that monitors BitTorrent networks, allowing them to identify IP addresses of alleged infringers. Armed with this information, they file hundreds of lawsuits a year.
When we first starting dealing with Strike 3 Holdings, it was filing “pure bill of discovery” cases in county court in Miami. We represented individuals from all over the country, seeking to quash those lawsuits. More recently, Strike 3 Holdings has turned to federal courts throughout the country to file individual actions against purported infringers. We have represented many individuals in these cases without ever having to appear in court—as for many, a settlement is the most realistic and favorable outcome. No case is the same, and factors involving the number of claimed works and financial considerations can affect the settlement calculus when negotiating with Strike 3 Holdings.
The Importance of Protecting Your Identity
Defendants in copyright infringement lawsuits filed by Strike 3 Holdings often face not only the possibility of financial penalties but also severe reputational damage. For some, the stigma associated with adult content and the embarrassment of being publicly accused of copyright infringement can be overwhelming. Thus, many individuals accused by Strike 3 Holdings seek to protect their identity during legal proceedings to avoid these negative consequences.
Strategies for Protecting Your Identity When Dealing with Strike 3 Holdings
- Hire a lawyer: A key strategy to protect your identity is to hire an attorney who can represent you pseudonymously. This means that your name is not disclosed publicly, and all legal documents, including settlement paperwork, refer to you by your IP address. When you receive the ISP letter, you will have a set amount of time to respond, after that time lapses, Strike 3 Holdings will be able to learn your identity from your ISP. It is imperative to find an attorney before the objection deadline lapses, if possible.
- Hire the right lawyer: When hiring a lawyer, you want to find someone who is experienced in dealing with these types of lawsuits. Many of these experienced lawyers are able to represent you on a flat-fee basis. The Electronic Frontier Foundation keeps a list of lawyers who routinely handle these cases.
Case Study: Protecting John Doe’s Identity
Consider the case of John Doe, an individual accused by Strike 3 Holdings of downloading and sharing their adult content. John Doe hired an attorney, who filed a motion to quash Strike 3’s subpoena to their ISP in federal court, filing the ISP letter without any redaction. The federal judge denied the motion to quash and pointed out to Doe’s lawyer that Doe’s name and address were revealed on the public docket. The judge wrote in his order denying the motion to quash Strike 3’s subpoena:
But first, the Court acknowledges that Defendant’s filing contains Defendant’s name and address. Accordingly, the Clerk of Court is directed to maintain ECF 12-1 under Restriction Level Two until further order from the Court. If Defendant wants to proceed anonymously and keep this filing (containing Defendant’s identifying information) confidential, Defendant shall file a motion to (1) maintain the filing under Restriction Level Two and (2) proceed anonymously in this litigation on or before June 23, 2023.
We were then contacted by Doe, who retained us to respond to the Court’s order. We argued that: (1) courts have recognized the potential shame and embarrassment of being accused of online piracy is often used as unfair leverage by plaintiffs, including Strike 3 Holdings;¹ (2) the claims here were personal, private, and of a sensitive nature;² (3) Doe had an economic interest in protecting their identity, and (4) the public interest in learning Doe’s identity was minimal.
The Court granted our motion, allowing Doe to seal the unredacted ISP letter and proceed anonymously in the case through trial.
In sum, if you are concerned with protecting your identity when dealing with Strike 3 Holdings, we urge you to seek out experienced counsel. You can contact us at email@example.com or (305) 523-9023.
 See,e.g., Sunlust Pictures v. Does 1-75, 2012 WL 3717768, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 27, 2012) (“Judges within this district have recognized that plaintiffs in these types of cases might unfairly threaten to disclose defendants’ identities in order to improperly leverage settlement negotiations.”) (citing Hard Drive Productions v. Does 1-48, 2012 WL 2196038 (N.D. Ill. June 14, 2012)); Strike 3 Holdings, LLC v. Doe, 2019 WL 1122984, at *3 (D. Conn. Mar. 12, 2019) (explaining that “[t]his [c]ourt is sensitive to the fact that the sheer volume of cases commenced by [Plaintiff], and their brief procedural history—commencement of the action, receipt of permission to serve a third-party subpoena on an ISP provider prior to the 26(f) conference, and voluntary dismissal of the actions weeks or months thereafter—is suggestive of coercive settlement practices that this [c]ourt does not condone”); Strike 3 Holdings, LLC v. Doe, Civ. No. 20-14321 (NLH/AMD), 2021 WL 7286225, at *5 (D.N.J. Dec. 22, 2021) (“courts have raised issues with Plaintiff’s settlement of these actions”); Strike 3 Holdings, LLC v. Doe, 2019 WL 4745360, at *6 (D.N.J. Sept. 30, 2019) (allowing defendant to proceed anonymously after he lodged contentions that “[p]laintiff plans to use the threat of litigation coupled with the threat of reputational injury to coerce a settlement”); Strike 3 Holdings, LLC v. Doe, 2018 WL 3688412, at *1 n.2 (W.D. Pa. Aug. 3, 2018) (noting the “[c]ourt shares the concerns of a number of district courts that the defendants might be subject to coercive settlement tactics absent limits”).
 Next Phase Distribution, Inc. v. Doe 1-138, 2012 WL 691830, at *2 (S.D. N.Y. Mar. 1, 2012); Strike 3 Holdings, LLC v. Doe, 2022 WL 1214170, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 25, 2022) (“An allegation that an individual illegally downloaded adult entertainment likely goes to matters of a sensitive and highly personal nature.”)) (granting motion to proceed under pseudonym in Strike 3 case).