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Toei Animation Sues 869 BitTorrent Users Over One Piece

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
U.S. defendants allegedly downloaded, distributed One Piece TV anime episode 515

The Japanese company Toei Animation filed a copyright infringement complaint against 869 "John Does" on September 29, 2011 over the 515th episode of the One Piece television anime.

According to the suit, which was filed in district court for the District of Columbia, the unidentified defendants "worked in concert, via the internet ... to reproduce and distribute unlawful, digital copies" of the episode "One Piece: No 515, I Will Get Much, Much Stronger! Zoro's Pledge to his Captain!" via the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol. The suit lists defendants by their host IP (Internet Protocol) addresses and Internet service providers. The alleged incidents of copyright infringement took place between September 16 to September 23.

Toei Animation also filed a Motion for Leave to Take Discovery in order to find the names and addresses of the defendants, which the court granted on October 5. Toei claims in its suit that these defendants in turn "may lead to the identification of additional infringing parties." The filed complaint identifies the representative "hash" number of the file as 5683D0EFD0C703237918E2A626D8DAD89D02046D. Toei Animation is filing the suit in the District of Columbia because Toei claims "on information and belief ... at least a portion of the Defendants reside or may be found in [that] District."

The suit notes that users in a BitTorrent "swarm," by design, are simultaneously downloading parts of the file and distributing parts of it to others. The suit also notes that it can join multiple parties as defendants if "the right to relief which Plaintiff is seeking arises '... out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences;' and a '...question of law or fact is common to all Defendants will arise in the action.'"

Toei Animation is asking the court to stop the defendants from infringing on Toei's copyrights for this episode and any other videos now or in the future. Toei is also requesting that the defendants "shall destroy all copies of Plaintiff's [videos] that Defendants have downloaded onto any computer hard drive or server without Plaintiff's authorization and shall destroy all copies of those [videos] transferred onto any physical medium or device in their possession, custody, or control." Toei Animation is also seeking damages, costs, and attorney's fees.

In January 2011, Funimation filed a similar copyright infringement complaint against 1,337 "John Does" over the 481st episode of One Piece. Funimation later removed all defendants except one from its lawsuit. According to the judge's order in that case, the actions of each defendant did not constitute "acting in concert" but rather acting individually, although identically. Funimation then dismissed the case against the last defendant in March 2011.

Toei Animation USA declined to comment for this article.

Update: Hash number fixed. Thanks, Megiddo.

Image © Eichiro Oda/Shueisha, Toei Animation

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