United States District Court, D. Colorado
RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MICHAEL E. HEGARTY, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff has filed a Motion and Memorandum for Default Judgment against Defendant Roger Blackwelder [filed March 25, 2014; docket #41]. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and D.C. Colo. LCivR 72.1.C, the motion was referred to me for a Report and Recommendation. The matter is briefed to the extent required by court rules and the prevailing law, and the Court finds that oral argument is not necessary for the adjudication of the motion. Based upon the record and for the reasons that follow, the Court recommends that the District Court grant in part and deny in part the motion as set forth herein.
In this case, Plaintiff's allegations involve a complicated technical process used to download copyrighted works (here, motion pictures) through the BitTorrent program; therefore, this Court finds it necessary first to explain how BitTorrent works, then to note its findings of fact in this case.
I. BitTorrent Protocol
Fortunately, several courts in this country have researched, defined and described the protocol in such a way that even technologically challenged individuals may understand the intricacies of the BitTorrent program. This Court finds particularly instructive and gratefully adopts the description provided by the Honorable Thomas L. Ludington, District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, in Patrick Collins, Inc. v. John Does 1-28, No. 12-13670, 2013 WL 359759 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 29, 2013), in which Judge Ludington first defines terms used with the protocol, then describes how BitTorrent operates. Id. at *1-*3. First, the vocabulary used in the technology:
Internet Protocol (IP): The system of communication standards that ensures data packets transmitted over the internet reach their intended destinations.
IP Address: The unique identifying number of a device connected to the internet.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL): The internet address assigned to a web document or resource by which it can be accessed by all web browsers.
File: A collection of related data packets treated as a unit.
Hash Identifier: A 40-character alphanumeric string that forms a unique identifier of an encoded file.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP): A system of communication standards that websites use to communicate with web browsers.
BitTorrent: A peer-to-peer file sharing protocol.
Peer: A BitTorrent user.
Swarm: A group of peers sharing a particular file (identified by its unique hash identifier). A swarm has two types of peers - "leechers" and "seeds." It bears reiterating: to constitute a swarm, all of the peers must be sharing the same file (identified by its unique hash identifier).
Initial Seeder: A BitTorrent user who first takes a particular file (such as a movie), breaks it into pieces, encodes the pieces with hash identifiers, creates a torrent file with the data about that file and its tracker, and makes the complete file available to other BitTorrent users.
Seed: A peer who downloaded a complete file and is uploading all of its pieces to other peers in the swarm.
Leecher: A peer in the process of downloading the file from the other peers. As soon as a leecher downloads new content (a piece of the file), the leecher begins sharing its content with the other leechers in the swarm.
Piece: A one-quarter megabyte size part of a file being shared via BitTorrent (except for the last, smaller piece, which is the size of the remainder of the file).
Tracker: A server containing an updated list of peers in the swarm. It allows a peer to learn about other peers sharing a particular torrent and join the swarm.
Torrent file: The hub of the BitTorrent system, a torrent file is a small file containing the file name, the IP address of the tracker, the number of and size of the pieces, and the hash identifier unique to the pieces of that particular torrent file.
Patrick Collins, Inc., 2013 WL 359759, at *1-*2 (citations omitted). Judge Ludington proceeds to describe the protocol and how BitTorrent works:
BitTorrent, as noted, is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol. More precisely, it is a peer-to-peer model that improves on prior generations of peer-to-peer networks by solving the "free-rider problem wherein a substantial majority of users downloaded but never uploaded content."
Briefly, here's how BitTorrent works. A file transfer begins "when one user accesses the Internet through an ISP and intentionally makes a digital file of a work available to the public from his or her computer. This file is referred to as the first seed.' Other users, who are referred to as peers, ' then access the Internet and request the file. These users engage each other in a group, referred to as a swarm, ' and begin downloading the seed file. As each peer receives portions of the seed, that peer makes those portions available to other peers in the swarm."
Elaborating on the process, BitTorrent.org explains that to download a file, a peer performs six steps:
1. Install BitTorrent (or have done ...