It is now three days later, and I am unhappy with the “ME2 Productions, Inc. Texas-based Copyright Infringement Lawsuits” article I wrote on Friday. For this purpose, I am providing a quick summary so that those implicated in this lawsuit will understand what appears to really be going on ‘under the surface.’
ME2 Productions, Inc. is the legal entity suing Comcast ISP subscribers for the download of the “Mechanic: Resurrection” movie with Jason Statham (think, “The Transporter”). This ME2 movie appears to have been shared on the Popcorn Time software at the same time as the Septembers of Shiraz movie, the “The Cell” movie, among others. On Friday, I referred to this lawsuit as the “third leg” because the three movies were often mentioned within the context of the other two when defending a John Doe Defendant in Josh Wyde’s concurrent lawsuits (September Productions, Cell Film Holdings). My ‘gut’ understanding was that someone who inadvertently clicked on the “The Cell” movie also downloaded the Mechanic: Resurrection movie. Why? Because they were likely next to each other on the Popcorn Time PC or cell phone app.
WHY POPCORN TIME USERS CAN GET ACCUSED OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
Popcorn Time developers and I have exchanged a number of heated arguments over the years. My primary objection to them is that they lure users in with their professional appearance, they offer a VPN claiming to ‘hide’ the identity of the user when searching for the movie, but as far as I can recall, the VPN is not used when the Popcorn Time software connects to the internet via BITTORRENT and creates a conduit through which the user can watch the copyrighted movie without a license. Because Popcorn Time connects to BITTORRENT to serve the movie to their end user (making the end user the downloader for copyright infringement and liability purposes), the end user’s internet IP address is shared by the software in the bittorrent swarm (which is then monitored by the copyright holder), which is how the end user gets ‘caught’ and sued in federal court for copyright infringement.
Again, my arguments with Popcorn Time happened over two years ago, and I do not monitor their software. All I know from the attorney perspective is that I am still getting clients sued as “John Doe” defendants in a number of cases, and too many of them are telling me they never used bittorrent — only Popcorn Time on their phone, or on their computer.
WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE ‘DIRTY SECRET’ OF THE COPYRIGHT TROLLS AND THEIR ATTORNEYS?
Now I do not know whether the plaintiff attorneys solicited the copyright holders for the Mechanic: Resurrection movie and sold their services to enforce the copyrights just as they are doing so for the other production companies. Rather, just as one tugs at a string until the whole thing unravels, I have been tugging at the various ‘copyright troll’ cases for years now, and the ME2 lawsuit just smells like a Voltage Productions, Inc. scenario.
What does that mean in the conspiracy world of copyright trolling? In the copyright troll world, you usually have one or more entities, most popularly, a German company named Guardaley with various companies here in the US who employ local attorneys to ‘shake down’ downloaders of their copyrighted films. Similarly, there is the Voltage Pictures, Inc. company (possibly linked with Guardaley, possibly not), which contacts copyright holders in the US, and offers to monetize the copyrights owned by those production companies. They sign an agreement with the movie company to create an entity using that movie company’s name, and they engage in business parading as that company when really they are the licensee (the one receiving the license from the movie company to make as much money as possible for that company). Included in the Voltage business model (as far as I understand it from the Dallas Buyers Club vs. Dallas Buyers Club lawsuit) is to sue downloaders of the copyrighted movie parading as that movie studio, when really, they are not the holder of the copyright rights. It’s a scam which evaded many people and judges, myself included, for a long time.
Thus, when a client was sued by Dallas Buyers Club, LLC, unbeknownst to anyone, they were sued by Voltage Pictures, Inc. masquerading as Dallas Buyers Club, LLC — even setting up local Texas entities using the name “Dallas Buyers Club, LLC” when the movie company itself could have been called “Dallas Buyers Club, Inc.” incorporated in some other state. This sounds like minutia, but in the eyes of the law, this is a serious misrepresentation, maybe even rising to the level of fraud.
For the clients I defended over the years, a dismissal against Dallas Buyer’s Club, LLC is binding on the real Dallas Buyer’s Club copyright holder, regardless of whether Dallas Buyers Club was cheated by the Voltage attorneys who signed the agreement, but did not pay Dallas Buyers Club the royalties and settlement payments they were due according to their agreement. The reason for this is because the Dallas Buyer’s Club attorneys were acting as the agents of the real Dallas Buyers Club movie entity. Nevertheless, the ‘behind the scenes’ activity which is hidden from even my eyes until one entity sues the other still is interesting to one implicated in the lawsuit (and it is useful in the defense as well should we begin inquiring as to the identity of the so-called copyright holder suing the John Doe Defendants).
Because I did not properly explain this, I was unhappy with last week’s article. I threw out the suspicion that the ME2 case was not Josh Wyde (ME2’s local counsel here in Texas) going from one copyright holder to another trying to “drum up business” and acquire new clients, but rather, I am sensing that each of the lawsuits they are filing are coming from the same singular entity, my best guess being Voltage Pictures, Inc. (or possibly Guardaley, IPP, or some linked entity), who instructs their network of lawyers across the US to “sue these internet users for the download of this or that movie,” and not much effort goes into actual contact with the movie company itself who spent the time and effort to make, produce, and film that movie.
My gut feeling is that this “Voltage / Guardaley / IPP” ‘scheme’ of licensing copyright rights for the purpose of suing defendants using the same attorneys for each copyright lawsuit is a scam which goes to the heart of possibly ALL of the “copyright troll” lawsuits filed across the US.
WHY A FINANCIAL INCENTIVE TO LITIGATE CREATES AN OVERZEALOUS COPYRIGHT TROLL ATTORNEY
The difference between the other copyright infringement attorneys I have fought against and Josh Wyde (including his counterpart, Gary Fischman) is that these two are zealous in their representation of their client. They are quick to name and serve a defendant, and they are quick to drum up paperwork in a court proceeding, which is why I suspected that they weren’t just running a commission-based copyright troll scheme. Rather, I suspect that they are actually getting paid by the hour by the copyright holders (or the entities masquerading as the copyright holders), and thus their incentive to be litigious is higher than the average copyright troll.
This is relevant to the John Doe Defendant because unlike the usual copyright troll attorneys who file lawsuits across the US using templates provided to them by the copyright troll, in Texas, the plaintiff attorneys appear to be more litigious and more aggressive because they appear to be paid for their time. Either that, or they really care about suing downloaders accused of piracy and believe in what they are doing.
TO VILIFY THE ‘COPYRIGHT TROLL’ ATTORNEY, OR NOT TO VILIFY…
Unfortunately, as much as I would like to vilify the Texas-based ‘copyright troll’ attorneys for even taking on the clients who sue defendants for the download of copyrighted videos, I cannot do so without also mentioning that they have *helped* a number of my clients get out of precarious situations. On the flip side, they have grossly misrepresented articles I have written on this blog to the point of their filing to the court being an intentional misrepresentation — taking words I have written on the blog [about the option to ‘ignore’ a copyright infringement lawsuit and its repercussions] completely out of context for their own benefit, and they have sometimes been unfairly harsh and overzealous towards clients of mine for no apparent reason, …akin to a lawyer who zealously fights to defend a rapist because that lawyer believes that even the rapist has the right to a fair trial. Now copyright trolling is far less offensive than representing a rapist, but because a copyright infringement lawsuit can devastate the savings of the average family, I have seen too many lives destroyed by copyright infringement lawsuits and thus I see the copyright holders not as rapists, but rather, as predatory.
On my end, whether the John Doe Defendant downloaded the copyrighted title or not, I still feel good about defending them against the copyright holders. I acknowledge the damage piracy does to the copyright holders (as do many of my clients), but I do not believe someone who clicks on a link should be held liable for statutory damages of $150,000 in a copyright infringement lawsuit, and so I defend them; any of them, even the worst ‘offenders’. And yet, as damaging as piracy is said to be for the copyright holders, a John Doe Defendant is not a predator. Rather, the other side — the Voltage Pictures / Guardaley entities of the world — are the predators, so to speak, and I would not represent a predator just as I would not represent a rapist. But my opposing counsel would, which is what separates us.
Vilifying the attorney who sues you feels good to do, but really, it is their client who is the predator. And while I wouldn’t take such a predator as a client in my practice, I stop myself from vilifying the attorney who takes them on as a client.
This isn’t a “defense attorney, good, copyright troll attorney, bad” article. Rather, I am hoping that this article will serve to be an insight for the Texas John Doe Defendant into the mindset of the attorneys on the plaintiff attorney’s side (especially since most movie-based copyright infringement lawsuits are filed by the same attorney working for what I believe is the Voltage/Guardaley/IPP entity as their client), because understanding the motivations of both the attorneys and their underlying clients (and true nature of the entities filing the lawsuits and their motivations, sometimes for a ‘quick buck’) can be helpful when defending a John Doe Defendant who is accused of copyright infringement or negotiating a settlement when “the deed (the unlawful download) is known and can be proven.”
KNOWN Texas Southern District Court ME2 Cases [Filed in 2017]:
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00501)
Filed: Feb 15, 2017, Judge: TBA
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-12 (Case No. 4:17-cv-00404)
Filed: Feb 09, 2017, Judge: TBA
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00275)
Filed: Jan 27, 2017, Judge: TBA
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 4:17-cv-00143)
Filed: Jan 17, 2017, Judge: TBA
Again, for an analysis of the other ME2 Productions, Inc. bittorrent-based cases filed across the US, click here. I hope this article has been insightful.
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