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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.


CONTACT FORM: If you have a question or comment about what I have written, and you want to keep it *for my eyes only*, please feel free to use the form below. The information you post will be e-mailed to me, and I will be happy to respond.

NOTE: No attorney client relationship is established by sending this form, and while the attorney-client privilege (which keeps everything that you share confidential and private) attaches immediately when you contact me, I do not become your attorney until we sign a contract together.  That being said, please do not state anything “incriminating” about your case when using this form, or more practically, in any e-mail.

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Siemens PLM Software has been suing John Doe Defendants in federal courts for the piracy of their NX software since it was in version 7 (so far, I have seen claims against users of NX 7, NX 8, NX 8.5?, but not yet for NX 9, NX 10, or NX 11 — all of which are available on the bittorrent networks). Most recently, I have seen lawsuits focusing in on the unlawful use of the Solid Edge ST9 Foundation software.

In June, I wrote the “What to do about the Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does case (TX)” article which provided specific information surrounding the lawsuit from information acquired from the Siemens PLM lawyers themselves. However, back then, there was much still unknown, and now (almost 6 months later), I have a much better idea of how this is happening, what Siemens PLM is doing to catch those using the software illegally, whether claims of piracy are leaking over to the employers of the engineers who use the pirated software at their workplace, and how they are handling claims against those defendants, both in and out of the courtroom.

What you need to know about these lawsuits is that the Siemens PLM lawsuits still deceptively look like “copyright troll” lawsuits, but they are not. I will get into this momentarily.

*UPDATED* LIST OF FEDERAL COURT CASES FILED:

IN THE CONNECTICUT DISTRICT COURT:
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. et al v. Demin (Case No. 3:16-cv-00553)

IN THE NEW YORK SOUTHERN DISTRICT COURT:
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Does 1 – 100 (Case No. 1:14-cv-01926)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Does 1-50 (Case No. 1:11-cv-08469)

IN THE OHIO SOUTHERN DISTRICT COURT:
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software In v. Manufacturing Services International, Inc. (Case No. 3:16-cv-00182)

IN THE PENNSYLVANIA EASTERN DISTRICT COURT:
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Does 1-50 (Case No. 2:12-cv-06795)

IN THE TEXAS EASTERN DISTRICT COURT:
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. BTL Machine, Inc. (Case No. 4:14-cv-00506)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 4:15-cv-00582)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Mercury Metal Forming Technologies, LLC (Case No. 4:14-cv-00002)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does (Case No. 4:15-cv-00017)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. TWIVision Engineering Group, LLC (Case No. 6:11-cv-00679)

IN THE TEXAS SOUTHERN DISTRICT COURT:
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does (Case No. 4:16-cv-03552)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Does 1-100 (Case No. 4:16-cv-01422)

JOHN DOE DEFENDANTS ARE GETTING CAUGHT THROUGH THE *USE* OF THE SOFTWARE, NOT THROUGH THE ACQUISITION OF THE SOFTWARE.

In September of 2016, I was still piecing together how a person can get caught not through the download of pirated software via BitTorrent, but through the USE of that software (that article is still available for viewing, although the picture is more clear to us now as I describe my current understanding of it here, specifically tailored to the Siemens PLM Software-based lawsuits).

As we’ve learned, most Siemens PLM NX Software available for download on the piracy websites comes with a serial number (“SN”) and an “activator” which modifies the application to allow it to accept a random password that the SN activator generated.  (Not relevant, but still interesting to know:  The serial number + details about the computer or laptop upon which it is installed creates a “Unique ID” which can be checked with valid IDs on the server; this circumvents a computer from using a “valid” registration code for a computer for which that registration code was not licensed to.  Thus, even though the serial number activator provided the software with a valid serial number, the company servers know the software is pirated.)

This application modifier is known as a “crack,” and software which is altered to accept the serial number generated by the crack thinks locally (that is, on the laptop in which it was installed) that the software was properly acquired, purchased, and lawfully registered. Most cracks also revert the executable file used to run the file back to its original unaltered state once the software has been registered.

The problem is that even cracked software connects to the internet, for example, to access libraries in the program file which are stored on the company’s servers. In other words, for economy purposes, it would take up too much hard drive space to store every piece of a large multi-gigabyte-sized program on each person’s hard drive. Thus, companies now store core components of their software on their servers. This is generally referred to as “cloud-based software,” but what exactly is stored online with the Siemens PLM software is still unknown (and they keep this purposefully undisclosed because they track the IP addresses of the computers who run the software and access these files online).

EVEN IF THE SOFTWARE HAS BEEN REGISTERED using a “SN and an activator,” (as provided on the bittorrent websites), when the software connects to Siemens PLM’s servers to access pieces of the software to run, if the registration code (or more accurately, the Unique ID, as described above) does not match a valid paid registration from their own records, that software unbeknownst to the user is flagged as being unlicensed, and the IP address is recorded.  We now understand that the software user is not made aware of this until he is implicated as a John Doe Defendant in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

EVERY TIME that user uses the NX software, another entry of unlicensed use is recorded (date, time, etc.) and the IP address of the internet connection used when accessing the software is also logged. This is how a Siemens PLM lawsuit against a John Doe engineer can leak over to his employer receiving letters for the infringement of their software, even when the software was acquired at the accused John Doe engineer’s home.

WHO IS THE TARGET OF THESE LAWSUITS.

I mentioned above that the Siemens PLM lawsuits look deceptively like “copyright troll” lawsuits, but they are not. Rather than extorting a few thousand dollars from every John Doe Defendant regardless of guilt, Siemens is looking for a particular defendant.

Siemens PLM Software wants to find the engineer who is providing “paid” engineering services, either 1) from his own laptop in his own small business, or 2) from his employer’s place of business where unbeknownst to the employer, that employee is bringing his unlicensed software to his workplace and using that pirated software at work [noting that his work does not own or pay for a license for the software].

In other words, Siemens PLM wants to find those engineers who are using their software but who are not paying a license for the use of that software, and they want to turn that enterprising engineer into a paying customer. Moreso, Siemens PLM wants to find that company (the employer of that engineer) who is benefiting from the unlicensed use of their software, and to turn that corporate entity into a “volume license” paying customer. This is where the “big bucks” are made.

WHAT IF YOU ARE A STUDENT?

Students are a different story than paid engineers. Just as law students are fed unlimited free case lookup services and are encouraged with points and free coffee mugs for using as much of services as they can [only to be hit with a multi-thousand-dollar subscription upon graduation for what a few days ago was free (think, WestLaw, LexisNexis)], engineering students are seen as the same “cash cows” for Siemens PLM as law students are seen by the WestLaw/Nexis case lookup services. A poor engineering student today is seen by Siemens as a future subscription-based customer for the rest of his working career, and if not, that engineer’s employer will be a “volume license” customer which is even more profitable for Siemens.

If you have not yet figured this out, I have found that engineering students (and those individuals who are smart enough to figure out that the NX software has specific applications for use in conjunction with their 3D printers) find themselves in the spider web of these lawsuits more than anyone else. These individuals ‘mess around’ with the software in ways which do not provide them an income (what we call “non-revenue-producing use,” or “personal use”). Rather, they use the NX software (or more recently, the Solid Edge ST9 software) to gain professional skills knowing that if and when these students do find employment, use of the Siemens PLM software will become a necessity. So the students download it, play around with it, then get sued and call me fearing that their professional lives are over.

But no attorney at Siemens PLM — not Robert Riddle, and certainly not Steven Dietz — wants to end the financial life of a future customer. Aside from the fact that a student has no assets to seize, it is my understanding that Steven Dietz would rather turn that student into a loyal customer. For this reason, I have been able to accomplish resolutions of claims with students in a way in which is simply not available to the engineer who uses Siemens PLM’s unlicensed software for profit.

That is not to say that an engineer won’t be able to “get out” of this lawsuit — it simply takes a bit more work, perhaps paying Siemens PLM a settlement fee based on their particular circumstances (read that again carefully), and based on what software was allegedly used, what module add-ons were used or needed, whether the use was for personal or business reasons, and whether use of the software is still needed in the future.

Lastly, [since I am listing scenarios I’ve seen over the past few months,] non-engineering students who have roommates or suitemates who are engineering students also have been the recipients of the subpoena letters from their ISP (most recently, Comcast). While Siemens does not see the non-engineering student or enterprising 3D printer genius as a future customer, your engineering roommate or suitemate is still seen as such, and thus involving him or her as part of the solution can easily fix a $150,000 copyright infringement lawsuit against you.

So as you see, Siemens PLM looks like a copyright troll, but they are not. Their attorneys are often not interested in merely a settlement, but in converting the accused John Doe software user into a customer (or, as a future customer). This means that settlements are accepted where there is a future benefit to Siemens PLM, as they are not looking to use the lawsuits as a means to “cash out” or to “punish pirates.” Obviously this could change, and there have been circumstances where it is more feasible to simply defend a client by representing him or her in the federal court rather than having him agree to anything he or she did not do, but for the most part, Siemens PLM seems to be straightforward on what they seek to accomplish with these lawsuits.


CONTACT FORM: If you have a question or comment about what I have written, and you want to keep it *for my eyes only*, please feel free to use the form below. The information you post will be e-mailed to me, and I will be happy to respond.

NOTE: No attorney client relationship is established by sending this form, and while the attorney-client privilege (which keeps everything that you share confidential and private) attaches immediately when you contact me, I do not become your attorney until we sign a contract together.  That being said, please do not state anything “incriminating” about your case when using this form, or more practically, in any e-mail.

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Let’s take this one step deeper, and delve into the 100 most recent cases filed in October, because these are the Malibu Media, LLC cases most relevant to people now (the July-August batch of cases have likely been disposed of by now).

Of the 109 cases, roughly EIGHTY of them were filed in the California Northern District Court, and EACH AND EVERY CALIFORNIA CASE was assigned to Judge William Alsup (going back to even 2011, I referred to him as ‘Judge Rocket Docket’ by the way he handles and disposes of cases). In my humble opinion, it appears to me as if Malibu Media here stepped in the mud.

Here are a list of the cases. I’ll write my opinion about them in just a moment.:

80 CASES FILED IN 10/2016 IN THE CA NORTHERN DISTRICT COURT (CAND) — [I’m not formatting these.  Just note the filing dates.]
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05741) Oct 06, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 4:16-cv-05742) Oct 06, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05742) Oct 06, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05737) Oct 06, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05738) Oct 06, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 5:16-cv-05741) Oct 06, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05739) Oct 06, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 4:16-cv-05735) Oct 06, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05735) Oct 06, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 5:16-cv-05743) Oct 06
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05743) Oct 06
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05825) Oct 09, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05829) Oct 09, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05827) Oct 09, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 4:16-cv-05828) Oct 09, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 5:16-cv-05826) Oct 09, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 5:16-cv-05829) Oct 09, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05826) Oct 09, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05828) Oct 09, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 5:16-cv-05824) Oct 09
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05824) Oct 09
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05823) Oct 09
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 4:16-cv-05850) Oct 11, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05845) Oct 11, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05848) Oct 11, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05847) Oct 11, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 4:16-cv-05845) Oct 11, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05849) Oct 11, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 4:16-cv-05848) Oct 11, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05850) Oct 11, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 4:16-cv-05849) Oct 11, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 5:16-cv-05855) Oct 11, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05855) Oct 11, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05843) Oct 11
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 4:16-cv-05843) Oct 11
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05925) Oct 13, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05926) Oct 13, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05920) Oct 13, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05927) Oct 13, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05921) Oct 13, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05922) Oct 13, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05923) Oct 13
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05974) Oct 17, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05976) Oct 17, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 5:16-cv-05975) Oct 17, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05975) Oct 17, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 4:16-cv-05977) Oct 17, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05977) Oct 17, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05970) Oct 17, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05972) Oct 17, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-05973) Oct 17, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 4:16-cv-06108) Oct 23, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06110) Oct 23, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 4:16-cv-06109) Oct 23, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06111) Oct 23, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06106) Oct 23, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 5:16-cv-06110) Oct 23, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 5:16-cv-06111) Oct 23, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06107) Oct 23, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06108) Oct 23, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06112) Oct 23, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06109) Oct 23, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 4:16-cv-06107) Oct 23, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06160) Oct 25, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06146) Oct 25, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06147) Oct 25, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 5:16-cv-06160) Oct 25, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06155) Oct 25, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06141) Oct 25, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06144) Oct 25
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06143) Oct 25
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06241) Oct 28, 2016
Malibu Media LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06242) Oct 28, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06245) Oct 28, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06239) Oct 28, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06247) Oct 28, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06240) Oct 28, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06249) Oct 28, 2016
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:16-cv-06243) Oct 28

My first impression when reviewing these cases was… why did they file them in batches of 10-13 cases or less?  Were they trying to ‘play’ the case distribution game in order to make sure the cases were equally distributed between all of the California Northern District federal judges?  Because this backfired on them.  Judge Alsup has all of their California cases.

I actually smiled when I saw that each of the cases are now assigned to Judge Alsup, because he has been known to question Malibu Media’s tactics. Let me say this more clearly — Judge Alsup knows exactly who Malibu Media, LLC is, what kind of copyright trolls they are, and he makes no secret about it. He is even on the record in casting doubt on the reliability and the accuracy of the geolocation data that Malibu Media uses to file their lawsuits.

Most recently, on December 1st (see, Case No. 3:16-cv-05738 (Document 8)), Judge Aslup denied 53 requests by Malibu Media to send letters to the ISPs ordering them to turn over the identity of the accused internet users, which means that 53 of the 80 California ‘John Doe’ defendants in these cases (maybe more by now) will be shielded from Malibu Media, LLC’s copyright infringement lawsuits and tactics.

IN SUM, BECAUSE JUDGE ALSUP DENIED MALIBU MEDIA LLC’S MOTION FOR EXPEDITED DISCOVERY, MALIBU MEDIA LLC WILL NOT BE PERMITTED TO SEND SUBPOENAS TO THE ISPs ORDERING THEM TO HAND OVER THE CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THESE DEFENDANTS.

I have not checked whether anything has happened since 12/8, but in short, if you live in California, Malibu Media is not doing so well.

Sources and Kudos to:
Fight Copyright Trolls, “Judge Alsup questions accuracy of Malibu Media’s geolocation technology, stays subpoena” on 6/20/2016, updated on 12/6/2016.

Fight Copyright Trolls, ““Malibu Media’s geolocation accuracy: more scrutiny” on 6/21/2016.

Techdirt, “Judge Calls Out Malibu Media For Its Attempt To Cut And Run When Faced With Challenge To Its Infringement Claims” on 6/27/2016.


CONTACT FORM: If you have a question or comment about what I have written, and you want to keep it *for my eyes only*, please feel free to use the form below. The information you post will be e-mailed to me, and I will be happy to respond.

NOTE: No attorney client relationship is established by sending this form, and while the attorney-client privilege (which keeps everything that you share confidential and private) attaches immediately when you contact me, I do not become your attorney until we sign a contract together.  That being said, please do not state anything “incriminating” about your case when using this form, or more practically, in any e-mail.

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So we all thought the Malibu Media, LLC lawsuits were dead this summer after Malibu Media sued their attorney Keith Lipscomb (a.k.a., the “kingpin” and “mastermind” behind the 6,800+ lawsuits filed against single “John Doe” defendants)). If you want a quick summary, here seems to be the jist of what happened.

  • Malibu Media, LLC hired Lipscomb to run their copyright infringement / settlement extortion scheme utilizing his network of attorneys spanning the federal courts across the US.
  • Lipscomb appeared to have pulled in hundreds [maybe thousands] of settlements, each settlement likely amounting to $10,000-$30,000, or more.
    (NOTE: This dwarfs the settlement monies collected by Steele & Hansmeier, now arrested for mail fraud, wire fraud, and perjury allegedly committed in the furtherance of their copyright troll scheme.)
  • Lipscomb apparently paid Malibu Media, LLC only $100,000 in commissions (the equivalent of ten settlements [10 x $10,000 = $100K]), but then never paid Malibu Media again.

The relationship between Lipscomb and Malibu became sour when Malibu Media, LLC became suspicious as to how they only earned $100K in commissions.  They demanded an accounting to determine whether they were being paid properly (this is still being litigated, but my guess is no; namely, that Malibu was being cheated by the lawyers they hired to extort others). Lipscomb claims that Malibu actually owes him money (to simplify the numbers, think — 6,800 lawsuits filed x est. $400/filing = $2.7 Million in filing fees alone). Malibu sued Lipscomb, they went to court, and in late April 2016, new Malibu Media, LLC filings stopped dead.

On April 18th, 2016, Keith Lipscomb told all of his local counsel that he is no longer representing Malibu Media, LLC (citing a lack of profitability), meaning that each of his local counsel were no longer representing Malibu Media, LLC, or so we thought. Wrong. Various local counsel continued the lawsuits already filed, but very few new suits were filed.

Here are the number of case filings since:
April 2016 Filings: 97
May 2016 Filings: ZERO!
June 2016 Filings: ZERO!
July 1- July 20 Filings: ZERO!
July 21 -> [end of month] filings: 75
August Filings: 59
September Filings: ZERO!
October Filings: 109 — FULL SPEED AHEAD? Nope.
November Filings: ZERO.
December Filings: ZERO…?

So, we are now in December (six months later), and Malibu Media LLC lawsuits are far from dead, or are they?!?

Here’s what I understand:
1) Lipscomb is no longer in charge of the Malibu Media, LLC lawsuits.
2) Individual attorneys (formerly, local counsel) appear to have taken Malibu Media, LLC as their own client, meaning that Malibu is creating relationships with each attorney, and each attorney appears to have a “territory” or a federal district court in which s/he practices.
3) I still think there is someone at Malibu Media, LLC headquarters (maybe Elizabeth Jones) still directing all of the attorneys.

 

In sum, Malibu Media, LLC and their lawsuits are not dead, at least not yet, but they continue to plague the federal courts and the accused downloaders with their high-ticket settlement prices, and thus they still need to be taken seriously, at least for now.

NEXT: Let’s go into the recent cases themselves to get an idea of what is going on with the last set of cases filed…

Sources:
Arstechnica: “File-sharing lawsuit numbers drop by more than half; both Malibu Media and Prenda Law have run into different roadblocks.” on 7/19/2016.

Techdirt: “Malibu Media Sues Its Former Lawyer Over Missing Funds, Breach Of Bar Rules,” on 6/29/2016.

Arstechnica: “Porn studio that sued thousands for piracy now fighting its own lawyer,” on 6/28/2016

Fight Copyright Trolls: “Malibu Media sues its former counsel Keith Lipscomb and his firm for professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty,” on 6/28/2016


CONTACT FORM: If you have a question or comment about what I have written, and you want to keep it *for my eyes only*, please feel free to use the form below. The information you post will be e-mailed to me, and I will be happy to respond.

NOTE: No attorney client relationship is established by sending this form, and while the attorney-client privilege (which keeps everything that you share confidential and private) attaches immediately when you contact me, I do not become your attorney until we sign a contract together.  That being said, please do not state anything “incriminating” about your case when using this form, or more practically, in any e-mail.

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It is 12:30am and I really do not have time to go into this, but I just learned that Dallas Buyers Club, LLC is suing Voltage Pictures, LLC in Montgomery County, TX for, among other things, not paying fees to Dallas Buyers Club for the licensing fees owed to them.

[Hat tip to SJD @ FightCopyrightTrolls for breaking the story.  Her link to the lawsuit can be found here.]

It appears from the TX case filing (Cause No. 15-06-06049) that Voltage Pictures, LLC approached Dallas Buyers Club, LLC and offered to pay for the license to act as Dallas Buyer’s Club’s agent so that they can sell the film abroad and… so that they can file lawsuits against John Doe Defendants across the US. Part of this agreement appears to be that Voltage Pictures was permitted to use Dallas Buyer’s Club’s name.

082516 Voltage-DBC Power of attorney

…and skipping down a bit:

082516 Voltage-DBC Exclusive Agent

Well, now we learn that Nicholas Chartier and Voltage Pictures are being sued because after making all of the sales and suing all of the John Doe defendants for copyright infringement, Voltage Pictures is accused of cheating Dallas Buyers Club out of their earned licensing fees.

I feel as if I just fell down a rabbit hole…

Thus, whenever we saw a Dallas Buyers Club, LLC lawsuit, and whenever we represented a client against Dallas Buyers Club, LLC, we were really representing them against… VOLTAGE PICTURES, LLC?!?

This brings me to the Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC cases.  Did Voltage Pictures, LLC make the same licensing deal with the Fathers & Daughters movie producers, and are they also not paying them the money that is due to them?  When we see a Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC case, are we really representing clients against the makers of the Fathers and Daughters movie? Or are we representing clients against VOLTAGE PICTURES, LLC who is parading as Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC and claiming that they are Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC, when really they are not?!?

This also makes me ask who the attorneys for the Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC are really representing? Are Josh Wyde and Gary Fischman suing on behalf of Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC? Or are they suing on behalf of Voltage Pictures, LLC pretending to be Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC?  I know Josh is watching this blog, so please feel free to comment.

Who is their client? Voltage or Fathers & Daughters Nevada?

Last question, and then I’m going to sleep. Will Voltage Pictures, LLC soon be sued by the real Fathers & Daughters copyright holders for failure to pay the licensing fees, proceeds, and sales from the monetization of the Fathers & Daughters movie copyright? Have the same facts that are coming out with the Dallas Buyers Club, LLC lawsuit also transpired with the Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC copyright holder?

One more thought — a while back, I was concerned that perhaps the shell companies that were created for various movies were not properly funded. [Well, okay, I backed away from that accusation, but that was on my mind.]  The original thought was that production companies made movies, and to limit their liability, we understood that they set up shell companies as limited liability companies so that if something went wrong or if, say, Dallas Buyers Club caused damage to someone and they were sued, fined, sanctioned, or otherwise held liable for damages from their activities, those damages would be contained to the Dallas Buyers Club, LLC limited liability entity, and they would not trickle “up” to what I thought was the Voltage Pictures, LLC production company.

However, now we see that Voltage Pictures, LLC is NOT the production company, but a LICENSEE (one who signs an agreement to acquire a license to sell or act on behalf of the copyright holder [the licensor]). Thus, this brings me back to the entity that was formed to sue John Doe Defendants in federal court. Dallas Buyers Club, LLC, and Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC (the two Voltage-related companies that are currently on my mind). Are they properly funded? Who owns them, and who are the real parties acting through them? Voltage Pictures or Dallas Buyers Club? Voltage Pictures or Fathers & Daughters? Who is providing the funding for them?  And did they properly notify the court of this arrangement when they filed the lawsuits against the John Doe Defendants?

Wow, when they say that there is “no honor among thieves,” they weren’t kidding.  First Keith Lipscomb is sued by Malibu Media, LLC for not paying them the royalties and/or funds received through Lipscomb’s Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe lawsuits across the US, and now Voltage Pictures, LLC is being sued by Dallas Buyers Club, LLC for the same thing. I also want to point out that Liberty Media also sued their lawyer, Marc Randazza (although the circumstances were different, and if what Marc wrote in his defense was true (e.g., that they used his office desk to shoot adult films), both Liberty Media and Randazza are both to blame, but for different reasons). I also remember when Prenda Law Inc. stopped paying their local counsel here in Houston the fees and commissions he earned through the filing of the lawsuits.

So… in sum, is this the scenario of thieves stealing from thieves as we have seen before? Or is this an example of “copyright trolls stealing also from their own clients”?? Wow, this field of law has skeletons hidden in closets all over the place.

UPDATE: For more on this topic, SJD covered this topic in detail.  See FightCopyrightTrolls article, “How copyright trolls plunder both US citizens and… rights holders.


CONTACT FORM: If you have a question or comment about what I have written, and you want to keep it *for my eyes only*, please feel free to use the form below. The information you post will be e-mailed to me, and I will be happy to respond.

NOTE: No attorney client relationship is established by sending this form, and while the attorney-client privilege (which keeps everything that you share confidential and private) attaches immediately when you contact me, I do not become your attorney until we sign a contract together.  That being said, please do not state anything “incriminating” about your case when using this form, or more practically, in any e-mail.

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I thought that TAC’s response to my article last night deserved a spot of its own, so I am pasting it below.

In short, he’s right. As a lawyer, I get so caught up with each individual client and defending whether copyright infringement actually happened or not that I overlooked the big picture “elephant in the room” point — that if the movie production companies would actually make good content which would inspire someone to buy a movie ticket, and if they would make that good content readily available rather than blaming downloaders for a few bucks of loss of revenue, then piracy wouldn’t even be a problem.

I used to be a movie buff. I would see every movie in the theaters, and if there was something I missed, I would catch it later when it came out on DVD. However, the… pardon my language… “crap” that has been coming out of the theaters over the last ten years has lost me as a fan. I cannot remember the last time I saw a movie and felt that I got my money’s worth. More often then not, I leave the theater feeling cheated.

The internet created a problem for the movie companies where it enabled average internet users to share digital copies of movies which [by definition of being “digital”] are the identical quality as the files burned on DVDs from which they are ripped. They tried to stop the copying through creating privacy measures that blocked an individual from being able to copy videos, but individuals got around those protections.  Then they passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) statutes and made it a crime to unblock the copy protections, but people did it anyway.  Then they sued the downloaders and claimed they were going after the lost revenue, but instead, they went after statutory damages of $150,000 per instance of infringement.  In the process of suing downloaders (rather than suing the initial uploader or working to take down the infringing videos), with the birth of the Dunlap Grubb and Weaver, LLC Voltage Pictures, Inc. “Hurt Locker” and “Expendables” lawsuits, Voltage Pictures, Millennium Films, and other production companies turned their failed b-rated movies into a money-making extortion-like shakedown scheme where they asked for tens of thousands of dollars for what was really the loss of a movie ticket or a DVD rental.

The point is that Hollywood and their production companies spend so much time trying to clamp down and stop people from getting content that if they spent those same dollars finding new ways to make content readily available, they would stop the piracy problem (or at a very minimum, they would convert many would-be pirates into paying customers).  Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Redbox have the right idea of trying to find ways to get movie content into consumers’ hands, but even they run into licensing problems where the Hollywood movie studios won’t let them provide content to their subscribers (and thus great movies and TV shows are commonly lost to history).

[Case in point — The Stargate TV series (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Unvierse) — all AMAZING shows, but there was a point that Netflix took them down from their site citing licensing issues, and if you wanted to see them, you would have needed to either buy the DVDs on Amazon, or “look elsewhere” for them (meaning, piracy).  I would have happily paid more to Netflix to keep them available, even in a “click here to pay a bit more to see this video” fashion.  UPDATE: I am happy to share that Amazon Prime provides all seasons of these shows to their paying customers, so yes, Jeff Bezos is doing his job of making content available.]

This argument has gone around in circles for many years. Point being, the movie companies have obviously chosen that their focus will be to clamp down and spend their money to fight the losses from piracy rather than innovate and make good content that would inspire people to open their wallets and pay for a movie ticket or rent a DVD.

This is my point, this is my feeling, this is how I see things. I could be wrong, but who cares. Unless I see quality new content in the theaters (and not recycled old story lines), I’m not buying a ticket. Superman versus Batman?!? Really? Yet one more Borne Identity?!? Really? Ice Age in Space?!? Really? How many times can I hear the same story told over and over again? I’m honestly bored of all of this recycled media crap and I wish they would start looking for new and original content.

Thus, in all fairness and thanks to “That Anonymous Coward (TAC),” below is his comment to last night’s “We are winning the bittorrent piracy war against copyright holders, but what are the unintended consequences?” article which inspired this entire line of thought.

TAC from that anonymous coward :
 

And there in lies the biggest problem.
People look at Popcorn Time, and don’t understand how it works. They might assume that its just an awesome service. It works like everyone imagines we should be able to get content.

The “war” has always been pointless.
Everything done to “stop” pirates, ends up punishing paying customers… and eventually when you hassle paying customers enough they look for other ways to get the content.
We’ve missed out on technology moving forward, because of screams that it MIGHT hurt the bottom line of an industry that has its own special ‘accounting’ practices that manage to make a world wide blockbuster look like it lost money.
They aren’t honest about their books, they aren’t honest about actual harm, they aren’t honest about why they refuse to stop punishing paying customers & creating more consumers that might turn to piracy because it meets their want for the content how, where, when they want it that the industry can’t seem to understand.

When they cling to an outdated business model, ignoring the consumer demand for access, they have forgotten they are in business to sell content… not impose pointless control over people who already paid them who get treated worse for playing by the rules.

Imagine what they could have done with all of the time and money they have dumped into the anti-piracy schemes (that never pay that well or accomplish what is promised) and had used it to “fix” the horrible patchwork of laws & rules to create a unified worldwide business model that makes getting the content customers want faster & easier. But then they would be making more money they they ever imaged possible… but would still be imagining there is a dollar out there they aren’t getting & end up harming paying customers chasing the imaginary dollars.

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This is one of the more difficult blog entries to write, because the “Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc.” case is not the typical bittorrent “extortion” case, but rather, more of a “compulsory licensing” case.

In short, it would be too easy to say that the 100 John Doe defendants were implicated as downloading or uploading Siemens’ CAD software using bittorrent, because this is not the case. Siemens’ software appears to “phone home” when being used, revealing the computer users IP address (thus making them a target in a lawsuit such as this one).

Cracks and keys probably were part of the software download package, if the software was downloaded via a website. Alternatively, the download instructions perhaps instructed “to block the internet connection using a software firewall,” but the downloader forgot to read the instructions.

Lastly, some of the defendants are believed to have purchased the software (e.g., while the software license itself could cost $20,000, the pirated copy cost $50), but the software they purchased was pirated. Thus, when they entered the key to register the software, the key was flagged as being a pirated copy.

In short, Siemens is a software company looking to stop the unlicensed use of their software, and for this reason, they filed the Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-100 (Case No. 4:16-cv-01422) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

The weird part for me about this case is that there are so many software solutions out there which would accomplish the result for significantly cheaper.  The Siemens software modules appear to be commercial and high-end, which is more than a typical engineer would need to do their work.

So… what to do now. If you purchased a pirated copy or downloaded an unlicensed copy of the software, all is not lost. This is why you will be hiring an attorney — to speak to your plaintiff attorney and “make it right,” whether that means purchasing a copy after-the-fact, or signing a licensing agreement for the months or years the software was in use.

If you are a business owner, or if the software is in use in your engineering company (or on the laptops of your employees) without authorization, you are the plaintiff’s prime targets, and the licensing strategy will likely be more comprehensive.

If you have absolutely nothing to do with this lawsuit and yet you were implicated as a John Doe Defendant, well, this happens too, and I’d be happy to represent you telling them that there will be no software licensing deal, and that there will be no payment to the plaintiff copyright holders.

The immediate concern is that like all copyright infringement “John Doe” lawsuits, your plaintiff copyright holder has been given permission by a federal judge (here, Texas Judge Keith Ellison) to issue subpoenas to the internet service providers to hand over the subscriber contact information to the plaintiff attorney by or before a certain date.  That date is quickly coming to a close, so this is why you have been trying to contact our firm to figure out your options in how to proceed.  I’d be happy to discuss these with you, obviously time permitting.

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