Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘copyright trolls’

These past few weeks, I have been pushing the idea that there is an entity (until now, I believed it was Voltage Pictures, Inc.) behind the lawsuits which is calling up movie companies who have produced movies which have flopped in the theaters (I call them “floppers”), and this entity convinces the movie company to license its copyright rights to them so that they can sue bittorrent users as John Doe Defendants in copyright infringement lawsuits across the US.

Yesterday, I wrote about the Cook Productions, LLC lawsuits (which are sending subpoenas to ISPs to reveal the identities of subscribers who are accused of downloading the “Mr. Church” flopper), and I was concerned that maybe this copyright holder was somehow separate from the others — the ME2 Productions lawsuits, the September Productions lawsuits, and the Cell Film Holdings lawsuits (the “three legs” or “trio“) — that we have been seeing over the past few months. [So it’s not a three-legged stool; it’s a chair.]

But then this morning, I was writing an article on the I.T. Productions, LLC lawsuits, and after speaking to a John Doe Defendant on the phone, I decided to check the list of plaintiff attorneys suing in each state for the I.T. Productions to the attorneys suing in the ME2 Productions, September Productions, (and also LHF Productions and Criminal Productions, Inc., articles to come), and the connections popped out at me.  They are the same attorneys!!!

In sum, this ‘shadow entity’ (which I believed to be Voltage Pictures, Inc.) who is licensing ‘floppers’ is using the same attorneys to sue for each and every one of these movies.

Not only that, but for the IT Productions, LLC cases, they are even ‘dipping their toes’ into the same states as I saw yesterday when reviewing the Cook Productions, LLC cases.  Here are the similarities:

Arizona District Court (NONE YET)
Colorado District Court (I.T. 10 cases, Cook Productions, 1 case)
Hawaii District Court (I.T. 2 cases, Cook Productions, 4 cases)
Illinois Northern District Court (NONE YET)
Indiana Northern & Southern District Courts (NONE YET)
Kentucky Western District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)
Maryland District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)
Nevada District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)
North Carolina Eastern & Middle District Courts (NONE YET)
Ohio Northen & Southern District Courts (I.T. 2 cases, Cook Productions 2 cases)
Oregon District Courts (I.T. 4 cases, Cook Productions 3 cases)
Pennsylvania Eastern District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)
Washington Western District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)

See the similarities?!?  So… expect to see I.T. Productions, LLC cases to soon be filed in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, and North Carolina.

As far as the attorneys for each of the lawsuits were concerned, I could not understand how here in Texas, Josh Wyde and Gary Fischman showed up OUT OF NOWHERE, and started filing lawsuits for Fathers & Daughters Nevada, September Productions, Cell Film Holdings, and most recently, ME2 Productions.  Where did they come from?  And how did they all of a sudden score EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THESE movie companies to come to THEM and hire THEM to sue John Doe defendants in Texas for the unlawful download of these films?

Another name that keeps popping up in recent weeks has been R. Matthew Van Sickle (a.k.a. Ross Matthew Van Sickle) of Van Sickle Law, PC in North Carolina.  His website is http://mattvansicklelaw.com/ and it lists an expertise in “Construction Law, Civil Litigation, Employment Law, Insurance Coverage/Defense, and Mediation” (and no doubt, soon his website will be updated to state that he is knowledgeable in intellectual property matters, copyright infringement matters, and federal practice.) At least plaintiff / copyright troll attorneys Josh Wyde and Gary Fischman (AFAIK) are knowledgeable in this area of law.

So… who is behind these lawsuits?  Is it Voltage Pictures, Inc.?  Someone affiliated with Carl Crowell? Guardaley / IPP?  Again, do you care??

So I digress.  I.T. Productions, LLC has convinced the judges of the various courts to rubber stamp the authorization for them to conduct what is called ‘expedited discovery.’  What this means is that they are now permitted to send a subpoena to the various ISPs (e.g., Comcast, CenturyLink, AT&T, etc.), and force them to disclose the identity of the ten or so John Doe Defendants who are accused of copyright infringement from the download of their film.

The I.T. Productions, LLC lawsuit is suing for the download of the “I.T.” movie starring Pierce Brosnan.  The concept of the movie is pretty cool — innovative owner of an enterprising company is flying high until his daughter gets stalked by one of his information technology (IT) guys, who uses every technological facet to attack them.

Unfortunately, as cool as the movie sounds, IMDb gave it only 5.4 or 10 stars, which means that the movie was a flopper.  It’s too bad; I liked the concept of the movie.

So why did I spend all this time linking this I.T. Productions case to the Cook Productions case, the ME2 Productions case, and the others?  To show that there is a decrepit and sinister entity behind the scene who has likely now set up the entity called “I.T. Productions, LLC” for the purpose of suing downloaders across the U.S. for copyright infringement.

However, as terrible as this sounds, the benefit to the John Doe Defendant reading this article is that you can begin to draw lines and conclusions from one lawsuit (e.g., the ME2 lawsuits) to understand how the plaintiff attorneys will act in these lawsuits.

Honestly, I think I understand now why this movie is called “I.T.”  It really stands for “I Troll.”

As always, I hope this article has been of assistance to you.

For an analysis of the other I.T. Productions, LLC bittorrent-based cases filed across the US, click here.

RECENT CASE HISTORY OF THE I.T. PRODUCTIONS, LLC CASES:

Cases filed in the Colorado District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. John Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02979)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. John Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02998)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. John Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-03009)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. John Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-03058)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. John Doe 1-20 (Case No. 1:16-cv-03064)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. John Does 1-30 (Case No. 1:16-cv-03089)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. John Does 1-12 (Case No. 1:16-cv-03132)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. John Does 1-10 (Case No. 1:16-cv-03150)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1-7 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00468)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe 1et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-00112)

Cases filed in the Hawaii District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1 through 3 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00035)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1-6 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00641)

Case filed in the Kentucky Western District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00836)

Case filed in the Maryland District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 8:16-cv-03999)

Case filed in the Nevada District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does (Case No. 2:16-cv-02705)

Cases filed in the Ohio Northern and Southern District Courts (respectively):
I.T. Productions LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 3:16-cv-03073)
I.T. Productions LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 2:16-cv-01199)

Cases filed in the Oregon District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe-76.115.0.173 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02102)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe-76.27.241.78 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02103)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe-76.115.228.18 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02101)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe-76.27.242.207 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00163)

Case filed in the Pennsylvania Eastern District Court:
I.T. PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. JOHN DOES 1-8 (Case No. 2:16-cv-06533)

Case filed in the Washington Western District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01775)


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.

Read Full Post »

Cook Productions, LLC continues to sue John Doe Defendants, so far across the following US District Courts*:

Arizona District Court (2)
Colorado District Court (1)
Hawaii District Court (4)
Illinois Northern District Court (14)
Indiana Northern & Southern District Courts (1, 1)
Kentucky Western District Court (1)
Maryland District Court (1)
Nevada District Court (1)
North Carolina Eastern & Middle District Courts (1, 5)
Ohio Northen & Southern District Courts (1, 1)
Oregon District Courts (3)
Pennsylvania Eastern District Court (1)
Washington Western District Court (3)

*I have included the number of filings so that you can see in which states these plaintiffs are focusing their efforts.

Cook Productions, LLC is the legal entity suing Comcast ISP subscribers for the download of the “Mr. Church” movie with Eddie Murphy and Britt Robertson.  The movie itself looked like a feel good drama, although the movie itself got dismal ratings (which is probably why someone agreed to start suing downloaders of this movie to make up for their shortfall.)

  • COS (Consequence of Sound) rated the movie as a D-, referring to it as “unusually bad melodrama…. about as enjoyable as a plague of locusts.”
  • Indiewire rated it as a C-, claiming that the movie “flails for the heartstrings, but instead of reaching them, it only tugs at that muscle that makes you roll your eyes at its old-fashioned, melodramatic attempts at emotion.”

In sum, this is yet one more movie that failed at the box office, which made it a target for some company to snatch it up in some licensing deal, and then turn on its fans by suing each one in the federal courts.  Even the number of downloaders interested in pirating this film is laughably small.

For someone who received a subpoena claiming that they should file a motion to quash to stop their ISP from disclosing their contact information, speak to an attorney because most likely, you live in the state in which you were sued, and the court has jurisdiction over you.  I’d be happy to explain this further if you would like, because the last time I taught anyone about motions to quash may have been back in 2012 (by the way; although those articles are many years old now, the law explained in them is still good, so please feel free to revisit older articles as I did a lot of ‘teaching of concepts’ back when bittorrent case law was not yet “hashed out,” pardon the geeky pun).

I have three items that I can contribute to these lawsuits which might be of assistance to someone who is looking for some free legal help or tips on how to understand these lawsuits.

  1. The Cook Productions copyright holders do not have many lawsuits.  While it is scary to see multiple lawsuits in your court, in many cases, there are a small handful of defendants in each case (sometimes only including 5-7 John Doe Defendants in one lawsuit).  This suggests to me a fear that they might lose a significant pool of their defendants to a dismissal.  On the flip side, you could also say that the attorneys expect to maximize the money they make by extorting as much as possible from one or more defendants, but I have reasons why [for the most part] this is not the case.
  2. The Cook Productions lawsuits are sprinkled a few here, a few there, as if they are ‘dipping their toes’ into the various federal courts to see which jurisdictions end up being favorable to them.  In my experience, this is simply an indication that Cook Productions is either inexperienced or lazy, because if they did their research into what has already happened over the years with other bittorrent lawsuits, they would have learned which jurisdictions are favorable to so-called copyright trolls, and which are not so favorable.  Placing 14 cases in the Illinois Northern District Court (Prenda Law Inc. / John Steele’s former home court) is simply a mistake because there are too many judges there which will laugh when they see this lawsuit hit their case list.  At least they knew to stay out of Texas.
  3. There are many well known ‘copyright troll attorneys’ in each of these states who have filed countless lawsuits against many John Doe Defendants over the years.  However, in a handful of states that I have reviewed for the Cook Productions  LLC lawsuits, I am seeing “no-name” attorneys represent the copyright holder.Let me be clear — if I were to hire an attorney to pursue downloaders, I would hire experienced attorneys who have filed lawsuits in these courts, who know the judges, and who know copyright law.  Rather, I am seeing random attorneys take on these clients who have websites that reference the plaintiff attorney’s areas of expertise to be “insurance law,” “employment law,” “construction law,” …but where is the intellectual property law specialty? Where is the “copyright law” specialty?

    Answer: There is none.  These fields of expertise are STATE-BASED areas of law, and in my humble opinion, a number of these local attorneys have never stepped foot in a federal court.

    How have they filed these cases then?? Funny, I thought the same thing.  The case filings look IDENTICAL to me, suggesting to me that there is SOME COMMON ENTITY WHO IS FEEDING TEMPLATES TO THESE ATTORNEYS, and these attorneys file them in the federal courts.

In sum, Cook Productions, LLC appears to me to be yet another copyright troll, and if I was a betting man, I would suggest that some entity licensed the rights to the failed “Mr. Church” movie, and is now suing John Doe Defendants across the US using each state’s local attorneys as straw men to act as if they are the ones who are representing the client to enforce that client’s copyright rights.

For an analysis of the other Cook Productions, LLC bittorrent-based cases [as they start to develop past the subpoena phase of the lawsuit], click here.

Cases filed in the Arizona District Court:
Cook Productions LLC v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04478)
Cook Productions LLC v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04481)

Case filed in the Colorado District Court:
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe 1-23 (Case No. 1:16-cv-03198)

Cases filed in the Hawaii District Court:
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1 through 15 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00034)
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1-8 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00637)
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1-4 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00639)
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1-5 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00638)

Cases filed in the Illinois Northern District Court:
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. DOES 1-24 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11338)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. DOES 1-15 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00522)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. DOES 1-12 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00536)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. DOES 1-12 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00526)
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1-29 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11337)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. DOES 1-12 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00535)
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00523)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. DOES 1-14 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11347)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. DOES 1-15 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11345)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. DOES 1-18 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11341)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. DOES 1-25 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11340)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. DOES 1-13 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11350)
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1-21 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11344)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. DOES 1-23 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11339)

Cases filed in the Indiana Northern & Southern District Courts (respectively):
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00773)
COOK PRODUCTIONS LLC v. DOE 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-03158)

Case filed in the Kentucky Western District Court:
NOTE: The “Inc.” is probably a silly typo from a sloppy attorney.

Cook Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00838)

Case filed in the Maryland District Court:
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 8:16-cv-03873)

Case filed in the Nevada District Court:
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does (Case No. 2:17-cv-00069)

Cases filed in the North Carolina Eastern & Middle District Courts:
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe 1, et al. (Case No. 5:16-cv-00910)
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00909)
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00924)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC V. DOES 1-5 (Case No. 1:16-cv-01369)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC V. DOES 1-11 (Case No. 1:16-cv-01375)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC V. DOES 1-7 (Case No. 1:16-cv-01372)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC V. DOES 1-11 (Case No. 1:16-cv-01374)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC V. DOES 1-9 (Case No. 1:16-cv-01373)

Cases filed in the Ohio Northern & Southern District Courts (respectively):
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does (Case No. 3:16-cv-03045)
Cook Productions LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 2:16-cv-01192)

Cases Filed in the Oregon District Court:
NOTE: OK, this one concerns me. Look at the attorney and the “single Doe” case lawsuit style. These might play out differently than the others [just my gut feeling].

Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe-50.53.40.201 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02086)
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe-71.63.208.154 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02085)
Cook Productions v. Doe-73.37.111.126 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00162)

Case filed in the Pennsylvania Eastern District Court:
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC. v. JOHN DOES 1-13 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00705)

Cases filed in the Washington Western District Court:
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01884)
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:17-cv-00252)
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:17-cv-00101)


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.

Read Full Post »

Because the “ME2 Productions, Inc.” copyright infringement lawsuits appear to be the ‘third leg’ to the “September Productions, Inc.” (leg 1) and the “Cell Film Holdings, LLC” (leg 2) lawsuits, I felt compelled to write something about it.

This third leg of cases, each of which have been filed by Josh Wyde and Gary Fischman consist of four cases (and counting), each filed here in the TX Southern District Court. ME2 Productions, Inc. itself [through their local counsel across the US] has filed 112 cases so far, and each case appears to be following the same template. There are 10-20 John Doe Defendants per case, and the cases are spaced apart when filed, hoping that no proactive judge receives and consolidates all of the cases in one federal district (this has not yet happened in Texas).

ME2 CASES ARE STILL IN THEIR INFANCY IN TEXAS.

In Texas, the ME2 cases are still in their infancy, and all that has happened is that judges have rubber stamped what are called “expedited discovery” requests to allow the plaintiff attorneys to force the ISP(s) to send subpoenas to the account holders of those IP addresses where unlawful downloading is claimed to have happened.

As of writing this message, the Comcast / XFinity ISP has received three subpoenas, and has sent letters to the accused account holders (the “John Doe Defendants”) indicating that they should file an objection to the subpoena with the court before the ISP is forced to hand out the subscriber information to the plaintiff attorney.

As of now, there are three known ‘deadlines’ to file an objection (e.g., motion to quash) with the court — 3/2, 3/16 and 3/20 — corresponding to three of the four cases so far filed in Texas. I’ll update this article with the fourth date as soon as I get it.

WHAT MOVIE IS BEHIND THE ME2 CASES? AND, HOW DO THEY RELATE TO THE OTHER BITTORRENT CASES RECENTLY FILED?

More generally, ME2 Productions, Inc. is suing for copyright infringement based on the the illegal download of the Mechanic: Resurrection movie, starring Jason Statham and Jessica Alba. (NOTE: If you are considering downloading any of the Transporter movies also with Jason Statham, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see lawsuits from the production companies for those movies as well in the near future based on a trend I’ve noticed in the past. Also be on the lookout for lawsuits for the ‘Transporter’ movies as well for this same reason).

Based on my conversations with the plaintiff attorneys who are attempting to sue downloaders of the Mechanic: Resurrection title, I understand that a number of those implicated in these lawsuits may have also been implicated in the September Productions, Inc. v. Does lawsuits for the download of the Septembers of Shiraz video and possibly also the Cell Film Holdings, LLC v. Does lawsuit for the download of the “The Cell” video. For some reason, these three videos appear to be a trio, perhaps because they were shared on the piracy websites or Popcorn Time software platforms at the same time, or that there is some ‘contractual’ connection between the three movies (e.g., perhaps Voltage Pictures has signed an agreement with each of the three copyright holders giving Voltage a right to take on the movie production’s company name as they did with Dallas Buyers Club, LLC, to act and to sue on their behalf in order to ‘monetize’ and enforce the copyright rights those productions companies have from the creation of the copyrighted films).

I wrote this last paragraph very quickly, without much explanation. Do you even care if the company suing you is really Voltage Pictures, Inc. who has contacted the movie companies and said, “sign a contract with me — I’ll sue in your name and get lots of settlement money for you”? Bottom line, you are implicated as a John Doe Defendant in what looks to be a copyright troll lawsuit, Comcast is about to hand over your information to plaintiff attorneys Joshua Wyde and Gary Fischman, and you are staring down the barrel of a $150,000 copyright infringement for clicking and possibly watching a movie that may not have been any good.

WHY THESE CASES ARE BOTH SIMILAR AND SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT FROM CONVENTIONAL COPYRIGHT TROLL CASES.

In sum, whether this lawsuit indeed falls under “copyright troll” status or not, the plaintiff attorneys have taken great strides to mask the true nature of this lawsuit, namely, that this lawsuit will likely not go to trial for any of the defendants, because it is not economically profitable for the copyright holder (or Voltage Pictures, if this is the case) to spend the money to chase some student in Houston, TX and force a $150,000 judgment on them that the student will never and could never pay. Yet based on the documents I have seen these attorneys file in the court (sometimes even quoting this blog), they seem to want to litigate.

Whether they are paid hourly by their copyright holder clients (the production companies) or whether the simply take a commission based on a percentage of the settlement amount they elicit from the defendants (my gut feeling is that they are actually being paid hourly by their clients which gives them an incentive to spend more time filing documents in the court) they do spend significant amounts of time drafting motions, and they do spend the money to name and serve defendants, and they DO fight the case *as if* they were taking each John Doe Defendant to trial. Whether this is because they are trying to overcome the bias the federal judges in Texas have against the pornography bittorrent cases which wasted the past seven years of the court’s time or because they are trying to prove the legitimacy of bittorrent based copyright infringement lawsuits, bottom line, they are fighting these cases differently from the way other plaintiff attorneys have fought them in recent years.

So here is the solution. If you did not download the Mechanic: Resurrection movie, then fight back. Hire an attorney (me, or any other attorney) to fight your case. If you did the download, well, there are also solutions found with an attorney, but you knew this already, and it will require both sides to be reasonable to come to an amicable solution.

I did not mention this before, so I am mentioning this here since it is relevant — it is not profitable for a movie company to bring a copyright infringement lawsuit to trial. This gives us on the defense side leverage to either come to an amicable solution, or to fight back and force them to dismiss. The plaintiff attorneys Josh Wyde and Gary Fischman will fight back, but facts are facts, and justice is for the most part blind. If they cannot prove that it is more likely than not that you were the downloader of the copyrighted movie, then they cannot find you guilty for copyright infringement.

NOTE: An unintended consequence of fighting back from a purely academic perspective is that doing so forces the copyright holders to focus their set of John Doe Defendants to those downloaders to whom they can prove did the download, because each ‘misfire’ (meaning, each John Doe Defendant who did not do the download and who fights back) costs the copyright holder severely, and we have said for years that this would be the demise of the ‘copyright troll’ model if they sue without vetting their data as to which John Doe Defendants apparently did what and when. Make it too expensive to blindly name and serve (without vetting the John Doe Defendants first), and their model falls. However, fight back, and they will focus and limit their list of John Doe Defendants to those who subscribers (or their family members) who actually did the downloading, and this will only feed back into their cash stream by encouraging settlements to avoid being named and served, sued, and found liable for copyright infringement. It’s a messy problem.

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

For an analysis of the other ME2 Productions, Inc. bittorrent-based cases filed across the US, click here.


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.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday, I wrote about how the Malibu Media, LLC filings stopped dead towards the end of April 2016, and continued for three months (~90 days) to be SILENT… NOT EVEN ONE new case was filed.

Until July 21st, where over the next month, Malibu filings came in with a rush of 134 new cases — 75 in the last ten (10) days of July, and then another 59 cases in August — and then again… SILENCE.

Until October, where someone at Malibu pulled a lever, and each of their local attorneys filed roughly ten cases every few days until a total of 109 cases were filed, but then again… SILENCE.

After Lipscomb and Malibu Media, LLC parted ways in April, I thought Malibu Media — the largest copyright troll ever (have you ever known any person or entity to file 6,800 cases for ONE CLIENT?) — was dead. But rather than being a dead copyright troll, it occurred to me that not only is Malibu Media, LLC still “alive,” so to speak, but the pattern in which they are filing their cases actually replicates a monster [or troll] BREATHING.

You might ask yourself whether I just claimed that Malibu Media is breathing, and I am answering YES. Every 90 days, they are coming out with roughly 100 cases, like the breath of a dragon, or in in the spirit of their name, like the ebb and flow of the waves that crash across the Malibu shores.

That sounds all artistic, but really, there appears to be a hard-nosted money number behind their filings. $20,000. Malibu Media, LLC appears to be trying to keep their monthly filings costs to $20,000/month.

How? (admittedly, this is a stretch, but there is a point.)
July = 75 filings x $400 per filing = $30,000
August = 59 filings x $400 per filing = $23,600 (-16 cases)
September = ZERO FILINGS. (-75 cases)
October = 109 filings x $400 per filing = $43.600
November = ZERO FILINGS. (-75 cases)
December = ZERO FILINGS. (-75 cases)

TOTAL CASES FILED in two quarters: 243 cases / 5 months = avg 48.6 cases/mo.
~50 cases/mo (rounding up) /6 months = $20,000/mo.

Okay, so what does that mean for me or for you? Nothing… except to expect another 100 filings in January 2017… but not in California.


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.

Read Full Post »

In my last article, I mentioned that “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).”

Was Lipscomb right? Were the Malibu Media LLC v. Doe lawsuits no longer profitable?:

I thought a lot about this one, and I will answer it using fuzzy numbers (rough estimates).

Malibu Media, LLC filed 6,800+ lawsuits in federal courts.  Since the start of their lawsuit, the cost of filing a lawsuit increased to $400.

$400 filing fee/case x 6,800 cases = $2.7 Million in filing fees (likely $2.4 mil based on the fee change because the filing fee was not always $400).

6,800 cases, estimate 10% pay a settlement fee (one out of every ten John Doe Defendants), and assume an average settlement amount of $10,000.  [6,800 cases x .1 settlement rate = 680 settlements x $10K/settlement = $6.8 Million in settlement funds received].

But what if the average settlement was $8,000 but they didn’t tell you about that, and only 5% actually paid the settlement?  Then the numbers would look like this: [6,800 cases x .05 settlement rate = 340 settlements x $8K/settlement = only $2.72 Million in settlement funds received].

Now the local attorneys who “extract” the settlement likely get a 30% piece of the settlement.  So let’s assume 30% in commissions goes to the local counsel. [$2.72 Million in settlements received x .7 [that’s 70% after the 30% attorney cut] = $1.9 Million Left for Lipscomb].

Subtract the $1.9 Million Left for Lipscomb from the $2.7 Million in filing fees paid, and Lipscomb has a loss.  Likely a businessman like Lipscomb would see this coming and would not allow 6,800 cases to be filed if they were not significantly more profitable.  Thus, I think my original numbers were more accurate (if not, Lipscomb was not a smart businessman and is about to file for bankruptcy).

Going back to the original numbers, even if you take the original assumptions of a 10% settlement rate, and an average settlement of $10K (=$6.8 Million), minus the local counsel’s 30% cut, that leaves a net profit of $4.76 Million Left for Lipscomb.  Minus the $2.7 Million in filing fees from the $4.76 Million Left for Lipscomb, and that leaves a $2 Million Net Profit, but Lipscomb only paid Malibu Media $100,000 (which would be a 5% commission rate to Malibu Media, LLC).

Thus, based on what the real numbers actually were, I do see how Lipscomb may be able to claim that the copyright trolling campaign was not profitable for him.  My best guess is that the truth of what the numbers really were are somewhere in between my estimations, however, the only way we will be able to learn the truth is 1) if it comes out in discovery in the Malibu v. Lipscomb lawsuit, or 2) if the feds analyze their books.


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.

Read Full Post »

johnsteelearrested

We learn this morning that John Steele was arrested under 17 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and perjury. I have detailed the charges lower down in the article, and a link to the Star Tribune article can be found here (and sincere kudos to both DTD & SJD for breaking this story).  The link to the indictment itself can be found here.

For those of you who became readers more recently, one of the first prolific copyright trolls was John Steele, formerly from Steele Law Firm PLLC, then from Steele|Hansmeier, then most popularly, from #Prenda Law Inc. (that last name even earned itself a hashtag and a group of followers on Twitter).

John Steele hired many lawyers across the US who acted as his “local counsel” just as Keith Lipscomb later did on a larger scale with the Malibu Media, LLC [x-art.com] copyright holder. [As I’ve written before, I believe that Voltage Pictures, Inc. is doing the same thing in a manner which has not yet become public knowledge with their Dallas Buyers Club, Fathers & Daughters, September Productions, Cell Productions, and a number of other non-pornographic copyright infringement cases slowly making their way through the federal courts.]

The relevance here is that John Steele was the original kingpin, and TODAY HE WAS ARRESTED for the following:

COUNT #1) Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud (18 USC §1349) [using the U.S. mail to extort settlements from bittorrent defendants]

sh-clip1-mailfraud

COUNTS #2-6) Mail Fraud 18 USC §1341 [using the U.S. mail to send “scare letters” threatening to sue accused John Doe Defendants unless they settled the claims against them.]

sh-clip2-mailfraud
COUNTS #7-16) Wire Fraud 18 USC §1343 [using the internet to process settlement checks and upload torrent files containing porn which they would later track and sue defendants for the download thereof]

sh-clip3a-wirefraudsh-clip3b-wirefraud

COUNT #17) Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering (18 USC §1956(h)) [for the transfer of settlement funds received, knowing that those funds were proceeds from unlawful activity, and disguising the nature, source, ownership, and control of those proceeds.]

and,

COUNT #18) Conspiracy to Commit and Suborn Perjury (18 USC §371) [by scheming to conceal and disguise their involvement by providing false and misleading testimony and declarations, for example, and Mark Lutz (the paralegal) was really the CEO behind all of their activities, etc.]

In short, there is so much to say about this story which has been an evolving saga since 2010 (now six years and counting).  Many internet users were hurt by their activities, and the injustices that John Steele, the Hansmeier brothers, Mark Lutz, and the others more well known as “the Prenda gang” perpetrated on so many thousands of accused John Doe Defendants are still being copied by many copyright troll attorneys even today.

My personal opinion is that this arrest should be a warning sign to other copyright troll attorneys who are still filing lawsuits against John Doe defendants even today using the same tactics described here.  The scheme described in the indictment has not been stopped, and it continues (albeit in more hidden forms where attorneys go through such great lengths to make their outfit appear legitimate).  

My only message to the other copyright trolls perpetuating this scheme is not that “I’m watching,” or that “you’re being seen by the internet bloggers for what you are,” but that the U.S. Federal Government is watching.  

John Steele’s problems are not over.  There are still other departments likely analyzing their activities.  The one department that comes to mind is the Criminal Law Enforcement arm of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Other Links of interest relating to this topic:

DieTrollDie: John Steele & Paul Hansmeier (Steele|Hansmeier, AKA: Prenda Law) Arrested – December 2016
Fight Copyright Trolls: Steele and Hansmeier Have Been Indicted On Fraud, Money Laundering Charges
ArsTechnica: Prenda Law ‘copyright trolls’ Steele and Hansmeier arrested

…and likely many others to come.


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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »