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Posts Tagged ‘Naming Defendants’

I read Judge Facciola’s rulings all day long.  It appears to me that in his eyes, internet users are copyright infringers. The internet is a place of crime and deceit. And, copyright holders – even when they are pornography production companies – deserve to shake down and harm internet users who prey on their copyrighted materials.

He has been happy for months that people are being extorted, but now he is no longer happy because people are fighting back. No doubt he has “seen the light” shining forth from the Indiana Southern District Court, and he wants to prove that the internet users are guilty and that they deserve to be punished.

With all this narrative, I am painting a prophetic picture of what I expect the Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-7 (Case No. 1:12-cv-01119 [12-1119 (EGS/JMF)]) DC case to look like. It is a grim picture, but here it goes.

EVERY DEFENDANT WILL BE NAMED IN THE CASE.

Watch these Indiana dockets…

Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-29 (INSD; Case No. 1:12-cv-00845)

10/15/2012 46 Summons Issued as to DERICK BROOKS, DAN COROIAN, JEREMY COTTON, KEVIN DEMPSEY, CONNIE FELONGCO, NEVILLE FERNANDES, JAY GARRETT, JIM GENDRON, CLARISSA HENDERSHOT, ANDREW LEIGHTNER, SIWEI LI, CHRIS MINOR, DANIEL PITTMAN, K.P., KENNETH REESE, JERRY RICHEY, CARL RUDY, LUCIAN SAVULESCU, LUCAS SHULTZ, TERESA STEPHENSON. (JD) (Entered: 10/15/2012)
10/11/2012 45 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to TERESA STEPHENSON. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 44 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to SIWEI LI. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 43 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to NEVILLE FERNANDES. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 42 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to LUCIAN SAVULESCU. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 41 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to LUCAS SHULTZ. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 40 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to K.P. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 39 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to KEVIN DEMPSEY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 38 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to KENNETH REESE. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 37 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JIM GENDRON. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 36 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JERRY RICHEY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 35 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JEREMY COTTON. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 34 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JAY GARRETT. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 33 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to DERICK BROOKS. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 32 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to DANIEL PITTMAN. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 31 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to DAN COROIAN. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 30 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to CONNIE FELONGCO. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 29 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to CLARISSA HENDERSHOT. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 28 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to CHRIS MINOR. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 27 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to CARL RUDY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 26 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to ANDREW LEIGHTNER. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
9/27/2012 25 AMENDED COMPLAINT against DERICK BROOKS, DAN COROIAN, JEREMY COTTON, KEVIN DEMPSEY, JOHN DOE #14, JOHN DOE #16, JOHN DOE #17, JOHN DOE #20, JOHN DOE #23, JOHN DOE #24, JOHN DOE #29, CONNIE FELONGCO, NEVILLE FERNANDES, JAY GARRETT, JIM GENDRON, CLARISSA HENDERSHOT, ANDREW LEIGHTNER, SIWEI LI, CHRIS MINOR, DANIEL PITTMAN, K.P., KENNETH REESE, JERRY RICHEY, CARL RUDY, LUCIAN SAVULESCU, LUCAS SHULTZ, TERESA STEPHENSON, filed by MALIBU MEDIA, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A – IP Address List, # 2 Exhibit B – Copyright Website Screen Shot, # 3 Exhibit C – BitTorrent Vocabulary)(Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 09/27/2012)

Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-7 (INSD; 1:12-cv-00842)

10/15/2012 24 Summons Issued as to JAMES HELFERICH, JEREMIAH MCKINNEY, STEPHEN MCSWEENEY, ERNEST NURULLAEVA, CHARLIE TOLLEY. (JD) (Entered: 10/15/2012)
10/11/2012 23 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to STEPHEN MCSWEENEY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 22 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JEREMIAH MCKINNEY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 21 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JAMES HELFERICH. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 20 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to ERNEST NURULLAEVA. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 19 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to CHARLIE TOLLEY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/3/2012 18 AMENDED COMPLAINT against JOHN DOES 1-7, filed by MALIBU MEDIA, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A – IP Address List, # 2 Exhibit B – Copyright Website Screen Shots, # 3 Exhibit C – Title List, # 4 Exhibit D – BitTorrent Vocabulary)(Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/03/2012)

Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-23 (INSD; Case No. 1:12-cv-00841)

10/12/2012 38 Summons Issued as to GIANCARLO DI MIZIO JR, KRISTINE EIKENBERG, CAMERON GAFF, R.M., SEAN MANGYIK, ANDREW MCCOY, TOBY REEVES, HAOJIE WANG, DANIEL WATT. (CKM) (Entered: 10/12/2012)
10/11/2012 37 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to TOBY REEVES. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 36 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to SEAN MANGYIK. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 35 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to R.M. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 34 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to KRISTINE EIKENBERG. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 33 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to HAOJIE WANG. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 32 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to GIANCARLO DI MIZIO JR. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 31 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to DANIEL WATT. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 30 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to CAMERON GAFF. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 29 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to ANDREW MCCOY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
9/27/2012 28 SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT against JOHN DOES 1-23, filed by MALIBU MEDIA, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A – IP Address List, # 2 Exhibit B – Copyright Website Screen Shots, # 3 Exhibit C – Title List, # 4 Exhibit D – BitTorrent Vocabulary)(Nicoletti, Paul) Modified on 10/10/2012 (PGS). (Entered: 09/27/2012)

Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-8 (INSD; Case No. 1:12-cv-00840)

10/18/2012 30 Summons Issued as to RYAN OURS. (PG) (Entered: 10/18/2012)
10/18/2012 29 Summons Issued as to PAUL ALLOR. (PG) (Entered: 10/18/2012)
10/18/2012 28 Summons Issued as to JAMES DUMAS. (PG) (Entered: 10/18/2012)
10/18/2012 27 Summons Issued as to HECTOR HERNANDEZ. (PG) (Entered: 10/18/2012)
10/18/2012 26 Summons Issued as to BRIAN LACEY. (PG) (Entered: 10/18/2012)
10/17/2012 25 ORDER granting Pltf’s 24 Motion for Extension of Time to effectuate service on Defts to 11/15/2012. Signed by Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore on 10/17/2012. (SWM) (Entered: 10/18/2012)
10/16/2012 24 First MOTION for Extension of Time to to Effectuate Service on Defendants , filed by Plaintiff MALIBU MEDIA, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/16/2012)
10/11/2012 22 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to RYAN OURS. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 21 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to PAUL ALLOR. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 20 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JAMES DUMAS. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 19 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to HECTOR HERNANDEZ. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 18 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to BRIAN LACEY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
9/26/2012 14 AMENDED COMPLAINT against JOHN DOES 1-8, filed by MALIBU MEDIA, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A – I.P Address List, # 2 Exhibit B – Copyright Website Screen Shot, # 3 Exhibit C – BitTorrent Vocabulary)(Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 09/26/2012)

And a younger case… Can you guess what will happen next?

Malibu Media LLC v. John Does 1-9 (INSD; Case No. 1:12-cv-01115)

10/18/2012 23 AMENDED COMPLAINT against KEVIN ETTER, NICHOLAS SHELTON, AARON REYES, HO YEUNG, DAVID WYATT, LEAH JUSTICE, filed by MALIBU MEDIA, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A – IP Address List, # 2 Exhibit B – Copyright Website Screen Shots, # 3 Exhibit C – Title List, # 4 Exhibit D – BitTorrent Vocabulary)(Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/18/2012)

This is obviously no doubt upsetting for the named defendants, but it has been explained to me that the logic of the Indiana courts is that they do not want to allow Paul Nicoletti to run the typical copyright troll extortion scheme of “unless you settle with us, we will name you in the lawsuit.” Rather, the court has asked the plaintiffs to name the defendants outright so that they could properly defend themselves rather than playing the “motion to quash” game that happens in all the other courts.

I also want to point out that now the burden is on Malibu Media, LLC and Paul Nicoletti to make DAMN SURE that the defendants they sue actually did the downloading.

I must note that this is not the case with Judge Facciola in DC. It has been explained to me that he is hell bent on punishing defendants rather than stopping the extortion scheme that has been going on there unhindered for over two years now.

On a personal note, this is obviously not the scenario I would like to see happen, but I do think the DC case will end up looking exactly like these Indiana cases. Thus, I wanted defendants to be prepared for this because as soon as you are named and served, you have a certain number of days to respond and file your answer. There are obviously some maneuvers we can do to stop the clock, but you’ll be under the gun on this one so be prepared to act as soon as you’re served. It looks like this is going to happen.

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At what point does an attorney stop being a copyright troll?

Anyone who knows me knows that John Steele [one of the original trolls from 2010] and I are not the closest of friends. In our many conversations, I have told him quite frankly that I considered him an enemy, and I have told him [and the world] what I think about his lawsuits.  We have sparred over the years over the forums, over clients, over settlements, and to date, everyone knows what I think about his copyright trolling efforts — the “grand extortion scheme” him and his local counsel have foisted over countless victims.  Together, Steele’s law firm — whether it is under the name “Steele Law Firm, PLLC,” “Steele Hansmeier, PLLC,” “Prenda Law Inc.,” (or even more recently, “Joseph Perea, P.A.” [although I have no idea if Joseph Perea is acting on his own, or whether this is a “fake” company, and he is still working under Prenda Law Inc.]) — has inflicted painful damage over the retirement accounts and savings accounts of COUNTLESS people (many of whom had NOTHING to do with the downloading or the hacking they were accused of doing).

The big elephant in the room has always been “open wi-fi”. Yet guilty or not, people still pay up, and John Steele profits.

The concerning thing about John Steele is that even he refers to himself as a copyright troll, and he appears to be proud of it.  However, while the classic definition of a “troll” is an enterprising attorney who has taken advantage of the legal system (or a loophole or a weakness in it) for his client’s material benefit, I understand a “copyright troll” term in the bittorrent lawsuit context to more commonly mean “an attorney or a company who sues many internet users for the purpose of extorting multi-thousand dollar settlements from the accused, regardless of whether or not they are guilty, AND who has NO INTENTION OF MOVING FORWARD AGAINST ANY OF THOSE DEFENDANTS IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE.” In short, a copyright troll is someone who sues a lot of people and demands settlements through robocalls, “scare” letters, and threatening phone calls, but who has NO INTENT to move forward against those individuals should they decide not to settle.

The problem is that I’m not so sure that definition still holds, because John Steele, along with his threateningly growing number of local counsel across the U.S. are naming defendants.

RECAP: Initially, John Steele sued hundreds and thousands of defendants at a time, most of whom did not live in the state in which they were sued. Those were the older cases, most of which have all gone bust because the courts lacked PERSONAL JURISDICTION over the defendants. That was where we saw the “Congratulations to the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients who were SEVERED AND DISMISSED from [whatever] lawsuit” posts in 2010-early 2012. Then Steele smartened up. He (though his local attorneys) started filing SMALLER CASES where in many cases, the defendants lived in the states in which they were sued. Hence JURISDICTION WAS PROPER. However, even there, John Steele was still a copyright troll.

But, eventually people caught on that JOHN STEELE WAS NOT “NAMING” ANYONE AS A DEFENDANT, and no doubt his cases lost any credibility the might have had. Even judges started calling his cases a grand extortion scheme, and even in the news today, SOME JUDGES are shutting down his cases IMMEDIATELY before you — the accused bittorrent user — learned that you are sued. In other words, their initial “MOTION FOR EARLY DISCOVERY” to send subpoenas to the ISPs to learn the identities of the IP addresses / John Doe Defendants are here-and-there beind DENIED. But even here, John Steele is still a copyright troll.

Where John Steele loses the status of “copyright troll” is when he starts going after individual defendants in the courtroom. Once he files a First Time Videos, LLC v. James Swarez (a fictitional name), and James is now dragged into a lawsuit kicking and screaming and is forced to hire an attorney to file an “answer” with the court, and then James needs to give up his computer to some sleazy digital forensics experts hired by the attorneys (or he can hire his own), and he has to actually fight a real copyright case on the merits of whether or not he actually downloaded the copyrighted works he was accused of downloading in the lawsuit, well, at this point, John Steele is no longer a copyright troll, but rather, John Steele becomes merely a predatory attorney who is suing someone on behalf of his client for the violation of his client’s “copyright rights.”

Now the shift that is important to note is that in the olden days, John Steele did not name anybody. He never did, and for a while, many thought he never would (except perhaps one here or there just to prove to the courts or the world that he could and would name defendants).

However, the new strategy is that he *is* naming defendants. In fact, below is a list of defendants (for their own privacy [so that their names do not show up on search engines following this post — because PACER court documents often don’t get indexed on the search engines, but my posts do], I have edited out their last names, except for a few notorious cases) who have been named in their lawsuits (and this list is a crude list, some of which are state cases, and I even know of a few cases which are not on here):

DEFENDANTS NAMED IN ALABAMA
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Dewey W., 05-CV-2012-900893 (Dewey W.)

DEFENDANTS NAMED IN ARIZONA
First Time Videos, LLC v. Gary P., 2:12-cv-01488-ROS (Gary P.)
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Adam S., CV2012-053194 (Adam S.)

DEFENDANTS NAMED IN CALIFORNIA
AF Holdings LLC v. John Doe, 2:11-cv-03076-LKK-KJN (Francisco R.)
AF Holdings LLC v. John Doe, 3:11-cv-05633-JSC (Vu C.)
AF Holdings, LLC v. John Doe, 3:12-cv-02049-EDL (Josh H.)
AF Holdings, LLC v. John Doe, 5:12-cv-02048-HRL (John B.)
Boy Racer Inc. v. John Doe, 4:11-cv-06634-DMR (Daniel C.)
Boy Racer, Inc. v. John Doe, 1:11-cv-01935-LJO-SKO (Anthony N.)
Boy Racer, Inc. v. John Doe, 3:11-cv-05628-JCS (Samuel T.)
Boy Racer, Inc. v. Philip W., 2:11-cv-03072-MCE-KJN (Philip W.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 2:11-cv-03074-KJM-CKD (Jeff G.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 2:11-cv-03075-JAM-JFM (Kenneth S.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 3:11-cv-05634-JCS (Seth Abrahams)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 4:11-cv-03826-DMR (Soukha P.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 4:11-cv-05630-YGR (Liuxia Wong)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 5:11-cv-05631-PSG (Isaac K.)
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Reza S., 37-2012-00100384-CU-BC-CTL (Reza S.)
Millennium TGA, Inc. v. John Doe, 2:11-cv-03080-MCE-KJN (Joe V.)
Millennium TGA, Inc. v. John Doe, 3:12-cv-00792-MMA (Tyree P.)
Pink Lotus Entertainment, LLC v. John Doe and Steve P., 2:11-cv-03073-WBS-KJN (Steve P.)
Pink Lotus Entertainment, LLC v. John Doe, 2:11-cv-03077-JAM-KJN (Jason A.)
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Myron H., 12-CV-0952 (Myron H.)

DEFENDANTS NAMED IN ILLINOIS
First Time Videos LLC v. John Doe, 1:11-cv-08334 (Arthur S.)
First Time Videos LLC v. John Doe, 1:11-cv-08335 (Arthur H.)
First Time Videos LLC v. John Doe, 1:11-cv-08336 (Christopher P.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 1:11-cv-08333 (Jason S.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 1:11-cv-08337 (Jamie P.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 1:11-cv-08339 (Gerald G.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 1:11-cv-08340 (Edward N.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 1:11-cv-08341 (Erik S.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 1:11-cv-08342 (Stilan P.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 1:11-cv-08343 (Hyung K.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 1:12-cv-01053-MMM-JAG (Matt R.)
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. John Doe, 1:12-cv-01104 (Robert R.)
Pink Lotus Entertainment, LLC v. John Doe, 1:11-cv-08338 (Klint C.)
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Lucas S.,2012L000927 (Lucas S.)
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Michael A., 2012L000530 (Michael A.)
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Ronald T., 2012L000531 (Ronald T.)
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Tom B., 2012L95 (Tom B.)

DEFENDANTS NAMED IN NEVADA
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Adam G., CI12-2625 (Adam G.)

DEFENDANTS NAMED IN TEXAS
First Time Videos, LLC & AF Holdings, LLC v. John Doe, 4:12-cv-00535 (Tingwei & Chinatsu L.)
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Austin C., C-133,846 (Austin C.)
Pacific Century International, LTD v. John Doe, 4:12-cv-00536 (Stephen C.)
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. W.T., Inc., CV2012-053230(W.T., Inc.)

In sum, as you can see, John Steele (through Prenda Law Inc. and his local counsel) are naming defendants, and one-by-one, they are hiring new counsel in a number of states to file against individuals. Now does this mean that John Steele is no longer a copyright troll? Maybe, maybe not. The point is that he is taking the “next step,” and he is forcing more and more individuals into litigation.  This is a concerning trend.

MY OPINION: Will he come after you? Quite frankly, with the tens of thousands of individuals he has sued, this small list is only a sliver of the huge pool of defendants who have been sued (NOT “NAMED”), who have been dismissed, and who are somewhere in between. The point though, is that while once upon a time John Steele did not name defendants, now he does.

On a personal note, I am saddened by writing this post, and as much as I always love to write the “we won!” articles (and THERE ARE SO MANY OF THOSE OUT THERE that don’t make it onto this blog), a defendant that calls my office needs to understand that there IS a risk that they might be named as a defendant at some point in the future. As we have said before, it is important that both current defendants AND DISMISSED DEFENDANTS should keep an eye out for Prenda Law Inc. filings in their state. The way they can do this is by going to the http://www.rfcexpress.com website, and watching what is going on in their state. Until a Prenda Law Inc. client (e.g., Hard Drive Productions, AF Holdings, First Time Videos, LLC) files against a John Doe or against a named defendant in a particular state, it is safe to assume they are not yet there and quite frankly, in my opinion, the risk of getting “named” is quite low. But then again, you need to be vigilant even after a dismissal, and for this reason, I have written this blog post.  This simply was not the case just a few months ago.

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Considering the recent articles online leaked by the attorneys of the Hurt Locker and the Far Cry cases in that they plan on filing against dismissed defendants in their home states, I have been asked whether my opinion regarding the eventual outcome of the cases still in existence has been altered by what is, in my opinion, a public relations media blitz in response to the fall of the Larry Flynt Productions (LFP Internet Group, LLC) lawsuits and similar related suits in the Texas and West Virginia courts.

In short, the mass John Doe copyright download cases have been falling like dominoes — one after the other — and there are too many of them to note. However, as a reaction to these failed cases, there have been a number of “scare” articles leaked to the internet claiming outright lies such as “we were successful in obtaining hundred-thousand dollar judgments against multiple torrent users last year.” This is simply not true. I check the records and filings of many (if not most) of the copyright lawsuits on a regular basis. I have seen many cases get dismissed; I have seen many cases get severed leaving only one John Doe defendant — but I have never seen a judgment against an individual John Doe torrent downloader from these lawsuits.

Of course I must point out that there are a few example cases made by the Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”) which I wrote about a few months ago where one woman was handed a $1.5 million dollar judgment for seeding (sharing) over twenty .mp3 music files.  In addition, there were the Napster, Grokster, and related cases which lost a few years back.  However, as for media companies getting judgments against individual John Doe defendants in these mass copyright infringement lawsuits? I have not seen even one.

However, as per the plaintiff attorneys in these copyright cases, it has always been their position that they intend to go after individuals in their home states. However, if you read my most recent article (towards the bottom), you will see the obstacles they face in going after every one of the individuals dismissed in their previous lawsuits. I have quoted the relevant portion below.

“Now what does this mean for our firm’s clients? In short, all defendants were dismissed and severed. What this means is that if the plaintiff attorneys wish to continue the lawsuit, they will have to file against each of the six thousand defendants individually. They will need to draft complaints specific to each defendant alleging infringement of their client’s copyrights — each one is extremely time consuming. They will have to get admitted (pro hac vice) in the local court in which each defendant lives, or they will have to find local counsel in each state each defendant lives and they will have to hire that local counsel to file the paperwork on their behalf. They will have to learn and follow the local court rules, they will have to pay the filing fees for each defendant (~$350) they sue, and they will have to properly serve each defendant.

Then us attorneys will begin defending the cases, and we will begin conducting discovery and making them attend depositions, answer interrogatories, and prove their case. I would think this would be difficult for them to do with just a few defendants. I can imagine this would be nearly impossible to do with 6,000+ defendants.

But, I’m sure if asked, they will probably post some news article expressing their determination to go after each and every defendant, and I wish them well.” (Emphasis added.)

As a side note the defendants in the above quoted article were not severed, they were outright dismissed. This has ramifications for the plaintiff attorneys and it will affect how they are able to proceed in suing defendants individually.

Lastly, regarding the blitz of articles many of you have been referring to (on arstechnica, on digitalmediawire, etc. — example here) — if you read the news articles carefully, there is no indication that a new wave of individual lawsuits are being filed.  (Obviously taking note of a few “test the water” cases, one example described here).  These articles, along with their source article on CNET News state that the owner of Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver is “driving to the court right now…” Very exciting and newsworthy, but no proof of a new and pervasive business model of filing against individual defendants.

I have no doubt that in the coming months, we will transition from fighting procedure (no jurisdiction, improper joinder) to fighting actual evidentiary issues, but we are FAR from being there yet. John Steele is still messing around with trying to move forward with a reverse class action suit (article here), and if he succeeds, I’m sure the other law firms and media companies will copy his methodology and will first try their hand at John Steele’s new business model before scaling down what was (and for the time being, still is) their profitable mass copyright lawsuit business model to going after individual defendants. This current business model of joining hundreds, if not thousands of internet downloaders into one lawsuit is failing in the courts because of inherent procedural defects, but the model itself is not yet a failure. From what I hear, there is a huge settlement rate (e.g., I heard that 90% of defendants get scared into settling before even talking to a lawyer), and so for as long as they can continue to scare defendants into settling, their business model will remain a success.

I cannot see, however, the profitability of going after an individual for any other reason than to attempt to secure a few example cases in their favor. I have no doubt that even if they were successful in suing individual downloaders (an outcome which I doubt would be the case if the defendants hired competent attorneys to fight their case rather than going pro se), the media companies would never collect a penny from the defendants because in all likelihood, any defendant hit with a $150,000 judgment will immediately be hiring a taxi to drive them to the nearest bankruptcy court, followed by dinner at an expensive restaurant.

In short, beware of what you read online. Check your information from all sites against the simple facts, filings, and pleadings of the case which are publicly available to those who want to do their homework.

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