RIGHTSENFORCEMENT (New MPAA Movie Companies Gone Copyright Troll)

RightsEnforcement.com (Carl Crowell and his ilk) have been quiet lately as far as the DMCA notices go, but the movie lawsuits press on. Now they have NEW MOVIE TITLES that they will be suing on in the coming weeks and months.  It is worth mentioning that since I began writing about RIGHTSENFORCEMENT (I have to put their name in caps since it just looks awkward when writing it out), the company got quiet — not because of me or anything I wrote on the topic — but now I understand that they were spending their time continuing the Voltage Pictures business model and obtaining new contracts with new movie companies with the intent of ‘enforcing’ or suing John Doe Defendants who download those films (and as always, recruiting new ISPs to send their DMCA notices, whether by force or by ‘carrot and stick’).

RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.com | Screenshot 1

RIGHTSENFORCEMENT represents a ‘common troll’ entity which enforces the copyright rights of other companies who contract with it.

QUICK BACKGROUND: HOW THE SCHEME WORKS.

How I understand this works (source: Dallas Buyers Club lawsuit against copyright trolls Voltage Pictures, Inc., a.k.a., Dallas Buyers Club, LLC).  A common troll entity (e.g., Voltage Pictures, Guardaley, MPAA, whoever) contacts the production company for some failed movie that did not make expected profits in the theater.  They license the rights to enforce the copyright owned by that movie company.  This “common troll” entity would then set up shell entities masquerading as the movie company.  These shell entities are LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANIES, which means that if there is a lawsuit against them, or if they get hit for damages, the damages are limited to the limited liability company itself, and not the criminals ‘behind the veil’ of these companies.

This shell entity files multiple “John Doe” lawsuits across the US using German Company Guardaley (and it’s US shell company counterparts) to provide “expert evidence” that copyright infringement happened via the bittorrent networks.  They ask the federal judges to unmask the identities of the ISP subscribers who were assigned the IP address which was involved in the bittorrent lawsuit, and they contact that defendant and ask for a multi-thousand dollar settlement for the ‘loss’ they suffered because of their download.

What movies will this ‘common troll’ sue for in the future?

Some of the new movies on the RIGHTSENFORCEMENT Client List are:

  • Larceny (with Dolph Lundgren, “I will break you.”)
  • I Am Wrath (with John Travolta)
  • Vengeance (with Nicolas Cage)
  • USS Indianapolis (with Nicolas Cage)
  • Rage
  • Rumble
  • Undisputed 4
  • A Tale of Love and Darkness

RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.com | Screenshot 2

  • Bedeviled
  • Christmas All Over Again
  • Killer Joe
  • Lady Bloodfight
  • Maximum Conviction
  • Navy Seals: The Battle For New Orleans
  • Playing Cool
  • The Company You Keep

RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.com | Screenshot 3

RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.com | Screenshot 4

RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.com | Screenshot 5

  • The Humbling
  • Salt and Fire
  • Queen of the Desert
  • Close Range

RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.com | Screenshot 6

  • Good Kill
  • Charlie Countryman
  • Sniper: Special Ops
  • Life on the Line
  • Cabin Fever Reboot
  • Return to Sender

RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.com | Screenshot 7

  • Countdown
  • Blunt Force Trauma, and
  • Wild Horses

Are these famous actors or producers involved in the copyright trolling scheme?

Likely not.  It has become apparent that the actors in the movie have absolutely nothing to do with RIGHTSENFORCEMENT, or the copyright trolling that the production company has chosen as their alternate path to making money from the film (their primary method of selling movie tickets flopped).  In fact, the actors are usually the victims of both the piracy and the lawsuit, as they benefit from NEITHER.

Is Carl Crowell (the figurehead of RIGHTSENFORCEMENT) behind these lawsuits?

Again, likely not.  It is also now apparent that Carl Crowell alone (the ‘owner’ of RIGHTSENFORCEMENT and the RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.com website) is likely not the businessman / entrepreneur behind the acquisition of the movie titles.  Rather, he and his RIGHTSENFORCEMENT company are most logically patsy figureheads, as was Keith Lipscomb and his now defunct law firm.  (On a side note, after all the years we thought that Lipscomb was the villain for the Malibu website, I wonder if he feels like a patsy as well — used and abused by the more powerful copyright trolls, or did Lipscomb make out with windfall profits?  It would be interesting to speak to him and have him give his side of the story to ‘spill the guts’ of who these guys behind the RIGHTSENFORCEMENT company and actually are.)

So as much as that was ‘tongue in cheek’ (cliche which has a different meaning if you knew anything about the Malibu lawsuits Lipscomb was filing), realistically Lipscomb is bound by a number of strong contracts where he could probably lose his law license for breach of attorney-client privilege if he disclosed the identity of his ‘client’ — the one who has been filing all of these lawsuits.

If not him, then who? (think, “who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?”)

We don’t need Lipscomb to see who is actually behind these lawsuits.  It is becoming apparent (at least in my observation) that the entity behind Carl Crowell’s RIGHTSENFORCEMENT organization is none other than the MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA (MPAA) and their lobbyists.

I laugh at myself whenever I say this out loud because the idea that such an apparent ‘legitimate’ organization would engage in such banal legal tactics to monetize their copyrights to compensate for having made failed movies (“floppers”) in the theaters makes me just shake my head in disgust.  Then, having learned over the last two years that the same organization is affiliated with OR HAS DIRECTED the pornography lawsuits across the US since 2012 just makes me cringe.  “It is just too horrible.”

Why I believe the MPAA/RIAA are behind the movie lawsuits.

I covered why I actually think the MPAA and RIAA are behind the movie lawsuits in depth here, but I’ll quickly recap.

Look at the evidence.  The RIAA (a similar but very related organization) was involved in so many lawsuits prior to 2010.  They sued and sued, and then all of a sudden in 2010, they went SILENT.  The MPAA also sued, my best understanding is using Voltage Pictures, and a bunch of other companies with The Expendables lawsuits, etc., all using the law firm Dunlap Grubb, & Weaver, LLC to file their lawsuit.  When those mass bittorrent lawsuits failed, it appears to me (based on the fact that the same Guardaley company was involved in both the movie AND porn lawsuits) that the MPAA and RIAA then encouraged the pornography industry to file lawsuits on their behalf to make headway in the court system to change or break copyright.

I know I wrote “break” copyright, but I have had some time to think about it, and while I am still befuddled by the thought that the MPAA would scheme to have the porn companies file lawsuits for their own benefit to change copyright law, I wonder if they did so because they wanted to create change in the courts because they couldn’t get it done in an ineffective lame Congress.

Anyway, this is still a mystery to me, and it is bigger than me, and I am not the one with authority or power to break the story, expose the MPAA, or investigate the MPAA or the RIAA with any credibility other than my best guesses based on what I see come out in the lawsuit filings and disclosures.  It simply must be noted that with the exodus of Lipscomb from the adult film lawsuits and the merging of the RIAA (now embodied in Rightscorp) and the MPAA (with the movie titles) all coming together in Carl Crowell’s RIGHTSENFORCEMENT entity (which is growing in power and in licenses to movie production companies who have signed on with them), I must assume legitimately that there must be a REASON why these movie companies are obediently ‘falling in line’ and signing up with Crowell’s organization.  That reason cannot be that there are so many greedy movie production companies in Hollywood who have all of a sudden embraced copyright trolling as a legitimate copyright monetization business strategy. Rather, I believe that reason is that THE RIGHTSENFORCEMENT ORGANIZATION AND ITS MOVIE COMPANY CONTRACT DOES NOT BELONG TO CARL CROWELL, BUT TO THE MPAA/RIAA ENTITIES.

ME2 Utah Subpoenas from CenturyLink Are Coming Due.

Subpoenas Sent to CenturyLink to expose identities of ME2 Utah Defendants due 4/28.

ME2 Utah cases have been blazing since they were filed early in March, and now the subpoenas for those cases are coming due this week.

Who is the attorney for the ME2 Utah cases?

The ‘copyright troll’ attorney in Utah who filed these cases is Todd Zenger (“Todd E. Zenger”), and he works for Kirton McConkie in Salt Lake City, Utah. Any e-mails coming from “[email protected],” or calls from his “801-328-3600” phone number (or any 801-328-XXXX phone number should cause you to be wary that you have a Utah ME2 copyright troll trying to scare you into settling with him for thousands of dollars.

Are Utah ME2 Productions, Inc. cases any different from those filed in other states?

Really, no.  I have already written much about the ME2 Productions, Inc. cases, and the Utah ME2 cases are no different from the cases filed in other states. The following articles should be helpful in understanding the ME2 Utah cases as well:

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW IN ONE PAGE ABOUT YOUR ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. “MECHANIC:RESURRECTION” LAWSUIT AND ISP SUBPOENA.

Just like the other cases, the Utah ME2 Productions, Inc. cases are suing for copyright infringement based on the the illegal download of the Mechanic: Resurrection movie, starring Jason Statham and Jessica Alba. The lawsuits are all copyright infringement lawsuits filed in the Federal Courts, and each lawsuit sues for statutory damages of $150,000 (but don’t let that large number scare you, because baked into copyright infringement law is the concept of ‘minimum statutory damages’ as well).

Accused ME2 Utah-based internet users are made aware of these cases when they are sent a letter from their ISP (CenturyLink), which informs them 1) they are implicated as a “John Doe” Defendant in this case, and 2) the ISP is bound by a subpoena to share the account holder’s contact information (and relevant information about their IP address’ involvement in the case) on a certain due date unless the subscriber files an objection with the court (referring to a “motion to quash”).

Why is this article relevant now (and for the next week or so)?

The reason why I am writing this article is because starting THIS FRIDAY (and continuing for the next week), the ME2 Utah-based subpoenas sent to CenturyLink demanding that they turn over the identities of the Utah ME2 John Doe Defendants are coming due. Most relevant, the next deadline is this Friday, 4/28.

What should I expect after 4/28 once CenturyLink complies with the subpoenas?

The expectation following this 4/28 deadline is that Todd Zenger will start sending out settlement demand letters to Utah ME2 John Doe Defendants, explaining that they have been sued for $150,000, and that their ISP has identified them as being the downloader. That their ISP identified them as the infringer is actually not true, as the ISP will have only identified that their IP address was ‘in the room’ when bittorrent downloading was happening.

However, Todd Zenger’s cases do not state that each John Doe Defendant is the actual infringer, nor does he provide evidence in the form of a PCAP file that any of the Utah ME2 defendants actually committed copyright infringement or downloaded a large enough piece of the movie to be considered “substantially similar” to the copyrighted film. However, it will have to be up to the judges (and us attorneys) to inform them that Todd Zenger is not in possession of the Guardaley evidence he allegedly claims to have.

Who are the federal judges assigned to the ME2 Utah Cases?

The Utah ME2 cases (thus far) are evenly spread between the following judges.  I wouldn’t be surprised if moving forward, one judge, e.g., Judge Evelyn Furse will take over the other cases to have uniform decisions across the Utah ME2 cases.

Judge David Nuffer:
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-23 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00198)
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-12 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00224)
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-29 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00190)

Judge Paul M. Warner:
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-26 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00199)
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-14 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00225)
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-22 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00189)

Judge Evelyn J Furse:
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-25 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00179)
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-25 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00169)
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-23 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00178)
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-25 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00158)
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-23 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00157)
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-26 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00168)

Judge Jill N. Parrish:
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-22 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00200)

Judge Dustin B. Pead:
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-27 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00191)

Judge Ted Stewart:
ME2 Productions v. Does 1-24 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00223)

What are your options in defending or resolving claims in a ME2 Utah-based case?

If you have read this far, you are likely one of the John Doe Defendants in this case, and thus here are your options on how our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC (or any other competent copyright litigation attorney) can help you in this case.

OPTION 1: FIGHT

In this option, your attorney would fight this case on your behalf. Since the ME2 scam has been exposed, the inherent weaknesses in Todd Zenger’s case are now well known. This option is more expensive than the other options, but it is probably the most satisfying option when you win and ask for attorney fees from ME2 Productions.

OPTION 2: SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS

Settlement negotiations does not mean that you downloaded the movie or that you are guilty of copyright infringement. Rather, it simply means that you want to pay to have the plaintiff attorney dismiss you from the lawsuit. This option can be used by both ‘guilty’ and ‘innocent’ defendants. While I do not recommend an innocent defendant pay ANYTHING to settle the claims against him, I do not judge defendants when they choose this option.

OPTION 3: “NO SETTLEMENT REPRESENTATION”

This is the discounted “no settlement” representation route that I discussed here. In the span of 2-3 hours, I would consult with the client, send over a letter of representation to the plaintiff attorney (to stop him from contacting the client directly). I would then draft a letter to the plaintiff explaining that my client did not do the download, and that we are not interested in anything other than a walkaway settlement, meaning that my client pays no settlement. The purpose of this representation is to put Todd Zenger on notice that my client is not the infringer he is looking for.

OPTION 4: “IGNORE” ROUTE REPRESENTATION

The ignore route is best described as ‘playing chicken.’ I best described the “ignore” route, and how it differs from the “no settlement representation” route here. The assumption with the “ignore” route is that Todd Zenger is not yet naming and serving defendants in this case, so you would hire our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC to monitor the case for you. We would send over a letter of representation indicating that we are representing you in the case, but we would not engage in settlement negotiations.

The intended client for the ‘ignore’ route is the innocent client that wishes to have a more ‘hands on’ engagement with their case over the “no settlement” representation letter route, where their attorney is actively monitoring the case and having active discussions with the plaintiff attorney. Both ‘guilty’ and ‘non-guilty’ defendants can utilize the “ignore” route, as this option is adjustable based on the circumstances of the client. If Todd Zenger decides to start naming and serving defendants, a ‘guilty’ client would likely have me open up settlement negotiations on his behalf, whereas a non-guilty client would instruct me to not settle and adhere to the ‘ignore’ strategy. Obviously getting named and served while in this strategy would be cause to decide whether to shift strategies to the “fight” or “settle” strategy, which is fine.

OPTION 5: ARGUE “MINIMUM STATUTORY DAMAGES” REPRESENTATION

I discussed the “argue minimum statutory damages” representation option last night in this article. The purpose of this option is to take the settlement negotiations away from a misbehaving plaintiff attorney. Instead of negotiating a settlement (where the plaintiff is asking for too much money), we would file an answer with the court admitting infringement, and we would then make the case for the judge to award minimum statutory damages of $750.

The intended client for the “minimum statutory damages” representation route is a client who did the download and either does not want to go through settlement negotiations, or who wants to take settlement negotiations out of the hands of the plaintiff attorney / copyright troll and leave the damages up to the judge to decide. Obviously since we are admitting guilt in this option, it is appropriate for the client to have done the download to use this strategy.

However you decide to proceed, if I can be of assistance or answer any questions about your ME2 Utah case, please let me know.


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.

STRATEGY: Have attorney argue for Minimum Statutory Damages ($750+fees)

Asking for $750 Minimum Statutory Damages is not as scary as you might think.

Minimum statutory damages for copyright infringement is $750. Copyright trolls and their attorneys scare accused downloaders with the $150,000 number in EVERY SINGLE SETTLEMENT DEMAND LETTER. But baked into the copyright laws is that ‘minimum statutory damages’ number, which is $750.

If you think about it, if you are caught drunk driving (a dangerous act where you can kill people), in Texas, you can be fined a few hundred to two thousand dollars and spend between three and 180 days in jail. If you steal something or are caught shoplifting (or you are caught purchasing or accepting stolen property), in Texas you can be charged with larceny and would have to pay a fee as low as $50 or as high as a few thousand dollars depending on the cost of the goods stolen.

Minimum Statutory Damages | Strategy to Admit Guilt
succo / Pixabay

When you “steal” copyrighted content by downloading it via bittorrent or streaming it via some ‘tube’ website or using software such as Kodi, you are depriving the copyright holder of the cost of the movie ticket (~$12) for the movie you did not see in the theater, or the cost of the DVD (~$30) that you did not purchase on Amazon.com because instead you pirated the film. These are what are called “ACTUAL DAMAGES“.

STATUTORY DAMAGES are something else. The law says that the copyright holder does not need to prove actual damages, and can rely on damages that the law thinks he is entitled to under the copyright laws. Baked into statutory damages is the concept of “minimum damages” which easily includes the theft of a video or a movie via a bittorrent download.

So when a plaintiff attorney / copyright troll scares you with that $150,000 number, understand that if you simply hung up the phone with that copyright troll and hired our firm to ‘file an answer with the court admitting guilt and arguing for minimum statutory damages’, there is a strong case for your judge to award minimum statutory damages to the plaintiff attorney.

What an “Argue Minimum Statutory Damages” strategy would cost.

But what exactly would the minimum statutory damages look like? Obviously, add $750 for the minimum statutory damages itself.

+$750 minimum statutory damages

Then, copyright laws give the ‘winner’ of the lawsuit the right to collect their attorney fees from the ‘losing’ side. Since we would quickly and actively file an answer on your behalf admitting guilt, the plaintiff attorney would not have had any out of pocket costs except the $400 filing fee (which in most cases is split between 10-15 defendants), so add another $40.

+$40 filing fees and costs split among the ten ‘John Doe” defendants

Then, the plaintiff attorney spent “a few hours” filing the boilerplate complaint (he has done this probably 100+ times already, so it didn’t take him a long time to file your lawsuit) and providing the court the documents he has already done many times already. Thus, estimate another $750-$1500 for the attorney fees to the ‘prevailing party’ (the ‘winner’).

+$1,500 attorney fees to the prevailing party (assuming that much time was even spent on the case).

———————————————————–
Then add everything up.
———————————————————–

+ $750 minimum statutory damages
+ $40 filing fees split among defendants
+ $1,500 attorney fees (if even that much)
———————————————————–
Total Estimated Cost: $2,290 for having your attorney ‘plead guilty’ on your behalf.

What about the fee to your own lawyer? Here is what you pay for:

STEPS YOUR ATTORNEY WOULD TAKE TO ARGUE “MINIMUM STATUTORY DAMAGES”:

Here are the steps we would take on your behalf in order to implement the minimum statutory damages strategy.

1) We send a letter to your plaintiff attorney and file a notice of representation with the court.
2) We open up discussions with the plaintiff attorney. Discuss evidence. If relevant, discuss settlement.
3) If the attorney is being unreasonable in the settlement negotiations, we cut off settlement negotiations and file an answer with the court admitting guilt. In our answer, we make argument for minimum damages.

Who would benefit from an “argue minimum statutory damages” strategy?

Now obviously the “argue minimum statutory damages” strategy is best used with an accused downloader who has actually done the download and does not wish to defend against a copyright infringement lawsuit (e.g., he does not have a ‘clean’ hard drive, and/or the infringing file is still on his hard drive).  This strategy is also best used in the situation where the plaintiff attorney / copyright troll is being greedy, unreasonable, or abusive in the settlement negotiations.  There is no need to argue with an uncooperative copyright troll if you can get a comparable result by simply admitting guilt and arguing for minimum statutory damages.

Is this an effective strategy even if you did not do the download?

NO.  1) There is no reason to settle if you did not do the download.  2) This strategy involves admitting guilt.  The purpose of this strategy is simply to take the settlement negotiations out of the hands of the plaintiff attorney / copyright troll.

If you did NOT do the download, there are other less expensive strategies, such as the “no settlement” representation strategy or the “ignore” route.  Alternatively, your attorney can file a motion to dismiss and dispense of the lawsuit quickly based on the inherent weaknesses of the case.

Why would someone guilty of copyright infringement use the “argue minimum statutory damages” strategy?

Plaintiff attorneys / copyright trolls seem to have their own calculus as to who they ‘let off’ and who they ‘nail’ in a settlement negotiation.  In other words, if they like you (or your Cashman Law Firm, PLLC attorney has leverage over them), they’ll give you a good settlement deal.  If they don’t like you, or if you fit into a category which copyright trolls believe that you have a vulnerability exposed, they can and often *WILL* take advantage of you (e.g., if you are elderly, or if you are a war veteran, or if they believe you can pay a higher settlement, etc.).

The strategy of having your attorney argue for minimum statutory damages is a good way to take the power away from the copyright troll.  If the plaintiff attorney is taking advantage of your situation, you can take the settlement negotiations away from him.  In essence, it is forcing the copyright troll to accept a lower settlement amount than he would have proposed in a settlement negotiation.

To embarrass a troll.

Arguing for minimum statutory damages is the reason someone who did the bittorrent download would employ this strategy.  However, there is the additional nudge or motivation in doing this strategy — to expose the tactics of the copyright troll.  If a plaintiff attorney is using abusive tactics, or he is hiding his tactics behind a “FRE 408” header on his e-mail, you can use this strategy to expose his conduct to the judge.

Under the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE 408), settlement negotiations are not admissible in court, unless they are brought into evidence to show bias, prejudice, or some other valid reason (e.g., abusive conduct or harassment in the context of settlement negotiations).  There is a lot of latitude for an attorney who is filing an answer admitting guilt and asking the court to grant him his wishes to quickly and efficiently terminate the proceedings.  Within this latitude is the ability for the attorney to share with the judge the contents of the settlement negotiations prior to filing the answer in order to help the judge understand that the plaintiff attorney was employing abusive settlement tactics in order to resolve his $12 lost movie ticket / $30 lost DVD sale claim.

Would our firm also argue the other inherent weaknesses of the plaintiff’s case in an “argue minimum statutory damages” strategy?

Honestly, it is not needed.  There are a number of additional strategies that can be employed to protect an accused defendant (especially since the plaintiff attorney likely does not have actual evidence of copyright infringement), but the goal in the “argue minimum statutory damages” strategy is simply to quickly dispose of the lawsuit with the minimal amount of costs to the defendant.

Obviously there *are* inherent weaknesses in the copyright troll’s case which can be addressed in a more comprehensive defense strategy (e.g., by filing a motion to dismiss with the court) and then if that fails, filing an answer admitting guilt and arguing for statutory damages.  However, this is not the purpose of this strategy.  (As to the motion to dismiss because of the other issues inherent to the case, e.g., improper joinder, no evidence, improper pleadings, etc., I will be writing about these weaknesses in coming articles.)

IN SUMMARY, CONSIDER ARGUING FOR MINIMUM STATUTORY DAMAGES (IF YOUR TROLL IS MISBEHAVING).

If your copyright troll is being unreasonable in settlement negotiations, consider having your attorney (us, or whoever you use) file an answer with the court admitting guilt and argue for minimum statutory damages. Even if you were caught doing the download, you don’t need to give in to a ransom settlement. Copyright law has already anticipated your infringement, and there is a strong likelihood that a judge (especially one who sees many ‘copyright troll’ lawsuits from this same plaintiff) knows the scam these copyright holders are running, and they will be sympathetic to a defendant who employs this strategy.  Why?  This is a quick resolution to a copyright troll who is taking advantage of a downloader and asking for more than he should, and judges love ‘judicial economy’.

Obviously if you have any questions about what I have written here, please feel free to SPEAK TO ME and ask me questions about your case. There are many ways to take care of the claims against you without giving in to the settlement demands of the plaintiff copyright troll. Also, each defendant has different circumstances, so this article (or more generally, ANYTHING I write in this blog) is not meant to be legal advice or magical pills for you to get out of this lawsuit scott free. Trust that I have spent literally SEVEN YEARS fighting copyright trolls, and so there are many ways to approach your case. Admitting guilt and making the argument for minimum statutory damages is simply one more tool we have at our disposal to handle a plaintiff attorney who is not ‘playing nice.’

“No Settlement” vs. “Ignore” Route Representation

Tweaking an old strategy for a more effective one.

For those of you who speak to me on Twitter, I am working on implementing a new strategy based on Matthew Sag’s “Defense Against The Dark Arts of Copyright Trolling” paper.  Most relevant to this is finding representation for John Doe Defendants who did not do the download and who rightfully do not want to pay settle the claims against them.

Our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC for years has represented clients in what we called “ignore” route representation, where we would not settle the claims against the John Doe clients (unlike settlement factories who did).  While the “ignore” route representation strategy was very effective for many years, in recent years where plaintiff attorneys name and serve defendants, it has lost some of its effectiveness.

The need for a low-cost strategy to represent innocent defendants.

Come Matthew Sag’s “Defense Against The Dark Arts of Copyright Trolling” paper, where he suggests that attorney provide a low cost service to innocent defendants to “call the copyright troll’s bluff,” so to speak.  Our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC is working on how to implement the strategy, and we are looking to focus it on those who did not do the download.

THE PROPOSED “NO SETTLEMENT” REPRESENTATION STRATEGY

COMPARING IT TO OUR FORMER “IGNORE” ROUTE REPRESENTATION STRATEGY

WE ASK FOR YOUR SUPPORT

A strategy is only as good as those who implement the strategy.  While we may develop the strategy further, we ask for your support in publicizing the existence of this strategy.  We also ask for support from other attorneys to provide their clients a strategy such as this one.

Should you find in our community of attorneys an attorney who is taking clients at a low cost and sending the ‘innocence’ letters as we propose in this strategy, but clients taken are not innocent, this could ruin the credibility of the strategy.  Similarly, we ask attorneys to adhere to the ‘no settlement’ stance, and not to give in to ‘nuisance’ settlement payments.  Although a nuisance settlement can be a few hundred or a few thousand dollars here or there, this is exactly what will perpetuate the copyright troll scheme, and will keep the copyright trolls in business and thriving.

CREDIT GIVEN WHERE CREDIT DUE.

We credit Matthew Sag and his”Defense Against the Dark Arts of Copyright Trolling” paper for exposing to the world the problems with the copyright troll lawsuits, and we look forward to seeing an end to copyright trolling once and for all.

-Rob Cashman, Author of the TorrentLawyer blog, and owner of the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC

REVISITED: Beware of the defense attorney “copyright trolls” too.

This post was originally written as a “rant” against volume-based “settlement factory” attorneys.  At the time, the kind of damage they caused to accused defendants in bittorrent cases was unknown, as was their existence.  Even today, settlement factory defense attorneys continue to feed inquiring ‘John Doe’ subpoena recipients false information.  And as a result, settlement prices paid to copyright trolls often end up being artificially inflated.  As of 4/17/2017, I have revisited the topic, and it is still as valid today as it was one year ago.

After writing this article, Ernesto from Torrentfreak wrote an article entitled, “BEWARE: PIRACY DEFENSE LAWYERS CAN BE “TROLLS” TOO.“.  -Rob Cashman

Beware of Attorney Settlement Factories

I started writing this article because there is too much conflicting information floating around the web about whether to settle a bittorrent-based copyright infringement lawsuit.  The attorneys who are causing this confusion are trying to profit from the current broken state of the copyright laws.  These attorneys use fear tactics and manipulation to scare a John Doe Defendant into settling with their law firm.  

Credible Websites Teach That Settlement is NOT a Requirement

There are credible websites that blog almost daily on copyright troll issues.  

see “Fight Copyright Trolls,”

see “Die Troll Die.”

Copyright Trolls Do Not Take Cases To Trial

Because copyright infringement lawsuits are often based on scare tactics, and because copyright troll attorneys name only a small sliver of defendants sued, ignoring a copyright troll and his threats can be a good strategy.

IGNORING A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT CLAIM AGAINST YOU CAN OFTEN BE A VIABLE OPTION TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEM (WITHOUT SPENDING $$$$ ON A LAWYER). 

Thus, beware of the so-called “defense” attorneys who tell you that you will lose your home and your life savings if you do not settle.

What are “SETTLEMENT FACTORY” defense attorneys?

NOTE: In this section, I give you the red flags to look for to spot these attorneys, and I hope this helps clarify some of the conflicting information you get from speaking to different attorneys.

“SETTLEMENT FACTORIES” are what I call law firms who focus on providing apparent “low cost settlements” to clients (as you will see, the settlements end up not being low cost).

These settlement factory law firms hire multiple attorneys to solicit and lure accused ‘John Doe’ defendants into hiring them “for a cheap and anonymous settlement.”

From a business perspective, more attorneys for the business owner means the ability to make more phone calls to solicit more accused defendants [to process more settlements], and the ability to “capture” more clients for their law firm means more profits.

SETTLEMENT FACTORY law firms PRE-ARRANGE settlement amounts.

Rather than actually negotiate a good settlement for their client, settlement factories run what I refer to as a “volume business.” They PRE-ARRANGE an often inflated settlement price with the copyright holder, so the copyright troll will agree to the arrangement.

In return, the copyright troll allows that so-called attorney to not have to negotiate the settlement for each client, since they have a prearranged agreed-upon “settlement amount.”

Why settlement factory attorneys are PART OF THE PROBLEM of copyright trolling.

This arrangement creates a “cottage industry,” where the defense attorney and the plaintiff attorney (who are supposed to be opponents) are allies for profit.  Settlement factory attorneys are part of the problem of copyright trolling; they are not part of the solution, and the only one that gets hurt is the accused defendant.  Why?  Because with settlement factories, the accused defendant almost NEVER gets the lowest possible settlement amount.

SETTLEMENT FACTORY law firms DO NOT NEGOTIATE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS either.

What compounds the problem is that negotiating the settlement is only HALF of the solution. The SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT itself must also be negotiated.  However, settlement factory attorneys do not negotiate settlements either (even though they tell you they do).

Why settlement agreements need to be negotiated.

Settlement agreements need to be negotiated because “boilerplate” settlement agreements contain ADMISSIONS OF GUILT and UNFRIENDLY LANGUAGE.

These boilerplate settlement agreements do not protect the client because they often:

  1. do not properly identify the accused defendant by name,
  2. they do not contain proper confidentiality clauses (to stop the plaintiff attorney from suing again or asking for more money later on), and
  3. they do not release the accused defendant from liability.

Settlement factory defense attorneys.

As a result of this article, settlement factory attorneys will take steps to hide their scheme.

For me, where writing this article will become infuriating is that suddenly these attorneys and their “beefed up” staff of hired attorneys will now start advertising 1) that they spend the time to actively negotiate the best settlement for their client, and 2) that they take the careful time to negotiate the terms of the settlement agreement so that the accused John Doe Defendant will be released from liability and the negotiated terms will properly protect the client’s rights.  Sure they will.

‘RED FLAGS’ TO SPOT A SETTLEMENT FACTORY

I know settlement factory attorneys follow this blog, and thus all I could say is “caveat emptor.”

At the time of writing this blog, here are the items to look for:

1) How long that attorney has been in practice [REMEMBER: “Copyright Troll” mass bittorrent lawsuits targeting multiple “John Doe” defendants have only been in existence only since 2010, so any attorney who claims he has been fighting copyright trolls for 20 years is obviously lying.],

2) Check the attorney’s blog to see the HISTORY of his articles — was he one of the first attorneys who fought these cases, or is he a new “me too” copycat attorney who is standing on the shoulders of giants? (after reading this, no doubt these attorney will now add “older” articles to make their website look older),

3) Check the blog article itself for “SEO OPTIMIZED” content, or “KEYWORDS” placed into the article.  Ask yourself, “was the purpose of this article to provide me valuable information? or was the purpose of the article to bulk it up with keywords so that search engine spiders will reward the author with first page rankings on the search engines?

2017 UPDATE: When I mentioned SEO OPTIMIZED content, I am referring to the fact that settlement factory blog articles lack content.  In our blog, we have over 200+ information-packed articles that we wrote TO EDUCATE.  Obviously many clients came to our firm as a result of our articles, and this is fine.  However, settlement factories have ONE MOTIVE ONLY: TO PROFIT.  Look for sites that advertise to you rather than inform you and educate you.

4) Last, but not least, check the EARLY ARTICLES of the blog to see whether the attorney actually tried to fight these cases and hash out the legal arguments, or whether they were merely reporting on the lawsuits already in existence to attract new business.  I call these attorneys “me too” attorneys, and you can usually spot them because all they do is report the cases.

AUTHENTICITY AND ORIGINALITY

In 2010, I and a small handful of attorneys were contacted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (better known as EFF) to help understand and resolve the developing copyright troll problem.  This was back when ISPs began sending letters out to their subscribers informing them that their ISP would be handing out their contact information and their identity to the plaintiff attorney / copyright holders unless they filed objections (or, “motions to quash”) with the courts. Thus, I credit the EFF for even noticing the copyright troll problem and contacting us to figure out what to do about it.

COPYCATS / FOR PROFIT ATTORNEYS

Unfortunately (or, fortunately, however you see it), that initial list of 20 attorneys has grown to over 100+ names, and some attorneys have negotiated with EFF to list them as representing clients in multiple states, hence increasing their visibility in an ever-growing list of lawyers. Watch for these attorneys — they are usually the “settlement factories” I referenced above, and again, caveat emptor.

REPUTABLE ATTORNEYS DO EXIST

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that you did not like me or my use of pretrial strategies (often making use of federal procedure) to defend a client. Or, let’s pretend for a moment that I could not take you as a client (e.g., because my case load was full, or because I did not have time to speak to you about your matter).

Because there were only a handful of us attorneys on the original EFF list who knew anything about these copyright infringement lawsuits, over the years, we have become friends and have helped each other out on many of the lawsuits in which we represented both John Doe Defendants and “named and served” defendants. Some of these attorneys are still around today, and some have moved on to other areas of law.  Some of them have stopped taking clients because fighting mass bittorrent cases has become more burdensome than the effort was worth (especially when some copyright holders do not play fairly in discovery [think, Malibu Media, LLC]).

PIPEDREAMS AND REFERRALS

Finding “that special client who will pay my fees to fight this case to trial” for many attorneys has become an unrealized pipe dream, and is something us attorneys often discuss.  If you truly want to fight your case, I have nothing wrong with either me, or anyone else I trust representing you in your lawsuit (I will happily tout another attorney’s merits and advanced skillsets when speaking to clients). AND, I will happily refer you to someone if I find that one of my peers would better assist you.

NO REFERRAL FEES

I *DO NOT* believe in referral fees, nor do I “share the workload” with other attorneys (this is code word for “I referred you this client, so pay me a piece of the legal fees you receive and call it paying me for my “proportional efforts.”).  This is something that is often done in my field which, in my opinion, needs to stop.

Over the years, I have upset many non-copyright attorneys who know nothing about these cases.  In the typical fashion, they call me with a client they would like to refer to me (coincidentally, asking to share in the fees, but not in the work).  I have rejected each request.

So in hindsight, while I thought I’d be reintroducing “copyright troll” subpoenas and basic copyright infringement concepts to clear up some conflicting information found on the web, instead I am providing a clear warning to those who are being actively solicited by law firms. A law firm simply should not be calling you or contacting you to solicit your business.

BACK TO IGNORING A CLAIM OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

Copyright trolls sue many John Doe Defendants in one case, but only a small number of them are named and served.  When you are evaluating your options, STOP AND CONSIDER THE OPTION OF *NOT SETTLING*, BECAUSE *NOT SETTLING* A CLAIM OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT CAN OFTEN BE A GOOD IDEA.

Similarly, in a lawsuit, DOING NOTHING MAY OFTEN BE YOUR BEST STRATEGIC MOVE, as counterintuitive as that might sound.  Again, this is because much of the ‘copyright trolling’ problem is based on a bluff — namely, that the copyright holders have evidence against you, and they will take you to trial if you do not pay them money to settle.

A Settlement Factory attorney makes NO MONEY if you ignore.

When you are bombarded with attorneys and law firms who actively market their fear-based services by using “Google AdWords” (ethically or unethically “buying” more well known attorney’s names as keywords so that THEY show up at the top of a search).  Then, those attorneys have their “assistant” attorneys calling you and pushing you to anonymously settle the claims against you, think twice. Is this person trying to get you to be yet one more client in their “volume” business??

WHY WE DISCUSS THE “IGNORE” OPTION WITH EVERY POTENTIAL CLIENT

In every one of my calls, I discuss what I call the “ignore” option which in many people’s scenario is a viable option. In many cases, I even push a client towards the “ignore” side of things.

[NOTE: There are many political reasons I have for this, such as “not feeding the troll,” or “not funding their extortion-based scheme,” or simply because I have been trying to change the copyright laws to limit or hinder a copyright holder’s ability to accuse or sue an internet user for the violation of that copyright holder’s copyrights, but NONE OF THOSE REASONS ARE REASON WHY I SUGGEST SOMEONE I SPEAK TO IGNORES THE CLAIMS AGAINST THEM.]

WHEN TO CONSIDER THE “IGNORE” OPTION.

Sometimes an individual’s circumstances allow them to ignore the lawsuit filed against them (or the copyright violation claimed against them in the DMCA notice).  Such factors include:

1) the individual’s financial situation,

2) whether they live in an apartment or a home,

3) the location of that apartment or home,

3) the state in which the plaintiff attorney has his law firm,

4) whether that copyright holder authorizes his attorneys [and pays their fee] to “name and serve” defendants and move forward with trial,

5) for strategy purposes, e.g., the psychological impact of having one or more John Doe Defendants ignore the claims against them (while other defendants rush to settle in fear of being named and served), or

6) simply because ignoring is the only option in that person’s situation.

IN SUMMARY

In summary, this has been a stream of thought article, but if you have made it to this point, you now understand the difference between a defense attorney who does settlements (among other forms of representation), and the settlement factory.

If the attorney you are speaking to is running your case as a volume business, or he is pushing you towards a “quick anonymous settlement” without showing you the merits of either 1) IGNORING, or 2) DEFENDING the claims against you, beware.

And if you need help and want my honest opinion about your case, or whether a particular attorney is engaging in a certain practice, just ask me.  I do not need to have all of you as clients, and I will answer you honestly.  And if you need, I will provide you a referral.


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.


Genbook Reviews | Cashman Law Firm, PLLC

Why Internet Users CAN Get Caught Viewing Streamed Tube-like content.

Copyright trolls just convinced a California Federal Judge to force Pornhub to disclose the list of its users.

Last night, I coincidentally revisited the question of “Can I get caught viewing streamed Tube-like videos.”  I was concerned that with the advances in websites providing streamed content, that perhaps users who view copyrighted content without a license might be at risk of being sued for copyright infringement.

Now considering the Pornhub lawsuit, I realize that 1) any website owner with a Google Analytics account puts all of his users at risk for being sued, and 2) any internet user who does not block the Google Analytics trackers puts himself at risk of being sued.

Why it was time to revisit whether someone can get sued for viewing streamed movies.

The reason I was looking into it was because it has been a few years since I wrote that article, and streaming copyrighted content has become more prevalent now than it was a few years ago.

Most users use only one or two pieces of software, most notably, Kodi.

These days, there are software programs which are used to view copyrighted content, most notably, Kodi (a newer version of the XMBC software).  A few weeks ago, I was asked to review the risks of installing Kodi software on an Amazon TV Fire Stick device.

But with the bittorrent-based copyright infringement lawsuits being found out for what they are — a scheme where the copyright holder does not actually have evidence of infringement — I knew that copyright holders would seek other avenues and technologies to use as a data source to file copyright infringement lawsuits for streaming.

Discussing the likelihood of a user being sued for viewing streamed content.

In answering whether a user can get sued for viewing content streamed over the internet, I reviewed two articles:

  1. Can I get caught viewing streamed Tube-like videos, and
  2. Should porn viewers expect their histories to become public?

Here WERE my initial thoughts:

(NOTE: Based on the Pornhub lawsuit that I will discuss shortly, I believe that any internet user can get caught viewing copyrighted content.)

1. I initially thought that there was a low likelihood a copyright holder would be able to obtain the IP address of the infringer.

In the first article, I came to the conclusion that NO, AN INTERNET USER WOULD *NOT* BE ABLE TO BE CAUGHT VIEWING STREAMED CONTENT ON A YOUTUBE-LIKE WEBSITE because 1) the copyright holder would not be able to obtain the IP addresses of the viewers of the content (no longer true), and 2) all lawsuits to date against internet users have been for bittorrent activity (which technically is trackable).

2. “Tube” websites likely do not keep logs (I never considered something like a Pornhub lawsuit, or how Google Analytics exposes every visitor to a lawsuit).

I also assumed that a Tube-like website (such as we see in the Pornhub lawsuit) or any website that provides pirated content would not keep logs on their users — and if they did, they would never reveal them to a copyright troll.  Thus, I concluded that the copyright holder would not be able to learn which IP address visited which page on which Tube site.

However, in recent years, website owners use Google Analytics to track their users.  Each “tube” website is a business of their own, and I’m guessing they generate millions in ad revenue selling all sorts of products to their users.  Thus, it is a no-brainer that they would have a Google Analytics account.

Why Google Analytics can create a whole new class of copyright trolls.

Google Analytics can expose the IP addresses (and the browsing habits, and, and, and…) of the website visitors, and my guess is that Google would comply with a subpoena sent to it to unmask the IP addresses of the users who visited a particular website linked to a Google Analytics account.

Thus, there was no need to sue the Tube website holder like they did in the Pornhub lawsuit.  This was a misstep.

3. Copyright Trolls are generally lazy

Other factors which led to my initial opinion a few years back was that copyright trolls are generally lazy.  The entire business model of the copyright trolls is focused on leveraging the least amount of time to extract the largest amount of money from their victims.

Initially, I reasoned that filing a lawsuit against a website owner, and then correlating that list of IP addresses obtained from that website owner was already too much work for a troll.  Then, having to go through a second step of sending subpoenas to the ISPs to discover the identity of the account holder who was assigned that IP address on that particular date and time (and doing so before the IP address lease logs were purged according to the ISP’s IP retention policy), well, that would be too many steps for a troll.

However, with the introduction of Google Analytics, even this laziness is mitigated.  A troll wouldn’t need to fight the Tube website.  Rather, he would subpoena the logs from the Google Analytics account.  Then, he would obtain the identity of the account holder who had that IP address from the ISPs.  No Pornhub lawsuits would be needed.

In sum, this is no longer such a difficult thing to do. 

4. Most pirate website owners are outside the US

Initially, I thought that even if copyright holders were willing to file the lawsuit and overcome each of the other roadblocks, most pirate-content is hosted by companies which are outside of the US (and thus it would be difficult to pull them into a US court to comply with a US federal court order).

Again.  I am almost sad to say that the website owner is not needed in a lawsuit to unmask the identity of the internet users who visited a particular page.  Why?  That page is likely tracked by a Google Analytics account.

For these reasons, in 2015, I concluded that there was almost no way an internet user could get caught for viewing pirated content on a Tube-like site.

However, even so, I still recommended they use a VPN just in case I was wrong (and in hindsight, maybe I was wrong.  Maybe Google Analytics already was widespread back in 2015, but I simply did not know about it).

Pornhub lawsuit ordered Pornhub.com to expose copyright infringers

Fast forward to 2017 — Pornhub has just been forced by a judge to expose its users.

Okay, this was unexpected.  I never expected a federal judge to order a Tube-site to reveal the identity of its users.  Today, a California federal judge judge did just that.  So in the context of this article, the financial ‘incentive’ that I considered a few years ago (that maybe a copyright holder could bribe a website owner to disclose its logs) ended up being the force of a court order signed by a federal judge.  

As described in the TorrentFreak article, Pornhub has been forced to provide the names, e-mail addresses, IP addresses, and other data exposing the identity of uploaders of pirated videos.  

Pornhub Lawsuit Target: Uploaders and Users who create accounts on pirate websites.

There was one caveat that I mentioned in my “Can I get caught viewing streamed Tube-like videos?” article, and that caveat was that viewers and users who create an account on a pirate Tube site risk having that account information exposed at a later date. This has now been shown to be true in the Pornhub lawsuit, as it was exactly THIS USER INFORMATION which is sought by the copyright holders.

BACKGROUND: At the time that I wrote the articles, the Ashley Madison hack just happened, where millions of names of individuals who had a paid accounts on the Ashley Madison website (a website set up for the purpose of having an adulterous affair).  Also in the news were various reports of hackers who were claiming that they will soon expose the porn viewing habits of all users, and that was the subject of my October 18th, 2015 article.

It simply made sense that it was only a matter of time before a Tube website was hacked, or something was done (now we know – Pornhub lawsuit was filed) to unmask the records surrounding the registered users and uploaders to these sites.

WHAT AN INTERNET USER CAN DO TO PREVENT HAVING THEIR WEB BROWSING HISTORY EXPOSED

1. Use a VPN

Even last night, I came to the conclusion that ordinary users who protect and encrypt their internet connection by using a VPN would not be at risk if such a lawsuit or a hack actually happened.

 

I am still skeptical as to whether the California court will succeed in identifying anyone other than the users who uploaded content (or who created accounts on the Tube sites), however, I remain cautious about whether Pornhub had a Google Analytics account.

2. Block the Google Analytics tracker

And now seeing the risk that Google Analytics creates for the internet user, I recommend every user install tracker blocker software on their browsers, specifically to block the Google Analytics tracker.  Tracker blockers include add-ons and extensions such as EFF’s Privacy Badger, or Ghostery.  The Pornhub Lawsuit teaches us to block Google Analytics

The Pornhub Lawsuit teaches us to block Google Analytics

 

Lastly, a word of warning as to advancing technology.

Last night, the “Google Analytics” piece of the puzzle did not even occur to me.  However, there was one big thing that did keep nagging at me, and it is worth mentioning:

BITTORRENT NOW OFFERS STREAMING

If I were to sound the warning call, it would be against using this feature.  Bittorrent is how 99.999% of the copyright infringement defendants across the US have been caught.

1. STREAMING VIA BITTORRENT IS STILL USING BITTORRENT

I cannot say this more simply.  Streaming content via bittorrent still requires a bittorrent swarm in order to obtain and play that content being acquired and streamed.  And if there is a bittorrent swarm, there is a copyright holder recording the IP addresses of the bittorrent users in that swarm who are sharing the streamed content to the other bittorrent users in that swarm.

2. POPCORN TIME IS STILL USING BITTORRENT

I have had it out with the Popcorn Time software developers so many times already, and the last I checked Popcorn Time still uses bittorrent to obtain and serve the movie content to its users.  Thus, Popcorn Time requires a bittorrent swarm and if there is a bittorrent swarm, there is a copyright holder monitoring that swarm.

SUMMARY

In sum, while it initially did not look like copyright holders would file a lawsuit to unmask the identity of internet users who visit a particular movie or streamed content, as I thought through the topic in writing this article, I see very clearly that IT IS NOW POSSIBLE.  

So far, I understand that the Pornhub lawsuit is only looking to unmask those who had accounts on Pornhub.  But who knows if Pornhub website owners used Google Analytics to track their users.  As I mentioned before, if Pornhub has a Google Analytics account, EVERY INTERNET USER WHO VISITED THEIR SITE (OR ANY TUBE SITE) IS NOW AT RISK.

So looking at this topic with fresh eyes (and knowing now a thing or two about analytics whereas in 2015 I didn’t even know such data existed), it only makes sense that internet users of porn SHOULD BE CONCERNED that their identities could get unmasked in a lawsuit such as this one.

 Discuss your Streaming Movie Case With a Cashman Law Firm Attorney


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.  Also, the contents of topics discussed on this site are not meant to be considered legal advice to act upon or not act upon.  Contact your attorney for answers specific to your particular circumstance.

Siemens NX Lawsuit | Expecting FRCP Rule 4(m) Dismissal Due To a Missed Deadline

Siemens PLM v. Does 1-100 (TX) and missed deadlines.

As many of you know, our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC is representing a number of engineer clients who are accused in a Siemens NX lawsuit of using their Siemens NX Mach 3 software without a valid license.

Siemens as we know is using the lawsuit as a pretext to convert accused infringers into valid license holders.  The name of their lawsuit is the Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Does 1-100 (Case No. 4:16-cv-03552) case filed in the Texas Southern District Court.

The Siemens NX lawsuit attorneys just missed a deadline to name and serve defendants.

Procedurally, Siemens was under a FRCP Rule 4(m) deadline to name and serve defendants by 4/3/2017.  This deadline was set by the judge, and the judge is the one with the discretion on whether to extend it once, multiple times, or dismiss the lawsuit after a certain time period has elapsed.

As of writing this article, The Siemens NX lawsuit attorneys did not file anything on 4/3, and their deadline has passed.  Further, it has been two days without any activity on the court docket from Siemens NX.  This is not surprising, as copyright cases often miss a deadline such as this, and then they request an extension and the federal judges readily approve them, sometimes weeks later.

What a dismissal means to your case, and how you should proceed depending on your circumstances.

A dismissal of the Siemens NX lawsuit means that you are no longer a John Doe in the case.  However, whether this matter is over or not is based on whether you are before or after the ISP handed out your information in compliance with the subpoena.

If the ISP has not yet complied with the subpoena, your contact information is still hidden from the Siemens lawsuit attorney.

If you are before the due date that your ISP gave you before they comply with the subpoena, you are in luck.  At this point, you are still anonymous, and if you hired an attorney, your attorney will likely offer to return the money you paid to him.  It would benefit you to have him contact the ISP to notify them that the Siemens NX lawsuit has been dismissed and that they should not comply with the Siemens subpoena.

By having the ISP agree not to comply with the subpoena sent to them by the Siemens NX lawsuit attorneys (Robert Riddle & Andrew Bluebond), you will remain anonymous, and your Siemens NX lawsuit plaintiff attorneys will never learn who you are.

If the ISP has already complied with the subpoena, your contact information has been shared with the Siemens NX lawsuit plaintiff attorneys.

If the ISP date has already passed, the assumption is that the ISP already complied with the subpoena, as they told you they would.  Here, you are no longer anonymous, and the plaintiff attorney already knows who you are.

How the 3-Year statute of limitations for copyright infringement cases suddenly becomes relevant.

A dismissal at this point is inconsequential because the plaintiff attorney has already acquired the information he needs to proceed against you out of court.  The statute of limitations to sue someone for copyright infringement is three years from the alleged date of infringement.  That means that they have three years to sue you as a defendant in a copyright infringement case for this same claim*.

*NOTE: There is more on this topic, but it is outside the scope of this article.

Whether your plaintiff attorney is a ‘copyright troll’ or now also becomes relevant.

Depending on whether your copyright holder is a ‘copyright troll’ (meaning that they will just file another lawsuit against a new set of John Doe Defendants), or whether they will continue to pursue claims against you out of court (using the information they obtained from this lawsuit), you have two options on how to proceed.

If the copyright holder is a copyright troll, a dismissal such as this one should give you reason to celebrate.  However, Siemens PLM is not a typical copyright troll, and that is why I wrote this article.

To a Siemens PLM attorney, you are worth $30K-$60K.

Each settlement in a Siemens case is worth $30K-$60K for Siemens.  The goal of the Siemens attorney is to contact defendants to arrange for a purchase of one or more NX Mach 3 “seats” or “licenses” (at roughly $30K/seat).

An engineer who has been caught using the software without a license, and who faces an ongoing $150,000 lawsuit is an easy candidate for Siemens to convert into a paying customer.  This can be done with or without a lawsuit being in play, at it would apply regardless of whether the judge dismissed the underlying lawsuit for missing the FRCP Rule 4(m) deadline, or whether they tire of being monitored by a judge and they dismiss the lawsuit themselves.

After all, they already have the information they need, and they have three years to continue contacting defendants until such a time when they are no longer able to proceed (or until the Siemens clients stops paying their fees).

In sum, the case is NOT yet dismissed.

The Siemens PLM v. Does 1-100 Texas case is not yet dismissed, although I wanted to have this information ready for you so that you will be prepared with your options should a dismissal happen.

 Discuss your Siemens PLM Case With a Cashman Law Firm Attorney


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.  Also, the contents of topics discussed on this site are not meant to be considered legal advice to act upon or not act upon.  Contact your attorney for answers specific to your particular circumstance.

All I know about Rightscorp in One Page

RIGHTSCORP THEN AND NOW

Rightscorp Inc. has always been the bastard child of the RIAA. Backed by the RIAA, Rightscorp Inc. uses the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to send DMCA copyright notices to the accused music downloaders. They have been known to strongarm the ISPs and force them to identify the account holders who allegedly downloaded copyrighted titles belonging to Rightscorp Inc. clients.  Then, they forward these accused downloaders multiple settlement demand notices threatening that they will be sued for $150,000 per instance of copyright infringement unless they pay a measly sum of $20.

RIGHTSCORP WAS THE GIANT THAT WOKE UP IN 2013

Rightscorp Inc. came on my radar in June of 2013, where I wrote the article, “RIAA Giant Waking Up and Luring Defendants into Settlements.” At the time I wrote that article, I was spending a considerable amount of time helping clients who received similar notices for adult films they allegedly downloaded, but through Copyright Enforcement Group (CEG-TEK), another copyright monetization outfit.

Rightscorp Inc. DMCA Letters ‘Smelled’ Like a Trap

Knowing the DMCA rules and the ways copyright holders enforced them, something ‘smelled wrong’ with the Rightscorp Inc. letters. The Rightscorp Inc. company (a.k.a., “Digital Rights Corp”) itself seemed legitimate, but the way they handled their DMCA notices caused me to think that they were up to a scam. I sensed that the $20 settlement letters were a trap, and I recommended that recipients of those letters ignore them. Here is what I wrote in 2013 on the topic:

“What is bothering me, however, is that the release on their https://secure.digitalrightscorp.com/settle website (pasted below) releases the accused defendant from their claim of copyright infringement for a mere $20, but it has the defendant ADMITTING GUILT to the infringement. Thus, in legal terms, an accused internet user who pays the $20 may be released from liability for THAT instance of infringement, but the next time they catch that user downloading, they can not only sue for the full $150,000 (or ask for TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS as a settlement), but in court, they would use the prior settlement as EVIDENCE OF GUILT that the accused defendant habitually downloads copyrighted videos and TV shows.

To be clear: EVERY settlement agreement for copyright infringement should have language stating that the accused defendant is not admitting guilt, or else the act of settling a copyright infringement claim can be construed as an “admission” of guilt in a court. Specifically, the language (e.g., taken from CEG-TEK’s settlements) would say something like “this Liability Release represents a compromise and that nothing herein is to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of RELEASEE.” This language appears to be purposefully ABSENT from the RightsCorp Settlement Agreements.”

Rightscorp Inc. DMCA Settlement Notices Ended Up Being A Trap

I worried that a client who settled a Rightscorp Inc. copyright infringement notice subjected himself to future claims of copyright infringements. Every settlement was an admission of guilt, and it turned out that Rightscorp Inc. sent many follow-up DMCA notices to the individual who paid their $20 fee.

Pay One Notice, Receive Twenty More

Those who paid the DMCA settlement notices on their own often ended up calling me when they received twenty more DMCA settlement notices. For a while, I thought that this was part of their elaborate plan of eliciting hundreds of dollars from each defendant rather than a one-time payment of $20. Unlike CEG-TEK, who at the time would list all of the alleged claims against a particular user in realtime (based on the IP addresses they allegedly used to download the copyrighted content), Rightscorp Inc. asked for one settlement at a time, and when you settled one, there was often another one right behind it.

The Rightscorp scam in my opinion did not start until Rightscorp Inc. started to ask its users for settlements in the thousands of dollars. While the numbers never matched CEG-TEK settlements (where CEG-TEK was asking for $300 per title), Rightscorp settlement numbers often found themselves hovering near the $900-$1,800 range.

Settling ONE Instance Of Infringement vs. Settling All Past Downloads of a Title

The reason Rightscorp was able to increase their settlement amounts was because each settlement was for “one instance of copyright infringement,” which means that if a user downloaded the file twice, they had to pay twice. If they left their bittorrent software on overnight, and that bittorrent software seeded 20 copies of a title to 20 downloaders, that accused downloader would be accused of 20 more instances of infringement.

This was very different from CEG-TEK, who allowed their settlements to cover “all past instances of infringement regarding that copyrighted title.”

Rightscorp Inc. Then Used Settlements To Force ISPs To Shut Accounts

Rightscorp then used the admissions of guilt within the settlement agreements to attempt to strongarm the ISPs to shut down their internet accounts.

I always thought this was a petty move. I understood that there were some politicians behind the Digital Rights Corp / Rightscorp entity, and that those politicians had no idea how to run a company (which is why Rightscorp stock has been worth only a few pennies for years now). I also understood that Rightscorp Inc. motives were not [at first] to extort money from the accused downloaders such as a copyright troll would, but rather, they wanted to protect their music labels and stop piracy.

I understand and respect a company who legitimately tries to stop piracy, but Rightscorp Inc. went about it in the wrong way. I always thought that pressuring the ISPs to shut down the internet accounts of those who paid a settlement ransom was vindictive. To me, it just showed the callous disregard for the power Rightscorp wielded like a child who swings a light saber at his infant unsuspecting brother.

Then Rightscorp Inc. Started Robocalling Accused Downloaders

Rightscorp then started ‘robocalling’ accused downloaders. They did it recklessly — again, think of a child whacking his infant brother with a lightsaber — and they broke a whole slew of laws in the process. In addition, they called at all hours of the night, and because the company was in my opinion a ‘headless’ company, meaning that there was nobody to call to complain or help resolve a situation, the Rightscorp harassment issues only got worse. Eventually they were sued in a class action lawsuit and had to pay a hefty settlement for their robocalling shenanigans.

Then Rightscorp Inc. Started Suing Accused Downloaders For $150,000

I must admit, I lost interest in the Rightscorp shenanigans after I noted that their settlement agreements do not protect the legal rights of those who settle because their settlements amounted to admissions of guilt. Thus, when someone asked me “Should I pay Rightscorp Inc.?” my answer was “not without a valid release that doesn’t have you admitting guilt.”

However, there was a point that Rightscorp Inc. started filing copyright infringement lawsuits against accused music downloaders in federal court. Each accused defendant was sued for $150,000 statutory damages for the unlawful download of the various music titles they allegedly downloaded via bittorrent.

Rightscorp defendants deceptively are not told that it is Rightscorp who is suing them.  Rather, they will receive a subpoena relating to some ‘motion to compel’ that they have filed in a federal court.  Their subpoenas force the ISP to hand over account information to a place called “Inquest Resources” at 807 Brazos Street, Suite 805 in Austin, TX.  The subpoenas usually come with a Declaration by Dennis J. Hawk of the Business Law Group under the 17 USC 512(h) statute.

I don’t have much to say here, except that Jordan Rushie was one of the attorneys who was hired by Rightscorp to file the lawsuits. If I was looking for it, the Jordan Rushie connection with Carl Crowell and RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT was something that I did not make until writing “The Great MPAA/RIAA Scheme To Defraud Copyright Law” in March, 2017).

Rightscorp Then. Reckless Copyright Troll.

All I could say about Rightscorp is that is has been a trainwreck. First with the bad settlement agreements. Then with the unruly wielding of power to shut down ISP accounts of infringers. Then the ‘headless’ robocalls. Then the copyright infringement lawsuits. Rightscorp was a reckless copyright troll, and I always sensed that the leadership was delegating orders the management simply could not carry out.

Rightscorp Now. Efficient Copyright Troll

Rightscorp in recent years has made a number of changes, graduating them from a reckless copyright troll to an efficient copyright troll. In recent years, they have revamped their settlement agreements where there is no longer an admission of guilt. They also now have a contact for an attorney such as myself to speak to. That way, if I have a client who is in trouble and wants to pay significantly less that they were accused of, or if my client wants to settle anonymously, at least now I have someone in Rightscorp I can speak to in order to make this happen.

I have to assume they are still filing in the federal courts, although their lawsuits do not get nearly the amount of publicity as other copyright troll lawsuits do, probably because they are going after individual defendants, and are suing in the name of the music copyright holder. Settlements are no longer $20 per instance of infringement, but are now $30 per instance of infringement. This is a 50% increase in their profits, but for you or me, it’s another $10 which thankfully is not $3,500 (the going asking rate to settle movie download lawsuits). Most importantly, they have stayed off the radar and have kept out of trouble.

How To Handle a Rightscorp Notice Today

Rightscorp Inc. is still a failing company (from the point of view of corporate earnings and management). However, from the point of view of an accused downloader of a Jethro Tull music album, or some other piece of music, you must assume that failing to settle could put you at risk of being sued for copyright infringement in federal court. All this being said, when you receive the letter, the Rightscorp problem still small, and can be managed with the assistance of a lawyer (myself or anyone else).

How An Attorney Would Represent You In Resolving Your Rightscorp Matter

[NOTE: For credibility purposes, be aware that since 2013, I recommended that if Rightscorp is unwilling to protect your interests in a settle, do not settle. If you get sued, hire an attorney (again, me, or someone else) because Rightscorp lawsuits likely have the same Guardaley “no evidence” problem I described here). Now that Rightscorp Inc. is willing to help me protect your interests in a settlement, I am willing to settle Rightscorp cases for clients.]

Here is why to retain a lawyer, and what we would do for you.  (Below, when I speak of “you,” I am speaking in a general way. I do not become your attorney (nor should this be considered legal advice) until we sign a contract together.)

Next Step: Schedule a Consultation

Follow the three steps below to begin working with a Cashman Law Firm, PLLC patent attorney:

1. Schedule a phone appointment to speak to a patent attorney about your matter.

2. Get, sign, and return retainer agreement.

3. Sit back, relax, and let us work on your behalf to get you the results you need.

After scheduling your appointment online, you will be contacted by phone at the specified date and time by a Cashman Law Firm, PLLC attorney.

Discuss your Rightscorp Case With a Cashman Law Firm Attorney

Anonymous Settlement

Remember, when you receive the DMCA notice from your internet provider, you are anonymous, AND YOU SHOULD STAY THAT WAY. Rightscorp has enough of a history to have me recommend that every client of mine who settles does so ANONYMOUSLY.

Stop Rightscorp From Sending Additional DMCA Notices After a Settlement

There should be a legal barrier between you and Rightscorp, and hiring an attorney and having me put them on notice that I am representing your account stops them from contacting you in the future. Also, any future communications (or additional DMCA notices) should come through me, as I am the attorney representing you. By having me represent you, we ‘discourage’ Rightscorp from sending any additional DMCA notices after a settlement is complete. Rather, we ask them to research to see whether there are any outstanding titles claimed against you, and we would include them in the settlement negotiations.

Negotiate the Settlement, Facilitate the Anonymous Payment

You would have me review and negotiate the claims with Rightscorp. When they agree to lower the price to something you are comfortable paying, I would facilitate the settlement to make it an ANONYMOUS SETTLEMENT.

Review Release of Liability

This is an obvious step to be done before we pay the settlement on your behalf. I am giving this section its own heading because sometimes, custom terms need to be inserted into the Rightscorp agreements to protect a client’s interests. This would be part of the settlement negotiations (above).

Handle Any Follow-Up Communications From Rightscorp

This last step happens after the settlement is complete, and we do not charge our clients for this. When we settle the claims, we settle them as an “Anonymous Client” of the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC (using our law firm’s address and e-mail). That way, they have our information on file should they have any follow-up questions.

After a settlement is complete, in the past, Rightscorp has been known to send additional DMCA notices asking for more money. With our clients, this has not been the case because we ask them to include all claims in the settlement negotiations we do on our client’s behalf. However, should Rightscorp have a question about a settlement, or should a new matter occur, we will speak to them and handle any needed follow-up communications on your behalf, even after we have closed your file. Should any communication occur relating to a matter we have already settled anonymously on your behalf, I will be sure to let you know.

Next Step: Schedule a Consultation

Follow the three steps below to begin working with a Cashman Law Firm, PLLC patent attorney:

1. Schedule a phone appointment to speak to a patent attorney about your matter.

2. Get, sign, and return retainer agreement.

3. Sit back, relax, and let us work on your behalf to get you the results you need.

After scheduling your appointment online, you will be contacted by phone at the specified date and time by a Cashman Law Firm, PLLC attorney.

Discuss your Rightscorp Case With a Cashman Law Firm Attorney


FOR IMMEDIATE CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: To set up a free consultation to speak to an attorney about Rightscorp DMCA letter or subpoena, click here.  Lastly, please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected], or call 713-364-3476 to speak to me now about your case (I do prefer you read the articles first), or to get your questions answered.

CONTACT FORM: Alternatively, sometimes people just like to contact me using one of these forms.  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.

Why would copyright trolls show evidence of ‘other downloaded movies’ if they have evidence of infringement?

Copyright trolls often surprise me by the lengths they will go to prove that a particular “John Doe” defendant downloaded a particular movie. Because the underlying copyright infringement cases likely cannot prove copyright infringement, instead, copyright troll attorneys will spy into the internet connections of their accused defendants and determine what other movies, videos, or content that accused downloader allegedly downloaded. They use those additional downloads as ‘character evidence’ to assert that the defendant downloaded the accused movie. (Next article, I will describe how they are likely doing it.)

By showing character evidence of ‘other downloaded movies,’ copyright trolls prove that the accused “John Doe” Defendant has the personality or ‘character’ of being a habitual infringer (a ‘pirate’).  This character evidence shows that the defendant is familiar with piracy tools and illegal methods of acquiring movies and videos from bittorrent websites (e.g., The Pirate Bay). By demonstrating to the court that “someone from that same IP address downloaded these other movies,” the copyright troll seeks to prove that “the accused defendant must have also downloaded this movie as well.”

Copyright Trolls Use Other The Pirate Bay Downloads to demonstrate character evidence to infringe their movie copyright.

[NOTE TO THE READER: WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ IS A GREAT ARTICLE, BUT IT NEEDS A ROADMAP TO UNDERSTAND THE FLOW OF IT.]

HERE IS THE ROADMAP:

  1. INTRODUCE THE CONCEPT OF ‘CHARACTER EVIDENCE’ (A LEGAL TERM), AND DESCRIBE WHY EVIDENCE OF ‘OTHER TITLES DOWNLOADED’ IS INADMISSIBLE TO PROVE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.
  2. INQUIRE WHY PLAINTIFF WOULD TAKE THE EXTRA STEP OF SHOWING ‘OTHER TITLES DOWNLOADED’ IF HE HAS SOLID EVIDENCE OF INFRINGEMENT.
  3. DISCUSS THE NEBULOUS ‘PCAP FILE’ WHICH CAN PROVE INFRINGEMENT, NOTE THAT THE PLAINTIFF HAS ACCESS TO THIS FILE, AND YET IT IS MISSING FROM THE PLAINTIFF’S CASES.
  4. SUB-TOPIC: THE EVIDENCE THE PLAINTIFF ACTUALLY HAS IS “SNAPSHOT EVIDENCE.” COURTS REJECTED SNAPSHOT EVIDENCE AS BEING INSUFFICIENT TO PROVE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.
  5. (I RETURN TO THE MISSING PCAP EVIDENCE AND DEMONSTRATE THAT THE PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY MISDIRECTS THE COURT BY REFERRING TO A SOFTWARE REPORT, BUT GLOSSING OVER THE PCAP EVIDENCE).
  6. END THE ARTICLE BY COMMENTING THAT SHOWING ‘OTHER TITLES DOWNLOADED’ TO A DEFENDANT IS AN EFFECTIVE STRATEGY IN SCARING HIM TO AGREE TO SETTLE THE CASE.

1. EVIDENCE OF ‘OTHER TITLES DOWNLOADED’ IS INADMISSIBLE CHARACTER EVIDENCE.

In the eyes of the law, ANY CHARACTER EVIDENCE OF ‘OTHER MOVIES OR TITLES’ DOWNLOADED BY THE JOHN DOE DEFENDANT IS INADMISSIBLE TO PROVE THAT THE DEFENDANT DOWNLOADED THE MOVIE TITLE FOR WHICH THAT DEFENDANT WAS SUED. Malibu Media, LLC tried using character evidence and failed. For a while, they were listing other movie titles and illegal downloads that accused defendant participated in, and the courts reprimanded their efforts.

Specifically because Malibu Media attempted to admit character evidence into their complaints, in the Western District of Wisconsin, Judge Stephen L. Crocker consolidated each of Malibu Media LLC’s cases.  Here, the judge ruled that character evidence of ‘other titles allegedly downloaded’ was not only inadmissible, but it was prejudicial to the defendant’s case (see attached order).

According to the Federal Rules of Evidence (“F.R.E.”), evidence of a person’s character to prove a consistent act with that character is called ‘character evidence,’ which is inadmissible to prove copyright infringement. (See the Federal Rules of Evidence, §404 on Character Evidence).

2. WHY WOULD COPYRIGHT TROLLS USE CHARACTER EVIDENCE OF ‘OTHER DOWNLOADED TITLES’ WHEN THEY CAN PROVE INFRINGEMENT USING THE PCAP FILE?

Why a copyright troll would resort to using ‘character evidence’ of ‘other titles downloaded’ to prove that the downloader must have downloaded this title is puzzling.  The copyright holders DO have evidence of infringement, don’t they?

3. EVIDENCE OF INFRINGEMENT CAN BE FOUND IN THE PCAP FILE.

Perhaps the reason why the attorney is seeking to find “other titles” an accused defendant downloaded is that copyright trolls do not actually have evidence that the defendant downloaded this movie.

For the technical-minded, this evidence of copyright infringement would be found in a “PCAP file.” Copyright holders have this file, but they will never release to the courts. This PCAP file would indicate whether a downloader merely clicked on a link and connected to a bittorrent swarm WITH THE INTENT* to download, view, or stream a movie, or whether the accused defendant actually copied a substantial watchable portion of the movie. (*NOTE: a defendant who had ‘INTENT’ to commit a copyright infringement cannot be found guilty of ‘willful’ copyright infringement if the download or the viewing never actually took place.)  The PCAP file is hidden from the courts and is never introduced to prove that the defendant downloaded the movie. Instead of documenting actual evidence of infringement, the copyright troll attorneys find “other titles” that the defendant allegedly downloaded.

4. HOW TROLLS REPLACE PCAP EVIDENCE WITH ‘SNAPSHOT’ EVIDENCE.

The omission of the PCAP evidence is relevant to an accused defendant in a bittorrent-based movie lawsuit.  The reason for this is because courts are misled into thinking that a report containing a list of IP addresses of accused downloaders at some ‘snapshot’ or time period by proprietary Peer-to-Peer surveillance software is sufficient to prove infringement.  However, the so-called ‘SNAPSHOT’ EVIDENCE of infringement (described below) might demonstrate only that the accused John Doe Defendant was present downloading a bittorrent file at a particular date and time.  ‘Snapshot’ evidence of infringement has been rejected by the courts as not being sufficient to prove copyright infringement.

Further, the companies that do the ‘snapshot’ tracking of the bittorrent networks — IPP International, and here in the Texas-based cases, MaverickEye UG, all appear to be shell companies of Guardaley.  For those who are new to the site, Guardaley is the German company our firm has been investigating to find the connection between almost every copyright infringement case hitting the US courts.  Guardaley has been the common thread between each lawsuit, regardless of whether the copyrighted material is pornographic (as in the Malibu Media, LLC lawsuits), or whether it is a mainstream movie.

For current defendants, the ‘snapshot’ evidence problem as I will describe it below likely applies to each of the “Mechanic:Resurrection” movie lawsuits (ME2 Productions), each of the “I.T.” movie lawsuits (I.T. Productions), each of the “Mr. Cook” movie lawsuits (Cook Productions), and literally every other movie lawsuit filed in the last seven years, as listed on Carl Crowell’s list of Guardaley clients.

Character Evidence of 'Other Movies Downloaded' To Prove The Download of THIS movie.

4A. SUB-TOPIC: WHY “SNAPSHOT EVIDENCE” IS INSUFFICIENT TO PROVE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

Source: Judge Otis Wright’s 2013 order from the Ingenuity 13 LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:12-cv-08333) case in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

RULE 2. A “SNAPSHOT OBSERVATION” OF AN IP ADDRESS ENGAGED IN DOWNLOADING AT THAT MOMENT IS INSUFFICIENT PROOF OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

Here, all the evidence a copyright troll plaintiff has on a suspected defendant is that at a particular date and time (a “timestamp”), that particular IP address was engaged in the downloading of a particular copyrighted file.

Here, a “snapshot” of an IP address correlated with evidence from the subscriber’s internet service provider (“ISP”) [that it was the subscriber who was leased that IP address during the date and time the alleged activity took place] is insufficient proof that the download actually took place. The defendant could have merely entered the swarm and could be in queue to download his first byte of data. The defendant could be 10% done with the download and could have in his possession an unviewable fragment of the copyrighted video.  This is hardly enough to rise to the level of “SUBSTANTIAL SIMILARITY” that is required in order to find a defendant guilty of copyright infringement. And, yet at the same time, that same snapshot could refer to a defendant having a download which is 99% complete.

A snapshot of an IP address in a bittorrent swarm is simply not conclusive that the downloader infringed the copyright.

The analogy the judge gives is taking a “snapshot” of a child reaching for a candy bar. In order to find someone guilty of copyright infringement, a plaintiff needs to prove that it is “more likely than not” that activity rising to the level of copyright infringement occurred. A snapshot places the defendant at the “scene of the crime.” It does not convict him for the unlawful act itself, and usually this is all the evidence a plaintiff copyright troll compiles when tracking a bittorrent swarm.

5. RETURNING TO THE OMISSION OF PCAP EVIDENCE IN PLAINTIFF’S DECLARATION. WHY THEY TURN TO ‘CHARACTER EVIDENCE’ OF ‘OTHER TITLES DOWNLOADED’ WHEN CONFRONTING A DEFENDANT

Instead of providing the PCAP file (which can prove or disprove whether actual infringement happened), the copyright holders have some expert witness file some declaration stating that they have viewed the reports generated by the bittorrent surveillance software.   That expert witness declares that they have verified that the IP address list created by that software matches the list of defendants who are accused as “John Doe” defendants in this case.

[Curiously, even copyright troll attorneys list themselves as expert witnesses to show that they viewed the software printout.  I don’t know why an attorney would do this, because this makes the plaintiff attorney a discoverable witness in discovery. Here in the Texas ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does lawsuits, we see plaintiff attorney Gary Fischman’s declaration stating exactly what I have described:

Gary Fischman Declaration Regarding Maverickeye UG (Guardaley) P2P swarm surveillance software report. by Cashman Law Firm, PLLC on Scribd

As a defense attorney, I am puzzled why the plaintiff attorneys often try to prove their case with inadmissible character evidence (“other downloaded titles”).  I understand that copyright infringement in the context of a bittorrent swarm can be proved by the PCAP file (e.g., stating that the movie was 100% downloaded).

Thus, it logically makes sense that the attorney simply DOES NOT HAVE EVIDENCE OF INFRINGEMENT.  This could be why he goes to such lengths to prove that the downloader downloaded the other titles.

6. NEVERTHELESS, SHOWING CHARACTER EVIDENCE OF ‘OTHER TITLES DOWNLOADED’ IS STILL AN EFFECTIVE TACTIC.

From the copyright troll’s perspective, the goal is not to ‘nail’ each “John Doe” Defendant and make them liable for the $150,000 in statutory damages. Rather, a copyright troll seeks to elicit a settlement of a few thousand dollars from each “John Doe” defendant. 

Thus if the copyright troll isn’t interested in proving copyright infringement, but rather wishes to scare the bejeebies out of the accused defendant who actually downloaded those additional titles, then showing that defendant the list of ‘other titles downloaded’ *is* an effective tactic to manipulate them to do whatever the plaintiff demands of them, even if that means paying a multi-thousand dollar settlement.

IN SUM: WHICH ONE IS IT?

So which is it?  Does the plaintiff actually lack evidence of infringement as I have suggested by the missing PCAP file and the misdirection in the declarations filed with the court?  Or, does the copyright troll want to use the so-called ‘character evidence’ of ‘other titles downloaded’ to demonstrate to you (the John Doe Defendant) that you must have been the one who did the download of the movie (and thus you should pay him)?

My opinion: it is both.


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.

Turnkey ‘Settlement Factory’ Defense Attorneys and Malibu Media LLC

Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe lawsuits have plagued the US federal courts so far with over 6,000 lawsuits filed nationwide.  The burden to the courts to manage each of these cases is large.  The emotional and financial burden to families faced with subpoenas sent to their ISPs forcing them to decide whether to file a motion to quash the subpoena or pay a large settlement is staggering.

There is no public defender to represent John Doe Defendants against Malibu Media, LLC in motions to quash, and so-called defense attorneys are using the $150,000 statutory damages these cases come with to manipulate those they speak to into settling the Malibu Media lawsuit.  What many John Doe defendants have told me in response to the articles that have been written on “Turnkey” / “Settlement Factory” defense attorneys is that they have been overpaying to the tune of thousands of dollars per settlement because their attorney agreed to settle for a “per case” amount significantly higher than I know Malibu Media, LLC would have come down to in a settlement negotiation.

For this reason, I am posting again on the topic of defense attorneys who run what I call “turnkey settlement factory” law firms.  In this article, I am not blowing the whistle on the defense-attorney-working-for-plaintiff “weretroll” issue (those who know what I am speaking about have been informed about it), but I am revisiting the caution an accused defendant should have when hiring an attorney who promises a ‘quick settlement.’

Screenshot from Malibu Media, LLC's X-Art.com website.
Screenshot from Malibu Media, LLC’s X-Art.com website.

“TURNKEY” / “SETTLEMENT FACTORY” DEFENSE ATTORNEYS

There are attorneys who have turned the copyright infringement lawsuits into ‘turnkey’ settlement operations, ‘riding the gravy train of a broken system’, as one prominent blogger correctly put it. These attorneys scale up and hire attorneys to answer phone calls, but instead of honestly evaluating the meritorious defenses of a would-be client, they scare, threaten, and apply high-pressure tactics to accused defendants manipulating them to settle the claims against them.

Knowing that Malibu Media, LLC runs their settlement operations from a location above-the-head of the local attorney who is filing the lawsuit, their settlement prices have become well known.  Defense attorneys have been known to offer their clients higher than normal settlement amounts in return for foregoing the need to actually participate in settlement negotiations.  Thus, where a Malibu Media, LLC settlement would go down to $300 per title, the ‘turnkey’ or ‘settlement factory’ attorney will be more than happy to agree to a $600 per title settlement in return for a quick settlement.  The problem is that Malibu Media asks for settlements for 20+ titles in a lawsuit, so a $600/title x 20 title settlement = a $12,000 settlement.

That same so-called defense attorney will charge $800 for the negotiations ($400 x 2 hours, although 2 hours were not spent on the client’s matter), and the client will pay $12,800 total.  However, if he hired an attorney who charged $2,400 ($300 x 8 hours), and the settlement ended up being $6,000 ($300/title x 20 titles = a $6,000 settlement), the extra few bucks paid to the attorney to actually negotiate the settlement would save the client a little under $6,000 than if they paid a ‘settlement factory’ attorney.

In sum, the sign that you are dealing with a ‘turnkey’ operation or a ‘settlement factory’ is unusually low costs to represent a defendant in a settlement.

NOTE: Don’t get me wrong, I am all for low-cost representation, but in a law firm, you pay for the time that attorney expects to spend on your case. If he is billing $400/hour (this surprised me too), and he charges a flat fee of $800, expect that only two (2) hours will be spent on your case IN TOTAL (including the so-called ‘free’ conversation. I have had too many run-ins with these attorneys and their methods, and all I can say is that they are part of the problem, not the solution.

There is not much more to this topic than this.  You get what you pay for.  If an attorney charges a certain amount of money, assume he will be doing work on your behalf for that amount of time.  Now obviously as a response to this article, the attorneys I am writing about will lower the per hour rate they charge and will claim that they are working more hours (as exposing a fraud usually causes the ones committing the fraud to shift to mask their scheme), but it is what it is.

Representing a Malibu Media, LLC “John Doe” client in a settlement can take a number of hours.  The simple steps of preparing the case, sending the letter of representation, opening up communications with the plaintiff attorney, discussing the claims against the client, negotiating a settlement price, writing up the settlement agreement, facilitating the settlement payment (or settlement payments), and seeing to it that the plaintiff attorney timely dismisses the client before the deadline to file an answer with the court passes (and all this time communicating with the client at each step), well, this obviously is not a two-hour representation.

As a hint to what is coming for the Malibu Media, LLC client and our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC, we have been working on shifting our strategy in view of Matthew Sag’s “Defense Against the Dark Arts of Copyright Trolling” article, which we believe will change the way defense attorneys handle Malibu Media, LLC cases.


FOR IMMEDIATE CONTACT AN ATTORNEY:
 To set up a free consultation to speak to an attorney about your Malibu Media, LLC lawsuit, click here.  Lastly, please feel free to e-mail me at info [at] cashmanlawfirm.com, or call 713-364-3476 to speak to me now about your case (I do prefer you read the articles first), or to get your questions answered.

CONTACT FORM: Alternatively, sometimes people just like to contact me using one of these forms.  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.

Motions to Quash ISP Subpoena Letters, Malibu Media Lawsuits, Rightscorp DMCA Settlement Notices, and Helping John Does.