Which will be the bittorrent lawsuits of tomorrow?

With the larger cases from Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC heading off into the bittorrent litigation graveyard, the plaintiff attorneys have not yet learned their lesson about the dangers of filing John Doe lawsuits with thousands of Does sued together. Below are just a few cases filed by the same plaintiff attorneys — newer cases — which thus far have not achieved much traction. No doubt we’ll be seeing more of these in the coming months.

First and foremost, Ira Siegel’s new case, Digital Sin, Inc. v. Does 1-5,698 (Case No. 4:11-cv-04397-LB) filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Apparently it did not occur to his client that suing 5,698 defendants is the easiest way for a case to achieve scrutiny.

Also by Ira Siegel is his SRO Pictures, Inc v. Does 1-3036 (Case No. 5:11-cv-04220-PSG) case, his Discount Video Center, Inc. v. Does 1-5,041 (Case No. 5:11-cv-02694-PSG) case, his Zero Tolerance Entertainment, Inc. v. Does 1-2,943 (Case No. 3:11-cv-02767-EDL) case, each filed in the same California court as Digital Sin.

We are already hearing from Doe Defendants on Ira Siegel’s Third Degree Films, Inc. v. Does 1-3,577 (Case No. 4:11-cv-02768-LB) and most notorious, his Patrick Collins, Inc. v. Does 1-2590 (Case No. 3:11-cv-02766-MEJ) case, also in the same California court.

Next, filed by Thomas Dunlap himself (of Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC) is CineTel Films, Inc. dba Family of the Year Productions, LLC v. Does 1-1,052 (Case No. 8:11-cv-02438-JFM) filed in the US District Court for the District of Maryland. This one should be fun. This same plaintiff has had Dunlap sue in his home US District Court for the District of Columbia, the Cinetel Films Inc. et al v. Does 1-1,951 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01334-RLW) case. Same plaintiff, different jurisdiction. My guess is that Ellis Bennett or Nicholas Kurtz will be the on the paperwork for these since they have to date handled Dunlap Grubb & Weaver’s older cases.

In the District of Columbia (where most of Dunlap Grubb & Weaver’s cases are filed,) to everyone’s surprise is the AF Holdings, LLC v. Does 1-1,140 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01274-RBW) case, apparently using Timothy Anderson of Anderson & Associates, PC as the local counsel. The funny thing about this one is that AF Holdings, LLC is John Steele of Steele Hansmeier PLLC’s clients (where Steele Hansmeier has sued a bunch of AF Holdings, LLC v. Does smaller cases across the country already), so this Tim Anderson guy is probably another one of Steele’s local counsel puppets (sorry Tim).

Then, there is Evan Stone’s FUNimation Entertainment v. Does 1-1,427 (Case No. 2:11-cv-00269-DF) filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. I haven’t heard much about this case yet, but Evan Stone is the attorney who was the plaintiff attorney over the LFP Internet Group, LLC v. Does [LFP a.k.a. “Larry Flint Productions”] lawsuit that had over 6,000 defendants in total dismissed last year. Maybe he’s back in the game with a case that won’t be immediately dismissed.

Last, but not least, there is a set of triplet lawsuits filed by an unknown McDaniel Law Firm plaintiff (probably a copycat attorney who has watched these bittorrent cases develop and now has decided to try his hand and sue) in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey. Both of them go by the same name, Baseprotect UG, Ltd. v. John Does 1-X (Case No. 2:11-cv-03621, Case No. 2:11-cv-02021, and Case No. 2:10-cv-06806 respectively). The deceptive part is that the “Does 1-X” title appears to suggest that there are just a few defendants, so the case is hoped to stay under the radar. Nope. In one case, I believe there are over 300+ John Doe defendants implicated, and in the other case, I believe there are over 1,500 John Doe defendants. Funny enough, I hear that Baseprotect does not even own the Polish copyrights they assert, and that they have merely questionably acquired a limited right to sue on these copyrights. This will be fun to watch.

So in short, with the demise of the famous DC cases (Maverick Entertainment, Call of the Wild, and now West Coast Productions, Inc.), there are a whole new generation of cases who hope to achieve exactly the same purpose as their predecessors. Make a profit before getting dismissed into oblivion.

44 thoughts on “Which will be the bittorrent lawsuits of tomorrow?”

  1. Wait for it… wait for it…. Just need the one snare where they threaten a politician or a judge and this whole thing will blow up on them.

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/09/hurt-locker-p2p-suits-begin-creeping-north-to-canada.ars

    It also appears that the blight has crept from the UK, over to the US, and is now spreading up into Canada.

    My theory is that they traveled on the backs of rats on the cargo ships as they crossed the Atlantic and from there spread north across the border from Illinois by way of Lake Michigan.

  2. Good review of big cases, but there is a myriad of small (and individual) ones. Since big cases are being shot down frequently these days, I may shift my focus to those boutique cases.

    I covered “Baseprotect v. Does 1-X” recently. Note that “Baseprotect” is just another name of a multi-tentacle German IP collector knows as “Logistep”, “Guardaley” etc.

    In the comments section of the mentioned post and this one you can find a wealth of information posted by a reader named Baxter – all about the German IP collectors. Unfortunately I don’t have time to investigate these leads, but I feel it may be worth the effort, so I’ll dedicate some time to do a research in the future.

  3. [email protected] says:

    **This just in*** For the Call of the Wild Case the Judge just ruled on one of the now Nammed John Does. He was nammed and then ignored the comlaint so the Judge ordered him in default. Judgement is he pays Call of the Wild LLC only $750 for copyright and $2,680 for Attorney fees for a total of $3,430. QUESTION, does this mean for the people named locally that the most they would ever have to pay is $750 as they would look at what this Judge ordered be paid? In other words people are settling for $2,500 out of court when the most a judge will change is $750? Do judges in other districts ever take into account the payment ruling by other judges when figuring out what is owed if the loose or if someone is in default?

    1. Kelly, you are right that this news is HUGE. This is the first ruling (albeit on a default judgement) on these John Doe cases, and I will certainly be writing it up over the weekend. To answer your question, no, this does not mean that the most they would have to pay is $750; that is generally the minimum (which is why this is such amazing news.) And yes, judges from other districts DO take notice of judgements in other courts. They are not binding, but they are certainly persuasive.

  4. I think that if THAT gets out…ignore it and at the worst you will probably only pay a few hundred more than their threat letters….could kill this whole scheme.

    1. Seriously, while this is GREAT NEWS, waiting to get named and then defaulting (not filing an answer in time) is a VERY dangerous game to play. Here the judge ordered the defendant to pay the MINIMUM amount of $750 + attorney fees. He could have just as easily ordered him to pay $30,000 or $150,000. -Rob

      1. No problem. Looks like fair use to me, especially with YouTube’s recent copyright filters. 😉 If I get a subpoena from the Willy Wonka Productions company, I’ll forward you the bill. 😉 -Rob

    1. Sophisticated Jane Doe, I hope this doesn’t sound bad in any way, but I am very proud of you for staying on top of all this and keeping people informed the way you have. You could have easily disappeared after your case ended but now you’ve gained publicity and you are making a difference in these cases. I wish I could speak for everybody, but thank you for the time you have spent in these cases. Please keep the comments coming. -Rob

      1. Thank you, Rob. The problem is that everything comes with a price tag attached. As the site’s daily traffic increased threefold over the last week, the number of questions in comments and direct e-mails increased proportionally, and it’s already over my capacity. I have a professional life, a family, friends and want to dedicate most of my life to them. I did not decide what do do with all that yet. Most likely I will continue but at much slower pace. Fortunately, there are friends who already help answering questions and writing very informative posts and comments. I would be happy if at some point it time my site could stop being dependent on me and start living by its own with the help from community of like-minders.

        1. SJD, I totally hear you on the time commitments in keeping up the blog. In my case, my readership is small’ish (I think I’ve only had something like 75K unique readers since the website started). I get a bunch of comments each day which I click on and respond to, but then again, many of them I let other readers respond to on their own. Since you are doing this not-for-profit, so to speak, perhaps you might want to put the e-mail on your site as an auto-responder indicating that you are doing this merely for the public good and that you do not respond to each and every question. I have something similar set up on the [email protected] e-mail (which people usually e-mail when they have questions about their case or they need my help on a particular e-mail). Otherwise, I completely understand what you are saying.

  5. Interesting that they are only targeting Comcast subscribers in the Baseprotect UG, Ltd. v. John Does 1-X case.

    It seems to be that they are cherry picking

  6. The rough idea for one of my next posts: while many defenses are concentrated on procedural issues (like joinder and jurisdiction), which no doubt helps, I have a feeling that applying all the firepower to attacking the “evidence” could potentially be more effective. The sources of IP lists can and should be discredited. Yesterday I read one of the declarations of support from so called “forensic expert”, and I see massive problems there. Sloppy, unprofessional, and possibly fraudulent. Even the fact that this declaration lists only the name of an “expert” sounds fishy to me. No address, no email, phone, nothing. Neither one is listed fort the “company”, and web search for the name of that company yields quite interesting results .

    1. The “forensic expert” listed in the declaration linked, is the same expert used for many of the Patrick Collins suits. A google search of his name will reveal that. He is also a German citizen. My guess is he is closely related to Basprotect or whatever their current name of the week is.

  7. Three new Colorado cases were filed on 8 Sep 11 (1:11-cv-02370-PAB, 1:11-cv-02371-CMA, & 1:11-cv-02372-MSK). The thing that is different about these cases is they are John Doe cases vs. a single IP address in CO.

    All three of the cases deal with the film “Virgins 4,” owned by K-Beech. Attorney for K-Beech: Jason Kotzker, KOTZKER LAW GROUP, 10268 Royal Eagle Street, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129, Phone: 303-875-5386.

    Here is a link to my Blog on a PA case for the same film – http://dietrolldie.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/review-of-pennsylvania-case-11-cv-05060-filed-8-aug-11-k-beech-inc-vs-john-does-1-78-please-review-and-comment/ Does 1-78 in the PA case.

    It appears they (Who ever is the main K-Beech lawyer/Firm) are splitting up the results of the BitTorrent findings for “Virgins 4” and sub-contracting the IP addresses out to Troll lawyers in the various States.

  8. With all this news on evan stone I haven’t heard much about his Aug filing 3:11-cv-00554-A — It also has that cryptic “vs swarm” to mask the doe count I presume. I wonder how much of these decisions in the last week would be relevant for anyone who received a letter from their ISP on this.

  9. [I have seen] several [cases] filed by “Patrick Collins” against sets of John Does. This particular one [I am looking at] is for Virgins 4 – which from this blog you can see is not owned by Patrick Collins (the Trolls are getting real sloppy I guess). The attachment to the complaint clearly shows the copyright registration was with K-Beech (file 2:11-cv-00358-CEH-SPC). [Thoughts?]

    1. You should be worried whenever you receive a letter about a new lawsuit. Whether or not it has issues as I describe on the website, a lawsuit is a lawsuit, and it must be attended to. -Rob

  10. I also received a subpoena yesterday in regards to AF Holdings LLC vs. John Does 1-1140. And as of right now I’m pretty lost on what to be doing. I obviously need an attorney but am lost as where to start. Any thoughts? I know thats kind of a loaded question :/

    1. A lot of people are receiving subpoenas for the AF Holdings, LLC cases. If you e-mail me ([email protected]) or set up an appointment for us to chat (http://tungle.me/cashmanlawfirm), I can certainly answer your questions about them. -Rob

  11. Hi I just received a letter … [it] was for the old tenant that use to love here but moved away recently. Is this letter to the person specifically or it’s to the household? Thank you on advance

    1. The lawsuits are based on who the subscriber is, e.g., who’s name the internet service was (is) in. So if the letter from the ISP does not name you in particular, you are not the defendant. It is, however, a nice thing to do to forward the letter to your former tenant so 1) they can know they are being sued, and 2) so they can properly respond.

  12. Hey got a question. I got a call from my isp and they said my ip was flagged for downloading a movie. Am I going to be sued, should I get ahold of an attorney?

    1. That’s a tough one, since you do not know that a lawsuit was filed yet. My answer — and obviously don’t rely on this as legal advice as I don’t know what was said to you — is that there is no need to hire an attorney until you receive a subpoena letter indicating that your information was requested by a certain plaintiff for infringement of their copyrighted media (or until you receive a settlement demand letter if you missed the previous step). What you refer to could have merely been a warning from your ISP where no lawsuit was filed. Not everyone sues for copyright infringement. -Rob

  13. Yes I too received not a letter but phone call from an Anthony Palmer (probably not real name) states that someone at my ip addressed downloaded a movie called teens in tight jeans from third degree films… first offer to settle was $3400… had a attorney friend call to find out who these people are and he said they are a collection agentcy and sounds like borderline extortion… my friend also said the settlement price went to $2350.00… since I have no paper work Anthony Palmer said give him my email address and he would send me information on this situation… should I give him my email address so I can get started on addressing this or a friends email for security reasons… I do not receive my emails into my computer I get them from the web…

    1. [I replied to this individual offline, but generally, never discuss your case with someone calling you up out of the blue as what they are looking for is evidence to use against you to “up” your settlement amount. The fact that this guy asked for $3,400 but then so quickly dropped to $2,350 indicates that there is a settlement price scam going on, and that even $2,350 is likely not the correct number. Also, as I have said before, I NEVER advise settling on your own, if at all. These cases are way too complicated and can creep back up in unexpected ways if you are not careful.]

  14. i got a call from Anthany Plamer as well. he said he represents Patrick Collins Inc. He said we d/l’ed a movie and now he wants $3200. is this a scam, real, or what. please help asap!!

  15. How does one go about filing a “motion to quash or vacate the subpoena anonymously? I was curious when I heard from a friend that he/she received a subpoena regarding some case about Third Degree Films, Inc. v. Does 1 – 118. Is this a case my friend can ignore? He/she showed me the letter and it said that if a motion isn’t filed within 20 days some information would be released. I hope he/she isn’t in any trouble.

  16. Have a client that expressed interest in participating in this sort of thing but he does want to protect his privacy which is part of the reason he paid the extortion money. He feels rather strongly about the situation and it is news worthy. Question I would want to have answered: has the porn industry found a new way to market the sale of their products by use of the federal court system? Just bait consumers on the internet and then sue them when they download the product. Beats having them pay retail price . . .

    1. Bret, allow me to restate what you wrote so that people can read this. “[H]as the porn industry found a new way to market the sale of their products by use of the federal court system?” I could not agree with you more. -Rob

  17. Hey I’ve got a friend that had a call from this same Anthony Palmer person. They are a older couple out of Northern Arizona and this “Anthony Palmer” person had listed the same videos “virgins 4” as well as other explicit movies. This has absolutely got to be garbage. This Anthony person told them that he would be taking them to federal court if they did not settle for 2,900$. Sounds like a scam to me, first off wouldn’t it be a federal prosecutor who takes you to federal court and not some low life attorney from god knows where. Sounds like they are trying to extort money from people because they know they have no proof basis for this and have no intentions of taking it to a judge. Copyright infringement is a serious thing, like federal time and a up to 500,000$ fine serious. If they had the proof to take you down they would most defiantly not be trying to settle out of court because the pay off would be 100 times more. Also even if something did register back to your I.P., you are innocent until proven guilty, who’s to say that it was you personally that was downloading it. Who’s to say that you don’t have a backdoor or a trojan on your computer and someone is filtering info from your IP address. Or maybe your next door neighbor teen nerd has figured out how to bypass your network security (which isn’t all that difficult) and has been stealing your internet all along. or what if you just had a unsecured network to began with.
    Moral of the story its a scam too get your money!! Do not let these people fool you into paying a lump some of money. They ask to settle out of court because they have no proof to take you to it!!!!!

    1. All it takes is one person who is willing to fight back and an attorney willing to work with them. Then we have a nice little trial on the merits and resulting judgment and attorney fees assessed against the bad guys.

      That is what is called for here.

  18. I too received a call from Anthony Palmer, regarding an illegal download of porn (I think he said it was like “High School Cuties” or something like that). I have never downloaded any movie, especially not one with adult content! He told me that the out of court settlement was $2200; I spoke to a few of my lawyer friends who told me that I shouldn’t do anything yet, since nothing had been filed and it was a trolling scheme. He has called me several times since, and I have not talked to him, per my friends’ advice, but he left one voicemail saying the settlement offer has expired. He has called me a few more times while I was at work and couldn’t answer, but left no other voicemails, and I didn’t think I should talk to him anyway. I work in a school and make very little money, and cannot afford to get pay for a lawyer. I emailed EFF to see if I could get someone to help me pro bono and haven’t heard anything back yet. If anyone has any other advice on what I should do at this point, please help!

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