“The Divide” — Copyrighted Bait, New Copyright Trolls

The Divide - New Copyright TrollsI wanted to bring your attention to a new “copyright troll” in the backyard of Steele Hansmeier, PLLC (now Prenda Law Inc.). The copyright troll is “R & D Film 1, LLC” and their plaintiff attorney is Michael Heirl and Todd Parkhurst of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. Their website is http://www.hsplegal.com, and surprise, surprise — they are out of Chicago, Illinois.

It appears as if they are suing over the movie title “The Divide,” directed by Xavier Gens, which was seeded over the bittorrent network as “The Divide 2011 LIMITED 720p BRip XVID AC3 BHRG” on USAbit.com [and is coincidentally still being seeded now as we speak here, so apparently neither Michael Heirl nor Todd Parkhurst have issued a DMCA takedown letters to the bittorrent websites.] The download appears to be a rip of a Blu-Ray, the size of the file is 3.8 GB, and it appears to have been downloaded 2162 times so far (so expect to have 2,000+ defendants soon for this file alone).

On another complaint, I see the torrent file is “The Divide 2011 720p BRRip x264 -MgB,” and I could only guess that in their other lawsuits, they are suing for all the other bittorrent filenames downloaded.

It appears that plaintiff attorney Michael Heirl has targeted the following ISPs: Comcast Cable, Frontier Communications, Mediacom Communications Corp., RCN Corp., SBC Internet Services, Norlight Telecommunications, Wireless Data Service Provider Corporation, and WideOpenWest. Plus, it appears as if they have not only focused on those defendants in Illinois, but they have narrowed the IP addresses down to which town allegedly housed this accused IP address.  Thus, forget about motions to quash based on a lack of personal jurisdiction — they’ve nailed it.

So far, I only see 364 John Doe Defendants implicated in these lawsuits, but with 2,000+ downloads (and counting) for one file on one bittorrent website, they could easily amend their complaints to add thousands of new defendants as Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC and other plaintiff attorneys have habitually done in the past. Here are the lawsuit titles to date:

CASES FILED BY TODD S. PARKHURST & MICHAEL A. HIERL OF HUGHES SOCOL PIERS RESNICK & DYM LTD. IN THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS:
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-52 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05810)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-20 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05817)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-57 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05821)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-62 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05822)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-36 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05823)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-88 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05825)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-29 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05827)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-20 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05828)

Now I have started a discussion page on the R&D FILM 1, LLC lawsuits here, and as I learn more, I will obviously post about it.

On a personal level, it is always an interesting experience defending defendants who are accused of downloading actual motion pictures (“movies”), because the attorneys for these cases are usually more self-assured than those from the porn industry. Obviously the difference between a porn copyright troll and a motion picture copyright troll is that the porn troll is usually suing because they want to 1) stop the piracy of their film and 2) it is a better business model (frowned upon by the porn industry or not) to get thousands of dollars from one internet user rather than to get hundreds of members to sign up for monthly or annual memberships at their sites.

However, with “movie” copyright trolls, they often appear to be self-righteous and have no compunctions throwing threats around because nothing of theirs stinks except for the way they have chosen to make money for their production company client (which they often share a piece of, so there are ethical implications as well [e.g., having a “stake” in the outcome of the litigation]). Looking at these attorneys, they look like older gentlemen who might not be aware of the poo they just stepped in by copying the methods of the copyright trolls.  I even wonder whether they are aware of the now hundreds of lawsuits that have been filed in the courts, and specifically the many adverse rulings in the Northern District of Illinois where any copyright troll should be thinking twice before filing there.  In short, what will be interesting is to see whether these copyright trolls are interested in stopping the piracy of their films, or whether they want to punish those who have not purchased a ticket at the box office.

18 thoughts on ““The Divide” — Copyrighted Bait, New Copyright Trolls”

    1. According to the IMDb, it was a disaster: $22,000 box revenue v. $3M budget. It’s all fucking pirates, of course! If not for them, it would beat Batman, no doubt!

  1. Funny: Rob wrote this post at the same say I sent an e-mal to the entire lawfirm (~35 addresses). The text is here. A juvenile inside me would love to watch the stir it has created.

    1. Thank you for sharing that, and for taking the time to write the letter to them. There is so much more that you can do anonymously than I can do publicly. I look forward to speaking with these guys and “teaching” them why their business model is doomed to fail.

  2. according to IMDB ity was a limited release run, not fully nationwide. they overpaid to make a b-rated (proably should have aired it on scifi channal of friday night) and need to re-coup their losses

  3. Interestingly, I had a class in law school (Trade Secret Law) taught by Parkhurst. I was *very* surprised to see his name come up on one of these suits. He is, generally speaking, a really nice guy and was a pleasure to have in class. Not sure why he’s getting in the troll business… but I wouldn’t lump him in with the likes of the porn trolls… yet. I will be very interested in how these particular cases play out.

  4. Also there seem to be a lot of newish type trolls in Tennessee and Georgia.

    The Ledge Distribution, Zambezia, Private Lenders Group, Riding Films Inc, NGN Prima Productiions, and Ambrosia Pictures Pty Ltd all showed up on 1/25 on RFC Express.

    1. Thank you for sharing. I agree. I have been reading over these cases and they do appear to be our “kind” of copyright troll cases. My hands are tied at the moment handing client matters, but I do plan on writing about these as soon as I can.

      1. Links into the database rely on a cookie on your machine to function.
        But you pointed me in the right direction.
        If you look for R&D Film 1 you get a single record.
        If you look for R & D Film 1 you get other records.

        PAu003569586 Gee a movie not screened until 2011 but created in 2010.
        PAu003554907 the copyright on what appears to be the screen play.
        Filed 12 days after being shown at SXSW…

        But… here is the record for the “Untitled” project… that is the movie.
        V3591D379
        “The untitled Xavier gens project & 1 other title. Copyright mortgage, assignment & power of attorney.”

        How does one get to get a new copyright on something already copyrighted?
        I mean I know we caught a pron troll recutting movies to get a new copyright on material trying to scam around the rules…
        If you fib to the Copyright Office you can have naughty things happen to your copyrights….
        And I am pretty sure I read something about if you don’t file within certain timeframes you have problems about what you can get….
        Filing 9 months after it was created, one wonders if it was screened before SXSW for anyone.

      2. I am still curious what 2 items are covered by V3591D379.
        One is obviously The Divide, and they were making changes to the ownership it appears… but it wasn’t registered at that time… or was it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *