“Aliens vs. Avatars,” a new copyright trolling lawsuit.

These kind of c-rated b-rated film lawsuits annoy me. Take our new copyright troll production company, Tomcat Films, LLC and their attorney Martin Sipple of Ausley & McMullen (you can read about his medical malpractice and generic intellectual property cases here). I would consider calling Martin Sipple a copyright troll, but no — he has only filed one case, and he seems to be a copycat lawyer who used a copyright lawsuit template to file his lawsuit. Way to go for someone who graduated top of his class.

In the Tomcat Films, LLC v. Does 1-XXX (Case No. 4:12-cv-00261) case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Tomcat has sued hundreds of John Doe Defendants (they forgot to list who) in the typical copyright troll fashion in order to recoup the wasted funds in their “Aliens vs. Avatars” 2011 failed film. I don’t even recall seeing this in theaters, but according to Aliens vs. Avatars, a new copyright troll film.” target=”_blank”>IMDb, it achieved a “we wasted everyone’s time and money making this” 1.5 out of 10 stars from 904 users. And, if anyone wants to pay $2.99, they can rent it from Amazon.com for 7 days. After reading the description of the film, “Six college friends find themselves caught up in a cat and mouse hunt with a race of creatures…” I decided to pass.

Another reason I might hesitate to call them copyright trolls is because in the complaint, while Tomcat Films alleges copyright infringement among the usual other elements in their complaint, they seem to want to stop the ongoing infringement of their film (something we don’t see in other lawsuits). I can respect that. What I cannot respect is the “let’s sue hundreds of Does and extort thousands of dollars from each one” approach. This is a reputable firm with reputable clients — in my opinion they have no business filing these kinds of low-life copyright troll cases.

Now as far as Tomcat Films’ other movies (see them here), I would consider thinking twice before downloading them because this company has obviously found the business model of “releasing low budget films and suing for loads of cash” quite appealing.  Quite frankly, with movie titles such as “Robin Hood: Ghosts of Sherwood,” “Captain Battle” (think Captain America), “Rise of the Black Bat” (think Batman), “Thunderstorm of Thor,” and “Jurassic Shark,” and “Street Fighter,” I am surprised that a company like this is not entangled in a whole SLEW of copyright infringement lawsuits themselves.  I would guess “FAIR USE” and “PARODY” are words that are posted on every wall of their office.

UPDATE: The film is now called “Alien vs. Alien” on their website, and all mention of “Avatar” has been removed from their trailer (although it is still up on Amazon.com).  Apparently 20th Century Fox’s lawyers didn’t like the use of their Avatar character in Tomcat’s movies.  

Judge Bates reverses his decision in Hard Drive Productions, Inc.’s DC case.

I have always known that “crabs crammed in a crate grab crabs trying to escape,” and this is no doubt true for judges in DC.

In our November 16, 2011 article entitled, “Judge Bates “removed” from Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,495 (Case No.1:11-cv-01741) DC case,” we wrote about how Judge Bates courageously called the copyright troll extortion scheme for what it is, and he halted all subpoena requests for John Doe Defendants. However, it was apparent to us at the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC that as soon as he did so, the other judges (“crabs“) grabbed at him and stopped him from killing the case. If you remember from our post, Judge Bates was immediately removed from the case and Judge Facciola replaced him (almost as if there was a DC conspiracy to promote copyright enforcement efforts by porn production companies such as Hard Drive Productions, Inc.).

As of yesterday, Judge Bates caved in and wrote a scathing order describing in detail how and why Hard Drive Productions, Inc. should be allowed to force the ISPs to hand over the subscriber information for the John Does implicated in this case. In addition, siding with Judge Facciola and Judge Beryl Howell, Judge Bates agreed that internet subscribers have no expectation of privacy for the account information they provide to their ISP.  I wonder if the same thing holds true for my electricity bill.

What I found most offensive, however, was that Judge Bates initially promised John Doe Defendants that if they filed motions to quash anonymously, that they would remain anonymous (even if later denied). We have been advising internet users for almost a year now to be VERY WARY regarding Judge Bates’ promise because he could always go back on his word and unseal the motions to quash thus revealing the identities of those who filed them [and making the John Doe Defendants who filed these motions to quash targets for Prenda Law Inc.’s bloodthirsty desire for revenge (image)]. And I am hurting when I write this (because I hate it when I end up being right, especially when I fight against well-meaning individuals who think they are doing the right thing by following the instructions on the subpoena letters they receive from their ISPs and they file motions to quash), but as we suspected, it turns out that Judge Bates lied to us, and in yesterday’s order, he stated that “all sealed motions to quash will be ordered unsealed.”

In my opinion, I must point out that I have a respect for Judges, and I must believe that most of them (including Judge Bates) are good. In the legal system, just as there are copyright troll attorneys who abuse the legal system, these same “bad apples” plague the legal system because many of these bad apples sit on the bench and render one bad decision after another. Many people have called me “dark and jaded” for my opinions about these cases, and while I am not one to subscribe to a conspiracy theory, I do smell conspiracy here.

Looking over the order many times, I cannot shake the feeling that Judge Bates’ order smells as if it was written by Judge Beryl Howell. If you compare the terminologies used by each of the judges in the past, terms such as “putative defendants” was a term that Judge Howell uses, not Judge Bates, just as the Call of the Wild v. Does case referenced incessantly in the order was Judge Beryl Howell’s. In sum, “crabs grabbing crabs” applies here — it is my opinion that Judge Bates tried to crawl out of the “crab cage” and call this case for what it is; the other “crabs” merely clawed at him until he fell back in line with the others. Welcome to the DC court.

I do not have anything else to say about this case other than that ISPs will start handing out the subscribers’ information, and John Steele and the Prenda Law Inc. gang will start sending out “scare” letters, harassing John Doe Defendants, and will scare too many into settling before they retain someone like me to represent them (or anyone else who fights these cases).

I “Saw” Prenda’s New Face; Mark Lutz is OUT.

It appears as if Prenda Law Inc. is shaking things up once again. It appears as if Mark Lutz is no longer working for the firm.

Since John Steele [wanted us to believe that he] left the firm in the capable hands of Paul Duffy (now we have an image of him), Mark Lutz has been running the firm. All of the phone calls, the harassing voicemails, and the threats have all been from Mark. When John Steele “left the firm,” Mark moved to Miami, FL and was running the firm from its Miami office which in my opinion was opened for the sole purpose of filing the corrupt state-based “bill of discovery” cases in the Miami-Dade county courts (AFAIK, now defunct).

As far as I observed, John Steele and Mark Lutz did not get along.  I expect that the whole “robocall” fiasco was just the first step of Steele ousting Mark Lutz from the firm so that he can reclaim his throne, although Mark may have left for his own reasons.  No doubt there is dirt there, and as angry John Steele has gotten in the past for me contacting (and in a few cases offering to visit) his local counsel, I have no doubt that he would enjoy my inviting Mark to call me at his convenience to share his stories with me.  Mark, if you are out there, please feel free to give me a call (on or off the record).

On a related note, I have always said to John Steele that he (and other copyright trolls) should start a blog explaining their side of the story.

Well, apparently they have started to listen.

Prenda Law Inc.’s new website (http://www.wefightpiracy.com) now has a blog (and a “news and press” section, which in my opinion should be combined), and they have started posting articles on their various cases. Obviously the headings are one-sided, but it is nice to see them start to express their side of the story. My one critique — JOHN STEELE, OPEN UP YOUR BLOG AND ALLOW COMMENTS! No doubt doing this will flood your site with “f-u’s,” but still — you can easily moderate the comments and only allow those comments that are not inflammatory. This will bring the blog some needed credibility rather than it being a pedestal used only to pontificate your firm’s skewed values.

Last, but not least, I have a deep psychological concern with the large red copyright image on the main page of their website:

…It reminds me too much of the clown from the “Saw” series.

Last, but not least, I want to point out that their website incorrectly states that they have attorneys in all 50 states. This is simply not true. However, one piece of information that I can share is that there appears to be new counsel in Chris Fiore’s Pennsylvania territory, and it’s not Chris Fiore.  Whether this turns out to be another rumor or not is something we’ll have to wait and see.

P.S. – I love the “Lorem Ipsum” category.  Looking forward to seeing the website out of beta.

Why is it that Lightspeed Media copyright troll cases are DEAD, and yet SO MANY DEFENDANTS are still receiving letters?

Lightspeed Media Corp. has been one of the more aggressive copyright trolls over the past two years. They are intimately associated with John Steele and Prenda Law Inc., and have changed their lawsuits as the case law has changed over the years.

They started out as one of Prenda Law Inc.’s first bittorrent lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, where they sued 100 John Doe Defendants in the Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Does 1-100 (Case No. 1:10-cv-05604), of which 99 WERE DISMISSED ON 12/21/2010, with the remaining one shortly afterwards.

Then Lightspeed Media Corp. amended their complaint to sue 1,000 defendants instead of 100 defendants, and as we wrote about in our “Judge Steeles The Life From A Second Torrent Case” article, the judge responded by SEVERING AND DISMISSING ALL DEFENDANTS but one.

Just when we thought this case was dead, John Steele filed an amended complaint on 4/11/2011 and brought the case back to life by suing one John Doe. The funny part, however, was that they continued to send “scare” letters to ALL THE SEVERED AND DISMISSED DEFENDANTS (even though they were no longer defendants in the case). The court picked up on this and berated Steele on 4/19/2011. A few months later, the zombie Lightspeed Media Corp. federal case was DEAD.

Then, Lightspeed and Steele came up with a novel idea — sue defendants across the U.S. for violation of federal hacker statutes, alleging that accused internet users accessed Lightspeed’s websites using stolen passwords (which “through no fault of their own” were “leaked” onto the internet). The twist was that their new lawsuit was filed in the corrupt ILLINOIS STATE COURT (even though the subject matter of the lawsuits belong in the federal courts). In the Lightspeed “Hacker” lawsuit, even if the accused John Doe Defendants used the passwords to access Lightspeed’s websites, THEY WOULD NOT VIOLATE THE FEDERAL STATUTES WHICH WERE ASSERTED AGAINST THEM IN THE COMPLAINT. This is the joke about the case — it simply has no merit, but the case persists. It befuddles me that the state court is still allowing subpoenas to be sent out (even though the Illinois SUPREME COURT has come in and voiced its opinion that this case is a fraud and that it should be shut down). Yet, it persists.

These same Hacker lawsuits were also filed in the Miami Dade, FL state courts (equal in integrity to the Chicago state courts) in the Lightspeed Media Corp. v. John Does (Case No. 12-05673 CA 05), and in the Maricopa County, AZ state court (Case No. CV2012-053230). There is a lot that is written about these cases, but because they are taking place in state courts (in which we do not have eyes), we have not been tracking these cases. Essentially, it is important to note that the lawsuits are filed against one Doe Defendant, but implicate HUNDREDS of Doe Defendants as co-conspirators.

Word is that a few weeks ago, Lightspeed Media Corp. has been sold to another company (perhaps to Prenda Law Inc.?), yet the lawsuits continue.

So as you see, Lightspeed Media Corp. is essentially a zombie company that keeps coming back asking internet users for more and more money. If you take a look on http://www.rfcexpress.com, you’ll see that there are a few cases on the books, but they are ALL DISMISSED. Yet, if you asked the internet world how many thousands of internet users are still getting calls or letters for Lightspeed, you’ll get a surprising answer.

FEDERAL CASES FILED ON BEHALF OF LIGHTSPEED MEDIA CORPORATION
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Does 1-9 (CAND; 4:11-cv-02261) [DEAD]
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Doe (ILND; 1:11-cv-00385) [DEAD]
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Doe (ILND; 1:11-cv-00209) [DEAD]
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Does 1-100 (then 1-1,000) (ILND; 1:10-cv-05604) [DEAD]

KNOWN STATE CASES FILED ON BEHALF OF LIGHTSPEED MEDIA CORPORATION
Lightspeed Media Corp. v. John Doe (Miami Dade, FL Case No. 12-05673 CA 05)
Lightspeed Media Corp. v. John Doe (St. Clair, IL Case No. 11-L-683)
Lightspeed Media Corp. v. World Timbers, Inc. & John Doe (Maricopa, AZ Case No. CV2012-053230)