“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).