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 adult film 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. (now dismissed) 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 (now dismissed) 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).

26 thoughts on “Judge Bates reverses his decision in Hard Drive Productions, Inc.’s DC case.”

  1. This is a good, and depressing, article. While it’s sad to know that a judge went back on his word because of peer pressure, it’s also sad that so many people are being thrown into the fire they thought they had escaped from. A good point to be made here is, if anyone gets caught up in these lawsuits, you don’t want it filed in DC. Judges across the country have been putting a stop to these lawsuits because they have finally seen them for what they are, and they realized this is wrong and immoral. The DC judges however, they feel it is OK for people to be scammed and defamed. This just reeks of conspiracy and greed. Not to mention a conflict of interest with judge Howell and her previous employment.

    I have a question for you houstonlawy3r, what do you think would happen if a judge, or even a DC judge, got caught up in one of these lawsuits as a Doe????

    Down with all Trolls

    • @ITH, they would hire me to anonymously settle the case. 😉 Trust me, I’ve had some stories like this in the past two years of fighting these cases. Can’t say more, but some unlikely people in power have paid to get out of this without being seen.

  2. Thank you Rob for replying. I guess I’m not surprised at all that has happened. Pretty sad though that people caught up in the same mess will quickly punish others for doing the same thing.

  3. Will all ISPs release information? I know Verizon has been somewhat protective about user information compared to most – will they find some way to get around the court order, or is every ISP going to reveal names?

    • @Internet Citizen, each ISP has their own policies of what they charge to release subscriber information (and with the huge amounts of settlements that come in as a result of their “scare” letters [at one point I heard it was something like 60%, but now I’m sure it’s significantly less], the trolls pay it happily. I hear that Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable are the most troll-friendly; AT&T has a large up-front fee which makes trolls think twice before sending the subpoena. The smaller ISPs also produce information, but they are more of a hassle, so I don’t often see too many of them pass by my desk from potential client inquiries. So technically yes, all ISPs will release information; practically, not all will because the plaintiffs are willing to only jump through so many hoops.

      PS – Great e-mail address (which BTW I’ve masked for your own privacy).

  4. As someone named in this latest case who is completely ignorant of the legal process, particularly when it comes to lawsuits of this nature, are there any quick guidelines someone in the know can refer me to so I can get a better understanding of my situation? I have a minimum wage job and don’t even get in the neighborhood of being able to afford the price they named in a letter I received today.

    • I have marked your name and e-mail as [PRIVATE] for your protection. Were you actually “named and served”? Or did you merely receive a letter implicating you as a John Doe in some lawsuit? -Rob

      • Several months ago I received a letter from the firm representing my ISP stating that John Steele/HDP were subpoenaing my IP address to find out my identity and claimed I could either release the information then or wait for the subpoena procedure. I chose to wait.

        The letter I received today said Prenda Law had a subpoena return from my ISP confirming “that you are the person that was associated with the IP address that was performing the illegal downloading” and used my full name. It also said they have filed a lawsuit (HDP v. John Does 1-1495) but the lawsuit against me personally does not commence unless they serve me with a complaint.

        The letter goes on to state I can avoid litigation / avoid being named a Defendant for $3,400 for full settlement and the offer expires 10/5. It says if I reject the settlement offer, they expect to commence litigation and serve me with a complain.

        • You were not named in the lawsuit. You are merely a John Doe Defendant who received what is known as a “scare” letter (essentially saying that unless you settled, they will NAME AND SERVE you as a defendant in this lawsuit).

          It would benefit you greatly if you would read the articles on this website (even if you do not retain our firm as your attorney for this matter). Once again, you are in the EXACT SAME SITUATION as 1,494 other John Doe Defendants; you have simply received the IDENTICAL “scare” letter that many others have.

  5. I guess the most interesting thing to me is that there is still action in a HDP case. It seemed that HDP pulled the plug on any further action after the Wong and Abrahams debacle.

    • I find this interesting too; HDP seems to have disappeared after the Wong case. The Abrahams case isn’t over!

      I suspect HDP will allow Prenda to extract settlements but that is all – no naming or further suits. Just my speculation and I could be wrong.

  6. re HDP vs Does 1-1495,

    I also received an isp subpoena letter on Thurs 10/4. Basically my ISP is giving me until 10/15 to put in a MTQ to with hold my info. I’ve contacted a lawyer already and I think my options are: 1. Settle now 2. File the MTQ and wait. 3. Do nothing start getting harrased. If I’m reading this right it seems the Judge will not consider the MTQ’s unless our names are attached correct? If this is the case, there is no point in option 2. I meet with my lawyer tuesday to make my decision. I just wanted to clarify if my 2nd option is really even an option.

  7. maybe its time for a Department of Justice investigation of the Federal judges in the DC court…..they are obviously the only court still allowing and encouraging the matter we refer to as trolls to continue to commit the crime of extortion on the general public. These judges are in bed with the trolls, based on Howells background and decisions, or they are just plain ignorant of what is happening.

    Is it wholesale incompetence and complete ignorance of the real-world outcomes of their actions? Many people would call their actions corruption. Maybe…? Definitely need to be investigated, and likely be brought to justice…….hopefully in another forum that Howell and Facciola can’t exert undue influence on, like they did with Bates.

  8. Hi, I received a “scare” letter from my ISP a month ago regarding this issue stating that if I did not quash the request that they would release my information for supposedly downloading a file I’ve never heard of. I missed the deadline to quash the request but is this anythign I should be worried about? Will I now start being harrassed by John Steel regarding settlement or is that something that isn’t likely to happen?

  9. I not only received a scare letter but also got a phone call from a California number about this. I’m not sure if anyone else has also gotten a call but would this make me more likely to be named or are they just simply harassing me?

      • I always love when a judge severs and dismisses a case for improper joinder. I remember seeing this and laughing… Sometimes I wonder whether one judge in DC has ANY IDEA as to what another judge in that same district court is doing. I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised — it’s DC after all.

        So, my opinion: Good news, but probably irrelevant. Judges Howell & Facciola don’t care what other judges think (contrary to the way law is SUPPOSED to work). I wish sometimes that we could simply remove judges from the bench for stupidity. Kudos to Judge Huvelle. I wish she was more vocal on the topic.

  10. As one of the Does in this case, this is disheartening to read, but I figured it would go this way only because it was/is the DC Courts. My ISP doesn’t actually have a whole lot of information about me (I checked), but they have my address, which is enough. *sigh*
    That being said, I am planning on fighting this (should it ever come to it) as far as I have to in order to save others from the tyranny.

  11. Grey Beard 1

    Big question – why Wash. DC. Terry Bean appointed to Obama Finance Comittee (major money bundler) oversees largest gay porn film producing empire in US. Just held July fundraiser in Portland for Obama and chipped in a million bucks. Spends mucho time in DC. Judge Howells daughter his law clerk. How do you get your kid appointed to ????? Other DC Judge lobbyist for recording industry in piracy law suit before appointment. Think these guys don’t talk ? This isn’t an ice cube it’s an iceberg.

  12. Mea culpa: Info on T. Bean semi accurate. Sold interest in porn studios but still involved with money through sale and loan process and distribution of meaningful funds for select candidates. Can influence congressional appointments. Helped purchase perminent home (high rise building) for Human Rights Campaign in Wash. DC. and big involvement in the DNC so does have super contacts there. See Charles M Holmes Foundation sole trustee. Judge Howell has no daughter….should have been third member of porn pack Judge Kay (DC) who has daughter as courtroom clerk and professes same party line as others. So, so sorry for bad info. Bean originator of LGBT movement. Remember recent heavy push by administration on Gay & Lesbian Rights issues. All of these issues tied heavly into the porn industry as it supports all of these hand outs, appointees, candidates, etc. Corrupt process at it’s finest to the highest levels….. This is not an attempt in any way to bash gays or lesbians or their causes, it is provided only to give insight into the associations and influence involved to continue to fund these enterprises through flimsy copyright lawsuits at the expense of of innocent individuals. They are one of many venues that benifit if these lawsuits prevail.

    Rabbit hole a terrific analogy…It is and is going to get deeper. Need to keep letter writing campaigns, print media contact and national news organizations aware of happenings…..THEY ARE INTERESTED ….Starting to get major exposure………

  13. Hi all, I’m wondering if there is anyone who could recommend a firm or individual for representing a Doe in the D.C. district? – Please advise if you have any input

  14. More for the rabbit hole…It goes deep and this is just a beginning..
    DC connections…..All participants involved with civil rights groups in some form..Have rubbed elbows with Terry Bean (porn products) through this venue….
    How high can this go….Senator Patrick Leahy – VT…Crusader for copyright protection. Intro’ed (Internet) Pirate Act & Induce Act before Congress 2004. Supported by RIAA…Guess who is on Leahy staff during this period and is ‘Senior Advisor to Leahy’ ? Why one Beryl Howell working to draft the legislation. Act defeated and Howell joins law firm to lobby for RIAA who was also involved in drafting materials. Senator Leahy heads up Senate Judicary Committee and guess who pushes Howell into Judgeship? Howell and Facciola together publish ‘Asserting & Challenging Privilege Claims in Modern Litigation’ for Law Review where Facciola is editor. This paper folks is the basis for their ‘joinder’ argument that this group is espoucing at this very moment. Bates and others up to their long furry ears in this activity as well….. Although I am sure their efforts were never meant to promote the the ‘porn industry’ claims, for them to rule in favor of any potential internet piracy defendants would render their past efforts worthless and they ain’t gonna let that happen. They have now drawn a line in the sand and are committed as a group to defend their actions and to sway other Courts into their way of thinking to protect their reputations and to save face, innocent people be damned. Based on this groups previous involvement in this venue at these levels, every one of them should recuse themselves in these lawsuits. The porn industry has found the ‘weakness’ in the armour in DC Court and they will continue to exploit it. Again, this is the tip of the iceberg. More info to be posted…..

  15. Halloween approaches so more scarey stuff for the rabbit hole….In addition to Judge Howell the Leahy/Obama connection has promoted 5 additional RIAA lawyers to posts in the Justice Department over the past 3 years….One of these…Donald B. Verrilli is now the U.S. Solicitor General. All of these individuals have authored articles or opinions in favor of ‘plaintiff’s motions’ in piracy cases with ‘I’m innocent’ unacceptable in any form per them. Ain’t Wash. DC a great place if you make porn films ???


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