Force a copyright troll to fight the WHOLE BITTORRENT SWARM every time he names someone.

Introducing the Swarm Joinder Defense Strategy

I am investigating a new strategy for clients who are named and served as part of a bittorrent swarm.  This swarm joinder defense strategy states that if the plaintiff claims that you were part of a bittorrent swarm, then each downloader from that swarm needs to be joined as a necessary party in your lawsuit.  Here is the article:

I am changing the tone of the blog. The plaintiffs are changing their strategies and so must we. While I am happy advising my clients, not all of you are my clients, and I don’t want those who are not my client to be left without the tools to understand their rights as a defendant.  I’m changing my tone to give named defendants (the number of whom are growing) ammunition to protect themselves and to catch the plaintiff copyright trolls in their missteps.  I call this strategy the “pro-joinder” strategy.

Copyright trolls are suing the same defendant in two lawsuits.

We have always told our clients that a plaintiff cannot sue a defendant for the same thing in two separate federal lawsuits. Yet certain plaintiffs are forgetting that this rule exists, and they are suing a defendant in one lawsuit in one federal court, and then they are “naming” that same defendant in a second lawsuit in another federal court (usually in a different state). In my opinion, blindsiding a defendant with his own personal lawsuit in which he is named can backfire on the plaintiff, and here is how.

There is a rule that if a plaintiff pursues two federal cases against the same party involving the same controversy at the same time, one of the two identical pending cases should be dismissed. (This is true in MANY districts: Colorado River, 424 U.S. at 817; Missouri v. Prudential Health Care Plain, Inc., 259 F.3d 949, 953054 (8th Cir.2001); Serlin v. Arthur Andersen & Co., 3 F.3d 221, 223 (7th Cir.1993); Zerilli v. Evening News Ass’n, 628 F.2d 217,222 (D.C.Cir.1980); Walton v. Eaton Corp., 563 F.2d 66,70 (3d Cir.1977).)

There is also what is known as the “first-to-file” rule, which states that when two related cases are pending in two federal courts, the court where the suit was last filed [where the defendant was named] cannot hear the case if the issues substantially overlap.(See Employers Ins. of Wausau v. Fox Entm’t Group, 522 F.3d 271, 274-275 (2d Cir.2008); Manuel v. Convergys Corp., 430 F.3d 1132, 1135 (11th Cir.2005); Cadle Co. v. Whataburger, Inc., 174 F.3d 599, 603 (5th Cir.1999).)

Using the troll’s own pleadings to establish standing in the first case.

Now as soon as you object to the second “named” case from being filed, I have NO DOUBT that your plaintiff will counter with, “well, so-and-so defendant was never named in the first case, and so he was never a party to that action.” True. You were likely not a party in the first case (you were a “John Doe,” or a “putative defendant”).  However, the plaintiff’s own “scare” letters might suggest otherwise [read them and snicker], because quite frankly, they should have been more careful when they decided to blast the scare letters out to all of you.  However, this isn’t the strategy. Keep reading.

As a response to the plaintiffs response to the court, I would certainly then point out that in the plaintiff’s OWN COMPLAINT in the first lawsuit, he listed your accused IP address as one of the many defendants in the swarm, and he stated in his complaint that “joinder is proper” combining all of these defendants in one lawsuit “…since they all participated in the same bittorrent swarm.” Based on this information (and using the plaintiff’s own filings as exhibits in your motion), I would ask the judge to dismiss the second case against you personally and order the plaintiff to name you in the first mass bittorrent case with all of the other tens or hundreds of defendants (and good luck to the plaintiff litigating that one).

If served, consider joining all of the Doe Defendants from the first lawsuit as co-defendants in your lawsuit.

Alternatively — and here is the bittorrent swarm joinder theory — I would consider joining all of the John Doe Defendants from the first lawsuit as co-defendants in the lawsuit where you were named. Here’s the logic:

If the plaintiff stated in his complaint under the theory of swarm joinder that joinder was proper there in the first lawsuit, then this is what is known in evidence as an “admission,” and the plaintiff cannot turn around and object when you want to join those same defendants in the second lawsuit against you personally.  I also want to point out that if you hold that swarm joinder was proper in the first case, then federal joinder rules actually require that you join all relevant parties [e.g., those other John Doe defendants who were “properly joined” in the first lawsuit] as co-defendants in the [second] lawsuit, or else it [the second lawsuit] cannot go forward.

The reason this swarm joinder strategy will benefit you if you are served.

Why join all John Doe Defendants from your first case as co-defendants (you are not the plaintiff here, you are still on their side as a co-defendant) in the second case in which you are named? Because if a John Doe Defendant (the term is properly a “joint tortfeasor”) wasn’t joined in this second lawsuit, well then, his rights might be adversely affected by the outcome of the case of which he did not have a say in the testimony or evidence that lead to the outcome of it. Also, if a defendant was indeed properly joined in the first lawsuit with the bittorrent swarm and he is found guilty of copyright infringement, do you think he wants to pay the entire judgement of $150,000 for each alleged act of infringement on his own? Or, would it be in his best interest to spread out the judgement so that everyone else who was part of the bittorrent swarm pay their “fair share” of the judgement?

Success or failure of this strategy is based on the beliefs of your federal judge (and whether swarm joinder is proper).

Obviously this swarm joinder theory is probably something that your attorney should be discussing with you, as there are considerations in whether and how to fight this strategy [most important of which is whether the judge believes that swarm joinder is proper (based on his own former rulings)].  Get a pro-defendant judge, and this argument may not work [but then you would likely get a ruling stating that swarm joinder is not proper in the first case].  But, get a judge like Judge Facciola or Judge Beryl Howell (who are hell-bent on asserting that swarm joinder IS proper for bittorrent cases where there are multiple defendants), then you have a very strong argument.

All this being said, now you know about one strategy of many that you can use to defend yourself.  This is obviously not legal advice, but still, do your research and when you prove to yourself that this swarm joinder strategy could hurt bittorrent cases across the U.S., and consider having your attorney join all other defendants from the first lawsuit.  If you are smart enough to do this on your own, then bless you, because you are a pioneer and your efforts should be rewarded.


CONTACT FORM: If you have a question or comment about what I have written, and you want to keep it *for my eyes only*, please feel free to use the form below. The information you post will be e-mailed to me, and I will be happy to respond.

NOTE: No attorney client relationship is established by sending this form, and while the attorney-client privilege (which keeps everything that you share confidential and private) attaches immediately when you contact me, I do not become your attorney until we sign a contract together.  That being said, please do not state anything “incriminating” about your case when using this form, or more practically, in any e-mail.

Contact us about implementing the swarm joinder defense in your case.

“In the eyes of a DC Judge” as he gazes at Indiana’s copyright troll cases.

I read Judge rulings all day long. It appears to me that in this particular Judge’s eyes, internet users are copyright infringers. The internet is a place of crime and deceit. And, copyright holders – even when they are pornography production companies – deserve to shake down and harm internet users who prey on their copyrighted materials.

He has been happy for months that people are being extorted, but now he is no longer happy because people are fighting back. No doubt he has “seen the light” shining forth from the Indiana Southern District Court, and he wants to prove that the internet users are guilty and that they deserve to be punished.

With all this narrative, I am painting a prophetic picture of what I expect the Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-7 (Case No. 1:12-cv-01119 [12-1119 (EGS/JMF)]) DC case to look like. It is a grim picture, but here it goes.

EVERY DEFENDANT WILL BE NAMED IN THE CASE.

Watch these Indiana dockets and you’ll understand what I expect that the DC case will look like…

Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-29 (INSD; Case No. 1:12-cv-00845)

10/15/2012 46 Summons Issued as to DERICK BROOKS, DAN COROIAN, JEREMY COTTON, KEVIN DEMPSEY, CONNIE FELONGCO, NEVILLE FERNANDES, JAY GARRETT, JIM GENDRON, CLARISSA HENDERSHOT, ANDREW LEIGHTNER, SIWEI LI, CHRIS MINOR, DANIEL PITTMAN, K.P., KENNETH REESE, JERRY RICHEY, CARL RUDY, LUCIAN SAVULESCU, LUCAS SHULTZ, TERESA STEPHENSON. (JD) (Entered: 10/15/2012)
10/11/2012 45 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to TERESA STEPHENSON. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 44 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to SIWEI LI. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 43 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to NEVILLE FERNANDES. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 42 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to LUCIAN SAVULESCU. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 41 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to LUCAS SHULTZ. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 40 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to K.P. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 39 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to KEVIN DEMPSEY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 38 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to KENNETH REESE. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 37 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JIM GENDRON. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 36 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JERRY RICHEY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 35 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JEREMY COTTON. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 34 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JAY GARRETT. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 33 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to DERICK BROOKS. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 32 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to DANIEL PITTMAN. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 31 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to DAN COROIAN. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 30 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to CONNIE FELONGCO. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 29 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to CLARISSA HENDERSHOT. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 28 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to CHRIS MINOR. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 27 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to CARL RUDY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 26 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to ANDREW LEIGHTNER. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
9/27/2012 25 AMENDED COMPLAINT against DERICK BROOKS, DAN COROIAN, JEREMY COTTON, KEVIN DEMPSEY, JOHN DOE #14, JOHN DOE #16, JOHN DOE #17, JOHN DOE #20, JOHN DOE #23, JOHN DOE #24, JOHN DOE #29, CONNIE FELONGCO, NEVILLE FERNANDES, JAY GARRETT, JIM GENDRON, CLARISSA HENDERSHOT, ANDREW LEIGHTNER, SIWEI LI, CHRIS MINOR, DANIEL PITTMAN, K.P., KENNETH REESE, JERRY RICHEY, CARL RUDY, LUCIAN SAVULESCU, LUCAS SHULTZ, TERESA STEPHENSON, filed by MALIBU MEDIA, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A – IP Address List, # 2 Exhibit B – Copyright Website Screen Shot, # 3 Exhibit C – BitTorrent Vocabulary)(Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 09/27/2012)

Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-7 (INSD; 1:12-cv-00842)

10/15/2012 24 Summons Issued as to JAMES HELFERICH, JEREMIAH MCKINNEY, STEPHEN MCSWEENEY, ERNEST NURULLAEVA, CHARLIE TOLLEY. (JD) (Entered: 10/15/2012)
10/11/2012 23 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to STEPHEN MCSWEENEY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 22 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JEREMIAH MCKINNEY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 21 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JAMES HELFERICH. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 20 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to ERNEST NURULLAEVA. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 19 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to CHARLIE TOLLEY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/3/2012 18 AMENDED COMPLAINT against JOHN DOES 1-7, filed by MALIBU MEDIA, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A – IP Address List, # 2 Exhibit B – Copyright Website Screen Shots, # 3 Exhibit C – Title List, # 4 Exhibit D – BitTorrent Vocabulary)(Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/03/2012)

Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-23 (INSD; Case No. 1:12-cv-00841)

10/12/2012 38 Summons Issued as to GIANCARLO DI MIZIO JR, KRISTINE EIKENBERG, CAMERON GAFF, R.M., SEAN MANGYIK, ANDREW MCCOY, TOBY REEVES, HAOJIE WANG, DANIEL WATT. (CKM) (Entered: 10/12/2012)
10/11/2012 37 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to TOBY REEVES. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 36 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to SEAN MANGYIK. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 35 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to R.M. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 34 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to KRISTINE EIKENBERG. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 33 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to HAOJIE WANG. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 32 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to GIANCARLO DI MIZIO JR. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 31 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to DANIEL WATT. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 30 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to CAMERON GAFF. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 29 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to ANDREW MCCOY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
9/27/2012 28 SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT against JOHN DOES 1-23, filed by MALIBU MEDIA, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A – IP Address List, # 2 Exhibit B – Copyright Website Screen Shots, # 3 Exhibit C – Title List, # 4 Exhibit D – BitTorrent Vocabulary)(Nicoletti, Paul) Modified on 10/10/2012 (PGS). (Entered: 09/27/2012)

Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-8 (INSD; Case No. 1:12-cv-00840)

10/18/2012 30 Summons Issued as to RYAN OURS. (PG) (Entered: 10/18/2012)
10/18/2012 29 Summons Issued as to PAUL ALLOR. (PG) (Entered: 10/18/2012)
10/18/2012 28 Summons Issued as to JAMES DUMAS. (PG) (Entered: 10/18/2012)
10/18/2012 27 Summons Issued as to HECTOR HERNANDEZ. (PG) (Entered: 10/18/2012)
10/18/2012 26 Summons Issued as to BRIAN LACEY. (PG) (Entered: 10/18/2012)
10/17/2012 25 ORDER granting Pltf’s 24 Motion for Extension of Time to effectuate service on Defts to 11/15/2012. Signed by Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore on 10/17/2012. (SWM) (Entered: 10/18/2012)
10/16/2012 24 First MOTION for Extension of Time to to Effectuate Service on Defendants , filed by Plaintiff MALIBU MEDIA, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/16/2012)
10/11/2012 22 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to RYAN OURS. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 21 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to PAUL ALLOR. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 20 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to JAMES DUMAS. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 19 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to HECTOR HERNANDEZ. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
10/11/2012 18 Proposed Summons submitted for issuance by the clerk as to BRIAN LACEY. (Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/11/2012)
9/26/2012 14 AMENDED COMPLAINT against JOHN DOES 1-8, filed by MALIBU MEDIA, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A – I.P Address List, # 2 Exhibit B – Copyright Website Screen Shot, # 3 Exhibit C – BitTorrent Vocabulary)(Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 09/26/2012)

And a younger case… Can you guess what will happen next?

Malibu Media LLC v. John Does 1-9 (INSD; Case No. 1:12-cv-01115)

10/18/2012 23 AMENDED COMPLAINT against KEVIN ETTER, NICHOLAS SHELTON, AARON REYES, HO YEUNG, DAVID WYATT, LEAH JUSTICE, filed by MALIBU MEDIA, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A – IP Address List, # 2 Exhibit B – Copyright Website Screen Shots, # 3 Exhibit C – Title List, # 4 Exhibit D – BitTorrent Vocabulary)(Nicoletti, Paul) (Entered: 10/18/2012)

This is obviously no doubt upsetting for the named defendants, but it has been explained to me that the logic of the Indiana courts is that they do not want to allow Paul Nicoletti to run the typical copyright troll extortion scheme of “unless you settle with us, we will name you in the lawsuit.” Rather, the court has asked the plaintiffs to name the defendants outright so that they could properly defend themselves rather than playing the “motion to quash” game that happens in all the other courts.

I also want to point out that now the burden is on Malibu Media, LLC and Paul Nicoletti to make DAMN SURE that the defendants they sue actually did the downloading.

I must note that this is not the case with the DC Judge. It has been explained to me that he is hell bent on punishing defendants rather than stopping the extortion scheme that has been going on there unhindered for over two years now.

On a personal note, this is obviously not the scenario I would like to see happen, but I do think the DC case will end up looking exactly like these Indiana cases. Thus, I wanted defendants to be prepared for this because as soon as you are named and served, you have a certain number of days to respond and file your answer. There are obviously some maneuvers we can do to stop the clock, but you’ll be under the gun on this one so be prepared to act as soon as you’re served. It looks like this is going to happen.

Hard Drive Productions, Inc. DC case NOT DISMISSED.

This morning, the following appeared on the Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,495 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01741-JDB-JMF) DC docket:

10/18/2012 58 NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal by HARD DRIVE PRODUCTIONS, INC. (Duffy, Paul) (Entered: 10/18/2012)

I want to point out that this is NOT a dismissal of the case. If you look at the dismissal document, you’ll see that only one IP address was released [– someone paid Steele off and settled their case].

The status of the case is that Judge Facciola is still presiding over this case, and the last thing he did was DENY Prenda Law Inc.’s request to suppress EFF’s AMICUS BRIEF. Thus, EFF’s brief is still on the docket, and the brief should be read and considered by the judge (although knowing Judge Facciola, he’ll probably ignore it and let the case continue).

“GOING TO TRIAL: BAD!”

“GOING TO TRIAL: BAD!”

I was watching the DC Malibu Media, LLC case which was assigned to Judge Facciola, and on 9/25, there was an order which concerned me. In view of PA Judge Baylson’s order forcing Malibu Media to name and serve defendants, or else, this order became relevant.

We all know that Judge Facciola is against the internet downloader. He is also stubbornly in favor of copyright trolls, pornography production companies, and the protection of copyright rights for obscene materials. This is why his order in the Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-7 (Case No. 1:12-cv-01119 [12-1119 (EGS/JMF)]) case in DC was controversial.

In stark opposition to my “GOING TO TRIAL: GOOD!” article that I posted just moments ago, it appears as if Judge Facciola has figured out a way to TRAP internet users into being named as defendants, and to embarrass them and force them to fight their cases.

In Facciola’s 9/25 order, the judge allowed Malibu Media, LLC to send subpoena notices to the ISPs. He allowed them to even get all they wanted regarding the contact information of the suspected John Doe Defendants. Here’s the catch — Facciola ordered that MALIBU MEDIA, LLC MAY NOT SETTLE ANY CASES WITH JOHN DOE DEFENDANTS BEFORE NAMING THEM FIRST.

“4. Plaintiff may not engage in any settlement discussions with any persons identified by the ISPs in response to the subpoenas.”

We all know that Malibu Media sues people in the states in which they live, and thus personal jurisdiction and venue is usually proper in their cases. In addition, we know that Malibu Media’s business model is to call defendants and scare them into settling for thousands of dollars at a time. We also know that the lawsuits implicate the defendants for ONE film only, but when defendants call up to settle, they are forced to settle ALL ALLEGED CLAIMS AGAINST THEM (which can sometimes be 15 “hits”, 25 “hits” — or more recently, I’m hearing numbers in the 40’s — which can amount to settlements in the TENS OF THOUSANDS). This means that even if a defendant SUCCEEDS in fighting their case, Malibu Media, LLC can still turn around and sue them again, and again, and again (bad odds for a downloader interested in x-art’s content).

So now, settlement is NOT an option for Malibu, as their hands are tied by the judge’s order (and whether they’ll comply on the back-end is a dangerous proposition that could get them in trouble if a Doe who settles reports that settlement to the court). Or will it with Judge Facciola as the judge?

Here is my advise with this case. For the putative defendants, your option is not to settle your case, but simply to make yourself someone the plaintiffs do not want to name and serve. In other words, have your attorney contact Malibu Media with evidence of your innocence. I suspect that if we persuade them that you have a good defense, they will decide to name and serve OTHER DEFENDANTS (and not you).

So in sum, I expect that Judge Facciola will have his way, and John Doe Defendants will necessarily have their reputations tarnished by being named in a pornography lawsuit. To those defendants who ARE named, my only advice is to have your attorney put up a good fight. Quite frankly, at this point, some of these copyright trolls deserve one.