MORE AND MORE TROLLS…

I would think that when someone creates and copyrights a film, the purpose of creating that film is to attract viewers to purchase tickets to view that film either in the theaters, or by selling DVDs of that film.

It boggles my mind that more and more, I am seeing B-rated film companies release garbage films that nobody would watch, and instead of promoting their film to attract viewers, somehow those films are “leaked” onto the internet, only to see the production companies then sue internet users for $150K for each internet user who downloaded their films.

Earlier this week, my kids were watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on PBS, where Fred Rogers was quite a bit older than I remember him being when I was younger. To show them the “Mr. Rogers” I remembered, I searched around and found an older version where his hair was black and he was quite a bit younger.   The video was obviously copyrighted, but it was also uploaded and online for all to see.  Was I wrong for playing this video for my kids?  Or, should I have contacted the Rogers’ Foundation and acquired a license to purchase a copy of this video [noting that there is likely nowhere to purchase this black-and-white video]?

My point is that the copyright laws as they apply to individuals needs to be changed.  Production companies should make quality videos THAT SELL TICKETS (and DVDs) rather than trying to cash in on the end user that happened to view that video online without permission.  As I mention in my policy letter to lawmakers, if a production company really wanted to police their own copyrights, they are already given a legal remedy, and that remedy is to file a DMCA takedown notice with the website owner — and the unlicensed (“pirated”) video is quickly and effectively taken down by the website owner, or else the website owner can be found liable for copyright infringement himself.

If the Rogers Foundation wanted to stop me and my kids from viewing a 1968 version of Mr. Rogers, then they could have easily sent a one-page takedown request to YouTube.com where that and many other similar videos are hosted.  There is no reason for them to come after me, my kids, or any of the other thousand viewers, unless stopping “piracy” for copyright trolls is not the their real intent.

Back to the lawsuits and the new copyright trolls I am discussing in this article.  One new copyright troll is Canal Street Films, Inc. (link) who is suing 117 John Doe Defendants in two lawsuits in Washington for the download of their “Scary or Die (2012)” horror film.  The attorney suing is David Allen Lowe of Lowe Gram Jones, PLLC (link). The lawsuits are:

CASE FILED BY DAVID LOWE IN THE WASHINGTON EASTERN DISTRICT COURT:
Canal Street Films Inc v. Does 1 – 13  (Case No. 2:13-cv-03001)

CASE FILED BY DAVID LOWE IN THE WASHINGTON WESTERN DISTRICT COURT:
Canal Street Films, Inc. v. Does 1-104 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00007)

010613 Scary or Die

Also suing in the Washington Western District Court are new copyright trolls Kintop Pictures, Inc. and their attorney, Richard J. Symmes of the Frontier Law Group.  It appears that each lawsuit was for the download of the title, “Tucker & Dale v. Evil (2010)” film (link).  The strange thing about these six cases is that they were all filed at the same time in December 2012, and with ZERO explanation, just a few days ago, they were ALL DISMISSED.  I wonder if this copyright troll or their attorney grew a conscience, or whether they just needed to get their copyright paperwork in order before they reared their ugly head and started suing defendants again.  Nevertheless, because they sued internet users directly using the “bittorrent swarm joinder theory,” I am listing their cases in this site.

CASES FILED BY RICHARD SYMMES IN THE WASHINGTON WESTERN DISTRICT COURT:

Kintop Pictures v. Does 1-78 (Case No. 2:12-cv-02162) [DISMISSED]
Kintop Pictures v. Does 1-26 (Case No. 2:12-cv-02159) [DISMISSED]
Kintop Pictures v. Does 1-37 (Case No. 2:12-cv-02161) [DISMISSED]
Kintop Pictures v. Does 1-40 (Case No. 2:12-cv-02163) [DISMISSED]
Kintop Pictures v. Does 1-79 (Case No. 2:12-cv-02164) [DISMISSED]
Kintop Pictures v. Does 1-70 (Case No. 2:12-cv-02165) [DISMISSED]

Then in the Missouri Eastern District Court, Paul Lesko is still at it filing copyright infringement lawsuits on behalf of his new clients, PHE, Inc. and Purzel Video GMBH, both for the download of pornography titles.  The lawsuits are:

CASES FILED BY PAUL LESKO IN THE MISSOURI EASTERN DISTRICT COURT:
Purzel Video GMBH v. Does 1-91 (Case No. 4:12-cv-02292)
PHE, Inc. v. Does 1-96                      (Case No. 4:12-cv-02296)

On a side note, I hear that there was some controversy as to whether Lesko was pressured by the president of his alma mater to stop representing porn companies in copyright infringement actions, but apparently the attempts fell on deaf ears.  On 12/11/2012, Lesko filed a lawsuit in the Missouri Eastern District Court on behalf of his new client, “Purzel Video GMBH” for the download of their porn video, “Chubby Teens 1.”  Then on 12/12/2012, he filed another lawsuit on behalf of PHE, Inc. (the “Adam & Eve” adult sex toy company) for the download of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer XXX: A Parody.”  I wrote about PHE, Inc. here in my “Nice try, PHE, Inc. – a failed copyright troll” article.  In short, Lesko is still at it.

Lastly, in my own neck of the woods, I saw two cases filed against 400+ defendants by new copyright troll Studio West Productions, Inc.  The lawsuit is for the download of the film, “In the Name of the King: Two Worlds (2011)” (link), and even though the copyright troll attorney is John W. Raggio of the Raggio Law Firm, P.C. in Dallas (5 hours away from the court), after some research, it occurred to me that Raggio is merely local counsel to Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC (now, Dunlap Weaver, PLLC).  I am frankly surprised that they are still suing defendants, as they are one of the older copyright trolls out there, but they lost most of their litigation power when their attorney Nicholas Kurtz and a number of their paralegals left the firm after an internal shake-up early last year.

CASES FILED BY JOHN RAGGIO (A.K.A. DUNLAP WEAVER, PLLC) IN THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS:
Studio West Productions Inc. v. Does 1-237 (Case No. 4:12-cv-03690)
Studio West Productions Inc. v. Does 1-205 (Case No. 4:12-cv-03691)

All I have to say about these two cases is that they are in my back yard, so I will be happy to be there at the hearings and report things as they evolve.

As for all the other cases out there, I am still watching out for them, and if I see anything of interest, I will be happy to share what I find.  Obviously if anyone has any updates or questions about these cases, you know where to find me.


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.

22 thoughts on “MORE AND MORE TROLLS…”

  1. How sad. The flood gates have opened even further. These lawsuits are getting way out of hand. More and more lawyers are trying this failed business model without doing any homework whatsoever. And if any of them have, their ego has got the best of them thinking they will have luck on their side.

    I am happy though that judges around the country are more in tune to the game. It seems that they are not putting up with smoke and mirrors like they used to. More and more lawsuits are getting dismissed before they even start. I wonder though…. What is it gonna take to send a major shock wave through the land of the Trolls? Does Prenda have to go down in flames and cease to exist (or who they are now)? Does Steele or Duffy need to spend some time behind bars? Something has to give!

  2. This is truly disturbing news that these ploys are being picked up by others.

    I have only recently become aware of the whole “copyright toll model.” Yes, I became aware because I received a scare/extortion letter. I had no idea of this “business model” and all the tricks until I did some research. I tip my hat to the lawyers here seeking justice. This issue is not really out in the mainstream press like the record company cases.

    From my reading, I recall a news story on YouTube about copyright trolls. The reporter estimated that 140,000 cases were currently pending (I don’t recall the date of the new story). At $3,000 settlement per case, that’s a $420 million dollar settlement potential! I also recall reading there is a case with a troll admitting to approximately 30% “false positives.” At 30% that’s at least $126 million in false claims. Those are both really big numbers that really should catch the eyes of lawmakers; but apparently not.

    I read the Policy Letter posted elsewhere on this site. I believe that is a very good letter that makes a compelling case for change. But, that letter is probably too long to keep the attention of most lawmakers. We need to make the point about how much money is involved to get their attention. We also need to be simple and concise as to the troll methodology and show how it is abusing and wasting time in an already over crowed court system.

    I suspect it may be difficult to find a legislator willing to take up the cause for fear of being aligned with porn—they can’t stand the implied association(s). Using the B movies and other images and text copyright should be the first avenue in describing the situation. The law needs to be change and the Policy Letter makes some good suggestions. There should not be a business model that creates a “product” only to reap far more revenue from lawsuits than from the product itself.

    Are there other organizations that can be allies to purse change?

    I will continue to monitor the progress of these cases on this board and others. With such large numbers involved, small percentages can provide reasonable returns to the trolls—this must be eliminated.

    1. Thank you for your comments. I agree that the policy letter needs to be shortened, and it needs more “statistical and financial data,” both of which I do not have [nor do I have the time to collect]. EFF.org has been a good resource for these lawsuits (although they seem to have lost interest in these lawsuits last year). The settlement amounts vary from $1,250 in some cases to $13,000 in other cases. Most average in the $1K-$4K range which in my opinion is excessive for downloading a copyrighted video. The 30% false rate is from one of Mike Meier’s NY cases (my best guess is Digital Sin, Inc.).

  3. I’m interested in hearing more about DGW & their good times. Partly because they’d gone so quiet after causing a ruckus early on with their several-thousand-doe cases in DC. Partly because these were the trolls that introduced me to the wild wooly world of Copyright Trolling.
    I wonder how their Shirokov case is going … the last I heard about it was last March that it was going to move forward. The battles with Prenda may be more dramatic, but Shirokov was one of the first to counterfire on trolls for extortion & fraud.

    1. It is good to see all of you and your comments on this blog. @CTVic, time permitting, I will do a write-up of the new DunlapWeaver, PLLC entity. The problem is that there is really nothing new with them. They still have the same office, the same attorneys, and the same lawsuits. Just “Grubb” is gone as a partner (even though he still shows up on their new website as an attorney for their firm). Maybe he just didn’t want [or didn’t qualify for] partnership in their legal entity.

      1. In late September I received an email: a guy sent a message to all the DGW attorneys and here is an auto-reply he received from Grubb’s account (explains his absence):

        I will be on active military duty until further notice. Contact Jennifer Love at 703-777-7319 for assistance.

      2. And what would you say about this one?

        Canyon Law Group

        In the place where my father grew up, there was a lot of canyons — not huge Arizona type, but ~30 feet deep. Some, naturally, were crossed by roads, so bridges were built. I think I don’t have to explain who lives in canyons under those bridges.

      3. Wow, so they ARE trying to re-brand themselves! [likely to get away from the “Dunlap Grubb & Weaver” stigma of what they have done in the past.

        My favorite part were Ellis Bennett’s specialties: “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.” 🙂

      4. Yes, this site is in making. I’ll try to make sure that googling for “Canyon Law Group” will reveal DGW’s past, especially the fact that Jeff Weaver specializes in “business transactions and immigration” is a misleading statement: people should know that his main specialization is blumpkins.

      5. Leslie!! I miss him so! Oh, my good girlfriend Ellis LESLIE Bennett. You never return my calls any more.

        Maybe he’s too busy visiting his other boyfriend, Ken Ford, who’s spending his weekends in jail after being sentenced to 120 days in slam, and 5 years probation for fraud & forgery last November. $130k in restitution is going to be pretty tough, considering he’s answering phones, rather than calling in $150k threats these days.
        With friends like that blazing the trail … who needs enemies, eh?

        http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/587168.html

  4. The Canal Street Films, Inc. v Does 1-104 is proceeding as of Feb. 26th. They send a list of IPs, and highlight “yours” as some sort of evidence. The thing is, those IPs are the HOST IPs, not your own assigned IP. So, not much in the way of evidence.

  5. I also received a notice from Lesko, Purzel, et.al. [REDACTED]. Back in [REDACTED] 2012, I got the notice from my ISP that they were requesting the names of the “does”. Based on research and a brief legal discussion, I decided to ignore it and not file a motion to quash since they are generally not effective and if I did it myself, it negates any semblance of privacy anyway. Besides which, it seems more and more of these are getting thrown out of court as the courts are catching on to their tactics. In March I got a letter from their attorney that said if I paid them $4,000 they’d go away. So [REDACTED], I got served by a process server. But there are some things about this that don’t seem right. It requests that I respond to Lesko within 21 days. But there’s no court date set. What kind of answer are they expecting? It further states that if I don’t respond to them that judgement will be rendered against me by default. How can that be done without going to court? I’ve never heard of something like this before.

    A bit of history. I run an open network and have for 10 years. It’s accessible to anyone and we and our children have frequent visitors. I don’t have the named file and to my knowledge never have. In researching, it seems this outfit has been suspected of “seeding” their downloads and piggybacking on other downloads and then monitoring specifically to strongarm people into paying. Unfortunately, with the time delay, there’s probably no way to go back a year to figure out whether this is true. If it is happening, I’m sure the time delay is no accident. The March letter also says that each IP address is unique (the ISP’s address assigned to my modem is all they have). Anyone that runs a network knows this to be untrue. Although a router has a single address from the ISP and that is unique, there are potentially hundreds of devices behind the network. And on home networks you’ll find countless thousands of 192.168.1.1 addresses across the country for example. Hardly unique. There’s no way from the information to pin it down to a single device.

    If I want to play worst-case-scenario, regardless of all the above, how can they request damages that exceeds the value of the supposed product? Wouldn’t they have to prove the loss? And with torrent sites specifically, each only serves a portion. From the ISP, they have a 6.5 minute connect time. Given that, how do they reconcile across the seeders and that no one may even have the complete file or be serving the complete file? There’s no way to know if any given device is even set to reseed.

    So I’m trying to figure out the best approach to this. Given that I had been unemployed for some time, I cannot afford either high legal fees or a judgement rendered based on incorrect information or lack of understanding by the courts. Seems some judges are much more informed than others.

    1. Wow. I redacted a bunch of what you wrote to protect your privacy. Based on what you have written, you have been “named and served,” and if you do not handle this timely, you could face a default judgement. Please feel free to set up an appointment for us to chat about your case (I’ll look at your case live with you on the phone) at http://torrentlawyer.genbook.com. We’ll discuss your options as well on the call.

      You apparently have read a lot of information on the topic, but you’re jumbling a few concepts, specifically what is copyright infringement, who can be liable when there is an open wi-fi network, who has been caught running a honeypot, etc. Copyright infringement has either ACTUAL DAMAGES (as you describe it in your comment), or STATUTORY DAMAGES (which is potentially $150,000 per infringment [assuming it is found to be willful]). All these bittorrent cases opt for statutory damages, and actual damages are almost never a consideration because for Lesko’s cases, the actual damages would be the cost of a DVD (probably just $39).

      1. Rob, do you know if this is the first time Lesko serves an individual? If even this connoisseur of alternative uses of certain parts of human anatomy goes this route, the crisis of legitimacy of mass cases is apparent.

  6. Hi HoustonLawyr3, I did book on your calendar but the first opening was July 23. Given that I have 21 days to reply from when I got served, that doesn’t leave much time. My other concern is that the order is dated 17 days prior to when I actually got served – although it says I must respond within 21 days of being served. And the process server just handed it to me and bolted so I have no actual record of when I was served. And given the unscrupulous nature of both the plaintiff and their lawyer, I’m sure that wasn’t by accident.

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