WELCOME TO THE TORRENTLAWYER BLOG.

STEP 1: CHOOSE YOUR LAWSUIT

Welcome to the TorrentLawyer Blog, a Cashman Law Firm, PLLC resource.  The purpose of this sticky post is to be simplistic and help you to navigate this site (which has 200+ articles on copyright cases we have worked on since 2010).  In short, if you arrived at this site, you are facing one of three paths:

1) COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT “JOHN DOE” LAWSUITS

  • You have been implicated as a “John Doe” defendant in a federal copyright infringement lawsuit (or worse, you have been served as a named defendant in one of these lawsuits).
  • WHAT TO DO NEXT: Click the “Cases We Are Working On” menu option (above), and select the name of your case and/or movie allegedly downloaded.

To make things easier for you, these are the primary lawsuits we are actively working on:

2) DMCA SETTLEMENT NOTICE

  • You received a DMCA notice (“Digital Millennium Copyright Act”) accusing you of downloading one or more copyrighted videos or music songs, and they have demanded a settlement claiming that if you do not pay, they will sue you for copyright infringement.
  • WHAT TO DO NEXT: Click on the “Cases We Are Working On” menu option (above) and select which company has sent you the DMCA Notice:

3) YOU ARE LOST

  • You are lost, or you do not know where to start. Relax, we are here to help you understand what it is you received from your ISP or in the mail, who sent it, and what is happening to you. Once you have an idea of exactly what is happening, we can then discuss how to respond.
  • WHAT TO DO NEXT: Fill out the Contact form to the right, or e-mail us, text us your question (713-364-3476), or simply schedule a time for us to call you.   >  >  >  >

STEP 2: BOOK A PHONE CONSULTATION WITH AN ATTORNEY

THIS PAGE IS MERELY AN OVERVIEW. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Lawsuits.

SIEMENS PLM SOFTWARE LAWSUITS — “THEY’RE BACK!”

I didn’t want to let this one slide. Remember the Siemens Product Lifecycle Management (Siemens PLM) lawsuits (where Siemens sued a number of engineers who used their NX software without a license)? Well, in July, 2018, they have filed their newest copyright Infringement lawsuit (this is the FIFTH TIME they are suing), this time against 107 John Doe Defendants (here in our own Texas Southern District Court, no less).

Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-107 (4:18-cv-02344), filed July, 2018

I’ve already written all that needs to be known about the Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. lawsuits

Have you read enough? Book Now to get help. > > >

Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Piracy Lawsuit
Screenshot from Siemens PLM Software’s website on the NX Mach 3 software.

What happened to the Siemens Product Lifecycle Management’s older lawsuits?

WAVE 1

In Wave 1, Siemens solicited licenses for their NX software. At first, we thought that these were bittorrent-based lawsuits like the others we have been dealing with, but then we learned that Siemens was actually tracking the unlicensed USE of the software (e.g., think “software phone home”).

This complicated the lawsuits because they were dealing with actual evidence (rather than the “snapshot bittorrent-based evidence” we have seen in the movie lawsuits). As a result, we put together a list of steps an attorney should take in defending a Siemens PLM lawsuit, and this has proven to be an effective strategy.

Over time, the lawsuit progressed, and eventually Siemens dismissed the lawsuit once they realized who they wanted to name and serve in their own lawsuits, and they filed individual copyright infringement lawsuits against companies they discovered were using their software without a license.

WAVE 2

In Wave 2, Siemens filed a similar lawsuit, this time against 100 new defendants. They surprised a number of defendants with settlement numbers of $50,000+ (eventually, we learned that they were settling licenses to their software, and they actually cost that much). This second wave lawsuit “on the books” looked to be a failure because they missed a FRCP Rule 4(m) deadline to name and serve defendants. As a result, they dismissed the entire lawsuit, however, I know that they continued after the dismissal to contact accused defendants (or their attorneys) with the intention of having those accused defendants [now dismissed] purchase a license to cover their use of the Siemens PLM NX software.

WAVES 3-4 (2017 – mid-2018)

In Waves 3-4, Siemens continued to target engineers in their lawsuits.  The purpose of these lawsuits was to “legitimize” those who were using their NX software “for profit.”  They were more reasonable this time on the settlement amounts (no settlements, just purchase of software licenses), but they allowed the defendant some leeway in determining what software title would best benefit the user, and whether Mach 3 was needed, or whether a lower-cost alternative was an option.  Siemens PLM also started to discuss settlement negotiations themselves (e.g., offering money to settle the claims), however, this never materialized.

WAVE 5 (late 2018)

Now in Wave 5, I do not yet know whether these 107 John Doe Defendants are from the same pool as the earlier lawsuits were filed, or whether these are from an entirely new pool of accused infringers. However, at least the lawsuit itself (its intentions, and what to expect) are less of a mystery, as we were able to settle a number of claims in their previous lawsuits through the purchase of a software license.

As always, here is how an attorney should be handling a Siemens PLM software lawsuit, and how we at the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC would handle your Siemens PLM case. This has been an effective strategy in each of the various Siemens PLM lawsuits, and thus I am suggesting it again with this newest wave of lawsuits.


[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about the Siemens PLM software copyright case and options on how to proceed (even specifically for your circumstances), you can e-mail us at info[at]cashmanlawfirm.com, you can set up a free and confidential phone consultation to speak to us about your Siemens PLM case, or you can call us at 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number].

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.

Motions to Quash in one page (FAQ); when NOT to file a motion to quash.

What is a Motion to Quash, and how is it relevant in my copyright infringement lawsuit?

The first thing an accused defendant learns when reading the subpoena letter sent to him by his ISP is that:

1) He was implicated as a one of a small set of “John Doe” Defendants in a copyright infringement lawsuit.
2) The copyright infringement lawsuit was filed by a copyright holder apparently owning the rights to a movie he clicked on or downloaded.
3) He is being sued for $150,000 for the download of that movie.
4) He may or may not have actually downloaded that movie.
5) His ISP is being forced by a subpoena ordering them to turn over his true identity (along with other relevant information).

After asking around, he learns:
…6) There is a way to stop the ISP from handing out his contact information, and that is filing an “objection with the court.”
7) The “objection with the court” that he would file is called a motion to quash.

Motions to quash are not the answer, and here is why:

A motion to quash is the first piece of “legal jargon” an accused defendant grasps onto.

The accused defendant thinks, “I am going to quash the subpoena!”  Then the next logical thought is to search the internet for “motions to quash,” or “forms on how to file a motion to quash,” etc.  What that accused defendant gets in the search results is almost never his answer on how to file the motion to quash, but some enterprising attorney who decided that he will use this term to lure him in as a paying client for many months to come.

Faced with the prospect of hiring an attorney to file a motion to quash for him, the accused defendant never asks, “should I file a motion to quash?”

Have you read enough? Book Now to get help. > > >

“Should I file a motion to quash?”

Obviously as an attorney I need to dance around this issue because this blog is not to be considered legal advice.  However, NO, contrary to popular thought and mob rule, it is my belief having defended “copyright troll” bittorrent-based copyright infringement cases for now OVER SEVEN YEARS that motions to quash are not an effective tool for stopping your ISP from handing out your information to the plaintiff attorney.

What exactly is a motion to quash?

Simplifying a bit, a motion to quash in the context of a bittorrent lawsuit tells the court that they do not have “PERSONAL JURISDICTION” over you.  In other words, a motion to quash informs the court that the plaintiff attorney / copyright troll filed the lawsuit against you in the *wrong federal court* (and plaintiff attorneys have been forced to reimburse the ISPs for making this mistake).

[The actual context is that this would be a motion to quash (or nullify) the subpoena which is forcing the ISP to hand over your information.  The attack itself is on the validity of the subpoena, not the copyright troll or the plaintiff.]

The question a judge must determine when faced with a motion to quash is “does this John Doe Defendant live in the jurisdiction or territory in which my federal court has power and control to enforce the laws over that defendant?”

When is a motion to quash successful?

A motion to quash is successful if the accused John Doe defendant filing the motion to quash lives in a state OTHER THAN where the lawsuit was filed.  For example, an accused defendant who is living in New York, and not in California where the lawsuit was filed), then the California federal judge will sever and dismiss that defendant from the lawsuit.  The motion to quash the subpoena as to that John Doe Defendant will be successful, and the ISP is released from its obligation to hand over the information for that John Doe Defendant to the plaintiff attorney.

The dismissal will be, however, “without prejudice,” meaning that the copyright holder will still have three (3) years from the alleged date of infringement to sue that defendant in the federal court of the state in which he or she lives.

When is a motion to quash not successful?

A motion to quash a subpoena is not successful when the accused “John Doe” defendant lives in the state in which he was sued.  Here, the judge will determine that the federal court has personal jurisdiction over that defendant, and the motion to quash will likely be denied.

The effect of this is that as soon as a motion to quash is denied, the internet service provider (“ISP”) [who initially held back that accused defendant’s contact information from the spreadsheet of names and addresses provided to the plaintiff attorney] will now separately comply with the subpoena as to that John Doe Defendant who filed the motion to quash and lost.  Think of this as the ISP sending that defendant’s contact information in a FedEx package to the plaintiff attorney stating, “this is the guy who filed the motion to quash and lost.”

Have you read enough? Book Now to get help. > > >

Isn’t it illegal for the ISP to hand out my information?  Can I sue my ISP if they comply with the subpoena?

This is actually an interesting topic which I first researched many years ago.  The answer is that it depends on whether the federal judge in your case considers the ISP to be under the rules of the Cable Act or not.  You would think this is an easy answer, “yes or no, does an internet service provider fall under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934?” but judges in the bittorrent copyright infringement cases have had different opinions of this over the years.

Unrelated to the very muddy area of under which Title of the Communication Act do ISPs fall, this issue has become relevant to our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC practice in defending bittorrent defendants.  The reason for this is that a cornerstone part of our strategy is not only understanding the personality and proclivities of the plaintiff attorney (will he name and serve, what are his motivations, etc.), but also to understand how each federal judge sees the validity of the bittorrent-based copyright infringement cases.  Judges who quote a certain set of case law (which places the ISPs in the context of being under the Cable Act) or who quote Arista Records LLC (sorry for the Wikipedia link) are usually plaintiff / copyright holder friendly.  Those that do not are more “John Doe” Defendant friendly.

Anyway, in 2011, I once looked into suing an ISP for disclosing the identity of a John Doe Defendant, and I was hit with a wall of messy, disorganized law with inconsistent case law rulings on this topic (whether ISPs fall under the Cable Act, whether they are to be considered under Title 2 of the Communication Act, or under some other classification).  In short, even if I were successful, in the end, the defendant would have only had damages of $1,000, so it made no sense to fight the lawsuit (the time alone to file it would have cost the defendant the slap-on-the-wrist money he would have made from being right).  Anyway, just a fun tidbit.

The plaintiff attorney’s response to a motion to quash

Historically, the plaintiff attorney who sees an accused John Doe Defendant file a motion to quash will claim that the defendant lacks “STANDING” to file the motion to quash.

He will claim that the John Doe filing the motion to quash was never named and served in the lawsuit (and might never be named and served).  They will point out to the court that the purpose of the “JOHN DOE” placeholder, by definition, is that this is an unnamed defendant.  In order to determine who the actual defendant-to-be-named is in the lawsuit, they need the subscriber’s identifying information to determine whether this subscriber was the downloader or not.

[A plaintiff attorney deciding to “NAME AND SERVE” a defendant is outside the scope of this article.  For more information on what to do when you are named and served, click here.]

As a result, federal judges sometimes buy this argument and they deny the motion to quash, or they find some other justification to deny the motion to quash.

A quick comment about the personalities of the plaintiff attorneys who represent the copyright holders:

Plaintiff attorneys / “copyright trolls” have a bad reputation because they have been known to incorporate their personal hurt feelings and egos into the prosecution of their client’s cases.

The purpose of a “copyright troll” / bittorrent-based copyright infringement lawsuit is to extract as many multi-thousand dollar settlements as possible in return for the $400 filing fee their client paid to file the lawsuit.  Most of these attorneys work on a commission basis, so the time they spent “fighting” the case is court is wasted time.

When a defendant files a motion to quash, this forces the plaintiff attorney to oppose the motion to quash.  Following most oppositions comes a hearing (which sometimes takes up the entire morning, even though the hearing itself on the motion to quash is 5 minutes long).

Thus, any defendant who files the motion to quash ends up with a vindictive attorney who is looking to recoup that time lost in dollars and commissions.  This translates into an overly hostile or vindictive attorney who increases the settlement price to “nail” that defendant who filed the motion to quash.

Instead of a motion to quash, what should the first step of defense be?

Great question.  Rather than jumping to file a motion to quash, the accused “John Doe” defendant needs to figure out whether he actually downloaded the movie that is the subject of the lawsuit.  Next, whether he downloaded it or not, he needs to speak to an attorney to determine what his options are.

Most attorneys who understand that motion to quash attempts are usually unsuccessful will instruct the client to forego filing the motion to quash, and to move right into defending the claims against the client.

There is a long period of time in which the “John Doe” defendant remains anonymous.  During this “John Doe” phase, the anonymity of the accused John Doe Defendant is preserved.  Hiring an attorney at this point (before being named and served) provides you with so many more options than you might have after being named and served.  During this time, your plaintiff attorney has a window in which he can investigate whether each accused downloader actually downloaded the file or not; he purportedly does this in order to determine which John Doe Defendants to name and serve, and which not to name and serve.

Really, this is the bulk of where the bittorrent-based copyright infringement lawsuits spend their time.

During this “John Doe” phase of the lawsuit, the courts issue FRCP Rule 4(m) extensions over and over until the judge forces the plaintiff attorney to name and serve some defendants or stop wasting the court’s time.  During this time, an attorney defending a John Doe Defendant has the opportunity to obtain whatever evidence the plaintiff attorney has on that defendant, and he has the opportunity to explain that it was not the accused John Doe Defendant who did the download.

If the client actually did the download, the defense attorney has other tools at his disposal (e.g., the “no settlement” route, the “ignore” route, or the minimum statutory damages strategy, if the plaintiff attorney names and serves the defendant or otherwise won’t negotiate a settlement).  Obviously, negotiating a settlement for a defendant who actually did the download is usually the quickest way out of the lawsuit (watch out for settlement factory attorneys and so-called defense attorneys who actually represent the copyright holders (“weretrolls”), but it perpetuates the whole copyright troll scheme.

Have you read enough? Book Now to get help. > > >

Why FIGHTING the case is not the best answer either (even with an innocent defendant).

Lastly, there is always the option to “FIGHT,” or litigate and defend the claims against you, like a hero slaying a “copyright troll” dragon (I did not make up that analogy).  However, there are bad attorneys here too, because they really want you to pay them an hourly fee for the next few hundred hours.

They’ll claim that they are defending your case because the copyright holder does not actually have evidence of copyright infringement (which is true — what they actually have is called “snapshot evidence,” which is not copyright infringement).  They will also explain that copyright law gives the prevailing party (the “winner”) the attorney fees they paid to their attorney.

Thus, they can spend $20K-$30K on the litigation, and they’ll recoup it from the copyright troll when they win their case, right?? Wrong.

Copyright Troll / Plaintiff Attorneys know EXACTLY WHEN to dismiss an innocent defendant to avoid having to pay attorney fees.

The plaintiff attorneys are very aware of the attorney fees which are awarded to the winner of the lawsuit.

Thus, they know EXACTLY WHEN to dismiss an accused defendant (usually after being named and served, right after discovery (think, depositions, interrogatories, evidence gathering, and questions under oath, etc.) once the defendant establishes that he actually did not do the download).

This means that the plaintiff attorney deprived the wrongly accused “innocent” defendant of ALL the money and months of anguish he paid to his defense attorney.

The defendant is dismissed, taking nothing back for his losses.  However, the defense attorney sits there fat and piggish having taken every penny the named defendant had.

Chances are, that attorney never explained to the named defendant that such a dismissal could happen, or else the defendant may have chosen to settle early on (and the defense attorney would have made significantly fewer dollars in fees).

Why FIGHTING based on the argument that the plaintiff attorney has no evidence is also dumb.

This deserves to be its own post, but I’ll get straight to the point.  Representing a client who did the download based on the argument that the plaintiff attorney has no evidence is foolish, and here is why:

Even if I were to charge a defendant only $100 to defend the claims against him (if I said pro bono or no fee), and I defended that client on the basis that the plaintiff attorney had no evidence against my client [based on the “snapshot evidence” theory]:

*EVEN IF I AM RIGHT* (that “snapshot evidence” is insufficient to prove copyright infringement), MY OWN CLIENT WHO DOWNLOADED THE MOVIE WOULD BE THE ONLY EVIDENCE THE PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY WOULD REQUIRE TO PROVE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.

Why?  Because after being named and served, there is something called “discovery,” where among other things (such as having a computer forensics expert check the computer for the infringing copyrighted title), my own client would be forced to answer questions under oath, AND ONE OF THOSE QUESTIONS WOULD BE, “DID YOU DOWNLOAD THE XYZ FILE USING BITTORRENT?”

At that point, once your client admits guilt in a deposition, or otherwise under oath, there is nothing to do but to settle.  Snapshot evidence at that point becomes irrelevant to whether this defendant downloaded the film.

As one attorney cleverly said it, I believe today on Twitter:

“I can be the most educated, smartest, wizardly genius attorney ever to exist.  No legal argument can change the fact that my client downloaded the film.”

Have you read enough? Book Now to get help. > > >

IN SUM, INSTEAD OF THE MOTION TO QUASH, CONSIDER YOUR CASE.

Thus, for someone who received notice that their ISP is handing out their information to the plaintiff attorney, don’t worry about the motion to quash.  Ask yourself whether you recognize the movie you are accused of downloading, and whether you downloaded or watched the movie without a license (e.g., with bittorrent, or with Popcorn Time, etc.).

Whether the answer is yes or no, don’t wait.  Hire an attorney, explain your situation, and let the attorney either 1) convince the plaintiff attorney that you did not do the download or will not otherwise settle (a.k.a., the “no settlement” representation), or 2) have the attorney settle the claims against you.

This time while you are an “anonymous” John Doe is precious to you; don’t squander it.

Fighting (defending the claims against you in litigation) only makes sense when 1) you understand that EVERYTHING YOU PAY YOUR ATTORNEY TO DEFEND YOU WILL BE LOST, but you do not want to give in and settle the claims against you, and 2) when you want your attorney to file an answer, admit guilt, and argue $750 minimum statutory damages (when you did the download and the plaintiff attorney is unwilling to settle or negotiate fairly).

All other times, one of the “ignore” routes or “settle” route is the more economical approach.

THIS HAS BEEN A LAWSUIT-NEUTRAL ARTICLE WRITTEN FOR THE TORRENTLAWYER UNIVERSITY.

FOR IMMEDIATE CONTACT WITH AN ATTORNEY: To set up a free consultation to speak to an attorney about your matter, click here.  Lastly, please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected], or call 713-364-3476 to speak to me now about your case (I do prefer you read the articles first), or to get your questions answered.

CONTACT FORM: Alternatively, sometimes people just like to contact me using one of these forms.  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.

…OR, SKIP TO THE APPOINTMENT…

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.

The life of a subpoena, and at what point you are no longer anonymous.

TIMELINE: ISP SUBPOENAS AND ANONYMITY

Any “copyright troll” bittorrent-based copyright infringement lawsuit really revolves around the subpoena which moves from the court to the accused John Doe Defendants.  Tracking a subpoena can help an accused defendant understand the timelines of when they can fight, when they can settle, when they can ignore, and whether they are anonymous or not at each step.

A Subpoena is first introduced to the court for approval.

A subpoena is first introduced to the court when the plaintiff attorney files the lawsuit and asks the court for permission to obtain the identities of the various internet users accused of downloading the copyright holder’s movie or copyrighted work.

The Subpoena, once approved by the court, is sent to the ISP.

The federal judge approves the subpoena (usually by rubber stamp), and the subpoenas are then sent to the “abuse” department of the various ISPs (e.g., AT&T U-verse, COX Communications, Comcast, etc.).  These ISPs in receipt of the subpoena are ordered to hand over the accused subscriber’s information to the plaintiff attorney.  They send a notice to the account holder that a subpoena has been received, and that they are under a duty to comply with the subpoena by a certain date unless the account holder files a Motion to Quash the subpoena before the arbitrary deadline they set (usually the deadline is 30 days from the notice sent to the subscriber).

The ISP forwards the Subpoena to the accused account holder giving him a chance to file an objection with the court.

You (the account holder) receive the notice containing the subpoena, and you learn that you are implicated as a “John Doe” (an unnamed defendant) in the Copyright Holder Corporate Entity v. Does lawsuit.  Here, you learn that you can supposedly stop the ISP from handing out your information to the plaintiff attorney by filing an objection with the court, a.k.a. a “Motion to Quash.”  At this point, you are still anonymous.

The ISP complies with the Subpoena and hands over your contact information to the plaintiff attorney.

Assuming you do not file the Motion to Quash (there are many articles on this website explaining why you might not do so), the 30-day deadline set by your ISP will lapse, and your ISP will comply with the subpoena.  They turn over your information to the PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY (but not to the court or anyone else).  You are still anonymous.

Have you read enough? Book Now to get help. > > >

The exact moment your anonymity expires.

At this point, the life of the subpoena is over, as it has served its purpose and the plaintiff attorney is in receipt of your contact information (and whatever other information your ISP was forced to hand over to it).  At this point, you are a “John Doe” defendant in the lawsuit, and only your plaintiff attorney knows your real identity.  YOU ARE STILL ANONYMOUS at this point (as to the court and the world, as the plaintiff attorney is not going to share your information unless he decides to name and serve you as a defendant in the lawsuit).

Your anonymity expires once the plaintiff attorney realizes that he or she cannot get a settlement from you, and based on their evidence that you are the downloader of their client’s copyrighted movie, they file an amended complaint with the court with your name as a defendant, and they serve you with a copy of the complaint.  At this point, you have been “named and served,” and you are no longer anonymous.  At this point, you need to decide whether it makes more sense to stand and defend against the claims against you (consider the attorney fees issue), or to negotiate a settlement and amicably step away from the lawsuit.

NOTE: If you choose to fight, be aware of Prof. Matthew Sag’s paper entitled “Defense Against the Dark Arts of Copyright Trolling,” and the considerations surrounding using what are otherwise “valid” defenses to copyright infringement which likely DO apply to your case.

[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about your lawsuit and options on how to proceed, you can e-mail us at info[at]cashmanlawfirm.com, you can set up a free and confidential phone consultation to speak to us about your case, or you can call us at 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number].

ISP Subpoena Timeline & Anonymity Timeline