TorrentLawyer Update – July 17, 2020

Bryan N DeMatteo New York Bittorrent Cases NY

With COVID-19 on the minds of the citizenry, along with social distancing, masks, and a dizzying set of events relating to social unrest, the court cases relating to copyright infringement have (for the most part) been on pause.

TWO MORE TROLLS IN THE DUSTBIN OF HISTORY

To my biggest surprise, two huge copyright trolls [for the moment] appear to be out of business — Malibu Media, LLC, and Rightscorp. Malibu Media, LLC had their hands full with an appellate case for some time, and the owners keep suing their own attorneys (and vice versa). There is so much more to say here, but it has literally been MONTHS since I have even thought about them. Relevant to you, ABSOLUTELY NO NEW MALIBU MEDIA, LLC LAWSUITS HAVE BEEN FILED IN MONTHS.

Same deal with Rightscorp. Rightscorp seemed to be in such a powerful position, especially after the BMG v. COX Communications lawsuit. However, I hear that the owner of Rightscorp has moved on to other matters, and all of the people I used to speak to there appear to no longer be working there.

On top of that, their website is broken and people who actually want to pay the DMCA notification $20 fee requests sent to them are unable to. Plus, there is nobody answering their phones (“the voice mailbox is full”), other phone numbers are disconnected, and nobody responding to e-mails. In other words, “the lights are on [meaning, they are still sending DMCA notifications… or maybe its a robot running on automatic], but nobody is home.”

STRIKE 3 HOLDINGS IN THE MIAMI-DADE STATE COURT

Strike 3 Holdings, LLC was the copyright holder making the most noise over the past few months. First, in late 2019, Strike 3 Holdings filed a slew of “so-called lawsuits” (really, no lawsuit, just a request for a state court to unmask the identities of thousands of accused infringers) in the Miami-Dade, Florida court.

The immediate confusion was what to do with these ISP subpoena notification letters which went out to hundreds of account holders across the United States [read: not a Florida resident] threatening to disclose their identities to Strike 3 Holdings based on the Florida Bill of Discovery law. But by definition of Strike 3 Holdings’ claims being copyright claims, the Miami-Dade, state-based Florida state court cannot try copyright infringement cases. Plus again, Strike 3 Holdings sued non-Florida residents in a Florida state court (where the court does not have personal jurisdiction over them. Rather, you sue a defendant where the defendant lives, not in some obscure county which enforces state rules which do not apply to that out-of-state defendant.)

The third confusion was the contradiction between what Strike 3 Holdings told the judges when asking the state court to disclose the identities of the alleged downloaders versus what they actually did with that information. Strike 3 Holdings, LLC attorneys told judges they were seeking the contact information to determine who is the alleged infringer (who downloaded their adult films using bittorrent without permission) so that they could decide whether to sue them in their home state’s federal court or not. But then when they received the contact information of the ISP account holders, they turned around and solicited multi-thousand dollar settlements from each account holder.

SETTLEMENT OUT-OF-STATE ATTORNEYS IN THE MIAMI-DADE STATE COURT

To make things worse, filings such as a motion to quash in a STATE COURT should be filed by an attorney LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN THAT STATE. The typical settlement-based out-of-state attorneys have been sticking their sticky fingers into the state court rather than referring the matter to a Florida licensed attorney.

We at the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC noticed that these out-of-state attorneys are trying (even today) to profiteer off of the Florida state-based cases by offering to file motions to quash in the Florida courts, even though they are not licensed to practice law in Florida. Some of these same attorneys enlist local attorneys who file motions to quash (likely splitting the ill-gotten fees with the local Florida attorneys) with full knowledge that the result of filing an objection with the court (or a motion to quash) is that Strike 3 Holdings LLC immediately threatens to sue that defendant [trying to hide his identity] in his home state’s federal court. Many of the current Strike 3 Holdings, LLC lawsuits filed in the past few months are the result of a failed motion to quash filed by an out-of-state attorney (or their local counsel) in the Miami-Dade, Florida court. [I just wrote that article today, so go ahead and read it to see if you live in a state where they are suing defendants.]

The problem [with these attorneys practicing law in a state where they are not licensed] is that law degrees are not a national US-based certifications, but rather, each state licenses its own attorneys who are knowledgeable about their state’s laws and procedures. In federal courts (e.g., the US District Court of the District of the Northern District of California, and other federal courts), there is no issue with an out-of-state attorney representing a client [and our law firm does this all the time] because all federal courts run according to the same Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (and the court’s local rules). But state courts are different.

In my opinion, it is possible for an out-of-state attorney to represent a client in a foreign STATE-based lawsuit (e.g., the Florida county court), but really, to file a motion to quash in the Miami-Dade court [which is what we are speaking about here], you really need a Florida licensed attorney to do so. Anything else is less than adequate.

I have spoken to many potential clients who have been implicated as “defendants” in the Miami-Dade Strike 3 Holdings, LLC cases, and every time one of them wants to file a motion to quash anyway (even though I have written so many articles explaining why this is a bad idea), I have forward them to certain Florida-licensed attorneys who I know to be knowledgeable and competent about this area (especially since they dealt with this same issue when Malibu Media, LLC sued defendants in the same Miami-Dade Florida state court [and Maricopa County state court] years ago).

The funny thing is that these same Florida attorneys who dealt with the same Florida “Bill of Discovery” cases when Malibu Media LLC are telling those I send to them that a motion to quash is not an effective strategy. This is the advice which is coming from a Florida-licensed attorney, yet, the settlement factory and settlement-based law firms from other states are pushing for accused defendants to hire *them* to file motions to quash in the Florida courts [even though they are not licensed to practice law in that state]. Amazing.

MY OPINION ABOUT MOTIONS TO QUASH

All I have to say about that topic is to read the article about “Why filing a motion to quash in a Strike 3 Holdings LLC Miami-Dade Florida case might not be the correct approach.” In this article, I discuss what the out-of-state attorneys are doing, and I discuss what a number of Florida-based attorneys are doing as well (there are “settlement factories” in Florida as well masking their settlement-based practices by selling “motion to quash” services for their clients).

Otherwise, things at our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC law firm are going smoothly. I am watching the MG Premium Ltd. copyright holder (who has recently filed the MG Premium Ltd v. Does 1-20 (Case No. 3:20-cv-05134) case), and I am watching the activities of other copyright holders who have been actively monitoring all of the millions of US residents who have been sitting in quarantine and using bittorrent to view their copyrighted videos. So far, everything seems quiet, and quiet is good.


[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about anything I have written here, 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 matter, or you can SMS/Whatsapp 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.

One of your own Illinois bittorrent attorneys could be “drinking your milkshake.”

hb-productions-fallen-productions-lawsuits

This article was originally meant to analyze the Fallen Productions, Inc. cases, but to get to these cases, I first did an analysis of the HB Productions, Inc. cases because the same attorneys (Michael Hierl & William Kalbac from “HSPRD”) are representing both movie company copyright holders… and you know my opinion that there is a connection between each of the movie companies who are suing for copyright infringement.

However, in viewing the HB Productions, Inc. cases, I saw something that — while it COULD be nothing at all — stank. As a father and a oil-and-gas Texan, this “stink” is something I am well aware of, and I am writing this article because Illinois attorneys, you could be having one of your own who is “drinking your milkshake. (Movie Reference: There Will Be Blood.)

When something stinks, we look below the surface and do some real legwork.

When a copyright infringement lawsuit looks “too orderly,” something is often missing from the picture. Here, we have a movie copyright troll who files a pile of lawsuits in one federal court, the judge orderly and cooperatively grants the plaintiff attorney (here, Michael Heirl (“HSPRD”)) permission to send ISP subpoena notification letters to Comcast account holders, and everything moves towards settlement — always with the same Chicago defense attorney listed on the docket — without a peep, without a fight, without a whimper. This is too orderly.

As I have said many times before, there could be nothing wrong here. Just as the plaintiff attorney could be a marketing genius so that coincidentally, all of the movie companies choose that attorney to file the lawsuits against the defendants… so too the settlement attorney.

I also can only see what is written in the dockets themselves — the filings, the PDF files, the documents, and the attachments. I cannot see the correspondences between the settlement attorney and the plaintiff attorney. For all we know, the settlement attorney could also be such a marketing genius that the other Illinois attorney did not catch on that this attorney was representing so many settling defendants and not one defendant that actually fought back.

Am I my brother’s keeper?

Am I my brother’s keeper when that brother (or sister) is in a different state, licensed under a different bar association having different rules? Let’s talk specifics. It appears to me that nobody noticed the neatly packaged HB Productions, Inc. (“Hellboy” movie) Illinois cases which were filed from 10/2019 – 11/2019, where pretty much every case contained the identically timed settlements by the same “defense” attorney. Wouldn’t it be even more suspicious that that same defense attorney never actually fought the Michael Heirl or his HSPRD law firm, even though they filed these same HB Productions, Inc. lawsuits against hundreds of defendants?

Did Michael Heirl achieve a 100% success rate by having every defendant accused of downloading movies respond with “You’re right, let me pay you.” Did NOT ONE client of this settlement attorney say, “I did not do it, it was not me!” Or did that settlement attorney whisper in the ear of each defendant client that “it is cheaper to settle than to fight?”

“Look under your nose.”

This is the part that bugs me. Chicago is a place where the “bittorrent defense” world has some very aggressive attorneys [no names] who fight tooth-and-nail to grab every single possible defendant who gets enmeshed in a bittorrent-based copyright infringement lawsuit in the Illinois Northern District Court. These attorneys really work hard to answer every phone call, hire staff to take free consultations to lure every defendant to be their client, and to boot, they have a pretty good looking website.

Yet, here is one case where the same attorney — under their nose — appears to have taken every case, every settlement, despite the fact that the larger law firm has significantly more money and time invested in advertising for Illinois’ share of the “ISP Subpoena Notification” copyright infringement cases.

Illinois attorneys, were you not interested in fighting your own state’s cases?

I would consider using the word “settlement factory,” to this individual who has beaten the more aggressive law firm without it knowing about this person (a settlement factory is an attorney who pretends to litigate cases, only to lure in accused defendants and convince them in a “bait and switch” way to settle the claims against them — even if they did not do the downloads or view the copyrighted videos they are claimed to have downloaded or viewed). However, I know that both attorneys read my website (I see the logs) and so at least one of them will become quite inflamed by this article.

The question becomes — which of them will become inflamed? The one who’s quiet operation was just interrupted? Or the one who just realized someone is taking away their clients?

I always think four or five times before posting an article like this, but since I can document exactly what I am referring to with EVERY CASE DOCKET in Illinois for the HB Productions, Inc. 2019 cases, let’s see where this goes. Which one of you will become inflamed by this article?

Scenario #1) (Think, “David.”) Could it be the one who has been quietly settling cases under the nose of the other, now angry at me for exposing what could be “cottage industry” cooperation between the plaintiff attorney and that defense attorney?

(For example, “I’ll sue defendants, refer them to you, and you convince them to settle the claims against them. I make the profits, and you charge the clients your legal fees.)

Scenario #2) (Think, “Goliath”) Could it be the one who just realized that [after thousands of dollars put into a professional website, having staff who no doubt cost a lot to answer and capture every phone call, who wrote countless blog articles on the most recent set of lawsuits “15 people sued today by so-and-so copyright troll” every other day, and spending who-knows-how-many-dollars on Google Adwords search engine advertising campaigns], he was beat by someone who does absolutely none of this.

Price wars appear to be happening too (based on what I am told each of you is charging clients vs. what each of you have reportedly charged over the years).

Either way, I am merely poking fun at competition that I sometimes see going on behind the scenes between attorneys who are competing for the same Illinois clients. Funny enough, based on the prices [I am told] each one of you is charging, the fight does not seem to be only related to who gets the client, but rather, who gets the client by lowering your price below the other to be the cheaper alternative? It is even funnier when other attorneys (e.g., “yes, you from California“) jump in and try to undercut Illinois “Goliath” to get the client by offering a flat-rate slightly less than the Illinois attorney charges.

How I even know about this topic.

I will obviously keep some of these things to myself, but I do speak to individuals who call me to ask about other attorneys, and very often, because my client list might be full or because I feel that another attorney would better serve that individual, I will refer them to another attorney (obviously never asking for referral fees or anything other than a “thank you” from that attorney).

Competition and “Survival of the Fittest.”

Point being, some “bittorrent defense” and “ISP subpoena notification” attorneys (you both love your SEO keywords) are fighting with each other on the price, and I will always encourage some healthy competition. When one attorney gets all the business — it doesn’t matter whether it is “David,” “Goliath,” or whoever — one person who “takes all” causes the other one to eventually go out of business.

Yes, Darwinian “survival of the fittest,” you might think, but NO. An individual accused of copyright infringement and sued for $150,000 for the unlawful download or streaming of some second-rate movie that is probably on the $5 clearance shelves of Wal*Mart deserves to have CHOICE between multiple attorneys who can help him (or her) resolve the claims against him (ugh, or her).

Thus, I am telling “Goliath” with this article to pay better attention to your home turf. Because, as the Texans meme goes, “Someone is drinking your milkshake.”

hb-productions-fallen-productions-lawsuits
“I drink your milkshake.” (from, There Will Be Blood.)


[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: Many of my articles on Torrentlawyer are meant to be educational for the accused downloader. No doubt, this one had a different audience in mind. If you would like to speak to me about your particular lawsuit, or if you have questions on anything else I have written here, you can e-mail me at [email protected], you can set up a free and confidential phone consultation to speak to us about your circumstances, 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.