Category Archives: Cobbler Nevada LLC

HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. AND THEIR SORDID HISTORY

Doing a HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. COPYRIGHT TROLL WRITE-UP was not my initial purpose in searching PACER for documentation regarding last night’s Strike 3 Holdings LLC “turf war” article, but what I came across with Hunter Killer Productions Inc. is noteworthy because of my memories of this entity.

I have useful information on Hunter Killer Productions Inc. because I have background information [piecing my memories together] which provide a context for the new Hunter Killer Productions Inc. cases filed in the Northern District of Illinois by Michael Hierl and William Kalbac.

Looking up the most recent Strike 3 Holdings, LLC cases last night on PACER, I couldn’t help but to notice that another small set of lawsuits popped up on my radar.

There is now a new [apparent] “copyright troll” testing the waters named “Hunter Killer Productions Inc.” Hunter Killer Productions Inc. originally did not raise any flags for me — I remembered that they have a history in Hawaii with former-copyright-troll Kerry Culpepper, and I had nothing wrong with their activities… until now.

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THE HUNTER KILLER MOVIE

Hunter Killer Productions Inc. is the shell company that owns the rights to the “Hunter Killer” movie. “Hunter killer” is an action, thriller movie directed by Donovan Marsh, and stars Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman (among others).

I mention their name merely for movie recognition — not because the actors themselves ever benefit from the copyright troll lawsuits their production companies file to monetize the piracy of their movies.

hunter-killer-productions-inc, Hunter Killer Productions ISP subpoena lawsuit | Notice of Subpoena For Records

Hunter Killer Productions Inc. was known to me to merely “consort” with known copyright trolls (more on this below), but I did not identify them as copyright trolls themselves… until now.

Copyright trolls are production companies and lawyers who file lawsuits against internet users who are accused of downloading copyrighted movies; these companies and lawyers seek to use the federal courts and the copyright infringement statutory damages to “extort” thousands of dollars from each accused defendant (through their John Doe entity).

Apparently, Hunter Killer Productions Inc. is now testing the waters with copyright troll bittorrent-based lawsuits filed in the Illinois Northern District federal court.

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HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC HISTORY IN HAWAII

At first glance, when seeing the copyright infringement cases in Illinois, Hunter Killer Productions Inc. as the plaintiff did not raise any “red flags” except that 1) it is a production company, and 2) it filed multiple identical-looking lawsuits against a handful of John Doe Defendants in each case.

Delving deeper into the Hawaii case (and remembering that Kerry Culpepper was the plaintiff attorney who was filing all of the Hawaii copyright troll lawsuits in previous years), I was surprised by what I saw — the complaint was not only claiming copyright infringement, but also “…FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, CONTRIBUTORY COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, INDUCEMENT, FALSE ADVERTISING, UNFAIR COMPETITION, AND DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES.”

Thus, the Hawaii case (especially with what I remember Kerry Culpepper was doing) did not look like a copyright troll lawsuit to me.

KERRY CULPEPPER MOVED PAST COPYRIGHT TROLLING

I remember distinctly that Kerry Culpepper was getting into significantly more in-depth cases, namely going after the PROVIDERS of movies which are streamed online via the Show Box app (“Showbox”), which illegally provide pirated content to the web by advertising their app as a method of “watching free movies.”

I also remember not being so interested in the topic, as I had nothing wrong with Kerry Culpepper trying to stop Showbox or the flow of pirated movies.

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As long as Kerry was not going after the end users (the internet users who actually downloaded the content) seeking thousands of dollars in settlements for each lawsuit, I had nothing wrong with his lawsuit against Showbox.  As far as I recall, the providers of Showbox were Indian companies such as Galbatross Technologies who were somehow benefiting financially (if I recall, by significant ad revenue) by providing copyrighted content to internet users in the US.

You could read the Adobe PDF link to Kerry Culpepper’s complaint against Showbox here.

Ernesto from Torrentfreak.com also wrote up the topic on the lawsuit here:

Showbox Sites Settle With Movie Companies, Warn Users of Lawsuits

I could be mistaken, but I also vaguely recall that Showbox sold set top boxes here in the US, and those set top boxes streamed copyrighted content to US customers which were acquired by using BitTorrent software on the back end. I remember this because a handful of past clients of mine got sued by Gary Fischman in Texas for using Showbox, but the lawsuits were for BitTorrent use.

HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS IS AN EXTENSION OF THE SHOWBOX LAWSUITS

I must admit that I was a bit surprised when I saw the in-depth lawsuit filed by Hunter Killer Productions Inc. against the few named defendants. What jogged my memory about the Showbox cases were the “group effort” of copyright troll plaintiffs who were involved as plaintiffs in the effort. Those companies include:

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The similarity of plaintiffs in this Kerry Culpepper’s Hawaii-based Hunter Killer Productions Inc. case reminded me of Culpepper’s former Showbox lawsuit and its list of plaintiffs. They included companies such as:

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REMEMBERING THE “COMMON THREAD” CONTROVERSY

NOTE: I want to point out the big “common thread” controversy from years ago when I claimed that all of the movie lawsuits were working behind the scenes together as a master settlement extortion scheme. So many people (and attorneys) told me that I was “full of it” when I noticed a common string between each of the lawsuits filed by each of these copyright troll production companies (via their “shell” companies).

Each of these companies COINCIDENTALLY hired the IDENTICAL SET OF ATTORNEYS in every state in which bittorrent based copyright infringement lawsuits were filed. This made no sense to me — either these attorneys were each masterful in acquiring the identical copyright troll clients, or there was a “kingpin” behind the scenes of each of these seemingly separate companies who were directing each of the hundreds of lawsuits filed across the US (please read my article yesterday on Strike 3 Holdings LLC and the need for a kingpin to manage and centralize multiple lawsuits filed by local attorneys in each state’s federal court).

In sum, Culpepper took every copyright troll and sued the source of the piracy — something I had nothing wrong with, as my goal in defending copyright infringement lawsuits is not to encourage piracy, but to prevent the harassment of defendants accused of copyright infringement (and the extortion that inevitably comes with these copyright infringement lawsuits).

The Defendants in the Hawaii-based Hunter Killer Productions Inc. lawsuit didn’t interest me much either. To me, it seemed like Kerry Culpepper again trying to go after the source of the copyright infringement (foreign defendants) rather than the end users.

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THE NEW HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. COPYRIGHT TROLL LAWSUITS

TWO DAYS AGO, Hunter Killer Productions Inc. jumped into the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and started suing John Doe Defendants in Illinois. Seeing the attorneys Michael Hierl and William Benjamin Kalbac (who I know as “Bill Kalbac”), this changed the story.

Now Hunter Killer Productions Inc. is suing John Doe defendants (all Comcast subscribers) for the download of the “Hunter Killer” movie, or more specifically, for the “Hunter.Killer.2018.KORSUB.HDRip.x264-STUTTERSHIT” movie which was shared on bittorrent networks in December 2018.Hunter Killer Productions Inc John Doe Lawsuits

In other words, Hunter Killer Productions Inc. is now suing defendants using the classic copyright troll model (and the same attorneys).

Pasted below are the small set of Hunter Killer Productions Inc. cases I’ve seen thus far.  As far as I can tell, they are only “dipping their toes” into the Illinois federal court to test the copyright trolling model, but with Michael Hierl and Bill Kalbac as plaintiff attorneys (in 2012, I called Michael Heirl a “baby copyright troll,” but now we are SIX YEARS LATER), their chances of successfully soliciting settlements from accused users is high.

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Case filed in the Hawaii District Court
Hunter Killer Productions Inc et al. v. Qazi Muhammad Zarlish et al. (1:19-cv-00168)

Cases Filed in the Illinois Northern District Court
HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. v. DOES 1-21 (1:19-cv-02926)
HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. v. DOES 1-23 (1:19-cv-02922)
HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. v. DOES 1-23 (1:19-cv-02924)
HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. v. DOES 1-17 (1:19-cv-02927)
Hunter Killer Productions Inc. v. DOES 1-21 (1:19-cv-02920)

SUMMARY

In sum, Hunter Killer Productions Inc. is a known entity with a history of taking legal steps to enforce its copyright rights.  Now they have “dipped their toes” into what I consider to be illegitimate copyright enforcement activities, namely, copyright trolling and soliciting multiple-thousand dollar settlements from each defendant.


[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about the Hunter Killer Productions Inc. cases and options on how to proceed (even specifically for your case), 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 Hunter Killer Productions Inc. case, or you can call us at 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number].

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Why the US Court of Appeals’ ruling that “an IP address is not enough to identify a defendant” will not deter the copyright trolls.

Unless this case will stop forcing the ISPs to reveal account holders’ identities, this ruling is useless.

Everybody is cheering about the news in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (this is a higher court) “Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Thomas Gonzales,” a lawsuit filed against Gonzalez (originally a Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Doe-24.21.136.125 (Case No. 3:15-cv-00866) case filed in the Oregon District Court) for the download of the Adam Sandler movie, “The Cobbler.”  In this appeal, the Court of Appeals just ruled that an IP address is not enough to identify the subscriber as being the downloader.

However, my opinion is that unless federal judges will apply this ruling to prevent a copyright holder from forcing the ISP to release the identity of the account holder (which I believe they will NOT), this ruling will be useless.

Cobbler Nevada Appeals Case still does not solve the ISP subpoena issue.
3dman_eu / Pixabay

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Judges rubber-stamp copyright infringement lawsuits.

For YEARS, I saw literally hundreds of cases fly past the judges who rubber stamped expedited discovery motions forcing the Internet Service Providers (ISPs, e.g., AT&T, Comcast, Verizon) to hand over the names and addresses of the subscriber — why?  Because the assumption was that the account holder was most likely the downloader.

Cobbler Nevada, LLC was only one of MANY copyright holders employing this tactic — sue a “John Doe” downloader having an accused IP address, convince the judge to allow the plaintiff attorney to send a subpoena to the ISP to unmask the identity of the account holder.

Copyright troll attorneys do not state in the complaint that the ACCOUNT HOLDER is the DOWNLOADER.

I remember rummaging through one case after another asking, “Did ANY copyright holder PLEAD that the subscriber was the infringer?”  The fact that the answer was NO made my face contort into a Picasso-styled painting.

Copyright holders like Cobbler Nevada, LLC filed copyright infringement lawsuits which spoke all about the ‘theft’ that occurred when someone connected to a bittorrent network and downloaded a pirated copy of their movie.  They spoke about the harm, and how terrible piracy was for their business.  However, they never wrote that the account holder (the subscriber) was the downloader.  So kudos to the judge for finally making this part of the permanent case law which we will certainly use when defending a client accused of copyright infringement… But wait.

WILL this ruling stop judges from approving expedited discovery?  Will this ruling stop judges from issuing that MOST DESTRUCTIVE ORDER which permits the copyright troll to send a subpoena to force the ISP to hand out the name and address of the account holder?  I suggest the answer is NO.

Expedited Discovery and ISP subpoenas allow a shakedown scheme to occur.
Perlinator / Pixabay

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Cobbler Nevada ruling misses the fact that by the time we file a motion to dismiss, it is already TOO LATE.

Looking at Cobbler Nevada‘s pleadings for a moment, failing to identify the account holder as being the infringer (the “pirate” / bittorrent downloader) suggests that a defense attorney such as myself could file a motion to dismiss the complaint for failing to state a claim.

Our argument based on this ruling is that the plaintiff attorney never said in his pleading that the account holder is the one who downloaded the copyrighted film.

By that time, however, the ISP already handed over the name and address of my client, and the plaintiff attorney has already amended the complaint against my client forever memorializing the fact that my client was accused of copyright infringement.

The damage has already been done.

[Further, realistically, if my client downloaded the copyrighted video, we would never have gotten the chance to plead that the plaintiff attorney did not properly state anywhere in the complaint that my client was the downloader.  Why?  Because by the time the ISP handed over my client’s information to a copyright troll like Cobbler Nevada, my client hired me, told me that he did the download, and we settled the claims against him (before his name was forever memorialized on the court’s docket as being the accused defendant).]

Innocent account holders are victims in copyright infringement lawsuits.

But what happens if my client did NOT do the download?  The ISP would have handed over my client’s information to Cobbler Nevada LLC’s plaintiff attorney, I would have sent over a letter of representation to the plaintiff attorney informing him that my client did not do the download and thus we are not settling (I refer to this as the “ignore” route representation, [not because we are ignoring anything, but because we are not paying a settlement if my client did not do the download, and thus there is nothing to do except to explain to the plaintiff attorney that my client — the account holder — was not the downloader]).

The plaintiff attorney will still try to shake down my client and solicit a settlement, regardless of whether he did the download or not.

With some copyright holders (e.g., Malibu Media, LLC and Strike 3 Holdings, LLC), the plaintiff attorney is not even the attorney of the copyright holder (the “copyright troll”), but rather, a local counsel hired to file the documents in a particular federal court.  The local counsel for these specific copyright holders might not even have autonomy to release an innocent account holder without a settlement.  Regardless of guilt, the local counsel might even be under instructions to “name and serve an account holder who is not settling, regardless of whether or not they did the download.”

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The plaintiff attorney will NAME AND SERVE the innocent account holder (starting the pattern of abuse).

The plaintiff attorney’s logic for naming and serving the subscriber, even if the subscriber is not the downloader is twofold. 

Firstly, once the plaintiff attorney names and serves the account holder, 1) they hope the account holder will hire a settlement factory attorney (a defense attorney who pre-arranges inflated settlement prices with copyright trolls to settle all cases at a premium (so-called “anonymous” settlements) and pay to settle the claims against him, regardless of whether the account holder did the download or not

Thus, the plaintiff attorney will “score” a multi-thousand-dollar settlement from an innocent account holder defendant (sometimes $2,500, sometimes $10,000+). 

An innocent account holder is a victim of the legal system even if he is dismissed.

However, even if the innocent account holder defendant hires an attorney such as myself (or someone like me) and we do NOT settle the claims against my client [because my client — the account holder — did NOT do the download], that plaintiff attorney still reasons that the case will never go to trial.  They figure that they could drag the innocent defendant through the legal system, force him to hire an attorney, force the attorney to file an answer in the case denying the claims, showing up to one or more case management hearings, and force the defense attorney and his innocent client to cooperate while he abuses the legal system (forcing them to submit to searches and temporary seizures of their computers and electronic devices, and forcing the defendant to answer questions under oath.  IF THEN (after discovery) the plaintiff attorney determines that the account holder is not the downloader, he can dismiss the lawsuit against the defendant.

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Even a dismissal leaves an the account holder violated.

Receiving such a dismissal might sound good as you read this, but remember, the account holder was not the downloader.  His information was shared with a set of attorneys who are doing nothing other than drooling for a settlement

There is an involuntary set of threats thrown against the defendant that he must settle or his name will be exposed to the world as being an accused downloader (guilty or not).  That innocent account holder then has to decide whether to settle the claims against him (pay even though he did not do the download) or defend the claims against him in litigation. 

He then has to pay a defense attorney to represent him. 

Then he has to endure the legal process (which is all new to him, even though the plaintiff attorney has done this hundreds of times to other innocent account holders). 

Then he has to show up at the plaintiff attorney’s office, enter a room with a court reporter, and be put under oath (risking being found guilty of perjury if he makes a misstatement).  The innocent account holder’s testimony is then FORCED FROM HIM (he cannot “plead the fifth amendment” not to testify, because this is a CIVIL case, and the fifth amendment applies only in CRIMINAL cases). 

His computer and cell phones are then searched by someone who is looking to find something “illegal” on his computer. 

Then even after a deposition where the innocent account holder answers truthfully, the plaintiff attorney STILL threatens him that if he does not settle, he will still need to defend himself all the way to trial. 

Then the plaintiff attorney dismisses the innocent account holder (“without prejudice,” meaning that he can be subject to this lawsuit AGAIN).  Yet, with the dismissal, the identity of the innocent account holder is forever linked with the lawsuit, which is forever searchable on Google when a prospective employer (or even his children or grandchildren) search for his name.  

I don’t know about you, but I would still feel violated even if I was found “not guilty” or if I was dismissed by the plaintiff attorney after a deposition.

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The innocent account holder paid his defense attorney $17,222!

Putting all of this emotion trauma aside, in the Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Thomas Gonzales case, the innocent account holder (Gonzales) PAID HIS ATTORNEY LEGAL FEES OF $17,222 (whereas Cobbler Nevada, LLC likely asked for a settlement of $4,500, and an attorney could have settled the claims against him at the time for $1,750-$2,000).  Gonzales chose to “fight,” and as a result, he paid his attorney $17,000+ …and he was INNOCENT all along.

Cobbler Nevada solution - deny expedited discovery.
qimono / Pixabay

The only solution is to prevent copyright holders from obtaining the account holder’s identity.

So the only way to truly apply this US Court of Appeals ruling is to have judges begin to DENY EXPEDITED DISCOVERY unless the plaintiff attorney explicitly states in the complaint that the account holder is the infringer.  However, in truth, a plaintiff attorney can state this, and plead (in the alternative) that he is not the infringer, or he could lie in his pleadings.  There is no practical consequence in law for falsely accusing a defendant of a civil claim and then later dismissing the claim when he realizes that the innocent account holder did not do the “crime” for which he was accused.  Thus, the only way to properly use this ruling is to DENY EXPEDITED DISCOVERIES. DO NOT LET THE PLAINTIFF ATTORNEYS SEND SUBPOENAS TO THE ISPs TO FORCE THEM TO HAND OVER THE IDENTITY OF THE ACCOUNT HOLDER.  Because once this happens, even if that account holder could later hire an attorney to file a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim, the whole “settlement extortion scheme” has already taken place and that innocent account holder’s name is already memorialized on the docket as being the accused defendant (guilty or not).

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