Category Archives: Cobbler Nevada LLC

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

Have you read enough? Contact me with your questions. > > >

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

Have you read enough? Contact me with your questions. > > >

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.”

Have you read enough? Contact me with your questions. > > >

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.

Have you read enough? Contact me with your questions. > > >

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.

Have you read enough? Contact me with your questions. > > >

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).

[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about what you have read and how it applies to your particular lawsuit, 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 send a Text/SMS to 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number)].

Why Being Served in a Bittorrent Case Can Lead To Settlement

DISCLAIMER: In this article I speak a lot about plaintiff attorneys cheating their own copyright holder clients, billing them “by the hour” (rather than the conventional method of accepting the copyright holder clients “on contingency”), and in some cases, wasting time to generate additional billing to their own clients.  It is my observation and opinion that this is happening, but short of a lawsuit like we saw with the Dallas Buyers Club copyright holders against their Voltage Pictures licensee, it is difficult to prove that such things are taking place.  However, “honor or dishonor among thieves” is not the topic or the point of the article — the point of the article is that plaintiffs are dragging defendants further into the federal lawsuits by naming and serving them, and it is my opinion that it is still possible to obtain a settlement, even after a client has admitted guilt in an answer to a deposition question.

It is a sad day when trolls force those they’ve accused to become legal experts and to stick their toes into the federal courts to defend themselves. In the attached article, DTD is correct that lawyers (myself included) can get expensive, and defending a case (e.g., answering a complaint, showing up and defending a deposition, answering the various requests for information that are required in a federal lawsuit, etc.) is often more expensive than simply paying a copyright troll plaintiff a few bucks to make them go away.

Unfortunately (at least in my Texas Southern District federal court), the copyright-troll attorneys appear to be billing their copyright-holder clients BY THE HOUR (which differs from the old model of a plaintiff attorney agreeing to take a case on contingency and only sharing in the settlement profits believing [the lie] that “they’ll make millions going after John Doe Defendants”), so these ‘hardened’ plaintiff attorneys seem to be running-up the bill by dragging the defendants through the mud — naming them, serving them, filing documents, and wasting everyone’s time.

In short, while I agree that IN NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES doing what DTD suggested (filing an answer with the court and fighting your case) would normally not be something one would ever dare do [at least without a lawyer holding his/her hand, or sitting in and defending a deposition], in today’s evolution of the bittorrent cases, filing an answer and at least being willing to endure the legal process until a settlement is offered (and a settlement is usually offered eventually) has become a necessity.

WHY BEING FORCED TO ANSWER QUESTIONS IN A DEPOSITION MIGHT LEAD TO A SETTLEMENT:

Let’s take a quick example.  In the typical scenario, the goal in representing a client who wants to settle is to contact the plaintiff attorney on the client’s behalf and negotiate a settlement.  For a plaintiff attorney who is billing his copyright troll client by the hour (as is what appears to be happening in the Texas bittorrent-based copyright infringement cases), agreeing to a settlement is too easy of an outcome because the plaintiff attorney does not make the kind of money he could make “dragging the defendant through the mud while charging his client hourly to do so.”  (Remember, as we saw with the Voltage / Dallas Buyers Club cases, a crooked attorney steals not only from his victim [the accused defendant], but also from his client (as we saw in the Voltage / Dallas Buyers Club cases where Voltage was sued for failing to pay Dallas Buyers Club monies earned and owed to it through its copyright enforcement activities)).

More likely than not, the plaintiff attorney’s client (the actual copyright holder seeking to “monetize” or “enforce” the rights given to him via his copyright) is not aware that the attorney is over-billing (e.g., engaging in such “mud-dragging”, “revenue-producing” activities often cannot be proven, and thus it continues until the copyright holder gets tired of paying his attorney’s bill).  Thus, free of scrutiny from his client, the plaintiff attorney needlessly exacerbates the situation by demanding from the defendant something unreasonable (e.g., that unless the defendant is willing to agree to sign an explicit admission of guilt prior to being made aware of the kind or amount of settlement he will be offered, there will be no settlement).  [FYI, this is something no sane person would agree to.]  As a result, the defendant refuses to admit guilt, he gets named and served, and he is forced to spend thousands of dollars more to defend himself.  Why?  Because his plaintiff attorney figured out a way to milk not only him (the defendant), but his copyright-holder client as well.

There are a number of steps that happen after being named and served, but the point is that eventually, the plaintiff attorney is going to schedule a deposition (where the defendant will need to answer questions “under oath,”) and the defendant is going to tell the truth about what happened.  If the download indeed happened, this will come out in the deposition.

However, this “nightmare” fear that the defendant will “admit guilt” will only cause one result — the plaintiff will have proof that at trial, based on the information elicited from the defendant in the deposition, that defendant could be held liable for the $150,000 in statutory damages.  But then… how many of these defendants have $150K sitting around in their mattresses or in their bank accounts?  And if they do, don’t you think that instead of paying the judgment, they would rather hire a bankruptcy lawyer and file for a bankruptcy to discharge the copyright infringement judgment in bankruptcy?

In short, the worst-case-scenario in a deposition is that the defendant admits guilt, which is often what will likely happen if the defendant is the downloader of the copyrighted film.  But then after all this excitement, the plaintiff attorney and the copyright holder still want to get paid (and they know they are likely not going to collect anything by obtaining a $150K judgment against the defendant).  This is why the plaintiff attorney will likely initiate settlement talks with the defendant, taking his financial circumstances into consideration.

This is not to say that settling a case right away (and before being named and served) is no longer an option — there are multiple copyright holders filing in the Texas and New York courts, including Criminal Productions Inc., September Productions Inc., CELL Film Holdings LLC, the infamous Malibu Media LLC, Fathers & Daughters Nevada LLC, Dallas Buyers Club LLC, and the related non-bittorrent copyright holders which include DISH Network L.L.C. (not so much anymore) and Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. (a software company), each of whom have their priorities and specific instructions on how they would like their plaintiff attorneys to handle the lawsuits on their behalf.

But, what I do want you to glean from this commentary (really, it’s an article, but I did re-blog DTD’s article and I need to stick to that topic), is that plaintiff attorneys ARE naming and serving defendants, and it should be expected that this could happen — and if a defendant is named and served, they could still negotiate a settlement.  But be aware that in order to get to that point, the plaintiff attorney (who might be motivated by maximizing his billing to his own client [think, stealing from you AND stealing from his own client]) might drag you through a deposition and a number of steps before he accepts a settlement from you.

LAST NOTE: BILLING IN “BLOCKS.”

I agree that lawyers are expensive simply because we charge for the time it takes to complete each step of the legal process. However, many attorneys (myself included) already know how much time each step will take, so “flat fee” billing is an option (understanding that billing would happen based on timelines of where you are in the lawsuit).

Thus, it might make sense to hire an attorney who charges you a flat fee for a certain “block” or piece of the lawsuit (e.g.,

BLOCK 1: FROM GETTING NOTICE OF THE LAWSUIT THROUGH BEING NAMED AND SERVED [WITH THE INTENT OF NEGOTIATING A SETTLEMENT PRIOR TO BEING NAMED AND SERVED].

BLOCK 2: FROM BEING NAMED AND SERVED (E.G., FILING AN ANSWER WITH THE COURT, PROVIDING ANY NEEDED DISCLOSURES, FILING ANY PROTECTIVE ORDERS, SETTING DISCOVERY TIMELINES).

BLOCK 3: FILING INTERROGATORIES AND REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION, AND ANSWERING INTERROGATORIES AND/OR REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION.

BLOCK 4: PREPARING FOR AND DEFENDING A DEPOSITION.

BLOCK 5: SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY.  Or, BLOCK 5A: FILING A SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION TO RELEASE DEFENDANT FROM LIABILITY,

…AND SO ON, BLOCK 6: …TRIAL (my opinion, unlikely, unless the copyright holder figured out a way to prevent the deep-pocket defendant from filing for bankruptcy).

I have laid these out as a template, as each case and each copyright holder often needs to be handled differently.  Typically, clients were able to negotiate a settlement and be released from liability with just BLOCK 1.  However, as we discussed above, we are seeing more-and-more that plaintiff attorneys are taking defendants deeper into the lawsuits (“deeper down the rabbit hole, so to speak”), specifically past the “naming and serving” stage, past the answer stage, and into the discovery stages before considering or accepting settlements.  I am not one to advocate doing this on your own, and if you could afford an attorney (me, or anyone else), that is the safest way to go.  But if hiring me or another attorney is not an option, fighting this on your own (called, “pro se”) is the best alternative, and DTD’s article gives you a good first and necessary step in getting the ball rolling.

As I said before, good article, DTD!

Caveat – I’m not an attorney and I’m not practicing law. This is simply my thoughts and views based on what I see concerning BitTorrent (BT) Copyright Infringement Trolls. If you decide you need legal advice, please hire a knowledgeable attorney. IF you truly cannot afford an attorney, here at least is one possible option. […]

via Answering A BT Copyright Troll Summons/Complaint — DieTrollDie


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.

Dallas Buyers Club sues Voltage for not sharing proceeds.

It is 12:30am and I really do not have time to go into this, but I just learned that Dallas Buyers Club, LLC is suing Voltage Pictures, LLC in Montgomery County, TX for, among other things, not paying fees to Dallas Buyers Club for the licensing fees owed to them.

[Hat tip to SJD @ FightCopyrightTrolls for breaking the story.  Her link to the lawsuit can be found here.]

It appears from the TX case filing (Cause No. 15-06-06049) that Voltage Pictures, LLC approached Dallas Buyers Club, LLC and offered to pay for the license to act as Dallas Buyer’s Club’s agent so that they can sell the film abroad and… so that they can file lawsuits against John Doe Defendants across the US. Part of this agreement appears to be that Voltage Pictures was permitted to use Dallas Buyer’s Club’s name.

082516 Voltage-DBC Power of attorney

…and skipping down a bit:

082516 Voltage-DBC Exclusive Agent

Well, now we learn that Nicholas Chartier and Voltage Pictures are being sued because after making all of the sales and suing all of the John Doe defendants for copyright infringement, Voltage Pictures is accused of cheating Dallas Buyers Club out of their earned licensing fees.

I feel as if I just fell down a rabbit hole…

Thus, whenever we saw a Dallas Buyers Club, LLC lawsuit, and whenever we represented a client against Dallas Buyers Club, LLC, we were really representing them against… VOLTAGE PICTURES, LLC?!?

This brings me to the Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC cases.  Did Voltage Pictures, LLC make the same licensing deal with the Fathers & Daughters movie producers, and are they also not paying them the money that is due to them?  When we see a Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC case, are we really representing clients against the makers of the Fathers and Daughters movie? Or are we representing clients against VOLTAGE PICTURES, LLC who is parading as Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC and claiming that they are Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC, when really they are not?!?

This also makes me ask who the attorneys for the Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC are really representing? Are Josh Wyde and Gary Fischman suing on behalf of Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC? Or are they suing on behalf of Voltage Pictures, LLC pretending to be Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC?  I know Josh is watching this blog, so please feel free to comment.

Who is their client? Voltage or Fathers & Daughters Nevada?

Last question, and then I’m going to sleep. Will Voltage Pictures, LLC soon be sued by the real Fathers & Daughters copyright holders for failure to pay the licensing fees, proceeds, and sales from the monetization of the Fathers & Daughters movie copyright? Have the same facts that are coming out with the Dallas Buyers Club, LLC lawsuit also transpired with the Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC copyright holder?

One more thought — a while back, I was concerned that perhaps the shell companies that were created for various movies were not properly funded. [Well, okay, I backed away from that accusation, but that was on my mind.]  The original thought was that production companies made movies, and to limit their liability, we understood that they set up shell companies as limited liability companies so that if something went wrong or if, say, Dallas Buyers Club caused damage to someone and they were sued, fined, sanctioned, or otherwise held liable for damages from their activities, those damages would be contained to the Dallas Buyers Club, LLC limited liability entity, and they would not trickle “up” to what I thought was the Voltage Pictures, LLC production company.

However, now we see that Voltage Pictures, LLC is NOT the production company, but a LICENSEE (one who signs an agreement to acquire a license to sell or act on behalf of the copyright holder [the licensor]). Thus, this brings me back to the entity that was formed to sue John Doe Defendants in federal court. Dallas Buyers Club, LLC, and Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC (the two Voltage-related companies that are currently on my mind). Are they properly funded? Who owns them, and who are the real parties acting through them? Voltage Pictures or Dallas Buyers Club? Voltage Pictures or Fathers & Daughters? Who is providing the funding for them?  And did they properly notify the court of this arrangement when they filed the lawsuits against the John Doe Defendants?

Wow, when they say that there is “no honor among thieves,” they weren’t kidding.  First Keith Lipscomb is sued by Malibu Media, LLC for not paying them the royalties and/or funds received through Lipscomb’s Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe lawsuits across the US, and now Voltage Pictures, LLC is being sued by Dallas Buyers Club, LLC for the same thing. I also want to point out that Liberty Media also sued their lawyer, Marc Randazza (although the circumstances were different, and if what Marc wrote in his defense was true (e.g., that they used his office desk to shoot adult films), both Liberty Media and Randazza are both to blame, but for different reasons). I also remember when Prenda Law Inc. stopped paying their local counsel here in Houston the fees and commissions he earned through the filing of the lawsuits.

So… in sum, is this the scenario of thieves stealing from thieves as we have seen before? Or is this an example of “copyright trolls stealing also from their own clients”?? Wow, this field of law has skeletons hidden in closets all over the place.

UPDATE: For more on this topic, SJD covered this topic in detail.  See FightCopyrightTrolls article, “How copyright trolls plunder both US citizens and… rights holders.


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.

Ambiguous Cobbler Nevada, LLC Dismissal Order – Are all Texas Defendants Dismissed or Not?

An ambiguity showed up in the Cobbler Nevada TX.

For those of you involved in Keith Vogt’s Cobbler Nevada, LLC cases, a huge ambiguity showed up yesterday on the court’s docket which I needed to clarify. I actually needed to call the clerk because at first glance, it looked as if all of the Cobbler Nevada, LLC cases in the Southern District of Texas were dismissed.

To back up just a bit, Cobbler Nevada, LLC suffered a large setback when on August 10th, 2015, Judge Alfred H. Bennett CONSOLIDATED all of their Texas cases into one case (TXSD, Case No. 4:15-cv-01308). As soon as we heard this, [especially after writing the “Dallas Buyers Club, LLC is a modern-day Icarus Story” article relating to this same plaintiff attorney], champagne glasses were clinked, and cheers rose up from the homes of many Texans who were caught up in what was often the streaming and/or download of the “The Cobbler” movie using Popcorn Time.

As a general rule, consolidations are ALWAYS* a good thing for bittorrent cases because:

1) they take each of the cases and place them under the direction and control of one judge (meaning that there will be no conflicting orders where one judge allows something whereas another judge forbids it, or more specifically, where one judge gives a copyright holder free reign to do whatever he wants [granting extension after extension, ignoring procedural violations, etc.], and another judge clamps down on the copyright holder forcing him to observe the rules, eventually dismissing his defendants because he missed a deadline or violated a federal procedure or local rule, etc.), and

2) having so many defendants bunched together in one lawsuit changes the dynamic of the lawsuit from having an aggressive “copyright troll” attorney to having a more passive plaintiff attorney who tiptoes around the court, who avoids filing documents in fear that one misstep (such as the one that happened to his Dallas Buyers Club, LLC cases with Judge Hughes) might cost him his entire batch of defendants.

For a plaintiff attorney, losing 20 John Doe defendants in one case is a tolerable defeat. Losing 400 defendants who have been consolidated into one case creates a “china shop” mindset for the plaintiff attorney, where the “don’t touch it or else it might break” rule suddenly becomes relevant when handling this newly large and fragile set of defendants.

Well, as of yesterday, “Document 70” showed up on Vogt’s Cobbler Nevada, LLC consolidated case, and the document was entitled “ORDER DISMISSING DEFENDANTS.” When I reviewed the document, it purported to dismiss John Doe defendants from a number of Keith’s older cases (e.g., 4:15-cv-01322 through 4:15-cv-01333), but it also appeared to dismiss EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE JOHN DOE DEFENDANTS FROM EVERY COBBLER NEVADA CASE FILED IN TEXAS [AND WHICH ARE CONSOLIDATED INTO THIS ONE CASE].  Essentially, ALL of the defendants from the consolidated case itself, 4:15-cv-01308, appeared to have been dismissed.

010516 CobblerNV Doc70

At first, I shouted “woo-hoo!” because the case was dead. But then, I took a second look, and the order was originally written by Keith Vogt himself in November (Document 58), and there is no way he would dismiss his entire golden goose of defendants.  Plus, the case itself wasn’t marked “closed” by the clerk [as it would be if there was a mass dismissal], so there was an ambiguity. Reading the document, I asked, “if the defendants from this consolidated case were dismissed, did this dismissal also include the many, many defendants from ALL THE OTHER TX COBBLER NEVADA, LLC CASES which were all consolidated into THIS case!?”

After calling the clerk and eventually calling Keith himself, I confirmed that the case itself is still alive, and sadly, the John Doe Defendants are still John Doe Defendants. In short, nothing has changed, move along, there is nothing to see here. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if the wording of the order in such an important case tripped me up, it probably confused a few other attorneys, and for this reason, I have written this article.

So yes, for now the Texas Cobbler Nevada, LLC cases still lives, and the next court date for this case (which affects every TX Cobbler Nevada, LLC John Doe Defendant) will be on 2/10/2016 at 10am in Courtroom 704 in Houston, TX.  If anything relevant happens at the hearing or in the meantime, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Known Cobbler Nevada, LLC cases in the TXSD:
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-22 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02060)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-23 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02061)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-27 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02046)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02053)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-27 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02047)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-26 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02045)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-24 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02062)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-21 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02059)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-28 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02048)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-29 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02050)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-25 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02043)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-20 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02058)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-24 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02041)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02051)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-14 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02055)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-25 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02044)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-14 (Case No. 4:15-cv-02057)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-25 (Case No. 4:15-cv-01332)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 4:15-cv-01322)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-26 (Case No. 4:15-cv-01333)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 4:15-cv-01323)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-17 (Case No. 4:15-cv-01327)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 4:15-cv-01324)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 4:15-cv-01325)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-20 (Case No. 4:15-cv-01328)
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-12 (Case No. 4:15-cv-01308)

Dallas Buyers Club, LLC cases in the TXSD (also affected):
Dallas Buyers Club, LLC v. Does 1-19 (Case No. 4:15-cv-00050)
Dallas Buyers Club, LLC v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 4:15-cv-00049)
Dallas Buyers Club, LLC v. Does 1-12 (Case No. 4:15-cv-00047)
Dallas Buyers Club, LLC v. Does 1-7   (Case No. 4:15-cv-00044)
Dallas Buyers Club, LLC v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 4:15-cv-00046)
Dallas Buyers Club, LLC v. Does 1-18 (Case No. 4:14-cv-03389)
Dallas Buyers Club, LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 4:14-cv-03387)
Dallas Buyers Club, LLC v. Does 1-14 (Case No. 4:14-cv-03388)
Dallas Buyers Club, LLC v. Does 1-19 (Case No. 4:14-cv-03393)
Dallas Buyers Club, LLC v. Does 1-25 (Case No. 4:14-cv-03394)

*NOTE: I mentioned above that case consolidations are ALWAYS a good thing for mass bittorrent copyright infringement lawsuits having multiple John Doe Defendants.  Nothing is always the case, and one can usually find strong exceptions to the rule.

For example, the judge which consolidated all of the cases in a district under his or her control might mishandle the case (as we saw with the Malibu Media, LLC bellwether cases from 2013 where the judge forced cases into what ended up being a “show trial,” because the defendants selected for trial already came to an arrangement with the plaintiff), or, as we saw a few years ago in DC, the judge can be biased towards one side or another, or she could even be a former lobbyist for the MPAA as we saw with the Judge Beryl Howell rulings from 2011-2012.  Similar-minded judges from other districts more recently have been causing problems as well.  So, no, case consolidations are NOT ALWAYS a good thing.


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