Category Archives: Millennium Films

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].

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.

A rant about poor quality Hollywood content & distribution.

I thought that TAC’s response to my article last night deserved a spot of its own, so I am pasting it below.

In short, he’s right. As a lawyer, I get so caught up with each individual client and defending whether copyright infringement actually happened or not that I overlooked the big picture “elephant in the room” point — that if the movie production companies would actually make good content which would inspire someone to buy a movie ticket, and if they would make that good content readily available rather than blaming downloaders for a few bucks of loss of revenue, then piracy wouldn’t even be a problem.

I used to be a movie buff. I would see every movie in the theaters, and if there was something I missed, I would catch it later when it came out on DVD. However, the… pardon my language… “crap” that has been coming out of the theaters over the last ten years has lost me as a fan. I cannot remember the last time I saw a movie and felt that I got my money’s worth. More often then not, I leave the theater feeling cheated.

The internet created a problem for the movie companies where it enabled average internet users to share digital copies of movies which [by definition of being “digital”] are the identical quality as the files burned on DVDs from which they are ripped. They tried to stop the copying through creating privacy measures that blocked an individual from being able to copy videos, but individuals got around those protections.  Then they passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) statutes and made it a crime to unblock the copy protections, but people did it anyway.  Then they sued the downloaders and claimed they were going after the lost revenue, but instead, they went after statutory damages of $150,000 per instance of infringement.  In the process of suing downloaders (rather than suing the initial uploader or working to take down the infringing videos), with the birth of the Dunlap Grubb and Weaver, LLC Voltage Pictures, Inc. “Hurt Locker” and “Expendables” lawsuits, Voltage Pictures, Millennium Films, and other production companies turned their failed b-rated movies into a money-making extortion-like shakedown scheme where they asked for tens of thousands of dollars for what was really the loss of a movie ticket or a DVD rental.

The point is that Hollywood and their production companies spend so much time trying to clamp down and stop people from getting content that if they spent those same dollars finding new ways to make content readily available, they would stop the piracy problem (or at a very minimum, they would convert many would-be pirates into paying customers).  Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Redbox have the right idea of trying to find ways to get movie content into consumers’ hands, but even they run into licensing problems where the Hollywood movie studios won’t let them provide content to their subscribers (and thus great movies and TV shows are commonly lost to history).

[Case in point — The Stargate TV series (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Unvierse) — all AMAZING shows, but there was a point that Netflix took them down from their site citing licensing issues, and if you wanted to see them, you would have needed to either buy the DVDs on Amazon, or “look elsewhere” for them (meaning, piracy).  I would have happily paid more to Netflix to keep them available, even in a “click here to pay a bit more to see this video” fashion.  UPDATE: I am happy to share that Amazon Prime provides all seasons of these shows to their paying customers, so yes, Jeff Bezos is doing his job of making content available.]

This argument has gone around in circles for many years. Point being, the movie companies have obviously chosen that their focus will be to clamp down and spend their money to fight the losses from piracy rather than innovate and make good content that would inspire people to open their wallets and pay for a movie ticket or rent a DVD.

This is my point, this is my feeling, this is how I see things. I could be wrong, but who cares. Unless I see quality new content in the theaters (and not recycled old story lines), I’m not buying a ticket. Superman versus Batman?!? Really? Yet one more Borne Identity?!? Really? Ice Age in Space?!? Really? How many times can I hear the same story told over and over again? I’m honestly bored of all of this recycled media crap and I wish they would start looking for new and original content.

Thus, in all fairness and thanks to “That Anonymous Coward (TAC),” below is his comment to last night’s “We are winning the bittorrent piracy war against copyright holders, but what are the unintended consequences?” article which inspired this entire line of thought.

TAC from that anonymous coward :

And there in lies the biggest problem.
People look at Popcorn Time, and don’t understand how it works. They might assume that its just an awesome service. It works like everyone imagines we should be able to get content.

The “war” has always been pointless.
Everything done to “stop” pirates, ends up punishing paying customers… and eventually when you hassle paying customers enough they look for other ways to get the content.
We’ve missed out on technology moving forward, because of screams that it MIGHT hurt the bottom line of an industry that has its own special ‘accounting’ practices that manage to make a world wide blockbuster look like it lost money.
They aren’t honest about their books, they aren’t honest about actual harm, they aren’t honest about why they refuse to stop punishing paying customers & creating more consumers that might turn to piracy because it meets their want for the content how, where, when they want it that the industry can’t seem to understand.

When they cling to an outdated business model, ignoring the consumer demand for access, they have forgotten they are in business to sell content… not impose pointless control over people who already paid them who get treated worse for playing by the rules.

Imagine what they could have done with all of the time and money they have dumped into the anti-piracy schemes (that never pay that well or accomplish what is promised) and had used it to “fix” the horrible patchwork of laws & rules to create a unified worldwide business model that makes getting the content customers want faster & easier. But then they would be making more money they they ever imaged possible… but would still be imagining there is a dollar out there they aren’t getting & end up harming paying customers chasing the imaginary dollars.


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.