Category Archives: Voltage Pictures Inc.

I.T. Productions, LLC should really be called “I, Troll.”

To properly defend against the I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does lawsuits, it is important to understand the similarities between each case.  Each lawsuit, regardless of in which federal court it is filed, has certain similarities.  The purpose of this article is to point out the similarities between the I.T. Productions cases, and other ‘movie troll’ lawsuits filed in the same federal courts by the same copyright troll attorneys.

Different Lawsuits, Same Plaintiff Attorneys?

These past few weeks, I have been pushing the idea that there is an entity (until now, I believed it was Voltage Pictures, Inc.) behind the lawsuits which is calling up movie companies who have produced movies which have flopped in the theaters (I call them “floppers”), and this entity convinces the movie company to license its copyright rights to them so that they can sue bittorrent users as John Doe Defendants in copyright infringement lawsuits across the US.

Yesterday, I wrote about the Cook Productions, LLC lawsuits (which are sending subpoenas to ISPs to reveal the identities of subscribers who are accused of downloading the “Mr. Church” flopper), and I was concerned that maybe this copyright holder was somehow separate from the others — the ME2 Productions lawsuits, the September Productions lawsuits, and the Cell Film Holdings lawsuits (the “three legs” or “trio“) — that we have been seeing over the past few months. [So it’s not a three-legged stool; it’s a chair.]

But then this morning, I was writing an article on the I.T. Productions, LLC lawsuits, and after speaking to a John Doe Defendant on the phone, I decided to check the list of plaintiff attorneys suing in each state for the I.T. Productions to the attorneys suing in the ME2 Productions, September Productions, (and also LHF Productions and Criminal Productions, Inc., articles to come), and the connections popped out at me. They are the same attorneys!!!

In sum, this ‘shadow entity’ (which I believed to be Voltage Pictures, Inc.) who is licensing ‘floppers’ is using the same attorneys to sue for each and every one of these movies.

I.T. Productions cases are filed in the same states as other movie troll cases.

Not only that, but for the IT Productions, LLC cases, they are even ‘dipping their toes’ into the same states as I saw yesterday when reviewing the Cook Productions, LLC cases.  Here are the similarities:

Arizona District Court (NONE YET)
Colorado District Court (I.T. 10 cases, Cook Productions, 1 case)
Hawaii District Court (I.T. 2 cases, Cook Productions, 4 cases)
Illinois Northern District Court (NONE YET)
Indiana Northern & Southern District Courts (NONE YET)
Kentucky Western District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)
Maryland District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)
Nevada District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)
North Carolina Eastern & Middle District Courts (NONE YET)
Ohio Northen & Southern District Courts (I.T. 2 cases, Cook Productions 2 cases)
Oregon District Courts (I.T. 4 cases, Cook Productions 3 cases)
Pennsylvania Eastern District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)
Washington Western District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)

See the similarities?!?  So… expect to see I.T. Productions, LLC cases to soon be filed in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, and North Carolina.

Texas based I.T. Productions Cases

Why are Gary Fischman and Josh Wyde always the plaintiff attorneys for each movie troll case?

As far as the attorneys for each of the lawsuits were concerned, I could not understand how here in Texas, Gary Fischman and Josh Wyde showed up OUT OF NOWHERE, and started filing lawsuits for Fathers & Daughters Nevada, September Productions, Cell Film Holdings, and most recently, I.T. Productions and ME2 Productions.  Where did they come from?  And how did they all of a sudden score EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THESE movie companies to come to THEM and hire THEM to sue John Doe defendants in Texas for the unlawful download of these films?

Why is R. Matthew Van Sickle always the attorney for the movie troll cases in North Carolina?

Another name that keeps popping up in recent weeks has been R. Matthew Van Sickle (a.k.a. Ross Matthew Van Sickle) of Van Sickle Law, PC in North Carolina.  His website is http://mattvansicklelaw.com/ and it lists an expertise in “Construction Law, Civil Litigation, Employment Law, Insurance Coverage/Defense, and Mediation” (and no doubt, soon his website will be updated to state that he is knowledgeable in intellectual property matters, copyright infringement matters, and federal practice.) At least plaintiff / copyright troll attorneys Josh Wyde and Gary Fischman (AFAIK) are knowledgeable in this area of law.

The common threads between all movie troll cases.

So… who is behind these lawsuits?  Is it Voltage Pictures, Inc.?  Someone affiliated with Carl Crowell? Guardaley / IPP?  Again, do you care??

All About the I.T. Productions Lawsuits (Regardless of Where They Are Filed)

So I digress. I.T. Productions, LLC has convinced the judges of the various courts to rubber stamp the authorization for them to conduct what is called ‘expedited discovery.’  What this means is that they are now permitted to send a subpoena to the various ISPs (e.g., Comcast, CenturyLink, AT&T, etc.), and force them to disclose the identity of the ten or so John Doe Defendants who are accused of copyright infringement from the download of their film.

The I.T. Productions, LLC lawsuit is suing for the download of the “I.T.” movie starring Pierce Brosnan.  The concept of the movie is pretty cool — innovative owner of an enterprising company is flying high until his daughter gets stalked by one of his information technology (IT) guys, who uses every technological facet to attack them.

Unfortunately, as cool as the movie sounds, IMDb gave it only 5.4 or 10 stars, which means that the movie was a flopper.  It’s too bad; I liked the concept of the movie.

So why did I spend all this time linking this I.T. Productions case to the Cook Productions case, the ME2 Productions case, and the others? To show that there is a decrepit and sinister entity behind the scene who has likely now set up the entity called “I.T. Productions, LLC” for the purpose of suing downloaders across the U.S. for copyright infringement.

However, as terrible as this sounds, the benefit to the John Doe Defendant reading this article is that you can begin to draw lines and conclusions from one lawsuit (e.g., the ME2 lawsuits) to understand how the plaintiff attorneys will act in these lawsuits.

Honestly, I think I understand now why this movie is called “I.T.”  It really stands for “I Troll.”

As always, I hope this article has been of assistance to you.

For an analysis of the other I.T. Productions, LLC bittorrent-based cases filed across the US, click here.

RECENT CASE HISTORY OF THE I.T. PRODUCTIONS, LLC CASES:

Cases now filed in the Texas Southern District Court:
Attorney: Gary Fischman (Fischman Law PLLC)

I.T. Productions, LLC v. DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00597)

Cases filed in the Colorado District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1-7 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00468)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. John Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02979)
Other cases with the same name:
Case No. 1:16-cv-02998
Case No. 1:16-cv-03009
Case No. 1:16-cv-03058
Case No. 1:16-cv-03064
Case No. 1:16-cv-03089
Case No. 1:16-cv-03132
Case No. 1:16-cv-03150
Case No. 1:17-cv-00112

Cases filed in the Hawaii District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1 through 5 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00084)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1 through 3 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00035)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1-6 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00641)

Case filed in the Kentucky Western District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00836)

Case filed in the Maryland District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 8:16-cv-03999)

Case filed in the Nevada District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does (Case No. 2:16-cv-02705)

Cases filed in the Ohio Northern and Southern District Courts (respectively):
I.T. Productions LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 3:16-cv-03073)
I.T. Productions LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 2:16-cv-01199)

Cases filed in the Oregon District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe-76.115.0.173 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02102)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe-76.27.241.78 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02103)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe-76.115.228.18 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02101)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe-76.27.242.207 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00163)

Case filed in the Pennsylvania Eastern District Court:
I.T. PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. JOHN DOES 1-8 (Case No. 2:16-cv-06533)

Case filed in the Washington Western District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01775)


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.

JOHN STEELE ARRESTED.

johnsteelearrested

We learned this morning that John Steele was arrested under 17 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and perjury. I have detailed the charges lower down in the article, and a link to the Star Tribune article can be found here (and sincere kudos to both DTD & SJD for breaking this story).  The link to the indictment itself can be found here.

For those of you who became readers more recently, one of the first prolific copyright trolls was John Steele, formerly from Steele Law Firm PLLC, then from Steele|Hansmeier, then most popularly, from #Prenda Law Inc. (that last name even earned itself a hashtag and a group of followers on Twitter).

John Steele hired many lawyers across the US who acted as his “local counsel” just as Keith Lipscomb later did on a larger scale with the Malibu Media, LLC [x-art.com] copyright holder. [As I’ve written before, I believe that Voltage Pictures, Inc. is doing the same thing in a manner which has not yet become public knowledge with their Dallas Buyers Club, Fathers & Daughters, September Productions, Cell Productions, and a number of other non-pornographic copyright infringement cases slowly making their way through the federal courts.]

The relevance here is that John Steele was the original kingpin, and TODAY HE WAS ARRESTED for the following:

COUNT #1) Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud (18 USC §1349) [using the U.S. mail to extort settlements from bittorrent defendants]

sh-clip1-mailfraud

COUNTS #2-6) Mail Fraud 18 USC §1341 [using the U.S. mail to send “scare letters” threatening to sue accused John Doe Defendants unless they settled the claims against them.]

sh-clip2-mailfraud
COUNTS #7-16) Wire Fraud 18 USC §1343 [using the internet to process settlement checks and upload torrent files containing porn which they would later track and sue defendants for the download thereof]

sh-clip3a-wirefraudsh-clip3b-wirefraud

COUNT #17) Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering (18 USC §1956(h)) [for the transfer of settlement funds received, knowing that those funds were proceeds from unlawful activity, and disguising the nature, source, ownership, and control of those proceeds.]

and,

COUNT #18) Conspiracy to Commit and Suborn Perjury (18 USC §371) [by scheming to conceal and disguise their involvement by providing false and misleading testimony and declarations, for example, and Mark Lutz (the paralegal) was really the CEO behind all of their activities, etc.]

In short, there is so much to say about this story which has been an evolving saga since 2010 (now six years and counting).  Many internet users were hurt by their activities, and the injustices that John Steele, the Hansmeier brothers, Mark Lutz, and the others more well known as “the Prenda gang” perpetrated on so many thousands of accused John Doe Defendants are still being copied by many copyright troll attorneys even today.

My personal opinion is that this arrest should be a warning sign to other copyright troll attorneys who are still filing lawsuits against John Doe defendants even today using the same tactics described here.  The scheme described in the indictment has not been stopped, and it continues (albeit in more hidden forms where attorneys go through such great lengths to make their outfit appear legitimate).

My only message to the other copyright trolls perpetuating this scheme is not that “I’m watching,” or that “you’re being seen by the internet bloggers for what you are,” but that the U.S. Federal Government is watching.

John Steele’s problems are not over.  There are still other departments likely analyzing their activities.  The one department that comes to mind is the Criminal Law Enforcement arm of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Other Links of interest relating to this topic:

DieTrollDie: John Steele & Paul Hansmeier (Steele|Hansmeier, AKA: Prenda Law) Arrested – December 2016
Fight Copyright Trolls: Steele and Hansmeier Have Been Indicted On Fraud, Money Laundering Charges
ArsTechnica: Prenda Law ‘copyright trolls’ Steele and Hansmeier arrested

…and likely many others to come.


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.