Category Archives: Education

IGNORE route representation empowers a defendant to say “NO” to extortion.

Why I love the IGNORE route for our innocent clients.

I wanted to take a moment to share a revelation I had regarding the IGNORE route — a strategy we often discuss with clients who did not do the download and do not wish to settle.

NOTE: The word “ignore” is actually a misnomer, as we do anything but ignore. Traditionally, there are three options an accused John Doe Defendant accused of downloading a movie has:

1 — “fight” or “litigate” the case on the merits;
2 — settle the claims by negotiating a settlement payment;
3 — resolve the claims WITHOUT paying a settlement payment.

IGNORE ROUTE REPRESENTATION is a legal alternative to not hiring an attorney at all — just “ignoring” the case and hoping for the best.  Hiring an attorney in the “ignore” route will allow him to navigate your John Doe entity through the lawsuit and its pitfalls… to its eventual dismissal. 

The stated goal in the IGNORE route is NOT to pay a settlement.

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IGNORE route allows us to shoulder the burdens of no-settlement representation.

IGNORE route representation simply employs the strategy of hiring an attorney for the purpose of having that attorney shoulder the burdens a John Doe defendant would experience when analyzing and managing the risks involved in defending against a “copyright troll” copyright infringement case.

We simply have been here many times before with many past copyright holders and their attorneys, so we have seen how various plaintiff attorneys react to what are common scenarios or “story lines” that occur in these cases, and how judges act to move the case forward.

We have also defended against attorneys who broke the law and ended up losing their law license and going to prison, and we have defended against skilled attorneys who truly believe in taking the plaintiff’s side of a copyright infringement lawsuit.

I don’t know how to say this more clearly — we have seen many tactics and strategies arise, succeed, and fail over the years, and this has provided us an arsenal of tools that we can use when defending the interests of each client.

What are the FACTORS involved in analyzing a case for our client?

Involved in the analysis of representing a client in IGNORE route representation are:

1) reviewing or being aware of OTHER CASES in THAT specific FEDERAL COURT,


3) understanding the proclivities, talents, and skills of THAT PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY who sued on behalf of a particular copyright holder, and

4) making educated decisions based on OUR OWN PAST EXPERIENCES of each of the above to properly decide how to proceed at each stage of the lawsuit.

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IGNORE route deprives the copyright holder of the settlement they wish to extort.

Personally, the “ignore” route has always been one of my favorite strategies because not only does it deprive the plaintiff attorney and his client of a settlement when a settlement is not warranted, but it empowers my client to understand what is happening throughout the lawsuit so that they could see the case as I see it with my own eyes — based on my understanding of the circumstances and factors influencing the outcome of the case.

My favorite part about the IGNORE route representation strategy is that it gives my clients an authoritative way to say “NO!” to what would otherwise be a settlement extortion scheme.

Why the IGNORE route works.

IGNORE route representation is a well crafted strategy which analyzes and predicts deadlines, and it has correctly predicted the trends with very few surprises or accidental occurrences (e.g., without clients getting named and served or suffering some other complication due to attorney inexperience or inattention), and it accomplishes this goal simply because I take the time to do my research and watch the cases.

I hate to say this, but too many attorneys fail their clients simply because they do not do their homework.  They do not research their case, and they approach the lawsuit without understanding how a bittorrent-based copyright infringement lawsuit is litigated.  They approach the opposing counsel blindly without understanding who they are (with no knowledge of their past activities, proclivities, or personalities), and they approach the case itself thinking it is merely “just another copyright case” without understanding the motivations of the copyright holder or the nuances of how bittorrent-based “copyright troll” cases differ from traditional “copyright infringement” cases.  In the end, their ego and their unpreparedness only hurts their client.  And if they file a pro hac appearance with the court and they enter the court without researching what rulings have been made in the past in THAT district, or without knowing the personality of THAT judge presiding over the case, I have nothing to say except that they caused the results they achieved for their client.

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There are also a number of settlement factories and copycat attorneys who claim to do everything that we do, but cheaper.  These are often settlement factories who load their websites with advertising trash and repetitive articles designed to overwhelm you so that you end up calling one of their call centers. I hate to say this — while there will be many attorneys who offer the “ignore” route after reading this article, be aware that the ignore route is not merely keeping an open line of communication with the plaintiff attorney — it is doing what attorneys call “due diligence” in analyzing a case and coming up with conclusions and strategies that are very particular to each client’s PERSONAL NEEDS, the FACTS as to what actually happened, the client’s FINANCIAL ABILITIES and social pressures, AND all of the FACTORS I mentioned above (e.g., analyzing THAT plaintiff attorney, THAT copyright holder, THAT judge, THAT court, THAT federal court’s rulings, and the physical TIMING and ENVIRONMENT surrounding THAT particular case on THAT day or moment). You really can’t copy that, and “THAT” is exactly what you pay for with our law firm.

This method of representing clients is one of the “products” I have been proud to offer clients for the last SEVEN (7) YEARS as an alternative to the options they are often provided by other attorneys — who either push them to settle the claims against them, or leave them helpless to deal with the matter on their own — and I am happy to shoulder the burden and to be their eyes and ears of the case, protecting them with privileges an attorney is granted by the law.  There is so much more to say here, but I believe I have more than made my point.

[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about the ISP subpoena you received and options on how to proceed (even specifically for your case), you can e-mail us at info[at], you can set up a free and confidential phone consultation to speak to us about your copyright infringement case, or you can call us at 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number / SMS].

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.

The life of a subpoena, and at what point you are no longer anonymous.


Any “copyright troll” bittorrent-based copyright infringement lawsuit really revolves around the subpoena which moves from the court to the accused John Doe Defendants.  Tracking a subpoena can help an accused defendant understand the timelines of when they can fight, when they can settle, when they can ignore, and whether they are anonymous or not at each step.

A Subpoena is first introduced to the court for approval.

A subpoena is first introduced to the court when the plaintiff attorney files the lawsuit and asks the court for permission to obtain the identities of the various internet users accused of downloading the copyright holder’s movie or copyrighted work.

The Subpoena, once approved by the court, is sent to the ISP.

The federal judge approves the subpoena (usually by rubber stamp), and the subpoenas are then sent to the “abuse” department of the various ISPs (e.g., AT&T U-verse, COX Communications, Comcast, etc.).  These ISPs in receipt of the subpoena are ordered to hand over the accused subscriber’s information to the plaintiff attorney.  They send a notice to the account holder that a subpoena has been received, and that they are under a duty to comply with the subpoena by a certain date unless the account holder files a Motion to Quash the subpoena before the arbitrary deadline they set (usually the deadline is 30 days from the notice sent to the subscriber).

The ISP forwards the Subpoena to the accused account holder giving him a chance to file an objection with the court.

You (the account holder) receive the notice containing the subpoena, and you learn that you are implicated as a “John Doe” (an unnamed defendant) in the Copyright Holder Corporate Entity v. Does lawsuit.  Here, you learn that you can supposedly stop the ISP from handing out your information to the plaintiff attorney by filing an objection with the court, a.k.a. a “Motion to Quash.”  At this point, you are still anonymous.

The ISP complies with the Subpoena and hands over your contact information to the plaintiff attorney.

Assuming you do not file the Motion to Quash (there are many articles on this website explaining why you might not do so), the 30-day deadline set by your ISP will lapse, and your ISP will comply with the subpoena.  They turn over your information to the PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY (but not to the court or anyone else).  You are still anonymous.

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The exact moment your anonymity expires.

At this point, the life of the subpoena is over, as it has served its purpose and the plaintiff attorney is in receipt of your contact information (and whatever other information your ISP was forced to hand over to it).  At this point, you are a “John Doe” defendant in the lawsuit, and only your plaintiff attorney knows your real identity.  YOU ARE STILL ANONYMOUS at this point (as to the court and the world, as the plaintiff attorney is not going to share your information unless he decides to name and serve you as a defendant in the lawsuit).

Your anonymity expires once the plaintiff attorney realizes that he or she cannot get a settlement from you, and based on their evidence that you are the downloader of their client’s copyrighted movie, they file an amended complaint with the court with your name as a defendant, and they serve you with a copy of the complaint.  At this point, you have been “named and served,” and you are no longer anonymous.  At this point, you need to decide whether it makes more sense to stand and defend against the claims against you (consider the attorney fees issue), or to negotiate a settlement and amicably step away from the lawsuit.

NOTE: If you choose to fight, be aware of Prof. Matthew Sag’s paper entitled “Defense Against the Dark Arts of Copyright Trolling,” and the considerations surrounding using what are otherwise “valid” defenses to copyright infringement which likely DO apply to your case.

[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about your lawsuit and options on how to proceed, you can e-mail us at info[at], you can set up a free and confidential phone consultation to speak to us about your case, or you can call us at 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number].

ISP Subpoena Timeline & Anonymity Timeline

STRATEGY: Have attorney argue for Minimum Statutory Damages ($750+fees)

Asking for $750 Minimum Statutory Damages is not as scary as you might think.

Minimum statutory damages for copyright infringement is $750. Copyright trolls and their attorneys scare accused downloaders with the $150,000 number in EVERY SINGLE SETTLEMENT DEMAND LETTER. But baked into the copyright laws is that ‘minimum statutory damages’ number, which is $750.

If you think about it, if you are caught drunk driving (a dangerous act where you can kill people), in Texas, you can be fined a few hundred to two thousand dollars and spend between three and 180 days in jail. If you steal something or are caught shoplifting (or you are caught purchasing or accepting stolen property), in Texas you can be charged with larceny and would have to pay a fee as low as $50 or as high as a few thousand dollars depending on the cost of the goods stolen.

Minimum Statutory Damages | Strategy to Admit Guilt
succo / Pixabay

When you “steal” copyrighted content by downloading it via bittorrent or streaming it via some ‘tube’ website or using software such as Kodi, you are depriving the copyright holder of the cost of the movie ticket (~$12) for the movie you did not see in the theater, or the cost of the DVD (~$30) that you did not purchase on because instead you pirated the film. These are what are called “ACTUAL DAMAGES“.

STATUTORY DAMAGES are something else. The law says that the copyright holder does not need to prove actual damages, and can rely on damages that the law thinks he is entitled to under the copyright laws. Baked into statutory damages is the concept of “minimum damages” which easily includes the theft of a video or a movie via a bittorrent download.

So when a plaintiff attorney / copyright troll scares you with that $150,000 number, understand that if you simply hung up the phone with that copyright troll and hired our firm to ‘file an answer with the court admitting guilt and arguing for minimum statutory damages’, there is a strong case for your judge to award minimum statutory damages to the plaintiff attorney.

What an “Argue Minimum Statutory Damages” strategy would cost.

But what exactly would the minimum statutory damages look like? Obviously, add $750 for the minimum statutory damages itself.

+$750 minimum statutory damages

Then, copyright laws give the ‘winner’ of the lawsuit the right to collect their attorney fees from the ‘losing’ side. Since we would quickly and actively file an answer on your behalf admitting guilt, the plaintiff attorney would not have had any out of pocket costs except the $400 filing fee (which in most cases is split between 10-15 defendants), so add another $40.

+$40 filing fees and costs split among the ten ‘John Doe” defendants

Then, the plaintiff attorney spent “a few hours” filing the boilerplate complaint (he has done this probably 100+ times already, so it didn’t take him a long time to file your lawsuit) and providing the court the documents he has already done many times already. Thus, estimate another $750-$1500 for the attorney fees to the ‘prevailing party’ (the ‘winner’).

+$1,500 attorney fees to the prevailing party (assuming that much time was even spent on the case).

Then add everything up.

+ $750 minimum statutory damages
+ $40 filing fees split among defendants
+ $1,500 attorney fees (if even that much)
Total Estimated Cost: $2,290 for having your attorney ‘plead guilty’ on your behalf.

What about the fee to your own lawyer? Here is what you pay for:


Here are the steps we would take on your behalf in order to implement the minimum statutory damages strategy.

1) We send a letter to your plaintiff attorney and file a notice of representation with the court.
2) We open up discussions with the plaintiff attorney. Discuss evidence. If relevant, discuss settlement.
3) If the attorney is being unreasonable in the settlement negotiations, we cut off settlement negotiations and file an answer with the court admitting guilt. In our answer, we make argument for minimum damages.

Who would benefit from an “argue minimum statutory damages” strategy?

Now obviously the “argue minimum statutory damages” strategy is best used with an accused downloader who has actually done the download and does not wish to defend against a copyright infringement lawsuit (e.g., he does not have a ‘clean’ hard drive, and/or the infringing file is still on his hard drive).  This strategy is also best used in the situation where the plaintiff attorney / copyright troll is being greedy, unreasonable, or abusive in the settlement negotiations.  There is no need to argue with an uncooperative copyright troll if you can get a comparable result by simply admitting guilt and arguing for minimum statutory damages.

Is this an effective strategy even if you did not do the download?

NO.  1) There is no reason to settle if you did not do the download.  2) This strategy involves admitting guilt.  The purpose of this strategy is simply to take the settlement negotiations out of the hands of the plaintiff attorney / copyright troll.

If you did NOT do the download, there are other less expensive strategies, such as the “no settlement” representation strategy or the “ignore” route.  Alternatively, your attorney can file a motion to dismiss and dispense of the lawsuit quickly based on the inherent weaknesses of the case.

Why would someone guilty of copyright infringement use the “argue minimum statutory damages” strategy?

Plaintiff attorneys / copyright trolls seem to have their own calculus as to who they ‘let off’ and who they ‘nail’ in a settlement negotiation.  In other words, if they like you (or your Cashman Law Firm, PLLC attorney has leverage over them), they’ll give you a good settlement deal.  If they don’t like you, or if you fit into a category which copyright trolls believe that you have a vulnerability exposed, they can and often *WILL* take advantage of you (e.g., if you are elderly, or if you are a war veteran, or if they believe you can pay a higher settlement, etc.).

The strategy of having your attorney argue for minimum statutory damages is a good way to take the power away from the copyright troll.  If the plaintiff attorney is taking advantage of your situation, you can take the settlement negotiations away from him.  In essence, it is forcing the copyright troll to accept a lower settlement amount than he would have proposed in a settlement negotiation.

To embarrass a troll.

Arguing for minimum statutory damages is the reason someone who did the bittorrent download would employ this strategy.  However, there is the additional nudge or motivation in doing this strategy — to expose the tactics of the copyright troll.  If a plaintiff attorney is using abusive tactics, or he is hiding his tactics behind a “FRE 408” header on his e-mail, you can use this strategy to expose his conduct to the judge.

Under the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE 408), settlement negotiations are not admissible in court, unless they are brought into evidence to show bias, prejudice, or some other valid reason (e.g., abusive conduct or harassment in the context of settlement negotiations).  There is a lot of latitude for an attorney who is filing an answer admitting guilt and asking the court to grant him his wishes to quickly and efficiently terminate the proceedings.  Within this latitude is the ability for the attorney to share with the judge the contents of the settlement negotiations prior to filing the answer in order to help the judge understand that the plaintiff attorney was employing abusive settlement tactics in order to resolve his $12 lost movie ticket / $30 lost DVD sale claim.

Would our firm also argue the other inherent weaknesses of the plaintiff’s case in an “argue minimum statutory damages” strategy?

Honestly, it is not needed.  There are a number of additional strategies that can be employed to protect an accused defendant (especially since the plaintiff attorney likely does not have actual evidence of copyright infringement), but the goal in the “argue minimum statutory damages” strategy is simply to quickly dispose of the lawsuit with the minimal amount of costs to the defendant.

Obviously there *are* inherent weaknesses in the copyright troll’s case which can be addressed in a more comprehensive defense strategy (e.g., by filing a motion to dismiss with the court) and then if that fails, filing an answer admitting guilt and arguing for statutory damages.  However, this is not the purpose of this strategy.  (As to the motion to dismiss because of the other issues inherent to the case, e.g., improper joinder, no evidence, improper pleadings, etc., I will be writing about these weaknesses in coming articles.)


If your copyright troll is being unreasonable in settlement negotiations, consider having your attorney (us, or whoever you use) file an answer with the court admitting guilt and argue for minimum statutory damages. Even if you were caught doing the download, you don’t need to give in to a ransom settlement. Copyright law has already anticipated your infringement, and there is a strong likelihood that a judge (especially one who sees many ‘copyright troll’ lawsuits from this same plaintiff) knows the scam these copyright holders are running, and they will be sympathetic to a defendant who employs this strategy.  Why?  This is a quick resolution to a copyright troll who is taking advantage of a downloader and asking for more than he should, and judges love ‘judicial economy’.

Obviously if you have any questions about what I have written here, please feel free to SPEAK TO ME and ask me questions about your case. There are many ways to take care of the claims against you without giving in to the settlement demands of the plaintiff copyright troll. Also, each defendant has different circumstances, so this article (or more generally, ANYTHING I write in this blog) is not meant to be legal advice or magical pills for you to get out of this lawsuit scott free. Trust that I have spent literally SEVEN YEARS fighting copyright trolls, and so there are many ways to approach your case. Admitting guilt and making the argument for minimum statutory damages is simply one more tool we have at our disposal to handle a plaintiff attorney who is not ‘playing nice.’

“No Settlement” vs. “Ignore” Route Representation

Tweaking an old strategy for a more effective one.

For those of you who speak to me on Twitter, I am working on implementing a new strategy based on Matthew Sag’s “Defense Against The Dark Arts of Copyright Trolling” paper.  Most relevant to this is finding representation for John Doe Defendants who did not do the download and who rightfully do not want to pay settle the claims against them.

Our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC for years has represented clients in what we called “ignore” route representation, where we would not settle the claims against the John Doe clients (unlike settlement factories who did).  While the “ignore” route representation strategy was very effective for many years, in recent years where plaintiff attorneys name and serve defendants, it has lost some of its effectiveness.

The need for a low-cost strategy to represent innocent defendants.

Come Matthew Sag’s “Defense Against The Dark Arts of Copyright Trolling” paper, where he suggests that attorney provide a low cost service to innocent defendants to “call the copyright troll’s bluff,” so to speak.  Our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC is working on how to implement the strategy, and we are looking to focus it on those who did not do the download.




A strategy is only as good as those who implement the strategy.  While we may develop the strategy further, we ask for your support in publicizing the existence of this strategy.  We also ask for support from other attorneys to provide their clients a strategy such as this one.

Should you find in our community of attorneys an attorney who is taking clients at a low cost and sending the ‘innocence’ letters as we propose in this strategy, but clients taken are not innocent, this could ruin the credibility of the strategy.  Similarly, we ask attorneys to adhere to the ‘no settlement’ stance, and not to give in to ‘nuisance’ settlement payments.  Although a nuisance settlement can be a few hundred or a few thousand dollars here or there, this is exactly what will perpetuate the copyright troll scheme, and will keep the copyright trolls in business and thriving.


We credit Matthew Sag and his”Defense Against the Dark Arts of Copyright Trolling” paper for exposing to the world the problems with the copyright troll lawsuits, and we look forward to seeing an end to copyright trolling once and for all.

-Rob Cashman, Author of the TorrentLawyer blog, and owner of the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC