Category Archives: Arizona (AZ)

ME2 Productions Inc. Subpoenas FAQ | What You Need to Know

While our law firm represents ME2 Productions, Inc. defendants as clients in a number of states (specifically, those states in which we can ‘pro hac’ into and represent a defendant should settlement negotiations go awry), I simply cannot track every single bittorrent-based lawsuit that is filed across the U.S.   However, I do know of subpoenas received by John Doe Defendants in a number of cases are due today.

This article should be a simplistic “what do I do” article.  Nothing new will be introduced here for those of you who have read my blog in the past.  At best, this will be a quick refresher of what happens at the pretrial stages of a copyright infringement lawsuit before a John Doe Defendant is named and served.

Because I am neck deep in cases, instead of writing out this article, I am dictating it into a recorder and am paying someone to transcribe it for me. Thus, pardon the conversational tone.  This is really the way I speak.

[Lastly, some of you have e-mailed me asking why I am only making 2-3 time slots available each day on the http://torrentlawyer.genbook.com scheduling site when there are literally hundreds of John Does affected by these lawsuits.  The simple reason is because I am managing the firm’s inflow of clients (I will not take every client I speak to, but I will hold your hand until you find an attorney), and I do not believe in flooding our firm with 100+ new clients for one copyright holder and treating them all the same way in a turn-key fashion.  I used to think that this could save our clients money, but my experience after representing clients is that if I am able to take each client separately and negotiate each client the best I can, I am often able to get the client released from liability without paying any settlement (if the client did not do the download), and if they did the download, I am able to negotiate significantly lower settlements when I handle client circumstances individually rather than as a group.]

ME2 LAWSUIT SUBPOENA Q&A:

Question: “I received a subpoena from my ISP about the ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does lawsuit.  What do I do?”

Answer: Chances are the lawsuit was filed in the state in which you live.  If you live outside of the state in which you were sued, that federal court likely does not have “personal jurisdiction” over you.  For circumstances like this, you may consider filing a motion to quash.

SHOULD I FILE A MOTION TO QUASH?

Question: “Should I file a motion to quash even though I have been sued and I live in the state?”

Answer: If you file the motion to quash, the court will set a hearing in order to determine whether they have personal jurisdiction over you.  The judge will ask whether you live in the state.  If the answer is “yes,” then motion to quash will likely be denied.  I’m simplifying, but this is the point.

NOTE: For accuracy, you were not sued.  You are at this point merely implicated as a “John Doe” Defendant, which means that your Comcast ISP (or whatever ISP you have) has identified you as being the account holder who was assigned an IP Address (e.g., 123.848.245.163), and that IP Address was ‘seen’ or ‘caught’ participating in a bittorrent swarm where the download allegedly happened.

Question: “ABC Lawyer told me that even if I live in the state where I was sued, I can still hire an attorney who will file a motion to quash for me for $2,500 where he will expose the copyright trolls’ scam and maybe cause the judge to dismiss the case.  Should I pay for one of these?”

Answer: The motion to quash is not the proper place to raise issues relating to the actions of the copyright holders.  Filing long-winded motions to quash will simply prompt the judge to ask, “yes or no, does your client live in this state?”  When the answer is yes and your lawyer turns to you and informs you that “your motion to quash failed,” you’ll realize that you wasted your money.

There are other procedural times to fight your case, especially if you did not do the download.  Fighting your case in the motion to quash is generally a really bad idea.

Question: “Who cares if I was ‘seen’ downloading?  Doesn’t everyone use bittorrent anyway? Why is this illegal?”

Answer:  The short answer is that downloading and piracy is socially acceptable as a ‘tolerable evil’, but it is still nevertheless illegal.  It took me a few tries to answer this question, and in trying, the following two blog articles came of it:

1. ‘The boot of government crushes the skull of its citizen’ when it comes to encryption and anonymity, and

2. The Evolution of Piracy and the ‘coincidence’ that early copyright cases were rooted in pornography-based content.

In sum, copyright holders are finicky about whether, how, and in which way they will allow their copyrighted film to be shown.    Copyright law, as encoded in 17 US Code § 106 describes a number of exclusive rights given to a copyright holder (which means that the copyright holder is given authority to legally sue and destroy the financial futures of anyone who violate and/or infringe those rights).  Of those exclusive rights (the right to make copies (download), the right to distribute copies (share/upload), the right to display (stream), if any of these are infringed, the copyright holders get antsy because each violation of these rights stops them from being able to profit from the movie (or ‘work’) they created.

The peer-to-peer networks have been a source of angst for the copyright holders because until now, each of these ‘exclusive rights’ are taken out from the control of the copyright holder, and are given to the internet users.  When movies are listed on a bittorrent website and are downloaded, the copyright holders do not profit from the piracy, and while there has been some considerable debate of whether movie companies actually lose money from piracy (I am on the side that their ticket and DVD sales and licensing fees are hurt by piracy, but the damage is not as exaggerated as they claim it to be), but as a result of the loss (perceived or not, real or not), today copyright holders to consider it ethical to sue end user downloaders for the full $150,000 statutory damages for the download of one movie.

My opinion is that suing downloaders is misguided solution to the piracy problem, and that a better solution would be either compulsory licensing from the ISP, or simply providing better competitive solutions to give internet users the ability to PAY for access to cable TV and traditional TV networks (without paying the inflated cable bill prices they are still trying to charge).

Question: “Before Comcast hands out my information, am I still anonymous?  If as a John Doe I am not yet a defendant in the case, at what point do I become a defendant?”

At this point, your plaintiff attorney does not have your name, and neither does the court.  At this point, you are also still anonymous, which means that other than the filing fee, the plaintiff attorney has not yet spent any money or time investigating you or your involvement in the lawsuit.

You do not become a defendant until you are ‘named and served.’ This would happen later on in the lawsuit after the plaintiff copyright attorney tries to 1) convince you to settle, or 2) they are unable to contact you, or 3) they have formed a belief that you (the ISP subscriber) are the downloader.

Once someone knocks on your door and serves you with a copy of the complaint (or once you are served by a number of other methods), only then do you become a defendant in the lawsuit.

IS COMCAST (OR MY ISP) FORCED TO COMPLY WITH THE SUBPOENA?

Question: “Can I call Comcast (or my ISP) and tell them I object to them sending out my information?  Isn’t giving out my information a crime?”

Answer: Comcast is under a duty to comply with the subpoena, which was ordered and signed by the federal judge for your case.  The ISP can and does often ignore the deadline set by the attorney in the subpoena sent to the ISP [they comply whenever they decide to comply, and if the plaintiff attorneys don’t like it, they can sue them or bring them into court, but they almost never do], but the ISPs almost always comply.

Even if you call your ISP and complain, and even if you object to them sending out your information, they will tell you that they must comply and that they WILL comply unless you file an objection with the court.  This objection is the motion to quash we discussed before.

There was a time when these bittorrent-based ‘copyright troll’ lawsuits were new (back in 2010), and there was a time that I researched whether a subscriber can sue his ISP for sharing his information with the copyright holders over his objection.  I even considered representing John Doe Defendants at the time as a class action lawsuit against the ISPs, however, the case law was horrible, and the damages weren’t worth the time or money the clients would have paid in order to sue their ISPs.

100% ANONYMOUS SETTLEMENTS BEFORE ISP COMPLIES WITH SUBPOENA?

Question: “Should I have my attorney contact the plaintiff attorney before he gets my identity from my ISP?  Can I settle with the plaintiff attorney and stop my Comcast ISP from divulging my identity to the plaintiff attorney?”

Answer: Generally, this is not required.  I have had circumstances that the defendant ABSOLUTELY wanted to keep his involvement in a lawsuit ANONYMOUS, and in cases such as this one [where the defendant had something to lose if the plaintiff attorney learned his identity], then yes, I could negotiate a 100% anonymous settlement before the ISP hands out the John Doe’s information to the plaintiff attorney.  I can even stop the ISP from complying with the subpoena.  How??

I have been successful asking various plaintiff attorneys to write or transmit a letter to the ISP and cancel the subpoena as to that particular John Doe Defendant, and both the paid attorney and the ISP happily complied, and my client remained 100% anonymous.  Win-win.  The client remained anonymous, the ISP had one fewer infringement file to take care of, and the pocket-filled plaintiff attorney saved an extra few bucks because he did not have to pay the ISP for the IP address lookup for that John Doe Defendant (sometimes ISP charge plaintiff attorneys large sums of money to lookup and handle the files of each of the John Doe Defendants).

However, one thing that is LOST when negotiating BEFORE the ISP hands over your information is LEVERAGE.  If the John Doe approaches the attorney asking to be anonymous, the plaintiff will want to know, “what does he have to hide?”  In addition, because any anonymous negotiations will arouse suspicion in the eyes of the plaintiff attorney, they might be less willing to negotiate down the price in a settlement negotiation when they sense that the other side has something to lose by having their name exposed to him/her.  We can still do the settlements anonymously and clients still do request this, but be aware that leverage is lost when premature negotiations are made, and thus the cost of the settlement to the copyright holder may be higher than the ordinary negotiation.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER COMCAST COMPLIES WITH THE SUBPOENA?

Question: “Do I become a defendant in the case after my ISP complies with the subpoena and hands out my information to the plaintiff attorney?”

Answer: Again, no.  As far as the court is concerned (and as far as the world is concerned), nobody except you, your ISP, your attorney, and the plaintiff attorney know your name.  Robots and spiders who like to ‘spider’ legal sites and post information on the parties of the cases also cannot know who you are, even after the ISP complies with the subpoena.

Rather, when the ISP complies with the subpoena, likely, they will send over a spreadsheet 10-20 lines long (depending on how many John Doe Defendants there are in the case), and you will be one of those ‘lines’ on the spreadsheet.  The plaintiff will learn who you are, but you will remain an anonymous John Doe Defendant until the plaintiff attorney decides to name and serve you.

When the plaintiff attorney receives the list of names and contact information for each John Doe Defendant, he will separate that pile of names into two piles: 1) subscribers that are represented by attorneys (where their attorneys sent a ‘notice of representation’ to that attorney), and 2) subscribers who are not represented by an attorney.  The experience of the ‘Subscribers who are not represented by attorney’ has best been described to me like ‘being called by a horrible creditor for a debt; only that creditor is an attorney and could ruin my life.’

Question: “Will the ‘copyright troll’ attorney contact me to extort a settlement?”

Answer: Funny enough, likely not.  Attorneys have gotten reprimanded by the courts in recent years for abusive practices such as sending settlement demand letters (I used to refer to them as ‘scare’ letters because their purpose was to frighten and scare the defendants into paying the requested settlement amount).  So rather than saying, “we want $6,000 for so-and-so title (or whatever they are asking),” the plaintiff attorneys will simply state that they have every intention of moving this case to trial, and if the defendant or his/her attorney wants to discuss settlement options, they are more than willing to cooperate.

So no, they will likely not try to contact you.

Question: “If they do not contact me, should I just ignore and do nothing until they name and serve me?”

Answer: Waiting to be named and served is a DANGEROUS legal strategy, for the simple reason that you are thrust into the “fight” option where you are forced to either spend tens of thousands of dollars to some defense attorney to litigate the case for you, or you have committed yourself to become a legal expert unrepresented “pro se” defendant.

If you have any intention of keeping your identity private, it is best to have your attorney negotiate the release of your “John Doe” placeholder entity WHILE YOU ARE STILL A JOHN DOE.  As soon as you are named and served, your identity as being involved in a copyright infringement lawsuit will become public, even if your attorney convinces the other side that you are not the downloader.  And, even if you ended up paying a settlement amount in lieu of litigating the claims against you, if you do so after you are named and served, your identity will become public knowledge and ‘there is no way to put that genie back in the bottle once it’s out.’

Point in sum. It is *almost ALWAYS* better to have your attorney proactively contact the plaintiff attorney before you are named and served.  That way, if a release based on non-guilt is negotiated, it will be done anonymously.  If a settlement is reached, then it will be done without the world learning that you were part of a copyright infringement lawsuit.

WHO IS THE ATTORNEY SUING ME?

TEXAS CASES: Gary Fischman (Fischman Law PLLC)

NOTE: Gary Fischman is the same attorney who is suing defendants in the I.T. Productions LLC cases, the September Productions cases, Cell Film Holdings cases, and Fathers & Daughters Nevada cases.  He is often seen filing lawsuits in conjunction with Josh Wyde.

(I will obviously update this for other states.  For the moment, I have been representing clients in the Texas Southern District Court (TXSD) because our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC practice is physically located in Houston, Texas.)

SUMMARY: ME2 SUBPOENAS DUE TODAY.

I could go on forever with these questions and answers, but the point is that your plaintiff attorney will likely be getting your contact information today for a number of the ME2 Productions, Inc. lawsuits in various states, and the reason for this is because your ISP (primarily, Comcast) is coordinating the compliance with the subpoena by bunching the various subpoenas together and handling them all at the same time.

Thus, expect that tomorrow, your respective ‘copyright troll’ plaintiff attorney will begin calling you, and from there, the process continues as I described above.


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.

RECENT CASE HISTORY OF THE ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. CASES:

Cases filed in the Texas Southern District Court [2017 cases]:
Attorney: Gary Fischman (Fischman Law PLLC)

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00501)
Filed: Feb 15, 2017, Judge: TBA

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-12 (Case No. 4:17-cv-00404)
Filed: Feb 09, 2017, Judge: TBA

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00275)
Filed: Jan 27, 2017, Judge: TBA

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 4:17-cv-00143)
Filed: Jan 17, 2017, Judge: TBA

Cases filed in the Nevada District Court:
Judges include Judge Andrew Gordon, Judge James Mahan, Judge Jennifer Dorsey, and Judge Richard Boulware II — Judge Mahan and Judge Gordon have most of the cases:

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 2:16-cv-02783)
The following cases also filed as ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does:
Case No. 2:17-cv-00114
Case No. 2:16-cv-02563
Case No. 2:16-cv-02513
Case No. 2:16-cv-02799
Case No. 2:17-cv-00121
Case No. 2:17-cv-00126
Case No. 2:17-cv-00122
Case No. 2:16-cv-02657
Case No. 2:16-cv-02384
Case No. 2:16-cv-02520
Case No. 2:17-cv-00124
Case No. 2:17-cv-00123
Case No. 2:16-cv-02662
Case No. 2:16-cv-02788
Case No. 2:16-cv-02875
Case No. 2:16-cv-02660
Case No. 2:17-cv-00049

Cases filed in the North Carolina Eastern District Court:
Judges include Judge Louise Wood Flanagan, Judge Terrence Boyle, Judge W. Earl Britt — Judge Flanagan is the lead, as she has most of the cases and is in charge of the 5:16-cv-914 case into which the others have been consolidated, so watch her rulings to understand how ‘bittorrent’ law is about to evolve in North Carolina:

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1, et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00881)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1, et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00885)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1, et al (Case No. 4:16-cv-00273)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1, et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00896)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-8 (Case No. 5:16-cv-00914)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 7:16-cv-00385)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES 1-10 (Case No. 7:16-cv-00386)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-8 (Case No. 7:16-cv-00384, CONSOLIDATED into 5:16-cv-00914-FL)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 7:16-cv-00394)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 4:16-cv-00279)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 5:16-cv-00875)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe (Case No. 7:16-cv-00383)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 4:16-cv-00278)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00917)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00920)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00922)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 5:16-cv-00202)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 5:16-cv-00206)

Cases filed in the Colorado District Court:
Judge Wiley Y. Daniel has ALL of the bittorrent cases. Watch his ruling because the ME2 cases might affect Colorado ‘bittorrent’ law.

ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-00170)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02978)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. John Does 1-20 (Case No. 1:16-cv-03005)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-03069)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. John Does 1-24 (Case No. 1:16-cv-03128)
ME2 Productions, Inc. . v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-00301)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-00387)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-00033)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. John Does 1 – 11 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02770)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. John Does 1-21 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02788)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02827)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. John Does 1-10 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02891)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02580)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02629)

Cases filed in the Washington Western District Court:
Judge Robert Lasnik appears to be in control of all of the bittorrent cases thus far (a number of them are still ‘TBA’, but I suspect they will go to Judge Lasnik). Watch his ruling on any of these cases, because a ruling on one of these cases will likely affect ALL of the other bittorrent cases in the Washington Western District Court.

ME2 Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01882)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01881)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01953)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01955)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01950)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01776)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01778)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:17-cv-00181)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:17-cv-00182)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:17-cv-00099)
ME2 Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:17-cv-00100)

Cases filed in the Indiana Northern and Southern District Courts:
These cases appear to be assigned to judges in a rotating fashion, and thus, while Judge Theresa Springman (in the Indiana Northern District) and Judge Larry Mckinney (in the Indiana Southern District) each appear to have three (3) cases each, there appears to be no leadership by either judge as to directing the Indiana court as to how or whether these cases will affect ‘bittorrent’ law.

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-8 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00390)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00764)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00695)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 2:16-cv-00468)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-12 (Case No. 2:16-cv-00478)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00697)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOE 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-03020)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOE 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02757)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOE 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02758)

Cases filed in the Arizona District Court:
These cases also appear to be assigned to judges in a rotating fashion, however, it is appearing that Judge Diane Humetewa is taking on more bittorrent cases than any of the others. So watch her court for leadership moving forward.

ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:17-cv-00210)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04039)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04075)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04114)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04112)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04123)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:17-cv-00216)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:17-cv-00217)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:17-cv-00218)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:17-cv-00222)

Cases filed in the New York Eastern and Southern District Courts:
NOTE: Single “John Doe” cases are being filed here. Warning!

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe – 24.44.105.211 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-06161)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe – 68.194.38.87 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-06160)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe(s) – (Case No. 1:17-cv-00929)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe – 74.71.172.215 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-01049)

Cases filed in the Oregon District Court:
Again, warning! These are single-doe cases.

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe-76.27.219.56 (Case No. 3:16-cv-01724)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe-73.164.239.74 (Case No. 3:16-cv-01725)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe-24.21.195.166 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00158)

OTHER CASES (WITHOUT COMMENT):

Cases Filed in the Connecticut District Court:
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 3:16-cv-01834)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 3:16-cv-01835)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 3:16-cv-01837)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 3:16-cv-01838)

Cases Filed in the Georgia Northern District Court:
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 1:16-cv-03904)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-12 (Case No. 1:16-cv-04054)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES 1-11 (Case No. 1:16-cv-04208)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES 1-11 (Case No. 1:16-cv-04052)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES 1-11 (Case No. 1:16-cv-04210)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 1:16-cv-04207)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 (Case No. 1:16-cv-04055)

Cases filed in the Illinois Northern District Court:
(Think, John Steele / Prenda Law Inc. / Steele|Hansmeier / #Prenda old territory.)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOES 1-25 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00712)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOES 1-25 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00706)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOES 1-25 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00708)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOES 1-42 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00714)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOES 1-26 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00710)

Case(s) filed in the Kentucky Western District Court:
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00702)

Case(s) filed in the Maryland District Court:
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 8:16-cv-03730)

Case(s) filed in the Missouri Western District Court:
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 4:16-cv-01271)

Case(s) filed in the Ohio Northern and Southern District Courts:
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 3:16-cv-02715) — Northern
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOES 1-14 (Case No. 2:16-cv-01062) — Southern

Cases filed in the Pennsylvania Eastern District Court:
(This is Jordan Rushie territory.)

ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. JOHN DOES 1-8 (Case No. 2:16-cv-06138)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. JOHN DOES 1-13 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00572)

Cases filed in the Virginia Eastern and Western District Courts:
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00058)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOE 1 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00057)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 5:16-cv-00083)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00002)


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.

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.

Cook Productions ‘dipping toes’ into federal court lawsuits.

Cook Productions (“Mr. Church”) Movie Lawsuits are filed across the US.

How many cases have been filed in each federal court?

At the time of writing this article (Feb. 2017), Cook Productions, LLC has sued John Doe Defendants in following US District Courts*:

Arizona District Court (2)
Colorado District Court (1)
Hawaii District Court (4)
Illinois Northern District Court (14)
Indiana Northern & Southern District Courts (1, 1)
Kentucky Western District Court (1)
Maryland District Court (1)
Nevada District Court (1)
North Carolina Eastern & Middle District Courts (1, 5)
Ohio Northen & Southern District Courts (1, 1)
Oregon District Courts (3)
Pennsylvania Eastern District Court (1)
Washington Western District Court (3)

*I have included the number of filings so that you can see in which states these plaintiffs are focusing their efforts.

All About the Mr. Church Movie Lawsuit

Cook Productions, LLC is the legal entity suing Comcast ISP subscribers for the download of the “Mr. Church” movie with Eddie Murphy and Britt Robertson.  The movie itself looked like a feel good drama, although the movie itself got dismal ratings (which is probably why someone agreed to start suing downloaders of this movie to make up for their shortfall.)

  • COS (Consequence of Sound) rated the movie as a D-, referring to it as “unusually bad melodrama…. about as enjoyable as a plague of locusts.”
  • Indiewire rated it as a C-, claiming that the movie “flails for the heartstrings, but instead of reaching them, it only tugs at that muscle that makes you roll your eyes at its old-fashioned, melodramatic attempts at emotion.”

In sum, this is yet one more movie that failed at the box office, which made it a target for some company to snatch it up in some licensing deal, and then turn on its fans by suing each one in the federal courts.  Even the number of downloaders interested in pirating this film is laughably small.

What do I do if I receive a subpoena from my Internet Provider?

For someone who received a subpoena claiming that they should file a motion to quash to stop their ISP from disclosing their contact information, speak to an attorney because most likely, you live in the state in which you were sued, and the court has jurisdiction over you.  I’d be happy to explain this further if you would like, because the last time I taught anyone about motions to quash may have been back in 2012 (by the way; although those articles are many years old now, the law explained in them is still good, so please feel free to revisit older articles as I did a lot of ‘teaching of concepts’ back when bittorrent case law was not yet “hashed out,” pardon the geeky pun).

Is there anything you can share to help me understand this case?

I have four items that I can contribute to these lawsuits which might be of assistance to someone who is looking for some free legal help or tips on how to understand these lawsuits.

1. The lawsuits are smaller than they should be.

The Cook Productions copyright holders do not have many lawsuits.  While it is scary to see multiple lawsuits in your court, in many cases, there are a small handful of defendants in each case (sometimes only including 5-7 John Doe Defendants in one lawsuit).  This suggests to me a fear that they might lose a significant pool of their defendants to a dismissal.  

On the flip side, you could also say that the attorneys expect to maximize the money they make by extorting as much as possible from one or more defendants, but I have reasons why [for the most part] this is not the case.

2. The lawsuits appear to be filed in ‘untested’ states.

The Cook Productions lawsuits are sprinkled a few here, a few there, as if they are ‘dipping their toes’ into the various federal courts to see which jurisdictions end up being favorable to them.

In my experience, this is simply an indication that Cook Productions is either inexperienced or lazy, because if they did their research into what has already happened over the years with other bittorrent lawsuits, they would have learned which jurisdictions are favorable to so-called copyright trolls, and which are not so favorable.

Why file lawsuits in federal courts where judges are known to be unfriendly to copyright trolls?

Placing 14 cases in the Illinois Northern District Court (Prenda Law Inc. / John Steele’s former home court) is simply a mistake because there are too many judges there which will laugh when they see this lawsuit hit their case list.  At least they knew to stay out of Texas.

3. New “no-name” copyright troll attorneys are being tested in these cases.

There are many well known ‘copyright troll attorneys’ in each of the states Cook is filing in.  These attorneys have filed countless lawsuits against many John Doe Defendants over the years.  However, in a handful of states that I have reviewed for the Cook Productions LLC lawsuits, I am seeing “no-name” attorneys represent the copyright holder.

Let me be clear — if I were to hire an attorney to pursue downloaders, I would hire experienced attorneys who have filed lawsuits in these courts, who know the judges, and who know copyright law.  Rather, I am seeing random attorneys take on these clients who have websites that reference the plaintiff attorney’s areas of expertise to be “insurance law,” “employment law,” “construction law,” …but where is the intellectual property law specialty? Where is the “copyright law” specialty?

Answer: There is none.  These fields of expertise are STATE-BASED areas of law, and in my humble opinion, a number of these local attorneys have never stepped foot in a federal court.

4. If the local plaintiff attorneys have no experience in copyright law, then they must be following instructions of someone higher.

How have they filed these cases then?? Funny, I thought the same thing.  The case filings look IDENTICAL to me, suggesting to me that there is SOME COMMON ENTITY WHO IS FEEDING TEMPLATES TO THESE ATTORNEYS, and these attorneys file them in the federal courts.

My final thoughts about the Cook Productions, LLC lawsuits.

In sum, Cook Productions, LLC appears to me to be yet another copyright troll.  If I was a betting man, I would suggest that some entity licensed the rights to the failed “Mr. Church” movie, and is now suing John Doe Defendants across the US using each state’s local attorneys as straw men to act as if they are the ones who are representing the client to enforce that client’s copyright rights.

For an analysis of the other Cook Productions, LLC bittorrent-based cases [as they start to develop past the subpoena phase of the lawsuit], click here.

What are the actual names of the Mr. Cook lawsuits filed in each court?

Cases filed in the Arizona District Court:
Cook Productions LLC v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04478)
Also, Case No. 2:16-cv-04481

Case filed in the Colorado District Court:
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe 1-23 (Case No. 1:16-cv-03198)

Cases filed in the Hawaii District Court:
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1 through 15 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00034)
Cases also filed against small-number Doe Defendants:
Does 1-8 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00637)
Does 1-4 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00639)
Does 1-5 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00638)

Cases filed in the Illinois Northern District Court:
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. DOES 1-24 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11338)
Cases also filed against small-number Doe Defendants:
v. DOES 1-15 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00522)
v. DOES 1-12 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00536, 1:17-cv-00526)
v. Does 1-29 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11337)
v. DOES 1-12 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00535)
v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00523)
v. DOES 1-14 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11347)
v. DOES 1-15 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11345)
v. DOES 1-18 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11341)
v. DOES 1-25 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11340)
v. DOES 1-13 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11350)
v. Does 1-21 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11344)
v. DOES 1-23 (Case No. 1:16-cv-11339)

Cases filed in the Indiana Northern & Southern District Courts (respectively):
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00773)
COOK PRODUCTIONS LLC v. DOE 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-03158)

Case filed in the Kentucky Western District Court:
NOTE: The “Inc.” is probably a silly typo from a sloppy attorney.

Cook Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00838)

Case filed in the Maryland District Court:
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 8:16-cv-03873)

Case filed in the Nevada District Court:
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does (Case No. 2:17-cv-00069)

Cases filed in the North Carolina Eastern & Middle District Courts:
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe 1, et al. (Case No. 5:16-cv-00910)
Also Filed:
Case No. 5:16-cv-00909
Case No. 5:16-cv-00924
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC V. DOES 1-5 (Case No. 1:16-cv-01369)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC V. DOES 1-11 (Case No. 1:16-cv-01375, 1:16-cv-01374)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC V. DOES 1-7 (Case No. 1:16-cv-01372)
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC V. DOES 1-9 (Case No. 1:16-cv-01373)

Cases filed in the Ohio Northern & Southern District Courts (respectively):
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does (Case No. 3:16-cv-03045)
Cook Productions LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 2:16-cv-01192)

Cases Filed in the Oregon District Court:
NOTE: OK, this one concerns me. Look at the attorney and the “single Doe” case lawsuit style. These might play out differently than the others [just my gut feeling].

Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe-50.53.40.201 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02086)
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe-71.63.208.154 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02085)
Cook Productions v. Doe-73.37.111.126 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00162)

Case filed in the Pennsylvania Eastern District Court:
COOK PRODUCTIONS, LLC. v. JOHN DOES 1-13 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00705)

Cases filed in the Washington Western District Court:
Cook Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01884)
Also filed:
Case No. 2:17-cv-00252
Case No. 2:17-cv-00101


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.

ME2 Productions Bittorrent Lawsuits Have Come To Houston, TX

Introducing the ME2 Productions (“Mr. Church”) Move Lawsuits

Because the “ME2 Productions, Inc.” copyright infringement lawsuits appear to be the ‘third leg’ to the “September Productions, Inc.” (leg 1) and the “Cell Film Holdings, LLC” (leg 2) lawsuits, I felt compelled to write something about it.

This third leg of cases, each of which have been filed by Gary Fischman and Josh Wyde consist of four cases (and counting), each filed here in the TX Southern District Court. ME2 Productions, Inc. itself [through their local counsel across the US] has filed 112 cases so far, and each case appears to be following the same template. There are 10-20 John Doe Defendants per case, and the cases are spaced apart when filed, hoping that no proactive judge receives and consolidates all of the cases in one federal district (this has not yet happened in Texas).

ME2 CASES ARE STILL IN THEIR INFANCY IN TEXAS.

In Texas, the ME2 cases are still in their infancy, and all that has happened is that judges have rubber stamped what are called “expedited discovery” requests to allow the plaintiff attorneys to force the ISP(s) to send subpoenas to the account holders of those IP addresses where unlawful downloading is claimed to have happened.

As of writing this message, the Comcast / XFinity ISP has received three subpoenas, and has sent letters to the accused account holders (the “John Doe Defendants”) indicating that they should file an objection to the subpoena with the court before the ISP is forced to hand out the subscriber information to the plaintiff attorney.

As of now, there are three known ‘deadlines’ to file an objection (e.g., motion to quash) with the court — 3/2, 3/16 and 3/20 — corresponding to three of the four cases so far filed in Texas. I’ll update this article with the fourth date as soon as I get it.

WHAT MOVIE IS BEHIND THE ME2 CASES?

More generally, ME2 Productions, Inc. is suing for copyright infringement based on the the illegal download of the Mechanic: Resurrection movie, starring Jason Statham and Jessica Alba. (NOTE: If you are considering downloading any of the Transporter movies also with Jason Statham, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see lawsuits from the production companies for those movies as well in the near future based on a trend I’ve noticed in the past. Also be on the lookout for lawsuits for the ‘Transporter’ movies as well for this same reason).

NOTICING A CONNECTION BETWEEN THE ME2 AND EARLIER LAWSUITS.

Based on my conversations with the plaintiff attorneys who are attempting to sue downloaders of the Mechanic: Resurrection title, I understand that a number of those implicated in these lawsuits may have also been implicated in the September Productions, Inc. v. Does lawsuits for the download of the Septembers of Shiraz video and possibly also the Cell Film Holdings, LLC v. Does lawsuit for the download of the “The Cell” video.

For some reason, these three videos appear to be a trio, perhaps because they were shared on the piracy websites or Popcorn Time software platforms at the same time, or that there is some ‘contractual’ connection between the three movies (e.g., perhaps Voltage Pictures has signed an agreement with each of the three copyright holders giving Voltage a right to take on the movie production’s company name as they did with Dallas Buyers Club, LLC, to act and to sue on their behalf in order to ‘monetize’ and enforce the copyright rights those productions companies have from the creation of the copyrighted films).

I wrote this last paragraph very quickly, without much explanation. Do you even care if the company suing you is really Voltage Pictures, Inc. who has contacted the movie companies and said, “sign a contract with me — I’ll sue in your name and get lots of settlement money for you”? Bottom line, you are implicated as a John Doe Defendant in what looks to be a copyright troll lawsuit, Comcast is about to hand over your information to plaintiff attorneys Joshua Wyde and Gary Fischman, and you are staring down the barrel of a $150,000 copyright infringement for clicking and possibly watching a movie that may not have been any good.

WHY THESE CASES ARE BOTH SIMILAR AND SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT FROM CONVENTIONAL COPYRIGHT TROLL CASES.

In sum, whether this lawsuit indeed falls under “copyright troll” status or not, the plaintiff attorneys have taken great strides to mask the true nature of this lawsuit, namely, that this lawsuit will likely not go to trial for any of the defendants, because it is not economically profitable for the copyright holder (or Voltage Pictures, if this is the case) to spend the money to chase some student in Houston, TX and force a $150,000 judgment on them that the student will never and could never pay. Yet based on the documents I have seen these attorneys file in the court (sometimes even quoting this blog), they seem to want to litigate.

Whether they are paid hourly by their copyright holder clients (the production companies) or whether the simply take a commission based on a percentage of the settlement amount they elicit from the defendants (my gut feeling is that they are actually being paid hourly by their clients which gives them an incentive to spend more time filing documents in the court) they do spend significant amounts of time drafting motions, and they do spend the money to name and serve defendants, and they DO fight the case *as if* they were taking each John Doe Defendant to trial. Whether this is because they are trying to overcome the bias the federal judges in Texas have against the pornography bittorrent cases which wasted the past seven years of the court’s time or because they are trying to prove the legitimacy of bittorrent based copyright infringement lawsuits, bottom line, they are fighting these cases differently from the way other plaintiff attorneys have fought them in recent years.

What to do if you are sued for a movie you did not download?

So here is the solution. If you did not download the Mechanic: Resurrection movie, then fight back. Hire an attorney (me, or any other attorney) to fight your case. If you did the download, well, there are also solutions found with an attorney, but you knew this already, and it will require both sides to be reasonable to come to an amicable solution.

I did not mention this before, so I am mentioning this here since it is relevant — it is not profitable for a movie company to bring a copyright infringement lawsuit to trial. This gives us on the defense side leverage to either come to an amicable solution, or to fight back and force them to dismiss. The plaintiff attorneys Josh Wyde and Gary Fischman will fight back, but facts are facts, and justice is for the most part blind. If they cannot prove that it is more likely than not that you were the downloader of the copyrighted movie, then they cannot find you guilty for copyright infringement.

An unintended consequence of fighting back.

NOTE: An unintended consequence of fighting back from a purely academic perspective is that doing so forces the copyright holders to focus their set of John Doe Defendants to those downloaders to whom they can prove did the download, because each ‘misfire’ (meaning, each John Doe Defendant who did not do the download and who fights back) costs the copyright holder severely, and we have said for years that this would be the demise of the ‘copyright troll’ model if they sue without vetting their data as to which John Doe Defendants apparently did what and when. Make it too expensive to blindly name and serve (without vetting the John Doe Defendants first), and their model falls. However, fight back, and they will focus and limit their list of John Doe Defendants to those who subscribers (or their family members) who actually did the downloading, and this will only feed back into their cash stream by encouraging settlements to avoid being named and served, sued, and found liable for copyright infringement. It’s a messy problem.

Known Mechanic:Engineering Movie Lawsuits Filed in TX

KNOWN Texas Southern District Court ME2 Cases [Filed in 2017]:
Attorney: Gary Fischman (Fischman Law PLLC)

ME2 Productions, Inc. v DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00695)
Filed: March 4, 2017, Judge: Vanessa D Gilmore

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00501)
Filed: Feb 15, 2017, Judge: TBA

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-12 (Case No. 4:17-cv-00404)
Filed: Feb 09, 2017, Judge: TBA

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00275)
Filed: Jan 27, 2017, Judge: TBA

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 4:17-cv-00143)
Filed: Jan 17, 2017, Judge: TBA

For an analysis of the other ME2 Productions, Inc. bittorrent-based cases filed across the US, click here.


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.

Attorney Fees to a Winning Defendant — “It’s a Shell Game”

When representing a client, in my eyes I am representing the internet users against the “bad guys.” Copyright holders who use the federal court subpoena power to unclothe the identity of the internet subscriber with the intent of extorting that internet user out of thousands of dollars (regardless of whether the internet user did the download or not) is an abuse of the federal court system.  To offset the very high cost of hiring an attorney to defend a copyright infringement claim in federal court, copyright law provides the “winner” of the lawsuit attorney fees (see, 17 U.S. Code § 505).

That way, when an accused internet user is forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to properly defend him or herself against claims of copyright infringement (which often include appearing for multiple court hearings, allowing the household’s computers and electronic devices to be inspected by a forensics expert, being questioned under oath [or having to answer written interrogatories under oath]), *IF* at the end of the investigation (e.g., at the end of “discovery”), the claim of copyright infringement ends up being unfounded and the claim of copyright infringement against the internet user is dismissed, the law gives that internet user the right to collect from his accuser all the fees he paid to his attorney.

Beware, however.  Just because a defendant is entitled to attorney fees does not mean that they will get them.  There are three scenarios which can stop a defendant from obtaining their fees back from a copyright holder plaintiff:

1) The “cut and run” scenario, where a copyright holder dismisses the defendant before a judge can rule that there was no infringement, and

2) the “limited liability company” plaintiff, where the movie company has created smaller independent “shell” companies, and they use those companies to sue defendants in copyright infringement actions (knowing that if those companies incur liability, that liability will not trickle up to the owner or to the other corporate entity), and

3) the “underfunded shell company” scenario, where the copyright holder might not have the funds to pay the attorney fees to the defendant (for example, when the settlement funds have been siphoned off to another entity, or paid out to the copyright troll attorneys).

SCENARIO 1: THE “CUT AND RUN” SITUATION

In a “cut and run” situation, the accused internet user (a.k.a., the “named” John Doe Defendant) mounts a sufficient defense to demonstrate either that the plaintiff copyright holder does not have sufficient evidence to find him guilty of copyright infringement, or he is able to prove that it was not him “at the keyboard” at the time the download took place (because suing the account holder based on an ISP demonstrating that the account holder was assigned a particular IP address [which was used to participate in the downloading or copying of a copyrighted video] has been held in various jurisdictions to be insufficient to prove that it was the account holder who did the download).

In this first scenario, the account holder “fights back,” and hires and pays an attorney to file an answer to the complaint once named and served.  That attorney shows up to the court hearings, he cooperates with the discovery requests (the attorney sits with his client as he answers questions under oath, objects to questions, speaks to the judge in the middle to clarify issues that arise, etc.), and after what ends up being hundreds of hours, the copyright holder dismisses the defendant proactively before the court can rule on a summary judgement hearing that there was never a case against the client in the first place.   I saw this over and over with the Malibu Media, LLC cases.

SCENARIOS 2 & 3: THE “LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY (LLC)” PLAINTIFF, AND THE “UNDERFUNDED” SHELL COMPANY:

The second scenario in which a defendant could be deprived of attorney fees is when the movie studio sets up multiple limited liability “shell” entities (as seen by the “LLC” designation behind the name), and then that “shell” entity is used to file a lawsuit, but it does not have the funds to pay an award of attorney fees should it lose the copyright infringement claim against the “named” defendant.  This could be either because the “shell” entity was not properly funded in the first place, or because the plaintiff lawyers or the owners of the entity are siphoning the settlement funds out of the entity so that it would not be able to pay attorney fees if it was ordered to do so.

This is what bugs me about the limited liability entities which are set up and used to sue defendants — there is no accountability to the accused copyright defendant for the misuse of those entities.  Using Voltage Pictures, Inc. as an example (and by no means am I insinuating that their “shell” entities are misused or underfunded), Voltage Pictures, Inc. is a big name movie company that has sued thousands of defendants over the years.  Since our firm started in 2010, I have been seeing Voltage Pictures, Inc. as a copyright troll who has sued defendants, who has hired not-so-ethical attorneys to enforce their copyrights against bittorrent users, and I do not think one year has past where I have not seen one lawsuit or another where Voltage was behind the scenes as the copyright holder.

Over the years, I have seen Voltage shift from suing thousands of defendants using their their own Voltage name in the lawsuits to setting up smaller “shell” entities which are then used to sue John Doe Defendants.  It is not always obvious that a company suing for copyright infringement is a Voltage copyright troll, but there are tip offs in that each time a new copyright troll “shell” entity files a lawsuit, I see the same copyright troll attorney(s) filing the identical complaint as they filed in other lawsuits, and each time, I see the same discredited German forensics company (Guardaley) listed as the “expert” in the lawsuit.  With so many hundreds of lawsuits filed — and I wasn’t sure I was going to go here, but I am — , I ask myself why the judges don’t see that these are the same set of entities filing the lawsuits, and I shake my head in disgust that the copyright troll scam is still going on.  It boggles my mind that companies as large as Voltage Pictures, Inc. are still taking part in this kind of legal militarism and butchery.

Dallas Buyers Club, LLC was one such shell company that was set up and used to sue defendants, which I later learned was a Voltage Pictures, Inc. shell company.  More recently, Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC appears to be another such shell company.  These companies are all “limited liability companies,” which means that unless the company was structured improperly when it was formed, or unless the principals of the company did something stupid (e.g., intermingling company funds with another shell company’s funds), it is very difficult to “break the veil” to hold the owner of the company personally liable for the company’s mistakes.

This got me thinking.  A defendant does not immediately know whether a copyright troll corporate “shell” entity is properly funded or not, and before hiring an attorney and spending tens of thousands of dollars on a defense, the first thing that defendant should do (or have his lawyer do) is have the “shell” company demonstrate that they have the funds to pay the defendant’s attorney fees should it be demonstrated a) that the account holder “named” and served as the defendant was not the one who did the download in the first place, or b) that the plaintiff’s experts cannot provide sufficient evidence to prove that the copyright infringement actually happened.

Why? Because if the plaintiff does not have the funds to proceed, why spend the time and money defending the lawsuit?  Rather, hit them early on with a bond request to demonstrate that 1) they have the funds to proceed, and to demonstrate 2) that they have the intent to move forward, all the way to trial (if necessary).  This is not a cheap proposition for the copyright holders, as lawsuits such as these could easily run into the hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in fees.

Anyway, my point in this article is simply caveat emptor.  Before you go ahead throwing out all of your money paying an attorney for a defense, make sure the plaintiff can pay your fees if you win. Have them post a bond, or do something to demonstrate that they have the funds to proceed if the case goes in that direction.  If they cannot demonstrate this, then maybe there is no need to defend your case in the first place.

In sum, the copyright laws as they are practiced is lopsided.  Copyright owners are given their remedy — the ability to sue for “statutory damages” of $150,000 per instance of infringement.  And, the accused defendant apparently has his remedy — the ability to retrieve his paid attorney fees when he successfully defends his case against the copyright holder.  Why shouldn’t an accused defendant take a few steps to preserve his rights and check to make sure the plaintiff can pay his attorney fees if he wins?

NOW A NOTE FOR THE JUDGES:

Accused internet users are thrown around, threatened, extorted for thousands of dollars in cash, and the law does little to protect their rights. Defendants have the remedy to have their funds returned to them if they fight and win, but what individual internet user defendant has the ability to pay for a lawyer to defend him in court?  What use is it for the law to award attorney fees and costs to a defendant who prevails “on the merits” when that defendant cannot afford to hire a lawyer to get to that point in the legal process?

Rather, the duty to protect the public in circumstances such as these (suing internet users for the download of copyrighted materials) is on the judges themselves.

Judges know (or their clerks can easily discover) when a particular copyright holder is a “copyright troll” and they know if the same parties have filed serial lawsuits in one state, or if they have filed multiple lawsuits in multiple states, or whether that same entity has sued defendants using multiple shell companies.  Judges also know that most accused defendants cannot pay a lawyer even for the most basic defense.

Too often, judges do not act as the gatekeepers they are, and they let the copyright holders do whatever they want to do while the judges pretend to pressure the copyright holders to move forward and name and serve defendants, or not. This is a charade — one that unnerves me, because it is an open secret that the copyright holders have absolutely no interest in taking a case to trial.

Judges who rubber stamp “expedited discovery” motions: WHY allow copyright holders access to the names of the accused John Doe Defendants when those copyright holders have shown through their past filings that they have absolutely NO INTENTION of proceeding to trial?  And why not make the plaintiff copyright holders demonstrate that they intend to proceed to trial (e.g., by having them post a bond as a matter of course) rather than using your federal court as a weapon to extort settlements from defendants who otherwise do not have the funds to pay for an adequate defense?

Since I mentioned Voltage Pictures, Inc. in this article (since they are the ones behind the Dallas Buyers Club, LLC lawsuits from a few months ago, and more recently, they are the ones behind the Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC lawsuits), below are a list of cases filed across the U.S. (and this is only a small sample of the lawsuits that were filed).  Judges, how can you NOT know that this “Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC” entity is a shell company practicing copyright trolling across the US?!?  Will you now let this “shell” entity do the same thing that every Voltage Pictures, Inc. “shell” entity did before them?  Ask yourself: Have ANY of these Voltage plaintiffs gone to trial?

Current Cases Affected by this Article (I am listing these so that you see how deep the Voltage Picture lawyer network goes — cases are not only filed in Texas, but like the Malibu Media, LLC cases were, they are filed across the US):

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does (Case No. 4:16-cv-01968, Texas Southern District Court (July 5, 2016))
[Plaintiff Attorney Joshua S. Wyde]

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does (Case No. 4:16-cv-01315, Texas Southern District Court (May 10, 2016))
[Plaintiff Attorney Joshua S. Wyde]

Fathers & Daughters Nevada LLC v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-01073, Arizona District Court (April 15, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada LLC v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 1:16-cv-00362, Michigan Western District Court (April 8, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 2:16-cv-10948, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 16, 2016))

Fathers And Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-26 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02452, Illinois Northern District Court (Feb. 22, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-32 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02453, Illinois Northern District Court (Feb. 22, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-17 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02456, Illinois Northern District Court (Feb. 22, 2016))

Fathers And Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-21 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02450, Illinois Northern District Court (Feb. 22, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 2:16-cv-10371, Michigan Eastern District Court (Feb. 2, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 2:16-cv-10372, Michigan Eastern District Court (Feb. 2, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v Does 1 Through 12 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00187, Hawaii District Court (April 22, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10948, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 16, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada LLC v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-00406, Arizona District Court (Feb. 12, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-14 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10939, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 15, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. John Does 1-7 (Case No. 1:16-cv-01318, Colorado District Court (June 1, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-14 (Case No. 2:16-cv-10939, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 15, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-14 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10751, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 3, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-18 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10785, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 4, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10654, Michigan Eastern District Court (Feb. 23, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 2:16-cv-10910, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 14, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. John Does 1-15 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00560, Colorado District Court (March 8, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-00670, Colorado District Court (March 22, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10910, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 14, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-00747, Colorado District Court (March 31, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does (Case No. 1:16-cv-00278, New Mexico District Court (April 11, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10372, Michigan Eastern District Court (Feb. 2, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-00613, Colorado District Court (March 16, 2016))

Need more examples?


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.

Why is it that Lightspeed Media copyright troll cases are DEAD, and yet SO MANY DEFENDANTS are still receiving letters?

Lightspeed Media Corp. has been one of the more aggressive copyright trolls over the past two years. They are intimately associated with John Steele and Prenda Law Inc., and have changed their lawsuits as the case law has changed over the years.

They started out as one of Prenda Law Inc.’s first bittorrent lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, where they sued 100 John Doe Defendants in the Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Does 1-100 (Case No. 1:10-cv-05604), of which 99 WERE DISMISSED ON 12/21/2010, with the remaining one shortly afterwards.

Then Lightspeed Media Corp. amended their complaint to sue 1,000 defendants instead of 100 defendants, and as we wrote about in our “Judge Steeles The Life From A Second Torrent Case” article, the judge responded by SEVERING AND DISMISSING ALL DEFENDANTS but one.

Just when we thought this case was dead, John Steele filed an amended complaint on 4/11/2011 and brought the case back to life by suing one John Doe. The funny part, however, was that they continued to send “scare” letters to ALL THE SEVERED AND DISMISSED DEFENDANTS (even though they were no longer defendants in the case). The court picked up on this and berated Steele on 4/19/2011. A few months later, the zombie Lightspeed Media Corp. federal case was DEAD.

Then, Lightspeed and Steele came up with a novel idea — sue defendants across the U.S. for violation of federal hacker statutes, alleging that accused internet users accessed Lightspeed’s websites using stolen passwords (which “through no fault of their own” were “leaked” onto the internet). The twist was that their new lawsuit was filed in the corrupt ILLINOIS STATE COURT (even though the subject matter of the lawsuits belong in the federal courts). In the Lightspeed “Hacker” lawsuit, even if the accused John Doe Defendants used the passwords to access Lightspeed’s websites, THEY WOULD NOT VIOLATE THE FEDERAL STATUTES WHICH WERE ASSERTED AGAINST THEM IN THE COMPLAINT. This is the joke about the case — it simply has no merit, but the case persists. It befuddles me that the state court is still allowing subpoenas to be sent out (even though the Illinois SUPREME COURT has come in and voiced its opinion that this case is a fraud and that it should be shut down). Yet, it persists.

These same Hacker lawsuits were also filed in the Miami Dade, FL state courts (equal in integrity to the Chicago state courts) in the Lightspeed Media Corp. v. John Does (Case No. 12-05673 CA 05), and in the Maricopa County, AZ state court (Case No. CV2012-053230). There is a lot that is written about these cases, but because they are taking place in state courts (in which we do not have eyes), we have not been tracking these cases. Essentially, it is important to note that the lawsuits are filed against one Doe Defendant, but implicate HUNDREDS of Doe Defendants as co-conspirators.

Word is that a few weeks ago, Lightspeed Media Corp. has been sold to another company (perhaps to Prenda Law Inc.?), yet the lawsuits continue.

So as you see, Lightspeed Media Corp. is essentially a zombie company that keeps coming back asking internet users for more and more money. If you take a look on http://www.rfcexpress.com, you’ll see that there are a few cases on the books, but they are ALL DISMISSED. Yet, if you asked the internet world how many thousands of internet users are still getting calls or letters for Lightspeed, you’ll get a surprising answer.

FEDERAL CASES FILED ON BEHALF OF LIGHTSPEED MEDIA CORPORATION
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Does 1-9 (CAND; 4:11-cv-02261) [DEAD]
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Doe (ILND; 1:11-cv-00385) [DEAD]
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Doe (ILND; 1:11-cv-00209) [DEAD]
Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Does 1-100 (then 1-1,000) (ILND; 1:10-cv-05604) [DEAD]

KNOWN STATE CASES FILED ON BEHALF OF LIGHTSPEED MEDIA CORPORATION
Lightspeed Media Corp. v. John Doe (Miami Dade, FL Case No. 12-05673 CA 05)
Lightspeed Media Corp. v. John Doe (St. Clair, IL Case No. 11-L-683)
Lightspeed Media Corp. v. World Timbers, Inc. & John Doe (Maricopa, AZ Case No. CV2012-053230)

New Arizona Rule: You are only properly joined with those you upload to or download from.

For those bittorrent users accused of copyright infringement in Arizona, there is a new rule which you can use in your defense.

Traditionally, in order to properly sue multiple bittorrent users together in one lawsuit, they need only to participate in the “same transaction or occurrence.”  In other words, they need to do the same “crime” at the same time.  Not so in California, and NOW, not so in Arizona.  [For the California citation, see Document 26 in the Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-188 (Case No. 3:11-cv-01566) case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.]

In bittorrent language, when you connect to a bittorrent swarm and download copyrighted media, all of you participating in that bittorrent swarm would be sued together.  This is one of the most recent kinds of lawsuits by the more skilled plaintiff attorneys — instead of Plaintiff v. John Does 1-123 (or however many John Doe Defendants there are lumped together [and separated by the state in which they reside] in this lawsuit), smarter plaintiffs are suing participants of the swarm itself (e.g., Plaintiff v. Swarm of Nov. 3rd, 2011 [and participants thereof]).  No longer in in Arizona.

NEW RULE: Now in Arizona, in order to be sued with other John Doe Defendants, you must have either UPLOADED TO or DOWNLOADED FROM each one of the other defendants.  If not, the defendants are not properly joined and defendants can be severed and dismissed from the case for improper joinder.

TODAY in the Patrick Collins, Inc. v. John Does 1-54 (Case No. 2:11-cv-01602) case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, in U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow’s own words:

Plaintiff alleges that the two remaining Defendants “participat[ed] in the BitTorrent swarm with other infringers” but does not claim that John Doe 6 provided data to the former John Doe 12 or vice versa. (Doc. 26 ¶ 56). …

… Plaintiff alleges no facts that these two particular Defendants shared data with each other, and provides data instead that they were logged on to BitTorrent weeks apart. “The bare fact that a Doe clicked on a command to participate in the BitTorrent Protocol does not mean that they were part of the downloading by unknown hundreds or thousands of individuals across the country or across the world.” Hard Drive Prods., Inc. v. Does 1–188, 11 No. CV-11-01566, 2011 WL 3740473, at *13 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 23, 2011)

(emphasis added).

Personal Note: While this ruling is not immediately relevant if you do not live in Arizona, it is still good news because it indicates that judges are starting to understand how rules (here, the rules of “joinder”) apply in the bittorrent context.  No doubt, this order will be recognized and used in other cases in other jurisdictions as being persuasive as to how a judge should understand who can be sued together with whom.  Soon it will no longer be permitted for an enterprising plaintiff (e.g., “copyright troll”) to sue tens or hundreds of defendants in one lawsuit, lumping them together by the state in which they live (this lumping-together-by-state was the result of the dismissals last year over personal jurisdiction issues).  I look forward to other judges in other states soon to adopt this ruling.  It is a well thought-out understanding of the joinder issue.

I have pasted the link to the order below for your enjoyment.

[scribd id=86003821 key=key-2fdfgumg990ug6reuo9a mode=list]

What to do when a copyright troll “names” you as a defendant in your bittorrent lawsuit.

I’ve been bumping into more clients than ever who did not retain counsel and have now been “named” as a defendant in their bittorrent case (e.g., they were one of many John Doe Defendants, and now they have been served with paperwork and are now a defendant in their case).  The purpose of this post is to very explicitly state what you are up against at this point (this is for attorneys [unfamiliar with these cases] defending clients as well, as many of you also call me with the same questions as named defendants) and to give you your options.  Here are a few examples of named defendants:

Patrick Collins, Inc. v. John Doe 6, Ching Y., et al. (Arizona U.S. District Court; Case No. 2:11-cv-01602 [or 11-cv-1602]) (1/7/2012)

K-Beech, Inc. v. George H., Shana S., Richard S., Brian T., and Catherine V. (Arizona U.S. District Court; Case No. 2:11-cv-01604 [11-CV-1604]) (originally, K-Beech, Inc. v. John Does 1-54) (12/19/2011).

and K-Beech Inc. v. Derek L.K-Beech Inc. v. Paul F.K-Beech Inc. v. Carl P.; K-Beech Inc. v. Cesar V.; K-Beech Inc. v. Joseph G.; K-Beech Inc. v. Scott S.; K-Beech Inc. v. Hanna B., etc. (each in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania)

In short, my opinion thus far has been that these so-called lawsuits each are pieces of one larger “extortion scheme” where the plaintiff attorneys have acquired your name and contact information (whether through early discovery in a federal court, or a lawsuit in a state court such as Miami Dade, FL, Maricopa County, AZ, or even St. Clair County, IL).  Then they called you and sent you what I described as “scare” letters telling you that if you did not settle by a certain date, they would name you as a defendant (either individually or as a smaller group of Does) in your home state’s federal court.  For whatever reason, you did not hire an attorney and you became what I referred to as “low hanging fruit,” meaning that you became an easy target because by not hiring an attorney, you told them that you are not taking their case seriously and that you probably did not educate yourself about what they could do to you.

Not realizing that the plaintiff attorneys are using the courts and the legal system to further their extortion scheme, you did not realize that these so-called “copyright trolls” could actually follow-up and “name” you as a defendant in your lawsuit.  As far as I’m concerned, it costs them essentially nothing to do this.  They have already sued you as a “Doe” Defendant, and by doing this they have already paid the filing fee.  The complaints are all essentially copies of one another so the paperwork is already written (and if there is a no-name local attorney involved, he has probably been given templates by the Lipscomb & Eisenberg, Prenda Law Inc., or other firm behind the scenes (e.g., if it is a Patrick Collins, Inc. or K-Beech, Inc. case), so naming a defendant is a piece of cake.  The hard part of finding a local attorney in many cases has already been done, and so it is just a matter of “naming” you as a defendant in the lawsuit.  Even Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC (parading as Media Law Group) has started to hire local counsel and sue dismissed defendants from their many cases from last year.

Many people have asked me whether at this point they can “hide” from the process server so that they are not properly “served.”  Many have also told me “I don’t live at that address anymore,” “I’ve since moved so they’ll never find me,” or “my ISP doesn’t have my correct [NAME SPELLING/ADDRESS/PHONE NUMBER/E-MAIL {pick one}].”  My answer to each one of these is to point out that you are not fighting a traffic ticket… This is a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court. Whether or not you are guilty, these cases have the ability to broke you (and to potentially seize your assets and force you into bankruptcy).  It borderline offends me when people stick to their “I’m not guilty, they can’t do anything to me” viewpoint because this is simply not true.  The so-called copyright trolls have the power and force of the law to haul you into court and force you to spend tens of thousands of dollars to defend yourself or face a default judgement (essentially a finding of “guilty” because you did not timely file an answer once you were named).

If you are named as a defendant and you avoid service of process (“being served”), there are other ways to serve you.  Depending on the jurisdiction, they can post a notice at your last known address, they can publish a notice in the newspaper… the judge may even allow them to serve you by sending an e-mail to your last known e-mail address.  Don’t think that you are the first person to attempt to outsmart the legal system.  People have tried all these before (and some have even fled the country), and this is why every attorney now learns about the ins and outs of service of process in their first year of law school.

So once you are named as a defendant, depending on your circumstances, the general rule is that you have twenty (20) days to file an answer in federal court.  An “answer” essentially is a denial of their claims, along with all your counterclaims and defenses (remember, if you don’t plead it in your answer, you lose the ability to argue it later).  Fail to file your answer in time and you’ve already lost your case and will be facing a default judgement.  On this note, NEVER rely on a default judgement being $750 plus attorney fees & costs.  I know you have seen those few judgments (e.g., DC’s Call of the Wild Movie, LLC v. Does case) where named defendants didn’t respond and they only got hit with the minimum $750 statutory judgement (but then again, Judge Alsup in N.D. California hit two defendants with $30,000 default judgments each for not filing an answer).  Judgements can be $750, $30,000, $150,000, and based on the sole discretion of the judge, any number in between.  I would never risk my financial future on hoping a judge had a good day.  In short, if you are named and served, you must file an answer with the court.

This is the point where many defendants are when they  contact me.  They believe that they will “fight the good fight” and they will “take these f^%@&!! to court!”  What they don’t realize is that lawsuits cost money and time to fight, and that suddenly it becomes my job to manage their expectations and to explain to them that depositions take time.  Drafting and filing documents take time.  Hearings take time.  And do defendants want a barebones defense? or do they want me to give the plaintiffs hell as well?  This takes more time.  We CAN depose them, take interrogetories, and I’ve always said that with one winning case, we can bring down their whole extortion scheme.  But this all takes…time.  And time costs you money.  So be smart before you declare war on those who have sued you.  There are smarter ways to handle these cases, and so make sure your attorney knows your particular copyright troll, their capabilities, where they will crack, and where they will give in before you decide to step into the courtroom.

Now that you are named (and it took SEVEN PARAGRAPHS to get to this point), realize that your power of negotiating a settlement is severely limited at this point because the plaintiff attorneys have ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO ACCEPT A SETTLEMENT AT THIS POINT.  I expect they are hoping that you do not hire an attorney and that you try to do this on your own, because if you mess up, they’ve just created a valid judgement against you which they can have the court enforce against you.  Now if you have retained counsel, maybe they *would* decide to settle because as you’re about to see, we’re about to cost them a lot of money.

After we file the answer on your behalf, because their so-called evidence is insufficient to prove that you (and not someone else in your household, or someone using your internet connection living within a 3/4 mile radius [depending on the strength of your router]) downloaded their client’s copyrighted video(s), they will need to hire a digital forensics expert. This is a costly step for them – you do not pay a penny for this — so that they can make a mirror image of your computer(s)’ hard drives and go through them with the equivalent of a microscope to see whether they can find a hint of the file(s) you are accused of downloading.

Assuming they do not find anything incriminating, they will pull you in for a deposition under oath where they will ask you many hours of questions (with me at your side; again, think time) about your bittorrent use, your internet habits and activity, your schedule on the date of the alleged infringement, and anything else they need to establish that it was more likely than not you who did the download.

Again, assuming you are not guilty and assuming you did not say anything incriminating in your deposition, we would likely file for what is known as a summary judgement, essentially telling the judge, “Judge, they looked at my client’s computer(s). They questioned my client. They did not find anything and they have no evidence to move forward. Please dismiss.” Assuming we win, we will ask the court for attorney fees and costs to reimburse you for everything you have paid me. However, remember again, you just spent six months of your life fighting this. Had you contacted me before you were swept into this path of litigation, we could have avoided having you go through this in the first place.

Remember, as much as each of these steps will take time to fight on your behalf (and I’m happy to do this for each one of you), I always tell people that it is important to be practical and smart.  Your plaintiff attorneys are looking at this like a business, and so should you.  I have no doubt they want to spend as little as possible to make the most amount of money from you that they can collect.  As giddy as they may be from getting a $150,000 judgement from you if they took you to trial, chances are they will never see a penny of it.  I have no doubt this is why not one of these bittorrent cases has ever gone to trial.  Your plaintiff attorneys know this, as this was the lesson we learned from the MPAA and RIAA lawsuits from a few years back (where they did bring defendants to trial) — that it is more expensive to get a few large judgments than it is to get many smaller settlements.  If I have not said this loud enough, let me say this explicitly.  Everyone (even each of your copyright trolls and their clients) has a cracking point and a monetary goal (yes, even after naming a defendant).  Your attorney should know 1) how far they are willing to go, 2) how far they have gone before, 3) at what point(s) they would consider a settlement and for how much at each point, and 4) how equipped they are to move forward in case you do decide to  use our firm’s services.   Without an attorney, you’re on your own and they have no reason not to trample all over you and demand as much as they can.  With an attorney, we are too much of a liability (one word from our client and we have no choice but to move forward with litigation) for them not to consider settling (contrary to what they’ll tell you) because we cost them time.