Category Archives: Missouri (MO)

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 https://www.torrentlawyer.com/calendar/ 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.

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.

“Swarm joinder theory” & “Judicial Economy” ruling refuted.

Add Missouri to the list of states unfriendly to copyright trolls. And, congratulations to the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients who have been severed and dismissed from the Purzel Video GMBH v. Does 1-91 (Case No. 4:12-cv-02292) lawsuit!

Now what was exciting about this Purzel Video GMBH case ruling was U.S. District Judge Audrery Fleissig’s 1) refutation of the “judicial economy” justification for joinder, and 2) her clarification of the relationship between bittorrent users for joinder purposes (and similarly, what she left open for future rulings by referring to bittorrent transfers as mere “pieces”).

Courts in other federal jurisdictions which allow multiple defendants to be sued together in bittorrent cases (pro-joinder jurisdictions) allow joinder of non-related defendants based on the fact that it is easier to have one “John Doe 1-500” case with five hundred (500) defendants in it rather than to have five hundred “single John Doe” lawsuits. The defendants in these cases are all accused of violating the same copyright laws; the defendants are all accused of using bittorrent to download the same title; the courts are all deciding the same issues for each defendant — whether the court has “personal jurisdiction” over each defendant (whether the plaintiffs sued defendants in the wrong state, depriving that federal court of personal jurisdiction over each John Doe Defendant), and whether the defendants are properly joined together as co-defendants in the same lawsuit.

I suspect that Judge Flessig caught on to the extortion scheme, and she made her ruling with the understanding that everything in the above justifications for “judicial economy” is true… if the plaintiffs are running a settlement extortion scheme. However, if the plaintiffs indeed intend in good faith to move forward with their case “on the merits,” then as the judge points out, the “judicial economy” approach falls apart.

The rule now in Missouri federal courts (binding on other Missouri cases, persuasive in non-Missouri cases) is that suing multiple defendants in a “John Doe 1-X” lawsuit is improper because of the prejudice to the co-defendants and the confusion that will result *if* the plaintiffs actually have a good faith intent on pursuing their claims (e.g., if they are “not” running a settlement extortion scheme).

For example, a rule in federal courts is that every named defendant needs to be provided copies of all documents for the case in which they are accused. The judge points out that it would prejudice Defendant #2 if he started receiving motions and rulings relating to the depositions and interrogatories for Defendant #1. Multiply the confusion that would occur if there are ten defendants, or one hundred defendants, and so on. Similarly, each defendant will end up having his own lawyer. If the lawyer for Defendant #1 makes a motion and the court orders his client to a case management hearing, Defendant #2 will receive a copy of this order and may think that he has to attend the hearing.

This gets even more burdensome as soon as defendants are named and discovery begins to take place. Judge Fleissig points out that every defendant has the right to attend the depositions of the other co-defendants. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if every John Doe Defendant crowds into a small office to hear the other defendants’ depositions. My own addition — imagine if all the accused defendants and each of their lawyers try to crowd into one small courtroom for a hearing.

Lastly, we all know that the justifications for joinder in a federal lawsuit is the “same transaction or occurrence” standard. In other words, courts have ruled that defendants can be joined together in one lawsuit if they were participating in the same bittorrent swarm at the same time — this is known as the “swarm joinder theory” asserted by the plaintiffs in every bittorrent lawsuit complaint.

In plaintiff attorney Paul Lesko’s cases, it is interesting to note that he was trying to extend the definition of a bittorrent swarm to span 18 weeks — from August 5th, 2012 to December 5th, 2012. This would obviously include internet users who never uploaded or downloaded from each other, and it would place them together as being part of the same transaction [big ongoing swarm] or occurrence [the “happening” of the swarm, for as long as “it” stays “alive”].

This secondary swarm theory has no official name, but it could be described as the “temporal swarm theory,” which asserts that defendants who participate in a bittorrent swarm can be sued with all other defendants who ever uploaded or downloaded to that swarm (as opposed to a more legitimate “snapshot swarm theory” which joins bittorrent users together in a lawsuit based on who is uploading and downloads to whom at a particular point in time).

However, Judge Fleissig rejected both the “swarm joinder theory” and the “temporal swarm theory” (“snapshot swarms” were not discussed) because in both cases, the bittorrent users did not download and upload from EACH OF ALL the other bittorrent users in that swarm. In other words, a bittorrent swarm consists of many small “transactions and occurrences” between multiple users, and the judge essentially ruled that association with a “bittorrent swarm” does not properly connect [for joinder purposes] one defendant with another defendant from whom or to whom he did not specifically download or upload.

Food for thought for future Missouri federal cases: I want to also mention that Judge Fleissig refers to the accused bittorrent users as merely transferring “pieces” of the copyrighted files to each other rather than the entire copyrighted title [to be found liable for copyright infringement (under the “substantial similarity” prong), courts have ruled that the entire copyrighted file needs to be transferred; not merely “pieces” of it].

I would love to interpret her words as meaning that ‘because no user transfers a complete copyrighted file to any other user (only data bits and “pieces” of the copyrighted file that the downloader’s bittorrent software pieces together into a file), no user can be found liable for copyright infringement,’ but I do not think this is what she was referring to.

Rather, by mentioning bittorrent transfers from one user to another user as mere “pieces” of a copyrighted file, Judge Fleissig leaves open the question (perhaps to be elaborated in a future ruling) whether transferring bits and “pieces” of a copyrighted file (but not the entire file) can constitute copyright infringement.

NOTE: This ruling directly affects as binding upon the following Missouri bittorrent cases* (sorted by filing date):

reFX Audio Software Inc. v. Does 1-39 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00895)
Georgia Film Fund Four, LLC v. Does 1-75 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00832)
The Bicycle Peddler, LLC v. Does 1-28 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00583)
Elf-Man, LLC v. Does 1-17 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00576)
The Thompsons Film, LLC v. Does 1-23 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00577)
PHE, Inc. v. Does 1-27 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00480)
Purzel Video GMBH v. Does 1-32 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00449)
Purzel Video GMBH v. Does 1-67 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00450)
Riding Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-11 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00430)
Bayou Pictures, LLC v. John Does 1-11 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00433)
The Good Doctor, LLC v. John Does 1-36 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00434)
Maxcon Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-88 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00428)
reFX Audio Software Inc. v. Does 1-97 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00409)
reFX Audio Software Inc. v. Does 1-53 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00408)
Breaking Glass Pictures, LLC v. Does 1-188 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00388)
Vision Films, Inc. v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00290)
Vision Films, Inc. v. Does 1-30 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00020)

*some of these may have already been dismissed on other grounds.


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.

VISION FILMS, INC. — NEW COPYRIGHT TROLLS??

010613 VisionFilms Screenshot

Nothing smells like “copyright troll” to me more than a new local counsel filing multiple copyright lawsuits against hundreds of John Doe defendants ON THE SAME DAY.  Then, to avoid having all the cases be assigned to the same judge (so that the cases do not all fall on one bad ruling from a hostile judge), this new copyright troll cunningly manipulates the legal system by splitting the lawsuit into smaller “John Doe” lawsuits, each one having less than 100 defendants.  Each lawsuit is randomly assigned to a different judge in that district.

Vision Films, Inc. (link) appears to be not a production company, nor does it appear to be the copyright holder for the film(s) upon which it is suing.  Rather, it appears that this is a distribution company that acquires the rights to license titles to third parties on behalf of the production companies (the ones who have the copyrights).  Copyright trolling (e.g., suing hundreds of internet users for the downloading of their films) appears to be part of their business plan as well.

Welcome new copyright troll, “Vision Films, Inc.”  And a hearty welcome to Vision Films, Inc.’s new copyright troll attorneys, Matthew Lee Stone of Schneider & Stone (in the Northern District of Illinois), Joan M. Swartz of Law Office of Joan M. Swartz, L.L.C. (in the Missouri Eastern District), Stamatios Stamoulis & Richard C. Weinblatt of Stamoulis & Weinblatt LLC (in the Delaware District Court), and Van R Irion of Law Office of Van R. Irion, PLLC (in the Tennessee Eastern District Court).  It is clear that Vision Films, Inc. has chosen top notch attorneys from big and powerful law firms.  …For the solo practitioners they chose, I could have recommended better copyright trolls for them in seconds just by looking at the courts in which they filed.  

Anyway, here is the list of cases, separated out by jurisdiction:

CASES FILED BY MATTHEW STONE IN THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS:
Vision Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-70 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00064)
Vision Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-63 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00065)
Vision Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-70 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00066)
Vision Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-73 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00067)
Vision Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-67 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00068)
Vision Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-43 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00071)

CASE FILED BY JOAN SWARTZ IN THE MISSOURI EASTERN DISTRICT COURT:
Vision Films, Inc. v. Does 1-30 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00020)

CASE FILED BY STAMATIOS STAMOULIS & RICHARD WEINBLATT IN THE DELAWARE DISTRICT COURT:
Vision Films Inc. v. John Does 1-24 (Case No. 1:12-cv-01746)

Since these cases were just filed on Friday 1/4/2013, some of them are too new to be seen even on PACER/ECF.  However, from what I have been able to glean from the complaints that were online, each lawsuit appears to be for the same film, “Blood Money,” (the title is coincidental with the type of extortion they plan to foist on their defendants).

On a personal note, I really wish these attorneys would have done some research before accepting cases such as these.  Vision Films, Inc. may be suing for the downloading of their non-pornographic movies, but inevitably, they and their lawyers will become synonymous with the other cases.  Further, the bittorrent joinder swarm legal theory is a faulty theory full of holes which cannot survive on the merits.  I don’t know why any reputable law firm would assert this theory unless they are planning on using the federal courts and the legal system as a weapon to be one of the “me too” copyright troll settlement factories.  Anyone who has stepped foot in the Northern District of Illinois should know that the judges don’t play that game anymore.


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.