Introducing a ‘common troll’ theory of copyright trolling.
In this article, I elaborate a ‘common troll’ theory. This ‘common troll’ theory suggests that copyright troll attorneys are not soliciting copyright holders to find clients for their law firm to sue. Rather, it appears as if some ‘common troll’ is providing them the list of copyright holder names to sue under.
It is now three days later, and I am unhappy with the “ME2 Productions, Inc. Texas-based Copyright Infringement Lawsuits” article I wrote on Friday. For this purpose, I am providing a quick summary of the case and my thoughts about a ‘common troll’ theory. That way, those implicated in this lawsuit will understand what appears to really be going on ‘under the surface.’
ME2 Productions, Inc. is the legal entity suing Comcast ISP subscribers for the download of the “Mechanic: Resurrection” movie with Jason Statham (think, “The Transporter”). This ME2 movie appears to have been shared on the Popcorn Time software at the same time as the Septembers of Shiraz movie, the “The Cell” movie, among others.
You might think the plaintiff attorneys were using the Popcorn Time app to solicit who to sue.
On Friday, I referred to this lawsuit as the “third leg” because the three movies were often mentioned within the context of the other two when defending a John Doe Defendant in Gary Fischman and Josh Wyde‘s concurrent lawsuits (September Productions, Cell Film Holdings). My ‘gut’ understanding was that someone who inadvertently clicked on the “The Cell” movie also downloaded the Mechanic: Resurrection movie. Why? Because they were likely next to each other on the Popcorn Time PC or cell phone app.
WHY POPCORN TIME USERS CAN GET ACCUSED OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
Popcorn Time developers and I have exchanged a number of heated arguments over the years. My primary objection to them is that they lure users in with their professional appearance, they offer a VPN claiming to ‘hide’ the identity of the user when searching for the movie, but as far as I can recall, the VPN is not used when the Popcorn Time software connects to the internet via BITTORRENT and creates a conduit through which the user can watch the copyrighted movie without a license. Because Popcorn Time connects to BITTORRENT to serve the movie to their end user (making the end user the downloader for copyright infringement and liability purposes), the end user’s internet IP address is shared by the software in the bittorrent swarm (which is then monitored by the copyright holder), which is how the end user gets ‘caught’ and sued in federal court for copyright infringement.
Again, my arguments with Popcorn Time happened over two years ago, and I do not monitor their software. All I know from the attorney perspective is that I am still getting clients sued as “John Doe” defendants in a number of cases, and too many of them are telling me they never used bittorrent — only Popcorn Time on their phone, or on their computer.
Popcorn Time might be how defendants are getting caught, but this is not where the plaintiffs are getting their clients.
Now I do not know whether the plaintiff attorneys solicited the copyright holders for the Mechanic: Resurrection movie and sold their services to enforce the copyrights just as they are doing so for the other production companies. What is becoming apparent to me is that attorneys Gary Fischman and Josh Wyde are working for a common copyright troll. This ‘common troll’ seems to be behind each of the movie lawsuits.
I suspect there is a common ‘copyright troll’ behind each of the lawsuits.
Just as one tugs at a string until the whole thing unravels, I have been tugging at the various ‘copyright troll’ cases for years now, and the ME2 lawsuit just smells like a Voltage Productions, Inc. scenario.
What does that mean in the conspiracy world of copyright trolling? In the copyright troll world, you usually have one or more entities, most popularly, a German company named Guardaley with various companies here in the US who employ local attorneys to ‘shake down’ downloaders of their copyrighted films. Similarly, there is the Voltage Pictures, Inc. company (possibly linked with Guardaley, possibly not), which contacts copyright holders in the US, and offers to monetize the copyrights owned by those production companies.
This Voltage Pictures entity would be the ‘common troll’ in this theory. Why? Because Voltage Pictures is not loyal to Dallas Buyers Club. There is nothing that would stop them from soliciting other movie copyright holders, and monetizing their copyrights as well.
How a common copyright troll would sue under many movie production studios
Whether Voltage Pictures, Inc. (or whoever is this ‘common troll’ — at the time of writing this article, I suspect them to be Voltage), here are the steps:
- This ‘common troll’ entity signs an agreement with a movie company to allow them to create an entity using that movie company’s name.
- The ‘common troll’ engages in business parading as that movie company when really they are merely the licensee (the one receiving the license from the movie company to make as much money as possible for that company).
- The ‘common troll’ sues downloaders of the copyrighted movie while parading to be that movie studio, when really, they are not the holder of the copyright rights.
- The ‘common troll’ then solicits other movie companies to repeat steps 1-3.
This ‘common troll’ theory, and the idea of one ‘common troll’ filing lawsuits pretending to be another company is a scam which evaded many people and judges, myself included, for a long time.
My source for suspecting Voltage as being the ‘common troll’ behind this scam: The Dallas Buyers Club vs. Dallas Buyers Club lawsuit. Couple this with the commonalities I have been seeing between each case, it is becoming apparent that there is a ‘common troll’ suing under the names of different copyright holder movie companies and running the same scheme as we saw with the Dallas Buyers Club cases.
Specifically, how was this scam applied to the Dallas Buyers Club, LLC cases
When a client was sued by Dallas Buyers Club, LLC, unbeknownst to anyone, they were sued by Voltage Pictures, Inc.
Voltage Pictures Inc. masqueraded as Dallas Buyers Club, LLC. They even set up local Texas business entities using the name “Dallas Buyers Club, LLC.” The movie company itself could have been called “Dallas Buyers Club, Inc.” incorporated in some other state. This sounds like minutia, but in the eyes of the law, this is a serious misrepresentation, maybe even rising to the level of fraud.
Why Agency Law applies settlements made to a ‘common troll’ apply to the real copyright holder.
For the clients I defended over the years, a dismissal against Dallas Buyer’s Club, LLC is binding on the real Dallas Buyer’s Club copyright holder. This is true regardless of whether Dallas Buyers Club was cheated by the Voltage attorneys who signed the agreement. Whether in the end they did or did not pay Dallas Buyers Club the royalties and settlement payments they were due according to their agreement is not your concern.
The reason for this is because the Dallas Buyer’s Club attorneys were acting as the agents of the real Dallas Buyers Club movie entity.
Moving Forward with knowledge of their scheme.
Nevertheless, the ‘behind the scenes’ activity which is hidden from even my eyes until one entity sues the other still is interesting to one implicated in the lawsuit (and it is useful in the defense as well should we begin inquiring as to the identity of the so-called copyright holder suing the John Doe Defendants).
Why I rejected the idea that Gary Fischman solicited ME2 Productions to be his client.
Because I did not properly explain how the Dallas Buyers Club scam applied to the ME2 Productions cases, I was unhappy with last week’s article.
Based on the growing evidence behind the hypothesis that there was a ‘common troll’, I threw out the suspicion that the attorneys were soliciting their copyright holder clients. Specifically, the ME2 client did not materialize because Gary Fischman (ME2’s local counsel here in Texas) went from one copyright holder to another trying to “drum up business” and acquire new clients.
Rather, I am sensing that each of the lawsuits they are filing are coming from the same singular entity. My best guess is that this ‘common troll’ entity is Voltage Pictures, Inc. Alternatively or concurrently, I also suspect the German company Guardaley, IPP, or some shell entity of theirs.
This ‘common troll’ entity would instruct their network of lawyers across the US to “sue these internet users for the download of this or that movie,” and not much effort would go into actual contact with the movie company itself who spent the time and effort to make, produce, and film that movie.
My gut feeling is that this “Voltage / Guardaley / IPP” ‘scheme’ of licensing copyright rights for the purpose of suing defendants using the same attorneys for each copyright lawsuit is a scam which goes to the heart of possibly ALL of the “copyright troll” lawsuits filed across the US.
WHY A FINANCIAL INCENTIVE TO LITIGATE CREATES AN OVERZEALOUS COPYRIGHT TROLL ATTORNEY
The difference between the other copyright infringement attorneys I have fought against and Gary Fischman (including his counterpart, Josh Wyde) is that these two are zealous in their representation of their client. They are quick to name and serve a defendant, and they are quick to drum up paperwork in a court proceeding. This is why I suspected that they weren’t just running a commission-based copyright troll scheme, as some other copyright trolls clearly do. Rather, I suspect that they are actually getting paid by the hour by the copyright holders (or the entities masquerading as the copyright holders), and thus their incentive to be litigious is higher than the average copyright troll.
This is relevant to the John Doe Defendant because unlike the usual copyright troll attorneys who file lawsuits across the US using templates provided to them by the copyright troll, in Texas, the plaintiff attorneys appear to be more litigious and more aggressive because they appear to be paid for their time. Either that, or they really care about suing downloaders accused of piracy and believe in what they are doing.
TO VILIFY GARY FISCHMAN & JOSH WYDE, THE TEXAS ‘COPYRIGHT TROLL’ ATTORNEYS, OR NOT TO VILIFY…
Unfortunately, as much as I would like to vilify the Texas-based ‘copyright troll’ attorneys Gary Fischman and Josh Wyde for even taking on the clients who sue defendants for the download of copyrighted videos, I cannot do so without also mentioning that they have *helped* a number of my clients get out of precarious situations. On the flip side, one of them has grossly misrepresented articles I have written on this blog to the point of their filing to the court being an intentional misrepresentation — taking words I have written on the blog [about the option to ‘ignore’ a copyright infringement lawsuit and its repercussions] completely out of context for their own benefit, and they have sometimes been unfairly harsh and overzealous towards clients of mine for no apparent reason, …akin to a lawyer who zealously fights to defend a rapist because that lawyer believes that even the rapist has the right to a fair trial. Now copyright trolling is far less offensive than representing a rapist, but because a copyright infringement lawsuit can devastate the savings of the average family, I have seen too many lives destroyed by copyright infringement lawsuits and thus I see the copyright holders not as rapists, but rather, as predatory.
On my end, whether the John Doe Defendant downloaded the copyrighted title or not, I still feel good about defending them against the copyright holders. I acknowledge the damage piracy does to the copyright holders (as do many of my clients), but I do not believe someone who clicks on a link should be held liable for statutory damages of $150,000 in a copyright infringement lawsuit, and so I defend them; any of them, even the worst ‘offenders’. And yet, as damaging as piracy is said to be for the copyright holders, a John Doe Defendant is not a predator. Rather, the other side — the Voltage Pictures / Guardaley entities of the world — are the predators, so to speak, and I would not represent a predator just as I would not represent a rapist. But my opposing counsel would, which is what separates us.
Vilifying the attorney who sues you feels good to do, but really, it is their client who is the predator. And while I wouldn’t take such a predator as a client in my practice, I stop myself from vilifying the attorney who takes them on as a client.
This isn’t a “defense attorney, good, copyright troll attorney, bad” article. Rather, I am hoping that this article will serve to be an insight for the Texas John Doe Defendant into the mindset of the attorneys on the plaintiff attorney’s side (especially since most movie-based copyright infringement lawsuits are filed by the same attorney working for what I believe is the Voltage/Guardaley/IPP entity as their client), because understanding the motivations of both the attorneys and their underlying clients (and true nature of the entities filing the lawsuits and their motivations, sometimes for a ‘quick buck’) can be helpful when defending a John Doe Defendant who is accused of copyright infringement or negotiating a settlement when “the deed (the unlawful download) is known and can be proven.”
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
Again, for an analysis of the other ME2 Productions, Inc. bittorrent-based cases filed across the US, click here. I hope this article has been insightful.
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