It is 12:30am and I really do not have time to go into this, but I just learned that Dallas Buyers Club, LLC is suing Voltage Pictures, LLC in Montgomery County, TX for, among other things, not paying fees to Dallas Buyers Club for the licensing fees owed to them. The settlement amounts they are asking for is from settled / dismissed cases across the US for their copyright infringement cases.[Hat tip to SJD @ FightCopyrightTrolls for breaking the story. Her link to the lawsuit can be found here.]
It appears from the TX case filing (Cause No. 15-06-06049) that Voltage Pictures, LLC approached Dallas Buyers Club, LLC and offered to pay for the license to act as Dallas Buyer’s Club’s agent so that they can sell the film abroad and… so that they can file lawsuits against John Doe Defendants across the US. Part of this agreement appears to be that Voltage Pictures was permitted to use Dallas Buyer’s Club’s name.
…and skipping down a bit:
Well, now we learn that Nicholas Chartier and Voltage Pictures are being sued because after making all of the sales and suing all of the John Doe defendants for copyright infringement, Voltage Pictures is accused of cheating Dallas Buyers Club out of their earned licensing fees.
I feel as if I just fell down a rabbit hole…
Thus, whenever we saw yet another Dallas Buyers Club, LLC lawsuit, and whenever we represented a client against Dallas Buyers Club, LLC, we were really representing them against… VOLTAGE PICTURES, LLC?!?
This brings me to the Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC cases. Did Voltage Pictures, LLC make the same licensing deal with the Fathers & Daughters movie producers, and are they also not paying them the money that is due to them? When we see a Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC case, are we really representing clients against the makers of the Fathers and Daughters movie? Or are we representing clients against VOLTAGE PICTURES, LLC who is parading as Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC and claiming that they are Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC, when really they are not?!?
This also makes me ask who the attorneys for the Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC are really representing? Are Josh Wyde and Gary Fischman suing on behalf of Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC? Or are they suing on behalf of Voltage Pictures, LLC pretending to be Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC? I know Josh is watching this blog, so please feel free to comment.
Who is their client? Voltage or Fathers & Daughters Nevada?
Last question, and then I’m going to sleep. Will Voltage Pictures, LLC soon be sued by the real Fathers & Daughters copyright holders for failure to pay the licensing fees, proceeds, and sales from the monetization of the Fathers & Daughters movie copyright? Have the same facts that are coming out with the Dallas Buyers Club, LLC lawsuit also transpired with the Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC copyright holder?
One more thought — a while back, I was concerned that perhaps the shell companies that were created for various movies were not properly funded. [Well, okay, I backed away from that accusation, but that was on my mind.] The original thought was that production companies made movies, and to limit their liability, we understood that they set up shell companies as limited liability companies so that if something went wrong or if, say, Dallas Buyers Club caused damage to someone and they were sued, fined, sanctioned, or otherwise held liable for damages from their activities, those damages would be contained to the Dallas Buyers Club, LLC limited liability entity, and they would not trickle “up” to what I thought was the Voltage Pictures, LLC production company.
However, now we see that Voltage Pictures, LLC is NOT the production company, but a LICENSEE (one who signs an agreement to acquire a license to sell or act on behalf of the copyright holder [the licensor]). Thus, this brings me back to the entity that was formed to sue John Doe Defendants in federal court. Dallas Buyers Club, LLC, and Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC (the two Voltage-related companies that are currently on my mind). Are they properly funded? Who owns them, and who are the real parties acting through them? Voltage Pictures or Dallas Buyers Club? Voltage Pictures or Fathers & Daughters? Who is providing the funding for them? And did they properly notify the court of this arrangement when they filed the lawsuits against the John Doe Defendants?
Wow, when they say that there is “no honor among thieves,” they weren’t kidding. First Keith Lipscomb is sued by Malibu Media, LLC for not paying them the royalties and/or funds received through the Malibu Media attorneys and Lipscomb’s own Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe lawsuits across the US (all now dismissed), and now Voltage Pictures, LLC is being sued by Dallas Buyers Club, LLC for the same thing. I also want to point out that Liberty Media also sued their lawyer, Marc Randazza (although the circumstances were different, and if what Marc wrote in his defense was true (e.g., that they used his office desk to shoot adult films), both Liberty Media and Randazza are both to blame, but for different reasons). I also remember when Prenda Law Inc. stopped paying their local counsel here in Houston the fees and commissions he earned through the filing of the lawsuits.
So… in sum, is this the scenario of thieves stealing from thieves as we have seen before? Or is this an example of “copyright trolls stealing also from their own clients”?? Wow, this field of law has skeletons hidden in closets all over the place.
UPDATE: For more on this topic, SJD covered this topic in detail. See FightCopyrightTrolls article, “How copyright trolls plunder both US citizens and… rights holders.“
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