Understanding the patterns of filings by Malibu Media, LLC.

malibu-media-case-consolidations

It is difficult to track the activities of a copyright troll such as Malibu Media, LLC, especially when they are filing hundreds of “single John Doe” lawsuits across the U.S.  However, when there is a momentous ruling by a federal U.S. District Court Judge such as the one we saw yesterday in New York, then the story begins to reveal itself.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that there was a shift in the locations where Malibu Media, LLC was filing their cases. Cases began to shift into Ohio (OHND, OHSD), Virginia (VAED), and Pennsylvania (PAED) federal courts (courts which I refer to as “safe haven” courts because of past rulings by judges who allowed Malibu’s cases to proceed unhindered), however I did not understand why.

It was only until a recent conversation with one of Malibu’s local counsel that I understood that they were already aware that this ruling was coming down, and so they shifted their filings into other federal courts in other parts of the country to counterbalance what could be a shift in the law of the New York federal courts.  Call this the dirty word “forum selection,” or call it whatever you would like, but there is a pattern which can be graphed like birds flocking across the U.S. based on rulings that happen in the federal courts.

In sum, in my jaded view over the past five years of dealing with nothing but these bittorrent cases, there is no way to shut down the Malibu Media, LLC copyright infringement / “extortion” machine, as this requires participation from every judge in every federal district court. And, it is a difficult task to break the “my court, my world, my rules” mentality that so many appointed federal judges have (where their appointments often have political leanings or where there is a loyalty to a certain belief system or group).

Specifically, even with an appointed federal judge with a political proclivity to a certain viewpoint, it becomes even more difficult to break the lobbyists’ (such as the MPAA / RIAA copyright anti-piracy lobby) grip, which whisper in the judges’ ears (rich with funding and which no doubt influence decisions across the U.S. [and I dare not bring the question of whether the judges are influenced by bias or “gifts” from these lobbyists (legal or otherwise), and I say this because there have been more than a few questionable rulings which suggest to me that at the very least, certain federal judges have a leaning towards one side or the other and where the law is clear, they still differ to allow the copyright holder to prevail]).

In sum, we have a legal system where when a judge upholds the law, he is lauded and congratulated as if he did something wonderful, when upholding the law was the job in which he was appointed to do and which he took an oath to uphold.

There are easy solutions to wipe out Malibu Media, LLC, and every other copyright troll out there who abuses the legal system in order to extort massive settlements from their defendants, however, the country appears not to be ready to address the issue. Senators, congressmen, federal judges, I don’t have anything to say except to do the right thing. And in the merit of judges such as District Judge Hellerstein, Judge Wright, and many other lone wolf judges who do uphold the law, you have my respect and my continued devotion.

Below are the most recent 100 Malibu Media, LLC filings, filed literally only in the past few weeks. You’ll notice, not one of them was filed in the Southern District of New York (or ANY New York federal court. I wonder why.)

OHIO NORTHERN DISTRICT COURT (Yousef M. Faroniya of Law Office of Yousef M. Faroniya)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-01340)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 5:15-cv-01341)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 5:15-cv-01343)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01342)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-01345)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-01346)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01339)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01344)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01316)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 4:15-cv-01312)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 5:15-cv-01319)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-01317)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 5:15-cv-01315)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01314)

OHIO SOUTHERN DISTRICT COURT (Yousef M. Faroniya of Law Office of Yousef M. Faroniya)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-00235)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-02516)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-02518)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-02515)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-02477)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-00236)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-02517)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-02519)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00435)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-02456)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-00230)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00423)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-02453)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-02454)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00422)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-02455)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-02457)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-00224)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-00224)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-00228)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-02452)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00420)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00421)

VIRGINIA EASTERN DISTRICT COURT (William E. Tabot of William E. Tabot PC)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00855)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00851)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00859)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00860)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00852)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00862)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00865)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00856)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00853)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00861)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00857)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00863)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00866)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-00850)

PENNSYLVANIA EASTERN DISTRICT COURT (Christopher P. Fiore of Fiore & Barber LLC)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-03598)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-03600)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-03602)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-03604)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 5:15-cv-03599)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-03601)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-03603)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-03605)

MARYLAND DISTRICT COURT (Jon A. Hoppe of Maddox Hoppe Hoofnagle & Hafey LLC)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01851)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01864)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01865)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01855)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01861)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01862)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01869)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01854)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01866)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01868)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01859)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 8:15-cv-01858)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01871)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 8:15-cv-01863)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01853)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01867)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01870)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:15-cv-01857)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 8:15-cv-01856)

NEW JERSEY DISTRICT COURT (Patrick J. Cerillo – Attorney at Law)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04307)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04309)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04276)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04305)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-04287)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-04288)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04308)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04304)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04275)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04278)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04310)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04272)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04273)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-04269)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04230)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-04232)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 3:15-cv-04243)

MICHIGAN EASTERN DISTRICT COURT (Paul J. Nicoletti of Nicoletti Law PLC)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-12293)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-12294)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-12274)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-12283)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:15-cv-12290)


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.

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    Need to rehash some bittorrent concepts because they are just as relevant today as they were five years ago.

    Every few years it is important to rehash some older bittorrent concepts which are still relevant to today’s copyright infringement lawsuits.

    In July, 2010, this blog was started to address the at-the-time unknown problem of copyright trolling.  For years, myself and my staff wrote articles explaining the business model of copyright trolling, which at the time was an adaptation of patent trolling (where “patent trolls” would file [often frivolous] lawsuits against alleged infringers who refused to pay what appeared to be a “shakedown” of the patent holders [e.g., “pay us or else you will end up having to pay even more to defend the claims against you in a federal court”], even when the patent being asserted against the would-be infringer had absolutely nothing to do with the product the targeted company was producing).

    There were common threads between patent trolls and copyright trolls, and as the cases developed, there were common themes of how a copyright troll must act to make his model of extorting the public (the bittorrent internet users) profitable.  At the time, that included questions of 1) where and how can a copyright enforcement company or lawyer sue a group of defendants (personal jurisdiction), 2) how to link non-related downloaders into a cohesive set of defendants into a cohesive set of “John Doe Defendants,” (joinder, and my controversial strategy to force a copyright troll to sue the entire bittorrent swarm when a defendant is named and served) and 3) how to avoid risking the potential settlements from hundreds or thousands of accused bittorrent users by moving forward and “naming and serving” one or more defendants.  There were also time limits they faced based on a) how long the ISPs retained the records of which IP address was leased to which account holder / subscriber, b) statute of limitations on how long a copyright holder has to file a lawsuit, and c) how long a copyright troll attorney may keep a case alive before a judge imposes the time limits described in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP Rule 4m, a.k.a. the “120 Day Rule”).

    Then, over the years, there arose a confusion under the discussions of “net neutrality” asking questions such as whether an internet service provider (ISP) was governed under the cable act, and if so, under what title.  The reason for this was that there were allegations that various ISPs were outright sharing the contact information of its subscribers without valid court orders to do so, thus violating the privacy rights of its subscribers.

    In sum, there were a lot of issues, and we tackled each one over the course of almost five years.  The goal was to educate the bittorrent user and the accused downloader about the issues so that they understand how to act, react, and in many cases, fight against a group of attorneys with questionable ethics.

    The problem is that these articles — the ones that have been so helpful to tens of thousands of accused defendants — these articles have been buried by the search engines because they are simply now aging and many articles are now many years old.  An accused defendant can no longer search for a “copyright troll” on Google and find any of my older articles.  [And, enterprising attorneys (and good for them) have put up websites containing SEO-based content full of keywords in hackneyed sentences, but devoid of useful content (e.g., the “contact our law firm, we can help you with your copyright troll lawsuit issue” type of website), while what I consider to be the “useful” content (not only mine, but content written by other attorneys in their blogs, and proactive users [really, trailblazers such as “Sophisticated Jane Doe” of FightCopyrightTrolls and “DieTrollDie”] in their respective blogs) is no longer accessible by typing the name of the particular copyright troll, issue, or case that has been recently filed.

    What I will be doing to remedy this as far as this blog is concerned — and I apologize up front to the thousands of you who get updated on each and every article that I or a staff member of mine writes — is that I need to rehash some of the “older” content on the educational topics that I have already covered in the blog ad nauseam.  The reason for this is that the older content explaining the legal concepts in terms of the bittorrent lawsuits (and now in terms of the DMCA letters being sent to subscribers through the ISPs) is just as relevant today as it was five years ago.  There has been little-to-no judicial or legal oversight of the copyright trolls from the attorney generals of each state and from the lawmakers (both federal and in each state), and the problem and issues surrounding “copyright trolling” is just as relevant today as it was almost five years ago.

    For these reasons, I need to violate my own preference not to repeat information or content that has already been described or hashed-out in previous articles (my opinion is that one article describing a topic is enough, and writing multiple articles containing the same topic “waters down” or “cheapens” the content of a website).  The reason I now feel the need to rehash some of the older topics is to re-teach those who have not yet been victimized by the copyright trolls, as my older articles are no longer found, even by those looking for that particular topic.

    ALSO.  Copyright trolls are now enjoying a seed of legitimacy by the courts, where once upon a time us defense attorneys were “winning” the cases by arguing concepts such as “an IP address does not equal a person,” or “my client had an open wireless router, it could have been anyone who downloaded this video,” the arguments themselves have also aged and are now increasingly being ignored by the courts, even though the arguments remain “an elephant in the room,” meaning, just as valid today as they were yesterday.  On the flip-side, faulty and failed arguments (e.g., “are you negligent if you let someone else use your internet connection to commit copyright infringement” [Answer: NO!]) are being reasserted by the copyright trolls, and to my utter disbelief, they are not immediately being dismissed by the judges as being a faulty argument.

    Copyright trolling has not changed in the past five years, and the successful arguments defending a case do not deserve to be ignored just because they have been used successfully by defendants in older lawsuits which too are aging.  Ignoring good case law is contrary to law, as successful arguments in one jurisdiction are binding on all other judges in that federal district, and are persuasive on cases in the federal districts in other cases.  Yet, I see more and more lawlessness in judges who ignore the case law from not only other jurisdictions, but from their own jurisdiction as well (creating a “split” in the court), and they are denying a John Doe defendant’s ability to assert what was a successful argument in another court (even one binding upon them in their own jurisdiction).

    In sum, judges are allowing plaintiff copyright holders to sue larger number of defendants each week, even though nothing has changed making this new trend permissible (in my opinion, whether 200 defendants were sued by a plaintiff attorney in one lawsuit or in ten cases [having 20 defendants in each case] filed in the same week still means that 200 defendants were sued; it does not matter that the plaintiff made the cases “appear” to be smaller, especially if they are implicating the same bittorrent swarm in each of the ten cases).

    Remember, the underlying copyright troll business model of “shakedown, extort thousands of dollars from each defendant, but avoid moving forward against anyone [but pretend that you are prepared to move to trial]” is still the same as it was five years ago.  It should not matter whether the content of the lawsuit is a Hollywood movie or an adult film.

    [2017 UPDATE: Carl Crowell has created a new entity called RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT which has reverse-engineered CEG-TEK’s proprietary DMCA copyright infringement notice system.  Many of you have visited CEG-TEK links thinking that RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT was CEG-TEK, but really they are an ‘evil twin’ competitor.  Since the two entities operate almost the same way, e.g., sending DMCA copyright infringement notices to the subscriber directly via the ISP, this article is also relevant to RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT.]


    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.

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      Comcast Fights Prenda… Victory for its subscribers!

      Congratulations to the Texas Millennium TGA, Inc. defendants who (with the assistance of their Comcast ISP) will never have their information shared with Prenda Law Inc., Doug McIntyre (Prenda’s local counsel), or Millennium TGA, Inc. Essentially, you have won your case because the copyright trolls will never know who you are (without great effort).

      In short, as we discussed back in our “Forum Shopping” article on 5/16, Millennium TGA, Inc. made the mistake of suing the same “John Doe” defendants in Texas as they did two weeks before in DC. This wasn’t a mistake — the judge that was assigned to their DC case (referred to as “MILLENNIUM TGA I“) — Judge Wilkins — was known to be unfriendly to copyright trolls. As soon as Prenda Law Inc. figured this out, they dismissed MILLENNIUM TGA I, and using their local attorney Doug McIntyre in Texas, they filed “MILLENNIUM TGA II” [Millennium TGA, Inc. v. John Doe (Case No. 4:11-cv-04501)] here in the Southern District of Texas.  When the Texas judge gave the okay for Prenda to demand the names of the subscribers from their ISPs, Comcast recognized the similarities of the John Doe Defendants to the DC case just dismissed, and they refused to comply with the rubber stamped subpoena given to Millennium TGA, Inc. by the Texas judge. Millennium TGA, Inc. (through Prenda Law Inc., their attorneys) filed a lawsuit against Comcast in DC (MILLENNIUM TGA, INC. v. JOHN DOE (Case no. 1:12-mc-00150), also referred to as “MILLENNIUM III“) asking the court to force Comcast to comply with the Texas judge’s subpoena and hand over the names, addresses, and contact information for the subscribers implicated in the MILLENNIUM TGA II Texas case.

      Then, after an adverse ruling by the DC court which [in its order by Judge Alan Kay, order now overturned] forced Comcast to comply with the subpoena, John Seiver (Comcast’s attorney) wrote an amazing appeal which resulted in the DC case being transferred back to Judge Wilkins — the enemy of the copyright trolls. We wrote about this in our “Comcast wins battle against Millennium TGA & Prenda. Subscribers lose.” article on 5/29.

      Now, almost one month later, I am happy to share that Judge Wilkins issued the order we have been looking for all along. In his ruling this Monday, he DENIED Millennium TGA, Inc.’s motion to compel Comcast to comply with the subpoenas (and hand out the subscribers’ information). In other words, congratulations to the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients who have been entangled in this mess — your plaintiff attorneys Prenda Law Inc. and their local counsel Doug McIntyre will likely NEVER know who you are. In addition, congratulations on your victory in your Texas case, because without knowing who you are, they cannot name you as a defendant, and they cannot move forward against you. Score!

      Food For Thought Moving Forward:
      Okay, here is the silver lining. For those of you who do not have Comcast as your ISP, your Texas case is moving forward as usual. Similarly, for those of you who do not live in Texas, Judge Wilkins has ordered that Comcast turn over to Prenda Law Inc. ONLY the CITY AND STATE which is linked to your accused IP address. That way, if Prenda wishes to file a follow-up lawsuit against you, they can sue you in your home state’s federal court… or not. Here is my thinking.

      Remember the “two-strike rule” in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) Rule 41?? — a dismissal in the Texas court in a number of John Does’ cases would be the second dismissal [which is deemed to be “on the merits.”] This could preclude your copyright trolls from filing suit against you a THIRD time in your home state’s federal court. See DieTrollDie’s “Two Strikes and You’re “Out!” – FRCP 41 & Copyright Trolls” article, and for more discussion on the topic, see Sophisticated Jane Doe’s “A Trolling Lawsuit Ends With Style” article here.

      Comcast wins battle against Millennium TGA & Prenda. Subscribers lose.

      It is always nice when one judge reaches into another judge’s docket and removes a case from his docket.

      While I cannot tell if this is exactly what happened here, all I can say is that Comcast essentially just won their “forum shopping” case against Prenda Law Inc. relating to their Millennium TGA, Inc. v. John Doe (Case No. 4:11-cv-04501) case in the Southern District of Texas (a.k.a. “MILLENNIUM II”). BUT before you go off celebrating, Comcast is STILL under an obligation to hand out your information. Watch out!

      To recap, if you remember from my “Forum Shopping” article on 5/16, Millennium TGA, Inc. sued 939 John Doe Defendants in DC (“MILLENNIUM TGA I”). When they learned that Judge Robert Wilkins (who killed a prolific bittorrent case) was assigned to the “MILLENNIUM TGA I” case in DC, the Prenda Law Inc. attorneys for Millennium TGA, Inc. dismissed the case and then re-filed it in the Southern District of Texas (Case No. 4:11-cv-04501) (“MILLENNIUM TGA II”) suing essentially the same John Doe Defendants as they did in the “MILLENNIUM TGA I” case in DC which they voluntarily dismissed when they learned that Judge Robert Wilkins was the judge assigned to that case.  The Texas judge rubber-stamped their request to serve the ISPs with subpoenas to obtain the contact information of the 939 John Doe Defendants, and Prenda Law Inc. sent out the subpoenas to the ISPs. Comcast (one of the ISPs) saw the obvious forum shopping (actually, “judge shopping”) issue (among others) and refused to comply with the subpoenas. Prenda Law Inc. sued Comcast in DC (what I called “MILLENNIUM TGA III” in my 5/16 article).

      In the MILLENNIUM TGA III case in DC (which is essentially Prenda Law Inc. suing Comcast in order to force them to comply), Magistrate Judge Kay ruled against Comcast telling them that they must comply. Comcast appealed, BUT THE JUDGE’S ORDER FORCING COMCAST TO COMPLY IS STILL VALID AND IS STILL IN EFFECT! So what exactly is going on?? What happened today??

      On 3/26, Comcast noticed that Prenda Law Inc. violated the court’s “judge shopping” rules (LCvR 40.5(a)(4)) by not reporting that its new case [assigned to Magistrate Judge Kay] was substantially related to the “MILLENNIUM TGA I” case that it voluntarily dismissed when it was before Judge Wilkins.

      According to the DC local rules, to prevent contrary rulings by different judges for the same issues, if two lawsuits are substantially related (here, they are essentially identical), all subsequently filed cases get assigned to the original judge.

      Knowing this, on 3/26, Comcast filed a “Request For Judge Reassignment” which was ignored until this morning.

      As of this morning, District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle took the case away from Magistrate Judge Kay and reassigned it to Judge Robert Wilkins — the judge it should have gone to originally. Woohoo! Comcast’s victory is palatable at this point, because we can almost predict with certainty that he will rule in Comcast’s favor and will allow them NOT to comply with the subpoenas in the Texas MILLENNIUM TGA II case.

      The problem is that all you see on the docket is a granting of the 3/26 motion for reassignment. Comcast appealed Magistrate Judge Kay’s terrible ruling against it, and Prenda Law Inc. filed a response to which Comcast responded to, but THERE WAS NEVER A RULING ON THEIR APPEAL which means that JUDGE KAY’S ORDER IS STILL IN EFFECT! COMCAST IS STILL UNDER AN OBLIGATION TO COMPLY WITH THE SUBPOENAS!

      So in short, I have no doubt that Judge Wilkins will side with Comcast. However, I just don’t know if he has enough time to stop what he is doing (judges don’t only spend their days only reading these pornography-based bittorrent cases) and write an order 1) granting Comcast’s appeal and overturning Magistrate Judge Kay’s order [which is still in effect], and 2) granting Comcast’s motion for an extension of time to comply with the subpoena (which for many people, the deadline is today).

      So while Comcast has essentially won the battle, they have not yet won the war. Comcast is still under the obligation to comply with the subpoenas.

      [scribd id=95193567 key=key-1gpc1im3wgk2rn1blkgh mode=list]

      MY OPINION:
      …On a personal note, I feel that it is important that Comcast subscribers take note of the CONFLICT OF INTEREST that is apparent even in cases such as this one.  Comcast has been blindly complying with Prenda Law Inc.’s subpoena requests for almost TWO YEARS now.  They have opened up their own “Subpoena Compliance” division and have hired new staff (twelve new full-time employees, if my memory serves me correct) just to comply with these subpoena requests. They have entered into private agreements where Prenda pays them a certain sum of money for each IP address lookup (~$45 per IP address, give or take), and thus COMCAST RECEIVES A FINANCIAL BENEFIT FROM COMPLYING WITH THE SUBPOENAS.  On top of that, while I have spoken to John Seiver and I believe he is a very skilled attorney (remember the work he did in bringing down the Digiprotect case almost two years ago?), I cannot help but to be suspicious that this whole lawsuit is a PUBLIC RELATIONS STUNT solely to boost the image of Comcast.  After all, I must ask you — where were they until now? Have they filed ONE motion to quash on behalf of their subscribers? Why not? After all, with all the thousands of failed motions to quash filings attempted by their subscribers, Comcast could have SUCCESSFULLY filed motions to quash on behalf of its subscribers [they had standing in each case to object, and judges were dumbfounded why they never got involved], but they never did. Why not?

      I also would like to mention that Comcast was one of the first ISPs to sign on to the MPAA/RIAA’s “six strikes” program (now on hold) which will no doubt be wreaking havoc on their subscribers in the near future.  So while I applaud John Seiver and Comcast for fighting and [what will likely be] WINNING the case against Millennium TGA, Inc. and Prenda Law Inc., I still need to ask myself on behalf of my clients, where were they until now? And, “will they still “accidentally” comply and collect their fee?” I would like to remind you that this has happened before.

      MISSION ACCOMPLISHED? New York’s Split Southern District Court

      It is very easy to put up a banner claiming “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED — NO MORE BITTORRENT CASES IN SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK,” but reality is not that simple. A judge can give a ruling, and it can be a darned good ruling which is binding on all other judges in that federal district (similarly, that ruling is persuasive for judges in other federal districts). One such case is the case written up by Sophisticated Jane Doe in her “The Domino Effect: Trolls are not welcome in the Southern District of New York anymore” article posted just moments ago. I do not need to re-write this up — she did a wonderful job, and there is no reason to duplicate her efforts.

      That being said, this case does merit some discussion. The name of the case is Digital Sins, Inc., v. John Does 1-245 (Case No. 1:11-cv-08170, or 11 Civ. 8170) [misspelled], filed in the U.S. District Court for the SOUTHERN DISTRICT of New York (remember our blog post about forum shopping there?). I am happy to share that the case is now SEVERED AND DISMISSED. Obviously, congratulations to the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients who were part of that case. This ruling is WONDERFUL for you.

      As far as I am concerned, this ruling was the order I was waiting for back in March when I reported that all of copyright troll Mike Meier’s New York cases were consolidated by Judge Forrest. Similarly, you’ll see what I thought would happen in my “New York Judge consolidates and freezes SMALLER BITTORRENT CASES for plaintiff attorney” article earlier that month. Well in short, my opinion with hindsight was that all this was a dud, and Judge Forrest merely consolidated the cases to rein in Mike Meier so that she can control him and his cases so that they all had uniform outcomes. This was obviously a step in the right direction, but it did not dispose of the cases in their entirety. Perhaps because Judge Forrest had experience with copyright cases in the past, she thought she should be the one to preside over them. However, in my opinion, she just made them more orderly; she didn’t rule on the underlying issues plaguing each of Mike Meier’s cases.

      Here comes Judge Colleen McMahon of the same Southern District as Judge Forrest, and she (like Judge Forrest) has my respect. In her ruling on Tuesday, she took the opportunity to take a John Doe ruling, and turn it into NEW LAW FOR NEW YORK COURTS (obviously I am referring to the federal courts). What impressed me was that not only was she aware of Judge Forrest’s activities, she changed the law by dissenting with them.

      “Judges Forrest and Nathan, have decided to allow these actions to go forward on a theory that permissive joinder was proper.  I most respectfully disagree with their conclusion.” (p.4)

      Further, she ruled that if Mike Meier wanted to sue these 244 defendants, he may do so in separate lawsuits, AND HE MUST PAY THE $350 FILING FEE FOR EACH LAWSUIT (that’s $85,400 in filing fees that Digital Sin, Inc. will have to pay if they want to go after the dismissed defendants).

      “They are dismissed because the plaintiff has not paid the filing fee that is statutorily required to bring these 244 separate lawsuits.” (p.4)

      What made this case blog worthy (and you’ll notice, I rarely post about the run-of-the-mill dismissals that happen every day in various jurisdictions when their rulings teach nothing new) was that Judge McMahon suggested TWO STRATEGIES to John Doe Defendants that she believes would successfully refute the plaintiff attorney’s geolocation evidence as proof that the court has personal jurisdiction over the accused IP addresses.

      Firstly, she suggests that the John Doe defendants not living in the jurisdictional confines of the court simply file a SWORN DECLARATION that they live somewhere else.

      “John Doe 148 could have overcome [the geolocation data evidence provided by the plaintiff] by averring [e.g., in a sworn declaration] that he was a citizen and resident of some state other than New York — even New Jersey or Connecticut, portions of which are located within the geographic area that is covered by the geolocation data.” (emphasis added, p.5)

      Secondly, she said that since plaintiff attorneys are getting the personal jurisdiction right (e.g., filing lawsuits against Californians in California, against Texans in Texas, etc.), defendants could start asserting the “WRONG VENUE” argument (essentially saying, “Court, yes, I live in New York.  But I was sued in Long Island and I live in Buffalo.  It would be an extreme hardship for me to travel down to Long Island every time I need to show up for a hearing there to defend my case.”).  The actual verbiage suggested by the Court is that “…plaintiff has failed to plead facts rom which a reasonable trier of fact could conclude that this Court has personal jurisdiction over this John Doe, or that venue is properly laid in this district.”  (emphasis added).

      Next, this ruling is VERY EXCITING because it puts handcuffs on Mike Meier should he wish to file against any of the severed and dismissed defendants in a follow-up case.  Those rules are:

      1) When an ISP complies with a subpoena request, it may not share the telephone number or e-mail address of the subscriber with the plaintiff attorney.

      2) Assuming the ISP does not file a motion to quash (it obviously may AND SHOULD do so on behalf of its subscribers [my opinion]), the ISP shall share the subscriber’s information WITH THE COURT ONLY (not directly to the plaintiff as is usually done), and the court will disclose the information to the plaintiff attorney.  (I’m not sure the benefit of this — they still get the contact information of the John Doe Defendants this way).

      3) The plaintiff may use the information disclosed ONLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF LITIGATING THAT CASE (so the plaintiff may no longer use the threat of future litigation if they do not immediately settle to extort a settlement.  This was a tactic used by many plaintiff attorneys (most notoriously, Prenda Law Inc. who admitted that they dismissed the case so that they can go after the John Doe Defendants [extorting settlements] without the court’s involvement).

      Lastly — and her timing is quite interesting as we just finished writing about forum shopping in bittorrent cases — she warned Mike Meier not to engage in “judge shopping.”

      “Lest plaintiff’s counsel think he can simply put cases against the severed and dismissed John Doe defendants into the wheel for assignment to yet another judge, I remind him of Local Civil Rule 1.6(a) [which requires the plaintiff attorney to bring the existence of potentially related cases to the attention of the Court].” 

      For your reading pleasure, I have pasted a copy of the order below.  For my own opinion on the topics discussed by the judge, I have pasted them below the judge’s order.

      [scribd id=93798958 key=key-2fufis4rlcf1fuhmb3kz mode=list]

      MY OPINION:  There is more here that I did not write about, namely that the judge believes that all the bittorrent cases currently being held by Judge Forrest and Judge Nathan should be assigned over to her so that she can dispose of them once and for all.  She also went into other judge’s rulings which duplicate content in other articles on the blog.  However, once again, we have another wonderful ruling.  However, moving forward, perhaps I am a bit jaded, but I don’t foresee Judge Forrest or Judge Nathan tomorrow assigning over all their bittorrent cases to this judge.  There is now a disagreement in the New York courts (as there are in many jurisdictions) as to how to handle these cases.  I would love to jump up and down, wave a banner and declare “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED — NO MORE BITTORRENT CASES IN SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK,” but quite frankly this is not reality.

      More likely than not, plaintiff attorneys such as Mike Meier, Jason Kotzker, and any other copyright troll who wants to file in New York will continue to file there.  As you can see in my forum shopping article (which should more properly be called “Judge Shopping”), an attorney can in ONE DAY file  9 SEPARATE CASES and receive 7 SEPARATE JUDGES, as was the case with Kotzker’s recent filings.

      In addition, while the SWORN DECLARATION argument and the VENUE arguments are both easy solutions to disprove the plaintiff’s prima facie case for personal jurisdiction (meaning, the bare minimum a court will require in order to accept the fact that it has personal jurisdiction over the defendants in the case), a John Doe Defendant hoping to hide his identity from the plaintiff attorney and quash a subpoena should not be excited by these solutions.  1) For the sworn declaration, they’ll necessarily be giving up their true location (they cannot lie that they live in Connecticut when they live in California), and we all know that Mike Meier is only ONE local attorney to a larger IP monetization group (“The Copyright Enforcement Group”) which has other attorneys in other states, and who continues to recruit new hungry would-be copyright trolls.  So even if they succeed in getting their case dismissed here, guess who will be filing against them in their home state’s federal court?  2) A John Doe Defendant who asserts the “correct state, wrong venue” argue just made a big blunder — he admitted that personal jurisdiction is proper in that state.  Rules for venue are based on a number of factors, NOT ONLY WHERE THE DEFENDANT LIVES.  Similarly, no doubt the plaintiff will respond in a wrongful venue argument in a motion to quash that “John Doe filed this motion to quash asserting wrongful venue (which by the way is not a valid ground to quash a subpoena; jurisdiction IS), but he is not a party to the action [yet] and thus he has no standing to file this motion to quash.”  Remember this?  Lastly and realistically, the proper time a defendant CAN AND SHOULD use this wrongful venue argument is in his ANSWER (which means he was already NAMED as a defendant in the case).  Too late.  There are better issues to kill a case at this point than complaining that the court is too much of a drive.

      [DISCLAIMER: I’ve given many opinions here which is not to be taken as legal advice.  Each defendant has different needs and different circumstances, and for this reason, the legal advice I give for one of my clients may not be appropriate (or may even be harmful) to another client who’s circumstances are different.  Also, obviously no attorney-client relationship is formed until you sign a retainer and become a client.]

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