What does this mean to an internet user who has downloaded or streamed this movie using bittorrent, Popcorntime, and/or some other “free” streaming service?
What this means is that they are hard at work contacting production companies / copyright holders for newer movies (a.k.a., “floppers) which have not done so well in the theaters. They convince these companies to license the rights to “enforce” that movie company’s copyrights (think, sue in a “copyright troll” lawsuit looking for settlements). Then they have their local counsel file “John Doe” lawsuits in select federal courts (where the judges are friendly to them, or where the lawsuits are otherwise profitable).
What will happen to me if I have been caught downloading one of these films?
Honestly, at the moment, likely nothing, at least not yet. There are two ways that Carl Crowell and his team of local attorneys across the US have been enforcing their client’s copyrights.
By sending a DMCA notice directly to the accused downloader through the ISP. Here, the DMCA notice directs the accused downloader to visit the Rightsenforcement.com website, and pay a settlement for each title allegedly downloaded or streamed using bittorrent, Popcorntime, and (yes, I have heard about this too, but I do not yet understand the mechanics of it), KODI on an Amazon Fire TV Stick.
By filing a copyright infringement lawsuit for $150,000 statutory damages against a set of “John Doe” defendants who were each accused of uploading and/or downloading a particular movie using bittorrent (or an app like Popcorntime which still uses bittorrent to stream movies to its users).
What is the relevance that this list of movies is changing?
The fact that the list of movies is changing means that there are now new copyright holder production companies who have “signed on” to the business model of copyright trolling. Politics and policy aside, this means that the copyrights on these movies (and the infringement, or the illegal downloading, uploading, duplication, and/or streaming of these movies without a license) will be the subject of future lawsuits.
If you look lower down on the RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.COM client list, you will see titles such as “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Mr. Church,” “The Cobbler,” “Cell,” “Fathers and Daughters,” “I.T.,” “Mechanic: Resurrection,” “Septembers of Shiraz,” “Survivor,” “Automata,” “London Has Fallen,” “Criminal,” “Eliminators,” and more recently, “Undisputed 4,” and “A Family Man.” Each of these movies have been (and continue to be) the subjects of copyright infringement lawsuits across the federal courts in the U.S.
Expect these new movies to be subjects of coming lawsuits as well.
In the Texas Federal District Court (as of 2017), I am working on defense research for five (5) copyright infringement / bittorrent “John Doe” lawsuits affiliated with the Guardaley / Carl Crowell. In a ME2 case, ME2’s local counsel Gary Fischman was ordered by Judge Keith P. Ellison to disclose “all interested parties” to the lawsuit, and this is the subject of this article.
Texas cases I am actively working on (filed after 1/1/2017): ME2 Productions, Inc. v DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00695) ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00275) ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00501) ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-12 (Case No. 4:17-cv-00404) I.T. Productions, LLC v. DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00597) and, the Siemens PLM v. Does 1-100 software piracy case and multiple Malibu Media, LLC cases (both outside the scope of this article).
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHO HAS A FINANCIAL INTEREST IN A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT?
The reason it is important to know who has a financial interest in these lawsuits is because I need to know 1) whether the corporate entity that is suing has the authority to sue, and 2) whether the corporate entity filing the lawsuit is the same entity that holds the copyright to the movie allegedly infringed in the lawsuit.
If the corporate entity (here, ME2 Productions, Inc.) does not have the authority to sue, or if it is not the true copyright holder (but some entity that licensed the rights to make money for the copyright holder based on the copyright rights granted to the true copyright holder to the “Mechanic:Ressurection” movie), the plaintiff might lose the lawsuit or even get sanctioned for not disclosing the true parties who are interested in the outcome of the lawsuit by alleging in a document like this one (link) that they had the right to sue when in fact they did not.
WHY AM I SUSPECT THAT MAYBE THE PARTY SUING MIGHT NOT HAVE COPYRIGHT RIGHTS TO SUE?
The only way a plaintiff can sue for STATUTORY DAMAGES OF $150,000 FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT is if they have a valid copyright to the movie title allegedly being infringed (or, downloaded using bittorrent or Popcorn Time). If they do not own the copyright but only the right to monetize, the plaintiff may only be entitled to ACTUAL DAMAGES, NOT STATUTORY DAMAGES.
In a bittorrent “John Doe” lawsuit, the actual damages are really the cost to purchase a copy of the infringed movie (~$30 for the DVD), or perhaps $8 for the movie ticket if the movie is still in theaters. The law only gives STATUTORY DAMAGES OF $150,000 to plaintiffs who have a valid copyright at the time of the lawsuit.
Little did we know at the time that the Dallas Buyer’s Club plaintiff was not the Dallas Buyer’s Club copyright holder, and the copyright troll plaintiff entity was merely masquerading as the Dallas Buyers Club copyright holder.
WHY ARE THE DALLAS BUYERS CLUB LAWSUITS RELEVANT TO ME2 PRODUCTIONS CASES?
The common thread behind the Dallas Buyer’s Club lawsuits and most copyright infringement lawsuits filed today is a german company called Guardaley (a.k.a. IPP). It is not relevant that Guardaley’s bittorrent tracking methods have been ruled not credible by the German courts; they have been wreaking havoc on US courts since 2012. Guardaley (as far as I understand) has been behind the scenes of each and every ‘copyright troll’ lawsuit filed in the federal courts. And, after April 2016, they have reportedly signed an agreement with Carl Crowell (a known copyright troll attorney, but more importantly, likely the mastermind behind each of the ‘copyright troll’ lawsuits filed by local attorneys across the US).
Carl Crowell’s connection to ME2 Productions, Inc. is that they are his client. I can demonstrate this connection by looking at his new DMCA scare letter scheme entity, “Rights Enforcement”. If you look at the Crowell’s client list (as described by Torrentfreak), you will see that Mechanic:Resurrection (the movie behind the ME2 lawsuits) is one of Carl Crowell’s clients. (Carl Crowell himself is also a known ‘copyright troll’ where he has filed ME2 lawsuits against John Doe Defendants in Oregon.)
Thus, naturally, I am suspect to each of ME2 Productions, Inc.’s other lawsuits in other states, here, Texas, because as the apparent puppetmaster behind the various ME2 Productions, Inc. lawsuits filed across the US, I must assume he has a financial interest in the outcome of this Texas lawsuit filed by Gary Fischman.
WHO DID ATTORNEY FISCHMAN SAY HAS A FINANCIAL INTEREST IN THE ME2 BITTORRENT LAWSUITS?
In the filing, Gary Fischman noted that the following three entities has a financial interest in the ME2 Productions, Inc. cases:
ME2 Productions, Inc.
A&T IP, Inc., and
Fischman Law, PLLC
ME2 Productions, Inc. might be the actual copyright owner, or it is possible that they are an entity that was set up for the purpose of monetizing the copyright rights granted to the actual copyright holder, the owner of the Mechanic:Resurrection movie.
A&T IP, Inc. is an enigma to me. I do not know who they are, where they are incorporated, and who the beneficiaries are of this entity.
UPDATE: DieTrollDie suggests that perhaps A&T IP, Inc. is actually the Anti-Piracy Management Co (APMC).
Fischman Law, PLLC is curious in and of itself for reasons outside the scope of this article. Naturally, it could be explained that Gary Fischman as the attorney suing on behalf of ME2 will benefit (e.g., commissions from settlements received, possibly fees from the copyright holder or the Crowell / Guardaley entity itself for time spent prosecuting these cases). However, I suspect the link goes slightly deeper, as his partner for a number of the Guardaley lawsuits, Joshua Wyde, listed himself as a witness in the lawsuit (something that is generally not done). So there may be more to the eye here, but not relevant to this article.
Here is a link to the actual document filed with the court:
Looking at all of this information together, I am left with the following questions.
WHERE IS GUARDALEY (IPP) AS AN INTERESTED PARTY IN THIS CASE?
WHY IS CARL CROWELL NOT LISTED AS AN INTERESTED PARTY IN THIS CASE, OR IS HE [AND GUARDALEY] SOMEHOW WRAPPED UP IN THAT “A&T IP, INC” ENTITY?
IS ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. THE SAME LEGAL ENTITY THAT OWNS THE COPYRIGHT TO THE MECHANIC:RESURRECTION MOVIE, OR ARE THEY SOME OTHER ENTITY THAT IS MERELY MASQUERADING AS THE ME2 PRODUCTIONS / COPYRIGHT HOLDER UNDER SOME LICENSE TO MONETIZE THEIR COPYRIGHT RIGHTS?
Your thoughts and feedback are obviously welcome.
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