Tag Archives: Gary Fischman

Gary Fischman sues 120 Texas Defendants – Venice PI, Headhunter, UN4

Venice PI & Headhunter lawsuits come to Texas.

Literally one month ago, I wrote about the appearance of the UN4 Productions lawsuits suing accused downloaders of the Boyka: Undisputed 4 movie in Texas.  Apparently, Gary Fischman, the plaintiff attorney for the various RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT (RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.COM) subpoena based movie infringement lawsuits has earned the right to sue now for the Venice PI, LLC and Headhunter, LLC movie production companies.

Which movies are affiliated with these Texas lawsuits:

  • Venice PI, LLC is suing for the unlawful download or viewing of the “Once Upon a Time in Venice” movie,

    venice-pi-subpoena-once-upon-a-time-in-venice-movie-lawsuit Venice PI
    Venice PI, LLC (“Once Upon a Time in Venice”) movie lawsuits
  • Headhunter, LLC is suing for the unlawful download of “A Family Man” movie (not to be confused with Nicholas Cage’s “Family Man” movie from a number of years ago.)

    Headhunter LLC ("A Family Man") movie lawsuits
    Headhunter LLC (“A Family Man”) movie lawsuits
  • UN4 Productions, Inc. is suing for the unlawful download of the “Boyka: Undisputed 4” movie.

    UN4 Productions Boyka: Undisputed 4
    UN4 Productions (“Boyka: Undisputed 4”) movie lawsuits

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List of Texas cases filed by Gary Fischman in the last month:

HEADHUNTER (17 “JOHN DOE” TEXAS DEFENDANTS):
Headhunter, LLC v. Does 1-17 (Case No. 4:17-cv-02352)

UN4 PRODUCTIONS (51 “JOHN DOE” TEXAS DEFENDANTS)
UN4 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 4:17-cv-01685)
UN4 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 4:17-cv-01834)
UN4 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 4:17-cv-02115)

VENICE PI (55 “JOHN DOE” TEXAS DEFENDANTS)
Venice PI, LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 4:17-cv-02285)
Venice PI, LLC v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 4:17-cv-02395)
Venice PI, LLC v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 4:17-cv-02203)
Venice PI, LLC v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 4:17-cv-02244)

Have you read enough? Book Now to get help. > > >

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR LAWSUIT:

To those 120+ Defendants who are implicated by Gary Fischman as “John Doe” defendants in this lawsuit: Understand that the Texas federal judges will likely allow Gary Fischman to send a subpoena to the Comcast & AT&T ISPs to obtain the identities of those accused of downloading the various movies.

1) Read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about your particular lawsuit.

First, read about your particular movie lawsuit (see FAQs on the lawsuits here):

NOTE: Do not be fooled — each of these movies have become lawsuits because of Carl Crowell and his “common trollRIGHTS ENFORCEMENT (RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.COM) entity, of which Gary Fischman appears to be his Texas local counsel.  We understand that Crowell (or one of his attorneys) have contacted each of the movie production companies and have secured a license to sue for copyright infringement on their behalf.  Thus, the various FAQ pages will be similar, because it is the same entity that is behind the scenes of each of these movie lawsuits.

2) Learn about what an “objection with the court” or a “motion to quash” is, and whether you want to file one.

The letters from the ISPs will tell you that you have 30 days to file an objection with the court (which is referring to a motion to quash) before they are forced to hand over your information to Gary Fischman.

Do not get trapped in an emotional rush to file a “motion to quash” just because you learned that a motion to quash filing could stop your ISP from being required to hand over your information to the plaintiff (such a filing has actually been UNSUCCESSFUL, read why).

NOTE: The link I provided you above is from an article I wrote in *2010*, and now we are in 2017.  This should give us some credibility, if we did not already have some in your eyes that we have an idea of what is going on in these cases.  The motion to quash issue was figured out by us attorneys SEVEN YEARS AGO, and yet there are still new law school graduates and other attorneys who still try to sell “motion to quash” packages, claiming they will “expose the fraud” of these cases for the same amount of money you could have settled for and guaranteed an exit from the lawsuit (just to be clear, a settlement is NOT the least expensive option in handling cases such as these).  A motion to quash is NOT THE PLACE TO FIGHT YOUR LAWSUIT, and judges will get upset if you misuse this tool.  A motion to quash is a tool to determine 1) whether the subpoena is valid, and 2) whether the federal court has PERSONAL JURISDICTION over the accused defendant.

Read about motions to quash here, understand the likely response if you file a motion to quash, and understand the likely question a federal judge will ask if you file a motion to quash. For those of you who do not want to switch to another article, the short answer is that a motion to quash is a good tool to stop the ISP from handing out your information if the federal court does not have PERSONAL JURISDICTION over you (e.g., if you live in one state, but are sued in another state). However, if you (an unnamed “John Doe” defendant) file a motion to quash, understand that the likely response from the plaintiff attorney is to oppose your motion to quash. The plaintiff attorney will likely state that you do not have STANDING to file the motion to quash because you are not a named defendant in this case. [Plus, the subpoena was not issued to you, but to your ISP, and thus you are not a recipient of this subpoena and it should be the ISP who should file the motion to quash, not you.]  In short, don’t jump into a motion to quash frenzy just because you learn that the legal mechanism to stop a subpoena recipient from complying with the subpoena is called a motion to quash.

Have you read enough? Book Now to get help. > > >

3) Learn about anonymity – how long you remain anonymous after receiving the subpoena from the ISP, and at what point your anonymity ends.

Second. Be aware of your anonymity, and use it to your advantage. Understand each stage of the lawsuit, and know at what point you lose that anonymity. The reason this is relevant to you is because there is a finite amount of time in which you remain a “John Doe” defendant. During this time, Gary Fischman might learn who you are, but your information is in no way made public, and your involvement as a potential defendant in this lawsuit is not made public until you are named and served as a defendant.

This is relevant because during this time, you can hire an attorney to converse with the plaintiff attorney on your behalf, and everything is done anonymously, meaning that your contact information never shows up on the court’s docket, on your record, in Google searches, or anywhere else. This is relevant because once you lose your anonymity, the fact that you were accused in a federal court of stealing a copyrighted movie becomes public knowledge for anyone who does a look-up of your name, including potential employers.

A COMMON MISCONCEPTION is that the due date on the ISP subpoena is the date you lose your anonymity.
Wrong.
The date you lose your anonymity is the date your plaintiff attorney realizes that he will not be getting a settlement from you and he decides to change your status from a “John Doe” defendant to a “named defendant (your name as the defendant)”.

4) Learn about settlement factories, settlement options, and *when NOT to settle*.

Lastly, be aware that there are a number of settlement factories out there who will convince you that settling is the “cheapest” method of getting out of this case. This is simply not true. The fact of whether you actually downloaded the movie is possibly the most relevant piece of information in determining whether to settle. If you did not do it, then hiring an attorney to convince the plaintiff attorney not to name and serve you because you did not do the download could be the smartest thing you could do in any of these cases. Question your attorneys and ask what percentage of cases they settle, and what percentage of cases they do not settle.

What if you DID do the download (or you DID watch the movie)?

If you have done the download for which you were sued (or if you have watched the movie), the second most relevant is what else you have downloaded, watched illegally, or what else is in your bittorrent software’s download folder. The reason for this is because some bittorent clients “announce” to the bittorrent network which movies, music, e-books, and software you have downloaded, and which are actively in your “Download” folder available to be uploaded.

With this information, the plaintiff attorneys search which files are available from your IP address, and they assemble a list of files you have downloaded. If you are an avid downloader, (while this information cannot be used to prove you downloaded THIS movie,) this evidence of “other titles downloaded” will affect how a plaintiff attorney such as Gary Fischman sees you as a potential target of this lawsuit. It will affect your chances of being named and served, and it will affect the leverage you have in settlement negotiations. This is where a good lawyer is probably a good idea, especially one with leverage in settlement negotiations — one who is willing to step into court if the settlement negotiations go awry, even if it is simply to admit guilt and argue minimum $750 statutory damages from the court.

Have you read enough? Book Now to get help. > > >

In Summary:

In the end, having your attorney know the personality of your plaintiff attorney is possibly one of the most important items to consider when hiring an attorney. Specifically with Gary Fischman, he has the mind of an engineer, and he treats his cases as such. Understanding how he thinks in considering each defendant is important in obtaining the best result, whether that is not settling the case, negotiating a settlement, or fighting the claims against you in litigation.


[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about the various Texas-filed cases and options on how to proceed (even specifically for your case), you can e-mail us at info[at]cashmanlawfirm.com, you can set up a free and confidential phone consultation to speak to us about your case, or you can call us at 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number].

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.

Why would copyright trolls show evidence of ‘other downloaded movies’ if they have evidence of infringement?

ANSWER: Insufficient or non-existent evidence.

Copyright trolls often surprise me by the lengths they will go to prove that a particular “John Doe” defendant downloaded a particular movie. Because the underlying copyright infringement cases likely cannot prove copyright infringement, instead, copyright troll attorneys will spy into the internet connections of their accused defendants and determine what other movies, videos, or content that accused downloader allegedly downloaded. They use those additional downloads as ‘character evidence’ to assert that the defendant downloaded the accused movie. (Next article, I will describe how they are likely doing it.)

By showing character evidence of ‘other downloaded movies,’ copyright trolls prove that the accused “John Doe” Defendant has the personality or ‘character’ of being a habitual infringer (a ‘pirate’).  This character evidence shows that the defendant is familiar with piracy tools and illegal methods of acquiring movies and videos from bittorrent websites (e.g., The Pirate Bay). By demonstrating to the court that “someone from that same IP address downloaded these other movies,” the copyright troll seeks to prove that “the accused defendant must have also downloaded this movie as well.”

Copyright Trolls Use Other The Pirate Bay Downloads to demonstrate character evidence to infringe their movie copyright.

[NOTE TO THE READER: WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ IS A GREAT ARTICLE, BUT IT NEEDS A ROADMAP TO UNDERSTAND THE FLOW OF IT.]

HERE IS THE ROADMAP:

  1. INTRODUCE THE CONCEPT OF ‘CHARACTER EVIDENCE’ (A LEGAL TERM), AND DESCRIBE WHY EVIDENCE OF ‘OTHER TITLES DOWNLOADED’ IS INADMISSIBLE TO PROVE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.
  2. INQUIRE WHY PLAINTIFF WOULD TAKE THE EXTRA STEP OF SHOWING ‘OTHER TITLES DOWNLOADED’ IF HE HAS SOLID EVIDENCE OF INFRINGEMENT.
  3. DISCUSS THE NEBULOUS ‘PCAP FILE’ WHICH CAN PROVE INFRINGEMENT, NOTE THAT THE PLAINTIFF HAS ACCESS TO THIS FILE, AND YET IT IS MISSING FROM THE PLAINTIFF’S CASES.
  4. SUB-TOPIC: THE EVIDENCE THE PLAINTIFF ACTUALLY HAS IS “SNAPSHOT EVIDENCE.” COURTS REJECTED SNAPSHOT EVIDENCE AS BEING INSUFFICIENT TO PROVE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.
  5. (I RETURN TO THE MISSING PCAP EVIDENCE AND DEMONSTRATE THAT THE PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY MISDIRECTS THE COURT BY REFERRING TO A SOFTWARE REPORT, BUT GLOSSING OVER THE PCAP EVIDENCE).
  6. END THE ARTICLE BY COMMENTING THAT SHOWING ‘OTHER TITLES DOWNLOADED’ TO A DEFENDANT IS AN EFFECTIVE STRATEGY IN SCARING HIM TO AGREE TO SETTLE THE CASE.

1. EVIDENCE OF ‘OTHER TITLES DOWNLOADED’ IS INADMISSIBLE CHARACTER EVIDENCE.

In the eyes of the law, ANY CHARACTER EVIDENCE OF ‘OTHER MOVIES OR TITLES’ DOWNLOADED BY THE JOHN DOE DEFENDANT IS INADMISSIBLE TO PROVE THAT THE DEFENDANT DOWNLOADED THE MOVIE TITLE FOR WHICH THAT DEFENDANT WAS SUED. Malibu Media, LLC tried using character evidence and failed. For a while, they were listing other movie titles and illegal downloads that accused defendant participated in, and the courts reprimanded their efforts.

Specifically because Malibu Media attempted to admit character evidence into their complaints, in the Western District of Wisconsin, Judge Stephen L. Crocker consolidated each of Malibu Media LLC’s cases.  Here, the judge ruled that character evidence of ‘other titles allegedly downloaded’ was not only inadmissible, but it was prejudicial to the defendant’s case (see attached order).

According to the Federal Rules of Evidence (“F.R.E.”), evidence of a person’s character to prove a consistent act with that character is called ‘character evidence,’ which is inadmissible to prove copyright infringement. (See the Federal Rules of Evidence, §404 on Character Evidence).

2. WHY WOULD COPYRIGHT TROLLS USE CHARACTER EVIDENCE OF ‘OTHER DOWNLOADED TITLES’ WHEN THEY CAN PROVE INFRINGEMENT USING THE PCAP FILE?

Why a copyright troll would resort to using ‘character evidence’ of ‘other titles downloaded’ to prove that the downloader must have downloaded this title is puzzling.  The copyright holders DO have evidence of infringement, don’t they?

3. EVIDENCE OF INFRINGEMENT CAN BE FOUND IN THE PCAP FILE.

Perhaps the reason why the attorney is seeking to find “other titles” an accused defendant downloaded is that copyright trolls do not actually have evidence that the defendant downloaded this movie.

For the technical-minded, this evidence of copyright infringement would be found in a “PCAP file.” Copyright holders have this file, but they will never release to the courts. This PCAP file would indicate whether a downloader merely clicked on a link and connected to a bittorrent swarm WITH THE INTENT* to download, view, or stream a movie, or whether the accused defendant actually copied a substantial watchable portion of the movie. (*NOTE: a defendant who had ‘INTENT’ to commit a copyright infringement cannot be found guilty of ‘willful’ copyright infringement if the download or the viewing never actually took place.)  The PCAP file is hidden from the courts and is never introduced to prove that the defendant downloaded the movie. Instead of documenting actual evidence of infringement, the copyright troll attorneys find “other titles” that the defendant allegedly downloaded.

4. HOW TROLLS REPLACE PCAP EVIDENCE WITH ‘SNAPSHOT’ EVIDENCE.

The omission of the PCAP evidence is relevant to an accused defendant in a bittorrent-based movie lawsuit.  The reason for this is because courts are misled into thinking that a report containing a list of IP addresses of accused downloaders at some ‘snapshot’ or time period by proprietary Peer-to-Peer surveillance software is sufficient to prove infringement.  However, the so-called ‘SNAPSHOT’ EVIDENCE of infringement (described below) might demonstrate only that the accused John Doe Defendant was present downloading a bittorrent file at a particular date and time.  ‘Snapshot’ evidence of infringement has been rejected by the courts as not being sufficient to prove copyright infringement.

Further, the companies that do the ‘snapshot’ tracking of the bittorrent networks — IPP International, and here in the Texas-based cases, MaverickEye UG, all appear to be shell companies of Guardaley.  For those who are new to the site, Guardaley is the German company our firm has been investigating to find the connection between almost every copyright infringement case hitting the US courts.  Guardaley has been the common thread between each lawsuit, regardless of whether the copyrighted material is pornographic (as in the Malibu Media, LLC lawsuits), or whether it is a mainstream movie.

For current defendants, the ‘snapshot’ evidence problem as I will describe it below likely applies to each of the “Mechanic:Resurrection” movie lawsuits (ME2 Productions), each of the “I.T.” movie lawsuits (I.T. Productions), each of the “Mr. Cook” movie lawsuits (Cook Productions), and literally every other movie lawsuit filed in the last seven years, as listed on Carl Crowell’s list of Guardaley clients.

Character Evidence of 'Other Movies Downloaded' To Prove The Download of THIS movie.

4A. SUB-TOPIC: WHY “SNAPSHOT EVIDENCE” IS INSUFFICIENT TO PROVE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

Source: Judge Otis Wright’s 2013 order from the Ingenuity 13 LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:12-cv-08333) case in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

RULE 2. A “SNAPSHOT OBSERVATION” OF AN IP ADDRESS ENGAGED IN DOWNLOADING AT THAT MOMENT IS INSUFFICIENT PROOF OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

Here, all the evidence a copyright troll plaintiff has on a suspected defendant is that at a particular date and time (a “timestamp”), that particular IP address was engaged in the downloading of a particular copyrighted file.

Here, a “snapshot” of an IP address correlated with evidence from the subscriber’s internet service provider (“ISP”) [that it was the subscriber who was leased that IP address during the date and time the alleged activity took place] is insufficient proof that the download actually took place. The defendant could have merely entered the swarm and could be in queue to download his first byte of data. The defendant could be 10% done with the download and could have in his possession an unviewable fragment of the copyrighted video.  This is hardly enough to rise to the level of “SUBSTANTIAL SIMILARITY” that is required in order to find a defendant guilty of copyright infringement. And, yet at the same time, that same snapshot could refer to a defendant having a download which is 99% complete.

A snapshot of an IP address in a bittorrent swarm is simply not conclusive that the downloader infringed the copyright.

The analogy the judge gives is taking a “snapshot” of a child reaching for a candy bar. In order to find someone guilty of copyright infringement, a plaintiff needs to prove that it is “more likely than not” that activity rising to the level of copyright infringement occurred. A snapshot places the defendant at the “scene of the crime.” It does not convict him for the unlawful act itself, and usually this is all the evidence a plaintiff copyright troll compiles when tracking a bittorrent swarm.

5. RETURNING TO THE OMISSION OF PCAP EVIDENCE IN PLAINTIFF’S DECLARATION. WHY THEY TURN TO ‘CHARACTER EVIDENCE’ OF ‘OTHER TITLES DOWNLOADED’ WHEN CONFRONTING A DEFENDANT

Instead of providing the PCAP file (which can prove or disprove whether actual infringement happened), the copyright holders have some expert witness file some declaration stating that they have viewed the reports generated by the bittorrent surveillance software.   That expert witness declares that they have verified that the IP address list created by that software matches the list of defendants who are accused as “John Doe” defendants in this case.

[Curiously, even copyright troll attorneys list themselves as expert witnesses to show that they viewed the software printout.  I don’t know why an attorney would do this, because this makes the plaintiff attorney a discoverable witness in discovery. Here in the Texas ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does lawsuits, we see plaintiff attorney Gary Fischman’s declaration stating exactly what I have described:

Gary Fischman Declaration Regarding Maverickeye UG (Guardaley) P2P swarm surveillance software report. by Cashman Law Firm, PLLC on Scribd

As a defense attorney, I am puzzled why the plaintiff attorneys often try to prove their case with inadmissible character evidence (“other downloaded titles”).  I understand that copyright infringement in the context of a bittorrent swarm can be proved by the PCAP file (e.g., stating that the movie was 100% downloaded).

Thus, it logically makes sense that the attorney simply DOES NOT HAVE EVIDENCE OF INFRINGEMENT.  This could be why he goes to such lengths to prove that the downloader downloaded the other titles.

6. NEVERTHELESS, SHOWING CHARACTER EVIDENCE OF ‘OTHER TITLES DOWNLOADED’ IS STILL AN EFFECTIVE TACTIC.

From the copyright troll’s perspective, the goal is not to ‘nail’ each “John Doe” Defendant and make them liable for the $150,000 in statutory damages. Rather, a copyright troll seeks to elicit a settlement of a few thousand dollars from each “John Doe” defendant. 

Thus if the copyright troll isn’t interested in proving copyright infringement, but rather wishes to scare the bejeebies out of the accused defendant who actually downloaded those additional titles, then showing that defendant the list of ‘other titles downloaded’ *is* an effective tactic to manipulate them to do whatever the plaintiff demands of them, even if that means paying a multi-thousand dollar settlement.

IN SUM: WHICH ONE IS IT?

So which is it?  Does the plaintiff actually lack evidence of infringement as I have suggested by the missing PCAP file and the misdirection in the declarations filed with the court?  Or, does the copyright troll want to use the so-called ‘character evidence’ of ‘other titles downloaded’ to demonstrate to you (the John Doe Defendant) that you must have been the one who did the download of the movie (and thus you should pay him)?

My opinion: it is both.


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.

TX Judge Hughes Disallows I.T. Productions From ‘Suing Does’

Pictographic of the interaction between Gary Fischman and Judge Hughes

I.T. Productions, “Judge, I’m filing this lawsuit against Does 1-10.”

Judge Hughes, “No you are not.  You may not sue Does.”

I am interested to see where this one goes.  One of the cases I am working on in the Southern District of Texas court is I.T. Productions, LLC v. DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00597).

In this case, Gary Fischman is the attorney, and he filed this case just as he does any of the others (he is currently filing lawsuits against John Doe Defendants for the ME2 Productions plaintiff, and the I.T. Productions plaintiff).  [And, together with Josh Wyde, Fischman is also representing the September Productions plaintiff, the Cell Productions plaintiff, and the Fathers & Daughters Nevada plaintiff.]

In his attempt to convince TX Judge Lynn Hughes to rubber-stamp an ‘early discovery’ authorization to allow Fischman to send subpoenas to AT&T in order to unmask the identities of the 10 subscribers who are John Doe (unnamed) defendants in this case, the judge responded with a prophetic slap across the face.

Judge Hughes I.T. Productions Order (TX)
Judge Hughes tells I.T. Productions attorney that I.T. may not sue Does.

“No you may not sue Does.”

Instead of allowing Fischman to sue the putative defendants as Does (e.g., Doe 1, Doe 2, etc.), it appears as if Judge Hughes wants Fischman to identify them by the last five digits of their [accused] IP addresses.

For example, Doe 1 with accused IP address 193.254.221.683 would likely be identified as “Subscriber 21683.”

What is the relevance?

Unknown.  Judge Hughes obviously titled the order as “Subscriber-Identity Subpoenas,” which means he has thought enough about this case to give it a title which links it to other (likely Malibu Media, LLC) cases he also has in his court.

Either way, a ‘copyright troll’ never likes a judge who questions him, alters his proposed order, or does anything other than rubber stamp his requests and allow him to do whatever he wants in (and out of) the judge’s courtroom.

No doubt, Judge Hughes will likely change all of that, somehow.


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.

Did ME2 Attorney Fischman disclose real Interested Parties?

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.

So here is why I am suspect that maybe ME2 Productions, Inc. might not be the holder of a valid copyright:  We know from the Dallas Buyers Club, LLC lawsuits (when the real Dallas Buyers Club copyright holder sued Voltage Pictures, Inc. for not paying settlement moneys owed to them) that there was an entity (Voltage Pictures) that purchased the rights to monetize Dallas Buyer’s Club’s intellectual property (the right to use the Dallas Buyer’s Club name, the right to sue, etc.)  Voltage then turned around and set up an entity called “Dallas Buyers Club, LLC” and sued hundreds of John Doe Defendants using that name.

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.)

RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.com screenshot with ME2 outlined.
Screenshot from Carl Crowell’s RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.com website, with Mechanic:Resurrection outlined.

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).

DTD Twitter Screenshot Suggesting A&T IP, Inc. is APMC.
DieTrollDie suspects that A&T IP, Inc. is really 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:

021017 ME2 417-cv-00404 – Doc6 – Certificate of Interested Parties by ME2

MY FINAL QUESTIONS

Looking at all of this information together, I am left with the following questions.

  1. WHERE IS GUARDALEY (IPP) AS AN INTERESTED PARTY IN THIS CASE?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.


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.

SPEAK TO US (or ask me something).

No doubt you want to speak to a lawyer about the bittorrent lawsuit / ISP subpoena that you have received.  *I get that*, and I will do whatever I can to at a very minimum give you a speedy response, even if I cannot take you as a client.

Our law firm (meaning, “I”) will do my best to answer your call, and I will spend as much time with you on the phone as you need so that you at least do not panic about the case which is allegedly trying to take $150,000 (or some $10,000+ settlement) out of your pocket or home.

I have a pretty terribly-written web page at http://www.cashmanlawfirm.com/, but on there are links to reviews and comments people have written about how I have helped them whether or not they ended up being my client:

REVIEWS POSTED ON GENBOOK

REVIEWS POSTED ON GOOGLE

I am not committing to take you as a client; I do not charge for our phone appointments.  So, consider this as a “free consultation,” (or more as a friendly voice from someone who gets bored and enjoys talking to people,) but be aware that I might be working on a case while I am speaking to you, or that there might be interruptions which might pull me away from a call.

I am currently actively working on the following cases (filed in multiple states across the U.S., so while there are tweaks to be made from one federal court to another [different judges, different local rules], the copyright holder remains the same entity).

SCENARIO 1: IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN, OR IF YOU WANT TO SPEAK TO ME ABOUT YOUR MATTER, I INVITE YOU TO USE THE CONTACT FORM BELOW.

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.

SCENARIO 2: ASSUMING YOU WANT ME TO REPRESENT YOU IN THE CASE OR NEGOTIATE A RELEASE AND DISMISSAL FROM THE CASE, NEGOTIATE A SETTLEMENT (OR AN ANONYMOUS SETTLEMENT), OR HAVE ME REPRESENT YOU IN THE COURTROOM.

Follow these three steps below to have me represent you in your lawsuit (again, I do limit the number of clients I take (and here is why), and I do limit the number of time slots I make available each day):

1. Schedule a phone appointment for us to have a few minutes to speak about your lawsuit, your plaintiff ‘copyright troll’, what we know about them, and what we have achieved in the past with other clients.

2. Get, sign, and return retainer agreement (either I or one of my assistants would need to e-mail this to you after our call.  I do not make them readily available so that hundreds of John Doe defendants can hire me at the same time — I just don’t work that way, and this is a good thing).

3. Sit back, relax, and let us work on your behalf to get you the results you need.

After scheduling your appointment online, you will be contacted by phone at the specified date and time by a Cashman Law Firm, PLLC attorney.

SCENARIO 3: IF ALL ELSE FAILS AND YOU CANNOT REACH ME THROUGH THE WEB FORM, OR IF YOU CANNOT FIND AN OPEN TIME-SLOT ON THE GENBOOK APPOINTMENT PAGE,  I’M PROVIDING MY CONTACT INFORMATION. USE IT SPARINGLY.

Obviously I don’t want you calling me while I am in court, and I don’t want you e-mailing me without first reading the relevant articles about your case.  I’ll get you where you want to go in order to get out of trouble, but I won’t do it for you.  In other words, I’m not teaching you about this case from scratch or doing some dance in order for you to decide to retain me as your attorney.

But I am providing my phone number to you and my e-mail to you — these will break through all the barriers and you will reach me this way.  But respect this information and use it sparingly.

713-364-3476

info@cashmanlawfirm.com

[And as silly as this sounds, I have written SEVEN YEARS worth of blogs without referencing myself once.  That sounds self-deprecating, but really, I am simply trying to get resources and information in your hands.  So my name is “Rob Cashman.”  Please don’t call me Ron, or some other name, because that does annoy me.  Take the time to pay attention to learn my name if you want to speak to me.] 🙂

Lastly, I know I often have 100+ people contacting me, and I only provide a handful of phone consultations or appointments.  If you need my help, whether or not I become your attorney, *I WILL HAPPILY TAKE THE TIME TO SPEAK TO YOU, AND EVEN SPEND WHATEVER TIME IS NECESSARY (TIME PERMITTING) TO HOLD YOUR HAND.*

So if you need to speak to me after-hours or outside my set schedule, that’s ok too.

-Rob

NOTE: No attorney client relationship is established by sending a web form or an e-mail, and while the attorney-client privilege (which keeps everything that you share with 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.

I.T. Productions, LLC should really be called “I, Troll.”

To properly defend against the I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does lawsuits, it is important to understand the similarities between each case.  Each lawsuit, regardless of in which federal court it is filed, has certain similarities.  The purpose of this article is to point out the similarities between the I.T. Productions cases, and other ‘movie troll’ lawsuits filed in the same federal courts by the same copyright troll attorneys.

Different Lawsuits, Same Plaintiff Attorneys?

These past few weeks, I have been pushing the idea that there is an entity (until now, I believed it was Voltage Pictures, Inc.) behind the lawsuits which is calling up movie companies who have produced movies which have flopped in the theaters (I call them “floppers”), and this entity convinces the movie company to license its copyright rights to them so that they can sue bittorrent users as John Doe Defendants in copyright infringement lawsuits across the US.

Yesterday, I wrote about the Cook Productions, LLC lawsuits (which are sending subpoenas to ISPs to reveal the identities of subscribers who are accused of downloading the “Mr. Church” flopper), and I was concerned that maybe this copyright holder was somehow separate from the others — the ME2 Productions lawsuits, the September Productions lawsuits, and the Cell Film Holdings lawsuits (the “three legs” or “trio“) — that we have been seeing over the past few months. [So it’s not a three-legged stool; it’s a chair.]

But then this morning, I was writing an article on the I.T. Productions, LLC lawsuits, and after speaking to a John Doe Defendant on the phone, I decided to check the list of plaintiff attorneys suing in each state for the I.T. Productions to the attorneys suing in the ME2 Productions, September Productions, (and also LHF Productions and Criminal Productions, Inc., articles to come), and the connections popped out at me.  They are the same attorneys!!!

In sum, this ‘shadow entity’ (which I believed to be Voltage Pictures, Inc.) who is licensing ‘floppers’ is using the same attorneys to sue for each and every one of these movies.

I.T. Productions cases are filed in the same states as other movie troll cases.

Not only that, but for the IT Productions, LLC cases, they are even ‘dipping their toes’ into the same states as I saw yesterday when reviewing the Cook Productions, LLC cases.  Here are the similarities:

Arizona District Court (NONE YET)
Colorado District Court (I.T. 10 cases, Cook Productions, 1 case)
Hawaii District Court (I.T. 2 cases, Cook Productions, 4 cases)
Illinois Northern District Court (NONE YET)
Indiana Northern & Southern District Courts (NONE YET)
Kentucky Western District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)
Maryland District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)
Nevada District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)
North Carolina Eastern & Middle District Courts (NONE YET)
Ohio Northen & Southern District Courts (I.T. 2 cases, Cook Productions 2 cases)
Oregon District Courts (I.T. 4 cases, Cook Productions 3 cases)
Pennsylvania Eastern District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)
Washington Western District Court (I.T. 1 case, Cook Productions 1 case)

See the similarities?!?  So… expect to see I.T. Productions, LLC cases to soon be filed in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, and North Carolina.

Texas based I.T. Productions Cases

Why are Gary Fischman and Josh Wyde always the plaintiff attorneys for each movie troll case?

As far as the attorneys for each of the lawsuits were concerned, I could not understand how here in Texas, Gary Fischman and Josh Wyde showed up OUT OF NOWHERE, and started filing lawsuits for Fathers & Daughters Nevada, September Productions, Cell Film Holdings, and most recently, I.T. Productions and ME2 Productions.  Where did they come from?  And how did they all of a sudden score EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THESE movie companies to come to THEM and hire THEM to sue John Doe defendants in Texas for the unlawful download of these films?

Why is R. Matthew Van Sickle always the attorney for the movie troll cases in North Carolina?

Another name that keeps popping up in recent weeks has been R. Matthew Van Sickle (a.k.a. Ross Matthew Van Sickle) of Van Sickle Law, PC in North Carolina.  His website is http://mattvansicklelaw.com/ and it lists an expertise in “Construction Law, Civil Litigation, Employment Law, Insurance Coverage/Defense, and Mediation” (and no doubt, soon his website will be updated to state that he is knowledgeable in intellectual property matters, copyright infringement matters, and federal practice.) At least plaintiff / copyright troll attorneys Josh Wyde and Gary Fischman (AFAIK) are knowledgeable in this area of law.

The common threads between all movie troll cases.

So… who is behind these lawsuits?  Is it Voltage Pictures, Inc.?  Someone affiliated with Carl Crowell? Guardaley / IPP?  Again, do you care??

All About the I.T. Productions Lawsuits (Regardless of Where They Are Filed)

So I digress.  I.T. Productions, LLC has convinced the judges of the various courts to rubber stamp the authorization for them to conduct what is called ‘expedited discovery.’  What this means is that they are now permitted to send a subpoena to the various ISPs (e.g., Comcast, CenturyLink, AT&T, etc.), and force them to disclose the identity of the ten or so John Doe Defendants who are accused of copyright infringement from the download of their film.

The I.T. Productions, LLC lawsuit is suing for the download of the “I.T.” movie starring Pierce Brosnan.  The concept of the movie is pretty cool — innovative owner of an enterprising company is flying high until his daughter gets stalked by one of his information technology (IT) guys, who uses every technological facet to attack them.

Unfortunately, as cool as the movie sounds, IMDb gave it only 5.4 or 10 stars, which means that the movie was a flopper.  It’s too bad; I liked the concept of the movie.

So why did I spend all this time linking this I.T. Productions case to the Cook Productions case, the ME2 Productions case, and the others?  To show that there is a decrepit and sinister entity behind the scene who has likely now set up the entity called “I.T. Productions, LLC” for the purpose of suing downloaders across the U.S. for copyright infringement.

However, as terrible as this sounds, the benefit to the John Doe Defendant reading this article is that you can begin to draw lines and conclusions from one lawsuit (e.g., the ME2 lawsuits) to understand how the plaintiff attorneys will act in these lawsuits.

Honestly, I think I understand now why this movie is called “I.T.”  It really stands for “I Troll.”

As always, I hope this article has been of assistance to you.

For an analysis of the other I.T. Productions, LLC bittorrent-based cases filed across the US, click here.

RECENT CASE HISTORY OF THE I.T. PRODUCTIONS, LLC CASES:

Cases now filed in the Texas Southern District Court:
Attorney: Gary Fischman (Fischman Law PLLC)

I.T. Productions, LLC v. DOES (Case No. 4:17-cv-00597)

Cases filed in the Colorado District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1-7 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00468)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. John Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02979)
Other cases with the same name:
Case No. 1:16-cv-02998
Case No. 1:16-cv-03009
Case No. 1:16-cv-03058
Case No. 1:16-cv-03064
Case No. 1:16-cv-03089
Case No. 1:16-cv-03132
Case No. 1:16-cv-03150
Case No. 1:17-cv-00112

Cases filed in the Hawaii District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1 through 5 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00084)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1 through 3 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00035)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1-6 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00641)

Case filed in the Kentucky Western District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00836)

Case filed in the Maryland District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 8:16-cv-03999)

Case filed in the Nevada District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does (Case No. 2:16-cv-02705)

Cases filed in the Ohio Northern and Southern District Courts (respectively):
I.T. Productions LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 3:16-cv-03073)
I.T. Productions LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 2:16-cv-01199)

Cases filed in the Oregon District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe-76.115.0.173 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02102)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe-76.27.241.78 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02103)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe-76.115.228.18 (Case No. 3:16-cv-02101)
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe-76.27.242.207 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00163)

Case filed in the Pennsylvania Eastern District Court:
I.T. PRODUCTIONS, LLC v. JOHN DOES 1-8 (Case No. 2:16-cv-06533)

Case filed in the Washington Western District Court:
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01775)


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.

Suspecting a common troll is behind the movie-based copyright lawsuits.

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:

  1. This ‘common troll’ entity signs an agreement with a movie company to allow them to create an entity using that movie company’s name.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


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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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.

Dallas Buyers Club sues Voltage for not sharing proceeds.

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.

[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.

082516 Voltage-DBC Power of attorney

…and skipping down a bit:

082516 Voltage-DBC Exclusive Agent

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 a 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 Lipscomb’s Malibu Media, LLC v. John Doe lawsuits across the US, 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.


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.

Attorney Fees to a Winning Defendant — “It’s a Shell Game”

When representing a client, in my eyes I am representing the internet users against the “bad guys.” Copyright holders who use the federal court subpoena power to unclothe the identity of the internet subscriber with the intent of extorting that internet user out of thousands of dollars (regardless of whether the internet user did the download or not) is an abuse of the federal court system.  To offset the very high cost of hiring an attorney to defend a copyright infringement claim in federal court, copyright law provides the “winner” of the lawsuit attorney fees (see, 17 U.S. Code § 505).

That way, when an accused internet user is forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to properly defend him or herself against claims of copyright infringement (which often include appearing for multiple court hearings, allowing the household’s computers and electronic devices to be inspected by a forensics expert, being questioned under oath [or having to answer written interrogatories under oath]), *IF* at the end of the investigation (e.g., at the end of “discovery”), the claim of copyright infringement ends up being unfounded and the claim of copyright infringement against the internet user is dismissed, the law gives that internet user the right to collect from his accuser all the fees he paid to his attorney.

Beware, however.  Just because a defendant is entitled to attorney fees does not mean that they will get them.  There are three scenarios which can stop a defendant from obtaining their fees back from a copyright holder plaintiff:

1) The “cut and run” scenario, where a copyright holder dismisses the defendant before a judge can rule that there was no infringement, and

2) the “limited liability company” plaintiff, where the movie company has created smaller independent “shell” companies, and they use those companies to sue defendants in copyright infringement actions (knowing that if those companies incur liability, that liability will not trickle up to the owner or to the other corporate entity), and

3) the “underfunded shell company” scenario, where the copyright holder might not have the funds to pay the attorney fees to the defendant (for example, when the settlement funds have been siphoned off to another entity, or paid out to the copyright troll attorneys).

SCENARIO 1: THE “CUT AND RUN” SITUATION

In a “cut and run” situation, the accused internet user (a.k.a., the “named” John Doe Defendant) mounts a sufficient defense to demonstrate either that the plaintiff copyright holder does not have sufficient evidence to find him guilty of copyright infringement, or he is able to prove that it was not him “at the keyboard” at the time the download took place (because suing the account holder based on an ISP demonstrating that the account holder was assigned a particular IP address [which was used to participate in the downloading or copying of a copyrighted video] has been held in various jurisdictions to be insufficient to prove that it was the account holder who did the download).

In this first scenario, the account holder “fights back,” and hires and pays an attorney to file an answer to the complaint once named and served.  That attorney shows up to the court hearings, he cooperates with the discovery requests (the attorney sits with his client as he answers questions under oath, objects to questions, speaks to the judge in the middle to clarify issues that arise, etc.), and after what ends up being hundreds of hours, the copyright holder dismisses the defendant proactively before the court can rule on a summary judgement hearing that there was never a case against the client in the first place.   I saw this over and over with the Malibu Media, LLC cases.

SCENARIOS 2 & 3: THE “LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY (LLC)” PLAINTIFF, AND THE “UNDERFUNDED” SHELL COMPANY:

The second scenario in which a defendant could be deprived of attorney fees is when the movie studio sets up multiple limited liability “shell” entities (as seen by the “LLC” designation behind the name), and then that “shell” entity is used to file a lawsuit, but it does not have the funds to pay an award of attorney fees should it lose the copyright infringement claim against the “named” defendant.  This could be either because the “shell” entity was not properly funded in the first place, or because the plaintiff lawyers or the owners of the entity are siphoning the settlement funds out of the entity so that it would not be able to pay attorney fees if it was ordered to do so.

This is what bugs me about the limited liability entities which are set up and used to sue defendants — there is no accountability to the accused copyright defendant for the misuse of those entities.  Using Voltage Pictures, Inc. as an example (and by no means am I insinuating that their “shell” entities are misused or underfunded), Voltage Pictures, Inc. is a big name movie company that has sued thousands of defendants over the years.  Since our firm started in 2010, I have been seeing Voltage Pictures, Inc. as a copyright troll who has sued defendants, who has hired not-so-ethical attorneys to enforce their copyrights against bittorrent users, and I do not think one year has past where I have not seen one lawsuit or another where Voltage was behind the scenes as the copyright holder.

Over the years, I have seen Voltage shift from suing thousands of defendants using their their own Voltage name in the lawsuits to setting up smaller “shell” entities which are then used to sue John Doe Defendants.  It is not always obvious that a company suing for copyright infringement is a Voltage copyright troll, but there are tip offs in that each time a new copyright troll “shell” entity files a lawsuit, I see the same copyright troll attorney(s) filing the identical complaint as they filed in other lawsuits, and each time, I see the same discredited German forensics company (Guardaley) listed as the “expert” in the lawsuit.  With so many hundreds of lawsuits filed — and I wasn’t sure I was going to go here, but I am — , I ask myself why the judges don’t see that these are the same set of entities filing the lawsuits, and I shake my head in disgust that the copyright troll scam is still going on.  It boggles my mind that companies as large as Voltage Pictures, Inc. are still taking part in this kind of legal militarism and butchery.

Dallas Buyers Club, LLC was one such shell company that was set up and used to sue defendants, which I later learned was a Voltage Pictures, Inc. shell company.  More recently, Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC appears to be another such shell company.  These companies are all “limited liability companies,” which means that unless the company was structured improperly when it was formed, or unless the principals of the company did something stupid (e.g., intermingling company funds with another shell company’s funds), it is very difficult to “break the veil” to hold the owner of the company personally liable for the company’s mistakes.

This got me thinking.  A defendant does not immediately know whether a copyright troll corporate “shell” entity is properly funded or not, and before hiring an attorney and spending tens of thousands of dollars on a defense, the first thing that defendant should do (or have his lawyer do) is have the “shell” company demonstrate that they have the funds to pay the defendant’s attorney fees should it be demonstrated a) that the account holder “named” and served as the defendant was not the one who did the download in the first place, or b) that the plaintiff’s experts cannot provide sufficient evidence to prove that the copyright infringement actually happened.

Why? Because if the plaintiff does not have the funds to proceed, why spend the time and money defending the lawsuit?  Rather, hit them early on with a bond request to demonstrate that 1) they have the funds to proceed, and to demonstrate 2) that they have the intent to move forward, all the way to trial (if necessary).  This is not a cheap proposition for the copyright holders, as lawsuits such as these could easily run into the hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in fees.

Anyway, my point in this article is simply caveat emptor.  Before you go ahead throwing out all of your money paying an attorney for a defense, make sure the plaintiff can pay your fees if you win. Have them post a bond, or do something to demonstrate that they have the funds to proceed if the case goes in that direction.  If they cannot demonstrate this, then maybe there is no need to defend your case in the first place.

In sum, the copyright laws as they are practiced is lopsided.  Copyright owners are given their remedy — the ability to sue for “statutory damages” of $150,000 per instance of infringement.  And, the accused defendant apparently has his remedy — the ability to retrieve his paid attorney fees when he successfully defends his case against the copyright holder.  Why shouldn’t an accused defendant take a few steps to preserve his rights and check to make sure the plaintiff can pay his attorney fees if he wins?

NOW A NOTE FOR THE JUDGES:

Accused internet users are thrown around, threatened, extorted for thousands of dollars in cash, and the law does little to protect their rights. Defendants have the remedy to have their funds returned to them if they fight and win, but what individual internet user defendant has the ability to pay for a lawyer to defend him in court?  What use is it for the law to award attorney fees and costs to a defendant who prevails “on the merits” when that defendant cannot afford to hire a lawyer to get to that point in the legal process?

Rather, the duty to protect the public in circumstances such as these (suing internet users for the download of copyrighted materials) is on the judges themselves.

Judges know (or their clerks can easily discover) when a particular copyright holder is a “copyright troll” and they know if the same parties have filed serial lawsuits in one state, or if they have filed multiple lawsuits in multiple states, or whether that same entity has sued defendants using multiple shell companies.  Judges also know that most accused defendants cannot pay a lawyer even for the most basic defense.

Too often, judges do not act as the gatekeepers they are, and they let the copyright holders do whatever they want to do while the judges pretend to pressure the copyright holders to move forward and name and serve defendants, or not. This is a charade — one that unnerves me, because it is an open secret that the copyright holders have absolutely no interest in taking a case to trial.

Judges who rubber stamp “expedited discovery” motions: WHY allow copyright holders access to the names of the accused John Doe Defendants when those copyright holders have shown through their past filings that they have absolutely NO INTENTION of proceeding to trial?  And why not make the plaintiff copyright holders demonstrate that they intend to proceed to trial (e.g., by having them post a bond as a matter of course) rather than using your federal court as a weapon to extort settlements from defendants who otherwise do not have the funds to pay for an adequate defense?

Since I mentioned Voltage Pictures, Inc. in this article (since they are the ones behind the Dallas Buyers Club, LLC lawsuits from a few months ago, and more recently, they are the ones behind the Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC lawsuits), below are a list of cases filed across the U.S. (and this is only a small sample of the lawsuits that were filed).  Judges, how can you NOT know that this “Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC” entity is a shell company practicing copyright trolling across the US?!?  Will you now let this “shell” entity do the same thing that every Voltage Pictures, Inc. “shell” entity did before them?  Ask yourself: Have ANY of these Voltage plaintiffs gone to trial?

Current Cases Affected by this Article (I am listing these so that you see how deep the Voltage Picture lawyer network goes — cases are not only filed in Texas, but like the Malibu Media, LLC cases were, they are filed across the US):

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does (Case No. 4:16-cv-01968, Texas Southern District Court (July 5, 2016))
[Plaintiff Attorney Joshua S. Wyde]

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does (Case No. 4:16-cv-01315, Texas Southern District Court (May 10, 2016))
[Plaintiff Attorney Joshua S. Wyde]

Fathers & Daughters Nevada LLC v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-01073, Arizona District Court (April 15, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada LLC v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 1:16-cv-00362, Michigan Western District Court (April 8, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 2:16-cv-10948, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 16, 2016))

Fathers And Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-26 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02452, Illinois Northern District Court (Feb. 22, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-32 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02453, Illinois Northern District Court (Feb. 22, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-17 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02456, Illinois Northern District Court (Feb. 22, 2016))

Fathers And Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-21 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02450, Illinois Northern District Court (Feb. 22, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 2:16-cv-10371, Michigan Eastern District Court (Feb. 2, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 2:16-cv-10372, Michigan Eastern District Court (Feb. 2, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v Does 1 Through 12 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00187, Hawaii District Court (April 22, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10948, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 16, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada LLC v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-00406, Arizona District Court (Feb. 12, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-14 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10939, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 15, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. John Does 1-7 (Case No. 1:16-cv-01318, Colorado District Court (June 1, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-14 (Case No. 2:16-cv-10939, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 15, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-14 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10751, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 3, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-18 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10785, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 4, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10654, Michigan Eastern District Court (Feb. 23, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 2:16-cv-10910, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 14, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. John Does 1-15 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00560, Colorado District Court (March 8, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-00670, Colorado District Court (March 22, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10910, Michigan Eastern District Court (March 14, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-00747, Colorado District Court (March 31, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does (Case No. 1:16-cv-00278, New Mexico District Court (April 11, 2016))

Fathers and Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-15 (Case No. 4:16-cv-10372, Michigan Eastern District Court (Feb. 2, 2016))

Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-00613, Colorado District Court (March 16, 2016))

Need more examples?


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.