Tag Archives: Hunter Killer Productions Inc.

Kerry Culpepper uses 512(h) to subpoena verizon to discover hunter killer movie downloaders.

Kerry Culpepper of Hawaii-based Culpepper IP LLLC has taken a roundabout way of uncovering the identities of Verizon Wireless subscribers who downloaded the Hunter Killer movie using their cell phones. I wanted to spend a moment on how Culpepper did this, because it provides a good follow-up on my 5/3 article about the Hunter Killer Productions Inc. lawsuits.

Hunter Killer Inc v. John Does as a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Ordinarily the case would show up on my radar because the plaintiff attorney would file a Hunter Killer Productions Inc. v. John Does copyright infringement lawsuit in a particular federal court (here, the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii).

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Kerry Culpepper would then ask the court for what is referred to as “expedited discovery,” meaning, he would ask the court to authorize Culpepper to send a subpoena to the ISP. I described this process in detail just days ago in the “How Paul Beik Has Malibu Media LLC Defendants Served” section of the linked article.

This ISP subpoena would ordinarily then force the Hawaii-based ISP to hand over the name of the John Doe defendant(s) accused of infringing the Hunter Killer Productions Inc. copyright holder’s “Hunter Killer” movie.

Judges are aware of the “copyright troll” problem.

I had to ask myself, “why would Kerry Culpepper go through such loops to disclose the identity of the alleged downloaders? Couldn’t he have just filed a Hunter Killer Productions Inc. v. Does 1-20 copyright infringement lawsuit against 20 downloaders like any other plaintiff attorney / copyright holder?

Then it occurred to me: In the list of Hunter Killer Productions Inc. lawsuits filed against defendants, I did not see *any* cases filed in the Hawaii District Court. (Rather, I only saw a few Hunter Killer Productions Inc. cases filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois).

Could it be that the Hawaii District Court has outlawed Rule 26 “expedited discovery” bittorrent-based copyright infringement cases in their case holdings? If Kerry Culpepper cannot get a federal judge to grant an “expedited discovery” to allow him to send a subpoena to the ISPs [to discover the identity of the would-be John Doe defendants], then the plaintiff attorney has a copyright infringement lawsuit without any known defendants.

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Judges across the US have become aware of the problem we refer to as “copyright trolling,” where a copyright holder uses the federal courts to file a copyright infringement lawsuit against a set of unknown defendants. They use the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule 26) “expedited discovery” tool to unmask the identities of the defendants sued in the lawsuits.

As a result of much abuse and harassment by a number of plaintiff attorneys, some judges have taken proactive steps to DENY the plaintiff attorney’s FRCP Rule 26 “expedited discovery” requests. If this is what is happening in Hawaii, this would in theory prevent Kerry Culpepper from forcing the ISP to hand over the names of the account subscribers (hence, no known defendants to sue).

What is a “MISCELLANEOUS CASE”?

What a BORING name for such an abused type of lawsuit!!!

I have seen lawsuits that look something like “Case No. 1:19-mc-00123” which differ from the civil cases [which look like “Case No. 1:19-cv-00123”]. These “miscellaneous” cases do not formally accuse the defendant of copyright infringement in the form of a complaint, but rather, they function more as a “motion to compel” [to force] a third party (here, Verizon Wireless) to disclose the identity of a would-be defendant.

From a non-lawyer’s eye, who cares whether the plaintiff attorney used a “1:19-cv-12345″ (a “civil” case) to file their lawsuit, or a “1:19-mc-12345″ (“miscellaneous” case) to discover the identity of the alleged infringer. It is the same result — the plaintiff attorney (here, Kerry Culpepper of Hawaii-based Culpepper IP LLLC) acquires the name of the alleged infringer and contacts him or her with the intention of accusing them of copyright infringement.

However it is the BACKHANDED WAY the plaintiff attorney gets his defendants that simply irks me.

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I saw these same “miscellaneous case” filings in Florida state courts in 2010-2012.

This is not the first time I have seen “miscellaneous cases (mc)” rather than the typical “civil cases (cv)”.

Keith Lipscomb, the attorney [at the time] behind all of the Malibu Media LLC cases (and formerly, the Patrick Collins Inc. cases from 2010-2012) used to use a similar mechanism in the Florida state courts to achieve these same ends. As an attorney myself who operates in the FEDERAL COURTS, a “mc” case filed in a state court would not show up on my radar.

What Kerry Culpepper did in Hawaii to force the clerk to issue 512(h) subpoenas to Verizon Wireless

Kerry Culpepper in my opinion is one of the smarter plaintiff attorneys. I have always known this, as his copyright infringement lawsuits were always out-of-the-box.

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When dealing with him, Culpepper rarely asked for a settlement outright — rather, he had a roundabout way of explaining that, “…since my client accessed the bittorrent file 530 times over a two-day (26 hour) period to download a full copy of the movie, and that bittorrent swarm shared the movie with 2,930 other bittorrent users over those same 26 hours, judging the discounted cost of a movie at Wal*Mart is $2.99 (in a clearance bin, not $19.99 retail on the shelf), multiply the $2.99 x 2,930 to arrive at a settlement price of $8,760.70.”

His thinking style was also visible when he decided to sue a group of individuals who I presume were profiting off of the ad sales of a movie app which shares pirated movies. Rather than “shake down” the end user (the downloader), he went after the “big bucks,” here I assume the ad revenue, as the Showbox app was actively being used [and ads shown] by literally millions of users.

In sum, Kerry Culpepper a good mind which he uses to discover methods of suing defendants for profit.

Kerry Culpepper ip-hawaii-hunter-killer-productions

Hunter Killer Productions Inc. and their new defendants.

This brings us to Kerry Culpepper’s latest feat — getting the Hawaii Federal Court to force Verizon Wireless to hand over the names of several defendants WITHOUT EVER FILING A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT.

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In his application to the US District Court for the District of Hawaii entitled “In re Subpoena to Verizon Wireless” (Case No. 1:19-mc-00125), he invokes 17 USC 512(h) to ask the *CLERK* (not a judge, and WITHOUT a lawsuit filed) to issue a subpoena to disclose the identity of an alleged copyright infringer.

Let me say that again. Kerry Culpepper just succeeded in getting the CLERK to issue a subpoena WITHOUT ANY JUDGE ruling on the motion, and WITHOUT NEEDING TO FILE ANY COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT.

Literally, the entire “miscellaneous” lawsuit was:

  • Doc 1) Application for a 512(h) subpoena,
  • Doc 2) Judge assigns the case to a magistrate judge (in my opinion, in an “I’m not touching this one,” way),
  • Doc 3) Clerk issues subpoena.
    [CASE CLOSED]

KERRY CULPEPPER’S ARGUMENT TO THE HAWAII DISTRICT COURT

Kerry Culpepper’s argument was simple. I am laying it out in points below:

1) DC Circuit said that a 512(h) subpoena can only be issued to an ISP engaged in storing infringing copyrighted materials on their servers. (351 F.3d 1229, 1233 (D.C. Cir. 2003)).

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2) Eighth circuit said that a 512(h) subpoena only applies to an ISP that directly stores, caches, or provides links to infringing materials. (393 F.3d 771, 776-77 (8th Cir. 2005)).

Kerry Culpepper noted that neither court mentioned anything about whether a subpoena can be issued to an ISP that acts as a CONDUIT [to allow their subscribers to pass copyrighted content through their servers].

Here is where Kerry Culpepper shows his talents:

Culpepper then commented that the 9th Circuit (which is a higher court which includes and is binding upon the Hawaii District) has not ruled on whether a copyright holder can use a 512(h) subpoena to an ISP that acts as a CONDUIT [to allow their subscribers to infringe copyrighted materials].

He then invoked the recent BMG Rights Management (US) LLC v. Cox Communications Inc., 881 F.3d 293, 300 (4th Cir. 2018) case to conclude that the 9th Circuit (including the Hawaii District Court) would allow such a 512(h) subpoena.

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PERSONAL NOTE:

There are some people who operate at such a high level that I get a headache when listening to them. I could strain to understand them, but I wonder whether I would understand them better if I too were high on drugs.

I read the arguments and looked up the references, but I don’t get the jump in logic.

Personally, I think Culpepper confused the court with a logic-based argument, but I believe he jumped to a conclusion that his facts did not support.

However, I’ve heard Culpepper speak — he is a smart dude and he thinks very quickly. Sometimes it is difficult to understand him because he is thinking at levels higher than the average person (here, the average judge) can comprehend.

However, I still think that the judge dropped the ball and did not have the caffeine to oppose Culpepper (NOTE: there was no “defense” counsel to oppose him), and the Hawaii court capitulated.

This is how I see it after reading what happened.

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THE END RESULT: CULPEPPER KNOWS WHO YOU ARE.

The end result is that now Verizon Wireless will be complying with the subpoena and providing Culpepper here, a list of 20 defendants who allegedly used their cell phones to view, stream, or download copies of his client’s Hunter Killer movie, and the settlement demands will likely ensue.

If you are an attorney and have the desire to see exactly what Kerry Culpepper did, here is the link to his application to the court.

If you are a defendant (or you received a letter from Kerry Culpepper asking for settlement money for the download of the Hunter Killer movie using your cell phone), at least now you will understand how he got your name.

kerry-culpepper-ip-hunter-killer-settlement-hawaii-hi
Perlinator / Pixabay

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[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about the Hunter Killer Productions Inc. 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 Hunter Killer Productions Inc. 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.

HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. AND THEIR SORDID HISTORY

Doing a HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. COPYRIGHT TROLL WRITE-UP was not my initial purpose in searching PACER for documentation regarding last night’s Strike 3 Holdings LLC “turf war” article, but what I came across with Hunter Killer Productions Inc. is noteworthy because of my memories of this entity.

I have useful information on Hunter Killer Productions Inc. because I have background information [piecing my memories together] which provide a context for the new Hunter Killer Productions Inc. cases filed in the Northern District of Illinois by Michael Hierl and William Kalbac.

Looking up the most recent Strike 3 Holdings, LLC cases last night on PACER, I couldn’t help but to notice that another small set of lawsuits popped up on my radar.

There is now a new [apparent] “copyright troll” testing the waters named “Hunter Killer Productions Inc.” Hunter Killer Productions Inc. originally did not raise any flags for me — I remembered that they have a history in Hawaii with former-copyright-troll Kerry Culpepper, and I had nothing wrong with their activities… until now.

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THE HUNTER KILLER MOVIE

Hunter Killer Productions Inc. is the shell company that owns the rights to the “Hunter Killer” movie. “Hunter killer” is an action, thriller movie directed by Donovan Marsh, and stars Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman (among others).

I mention their name merely for movie recognition — not because the actors themselves ever benefit from the copyright troll lawsuits their production companies file to monetize the piracy of their movies.

hunter-killer-productions-inc, Hunter Killer Productions ISP subpoena lawsuit | Notice of Subpoena For Records

Hunter Killer Productions Inc. was known to me to merely “consort” with known copyright trolls (more on this below), but I did not identify them as copyright trolls themselves… until now.

Copyright trolls are production companies and lawyers who file lawsuits against internet users who are accused of downloading copyrighted movies; these companies and lawyers seek to use the federal courts and the copyright infringement statutory damages to “extort” thousands of dollars from each accused defendant (through their John Doe entity).

Apparently, Hunter Killer Productions Inc. is now testing the waters with copyright troll bittorrent-based lawsuits filed in the Illinois Northern District federal court.

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HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC HISTORY IN HAWAII

At first glance, when seeing the copyright infringement cases in Illinois, Hunter Killer Productions Inc. as the plaintiff did not raise any “red flags” except that 1) it is a production company, and 2) it filed multiple identical-looking lawsuits against a handful of John Doe Defendants in each case.

Delving deeper into the Hawaii case (and remembering that Kerry Culpepper was the plaintiff attorney who was filing all of the Hawaii copyright troll lawsuits in previous years), I was surprised by what I saw — the complaint was not only claiming copyright infringement, but also “…FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, CONTRIBUTORY COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, INDUCEMENT, FALSE ADVERTISING, UNFAIR COMPETITION, AND DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES.”

Thus, the Hawaii case (especially with what I remember Kerry Culpepper was doing) did not look like a copyright troll lawsuit to me.

KERRY CULPEPPER MOVED PAST COPYRIGHT TROLLING

I remember distinctly that Kerry Culpepper was getting into significantly more in-depth cases, namely going after the PROVIDERS of movies which are streamed online via the Show Box app (“Showbox”), which illegally provide pirated content to the web by advertising their app as a method of “watching free movies.”

I also remember not being so interested in the topic, as I had nothing wrong with Kerry Culpepper trying to stop Showbox or the flow of pirated movies.

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As long as Kerry was not going after the end users (the internet users who actually downloaded the content) seeking thousands of dollars in settlements for each lawsuit, I had nothing wrong with his lawsuit against Showbox.  As far as I recall, the providers of Showbox were Indian companies such as Galbatross Technologies who were somehow benefiting financially (if I recall, by significant ad revenue) by providing copyrighted content to internet users in the US.

You could read the Adobe PDF link to Kerry Culpepper’s complaint against Showbox here.

Ernesto from Torrentfreak.com also wrote up the topic on the lawsuit here:

Showbox Sites Settle With Movie Companies, Warn Users of Lawsuits

I could be mistaken, but I also vaguely recall that Showbox sold set top boxes here in the US, and those set top boxes streamed copyrighted content to US customers which were acquired by using BitTorrent software on the back end. I remember this because a handful of past clients of mine got sued by Gary Fischman in Texas for using Showbox, but the lawsuits were for BitTorrent use.

HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS IS AN EXTENSION OF THE SHOWBOX LAWSUITS

I must admit that I was a bit surprised when I saw the in-depth lawsuit filed by Hunter Killer Productions Inc. against the few named defendants. What jogged my memory about the Showbox cases were the “group effort” of copyright troll plaintiffs who were involved as plaintiffs in the effort. Those companies include:

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The similarity of plaintiffs in this Kerry Culpepper’s Hawaii-based Hunter Killer Productions Inc. case reminded me of Culpepper’s former Showbox lawsuit and its list of plaintiffs. They included companies such as:

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REMEMBERING THE “COMMON THREAD” CONTROVERSY

NOTE: I want to point out the big “common thread” controversy from years ago when I claimed that all of the movie lawsuits were working behind the scenes together as a master settlement extortion scheme. So many people (and attorneys) told me that I was “full of it” when I noticed a common string between each of the lawsuits filed by each of these copyright troll production companies (via their “shell” companies).

Each of these companies COINCIDENTALLY hired the IDENTICAL SET OF ATTORNEYS in every state in which bittorrent based copyright infringement lawsuits were filed. This made no sense to me — either these attorneys were each masterful in acquiring the identical copyright troll clients, or there was a “kingpin” behind the scenes of each of these seemingly separate companies who were directing each of the hundreds of lawsuits filed across the US (please read my article yesterday on Strike 3 Holdings LLC and the need for a kingpin to manage and centralize multiple lawsuits filed by local attorneys in each state’s federal court).

In sum, Culpepper took every copyright troll and sued the source of the piracy — something I had nothing wrong with, as my goal in defending copyright infringement lawsuits is not to encourage piracy, but to prevent the harassment of defendants accused of copyright infringement (and the extortion that inevitably comes with these copyright infringement lawsuits).

The Defendants in the Hawaii-based Hunter Killer Productions Inc. lawsuit didn’t interest me much either. To me, it seemed like Kerry Culpepper again trying to go after the source of the copyright infringement (foreign defendants) rather than the end users.

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THE NEW HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. COPYRIGHT TROLL LAWSUITS

TWO DAYS AGO, Hunter Killer Productions Inc. jumped into the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and started suing John Doe Defendants in Illinois. Seeing the attorneys Michael Hierl and William Benjamin Kalbac (who I know as “Bill Kalbac”), this changed the story.

Now Hunter Killer Productions Inc. is suing John Doe defendants (all Comcast subscribers) for the download of the “Hunter Killer” movie, or more specifically, for the “Hunter.Killer.2018.KORSUB.HDRip.x264-STUTTERSHIT” movie which was shared on bittorrent networks in December 2018.Hunter Killer Productions Inc John Doe Lawsuits

In other words, Hunter Killer Productions Inc. is now suing defendants using the classic copyright troll model (and the same attorneys).

Pasted below are the small set of Hunter Killer Productions Inc. cases I’ve seen thus far.  As far as I can tell, they are only “dipping their toes” into the Illinois federal court to test the copyright trolling model, but with Michael Hierl and Bill Kalbac as plaintiff attorneys (in 2012, I called Michael Heirl a “baby copyright troll,” but now we are SIX YEARS LATER), their chances of successfully soliciting settlements from accused users is high.

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Case filed in the Hawaii District Court
Hunter Killer Productions Inc et al. v. Qazi Muhammad Zarlish et al. (1:19-cv-00168)

Cases Filed in the Illinois Northern District Court
HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. v. DOES 1-21 (1:19-cv-02926)
HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. v. DOES 1-23 (1:19-cv-02922)
HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. v. DOES 1-23 (1:19-cv-02924)
HUNTER KILLER PRODUCTIONS INC. v. DOES 1-17 (1:19-cv-02927)
Hunter Killer Productions Inc. v. DOES 1-21 (1:19-cv-02920)

SUMMARY

In sum, Hunter Killer Productions Inc. is a known entity with a history of taking legal steps to enforce its copyright rights.  Now they have “dipped their toes” into what I consider to be illegitimate copyright enforcement activities, namely, copyright trolling and soliciting multiple-thousand dollar settlements from each defendant.


[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about the Hunter Killer Productions Inc. 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 Hunter Killer Productions Inc. 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.