Tag Archives: Joshua Wyde

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.

TorrentLawyer | Book Now Button

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.

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.