Can I get caught streaming movie videos over the internet?

UT ME2 Productions | Utah ME2 Settlement Letters Sent by Todd Zenger

Streaming movies via bittorrent is illegal, and you can get sued for copyright infringement if you are caught streaming movies.  Apps such as Popcorn Time use bittorrent to stream movies to its viewers, so these users can get caught.  Currently, it is difficult to get caught streaming movies via a YouTube-like “tube” site because there is currently no easy way to monitor traffic to these sites.

BACKGROUND: I started writing an answer to the question of “Who cares if I was ‘seen’ downloading?  Doesn’t everyone use bittorrent anyway? Why is this illegal?” in the ME2 Productions Lawsuit Q&A article posted last night.

In answering, I got onto a really interesting tangent of how governments use child pornography, sex traffickers, and terrorists as an excuse to violate your rights against unlawful search and seizure (your right to use a VPN, to stay anonymous, to encrypt your phone, to encrypt your hard drive, etc.).  This should be an article of its own, but in writing that article, I stumbled into the “can I get caught streaming movies” topic, so enjoy the article.

Streaming movies via bittorrent is the newest way to get caught.

IS IT ILLEGAL TO STREAM COPYRIGHTED VIDEOS? DOES COPYRIGHT LAW APPLY TO DOWNLOADING, UPLOADING, SEEDING, OR STREAMING MOVIES OVER THE INTERNET?

Answer: Copyright holders are very protective over the WAY in which people view their copyrighted content.  The law gives them a number of exclusive rights (which means that they can legally sue and destroy the financial futures of anyone who violate and/or infringe those rights).  

Of those exclusive rights (the right to make copies (download), the right to distribute copies (share/upload), and the right to display (streaming movies).

If any of these are copyright rights are infringed, they get antsy because each violation of these rights stops them from being able to monetize [make money from] the movie, or ‘work’ that they created.

Even issues such as whether a particular movie is played on this TV network or that TV network, or whether it is sold in this store or that store, or whether and how it is released on to DVD for rental purposes (and whether the copyright holder will allow their movie to be streamed on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video) — all of these considerations are called ‘considerations of licensing’ which are the ‘rights’ or ‘property’ of the copyright holder.

How bittorrent is said to infringe the exclusive rights of the copyright holder.

Downloading a copyrighted video on bittorrent apparently violates the copyright owner’s exclusive right to make copies.  

Seeding or uploading a video on the bittorrent network violates that copyright owner’s exclusive right to distribute copies.  

They would even argue that getting caught streaming movies without a license violates that copyright holder’s exclusive right to display the copyrighted video, so even watching a video which is streamed on some ‘tube’ website arguably comprises copyright infringement.

The movie lobbyists have manipulated politicians to increase damages over and over, likely through bribery and filling the pockets of these politicians with contributions to their election funds, and the like.  It’s a greedy process, and the only person screwed is the end user who clicks on a video link, watches that streamed movie, gets caught streaming the copyrighted movie, and gets sued.

But ‘Everyone Does It.’

So you see, it does not matter whether ‘everyone does it.’  

Bottom line, movie companies over the last seven years have figured out a way to sue ISP internet subscribers individually for the infringement of their copyrighted movies.  

This means that the movie companies (or the ‘copyright troll’ companies who license the rights to sue for the infringement of these rights) have figured out a way to apply the nasty $150,000 statutory damages fine to the end user who clicks on a bittorrent link and opts to download or stream that movie.

[Statutory damages means that if you did it, you are ‘guilty’, akin to a buzzer going off or guns being shot when someone steps passed a patrolled red line].

EVERYONE DOES IT. BUT CAN I GET CAUGHT STREAMING MOVIES? CAN I GET SUED? FINED? PUT IN JAIL?

Originally (back when I was in law school), nobody tracked the bittorrent networks, and so people could share files readily without worrying about getting ‘caught’ (akin to the current state of technology where you can go on YouTube, or some abstract piracy website (e.g., Putlocker).

You could also use some piece of software (e.g., Kodi) and sometimes view full-length versions of copyrighted films. However, at the time, the mechanism to get ‘caught’ was not yet in place.  

The reason for this is because copyright holders are not yet taking the time to subpoena the web analytics to determine which IP addresses visited which specific pages showing which specific copyrighted movie was viewed or streamed without a license.  Even if they did, many of the webmasters are out of the US anyway, so good luck finding out who they really are, and good luck pulling them into court.

How criminal copyright statutes are being used against bittorrent websites.

(This is an ongoing fight where the creators of The Pirate Bay, Kim Dotcom / the MEGA.co.na site, Putlocker, and a number of other bittorrent site owners are being arrested in their home countries, and the US government is trying to extradite them into the US. The goal of the governments is so that these individuals can be charged with the criminal side of the copyright laws here in the US.  

In short, the political power of the movie companies is strong, and they have governments as their servants. This is a fight that has touched you with your copyright infringement lawsuit, but nobody is bringing you to jail over it.  

Copyright infringement lawsuits are civil, which means the copyright holder is merely suing for money damages ($150,000) as a remedy for the infringement.)

HOW GOVERNMENTS USE CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, SEX TRAFFICKING, AND THREATS OF TERRORISM TO TAKE AWAY OUR CIVIL RIGHTS.

Just because it is currently difficult to get caught streaming movies because the website owners are outside of the U.S. (or because the technology to do so is not yet in place).

This is not to say that the government isn’t TRYING to find a way to force these sites to keep logs of their internet traffic. It also does not mean that they are not TRYING to find a way to put a lock-and-key on the internet itself with a ‘Universal Internet ID’ or some tracking device forced upon you like shackles.  

If US citizens don’t remain vigilant, governments (including our own) will put these shackles on you, and every website you visit will be monitored and logged, AND THEY WILL DO THIS BY CLAIMING THAT THEY WANT TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS AND THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN.

This is their sneaky way of getting you to give up your rights.  

Governments will use something as nasty, disgusting, horrible, and decrepit as child pornography, sex trafficking, or even terrorism, and they will claim that in order to fight this, they must lock down EVERYONE’s internet in order to fight these horrible activities.  

Because nobody wants to be on the side of the guy with child porn on his computer (this is almost ALWAYS the circumstance when the government wants to advance some horrible law, they choose some person to charge with a crime and advance THAT CASE through the courts to the US Supreme Court, and as a result of the horribleness of that selected POS defendant…), nobody speaks up in his defense.

Nobody wants to defend a child porn defendant because of the stigma associated with it, and so governments pass laws taking away your rights to privacy and anonymity claiming that they are doing it to protect children against this guy.  [This is why almost all case law which advances some great concept usually has some nasty, horrible person as the defendant who ends up being protected from his crime (or not)].

ACTUAL LAWSUITS HAPPENING ABOUT RIGHTS AGAINST FORCED DECRYPTION OF YOUR CELL PHONE AND ENCRYPTED HARD DRIVES

This is actually happening now as we speak — not with the issue of internet privacy and forcing a universal internet ID on internet users, but with the argument of whether a court can force someone charged with a crime to disclose the password of his phone, or whether they can force a defendant to decrypt an encrypted hard drive.  

The sneaky thing is that they are using some guy caught with child porn on his encrypted drive to force the law making it okay for governments to force its citizens to give up its rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

And, other governments are passing laws making it illegal to run VPN services “because child pornographers and sex traffickers use these devices in order to further their criminal activities.”  

So because some terrorist uses an encrypted chat, or because some child porn defendant encrypts his hard drive, now I need to strip naked and show the world exactly which websites I am visiting, who I speak to, what I buy, what doctor I visit, and all my secrets??  No thank you.  

Governments should leave its’ law abiding citizens alone and not punish us because some sicko uses the same privacy mechanism to mask his nasty crime.

ANSWER: STREAMING MOVIES IS [LIKELY] ILLEGAL, BUT AT THE MOMENT YOU CAN’T GET CAUGHT STREAMING MOVIES (YET).

In short, for the moment, getting caught streaming movies via a ‘tube’ website, or via some obscure out-of-the-US-based website will violate copyright law. But, there is a very low likelihood that you’ll get caught streaming movies or sued for streaming in general.  

This will change in the future, and governments will likely continue to infringe on your rights against unlawful search and seizure (even to the point that they might make it illegal to use a VPN service).

For now, valid activist groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and activist attorneys such as myself and a number of others still hold governments back from growing in power and authority to the point that ‘the boot of the government crushes the skull of its citizen.’


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.

    ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. (“MECHANIC: RESURRECTION”) LAWSUITS

    UT ME2 Productions | Utah ME2 Settlement Letters Sent by Todd Zenger

    I have added this page for internet users who have become entangled in the ME2 Productions, Inc. (a.k.a. the “Mechanic: Resurrection”) cases.  The goal here is to keep up to date on this plaintiff, and to discuss their various cases.  Should you learn of any updates regarding one of their cases, please post it here using the following format — (e.g., “ME2 Productions, Inc. v. John Does 1-15 (Case No. 4:17-cv-00404) filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas”).  Please also feel free to post new cases you find where ME2 Productions, Inc. is listed as the plaintiff.

    UT ME2 Productions | Utah ME2 subpoena lawsuits
    Screenshot from Carl Crowell’s RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.com website, with Mechanic:Resurrection outlined.

    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does Lawsuits

    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.  The lawsuits are all copyright infringement lawsuits filed in the Federal Courts, and each lawsuit sues for statutory damages of $150,000.

    Accused internet users are made aware of these cases when they are sent a letter from their ISP (e.g., Comcast, etc.), which informs them 1) they are implicated as a “John Doe” Defendant in this case, and 2) the ISP is bound by a subpoena to share the account holder’s contact information (and relevant information about their IP address’ involvement in the case) on a certain due date unless the subscriber files an objection with the court (referring to a “motion to quash”).

    Remember to please exercise discretion when posting (e.g., do not post your real name or e-mail address), and as usual, avoid using vulgar or offensive language (both towards the plaintiff and towards other users).

    [CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about the ME2 Productions 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 ME2 Productions, Inc. case, or you can call us at 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number].

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

    RECENT CASE HISTORY OF THE ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. CASES:

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Texas Southern District Court [Cases as of 3/10/2017]:
    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

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Nevada District Court:
    Judges include Judge Andrew Gordon, Judge James Mahan, Judge Jennifer Dorsey, and Judge Richard Boulware II — Judge Mahan and Judge Gordon have most of the cases:

    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. John and Jane Does (Case No. 2:17-cv-00668, Case No. 2:17-cv-00667, Case No. 2:17-cv-00666, Case No. 2:17-cv-00665, Case No. 2:17-cv-00676, Case No. 2:16-cv-02783, Case No. 2:17-cv-00114, Case No. 2:16-cv-02563, Case No. 2:16-cv-02513, Case No. 2:16-cv-02799, Case No. 2:17-cv-00121, Case No. 2:17-cv-00126, Case No. 2:17-cv-00122, Case No. 2:16-cv-02657, Case No. 2:16-cv-02384, Case No. 2:16-cv-02520, Case No. 2:17-cv-00124, Case No. 2:17-cv-00123, Case No. 2:16-cv-02662, Case No. 2:16-cv-02788, Case No. 2:16-cv-02875, Case No. 2:16-cv-02660, Case No. 2:17-cv-00049)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the North Carolina Eastern & Middle District Courts:
    Judges include Judge Louise Wood Flanagan, Judge Terrence Boyle, Judge W. Earl Britt — Judge Flanagan is the lead, as she has most of the cases and is in charge of the 5:16-cv-914 case into which the others have been consolidated, so watch her rulings to understand how ‘bittorrent’ law is about to evolve in North Carolina:

    v. ME2 Productions, Inc. (Case No. 5:17-cv-00099) [not a typo]
    … v. DOES (Case No. 1:17-cv-00150)
    … v. Doe 1, et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00881)
    … v. Doe 1, et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00885)
    … v. Doe 1, et al (Case No. 4:16-cv-00273)
    … v. Doe 1, et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00896)
    … v. Does 1-8 (Case No. 5:16-cv-00914)
    … v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 7:16-cv-00385)
    … v. DOES 1-10 (Case No. 7:16-cv-00386)
    … v. Does 1-8 (Case No. 7:16-cv-00384, CONSOLIDATED into 5:16-cv-00914-FL)
    … v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 7:16-cv-00394)
    … v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 4:16-cv-00279)
    … v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 5:16-cv-00875)
    … v. Doe (Case No. 7:16-cv-00383)
    … v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 4:16-cv-00278)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00917)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00920)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00922)
    … v. Does (Case No. 5:16-cv-00202)
    … v. Does (Case No. 5:16-cv-00206)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Colorado District Court:
    Judge Wiley Y. Daniel has ALL of the bittorrent cases. Watch his ruling because the ME2 cases might affect Colorado ‘bittorrent’ law.

    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-00508)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-00607)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-00170)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02978)
    … v. John Does 1-20 (Case No. 1:16-cv-03005)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-03069)
    … v. John Does 1-24 (Case No. 1:16-cv-03128)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-00301)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-00387)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-00033)
    … v. John Does 1 – 11 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02770)
    … v. John Does 1-21 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02788)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02827)
    … v. John Does 1-10 (Case No. 1:16-cv-02891)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02580)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-02629)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Washington Western District Court:
    Judge Robert Lasnik appears to be in control of all of the bittorrent cases thus far (a number of them are still ‘TBA’, but I suspect they will go to Judge Lasnik). Watch his ruling on any of these cases, because a ruling on one of these cases will likely affect ALL of the other bittorrent cases in the Washington Western District Court.

    ME2 Productions, Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01882)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01881)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01953)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01955)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01950)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01776)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:16-cv-01778)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:17-cv-00181)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:17-cv-00182)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:17-cv-00099)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:17-cv-00100)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Indiana Northern and Southern District Courts:
    These cases appear to be assigned to judges in a rotating fashion, and thus, while Judge Theresa Springman (in the Indiana Northern District) and Judge Larry Mckinney (in the Indiana Southern District) each appear to have three (3) cases each, there appears to be no leadership by either judge as to directing the Indiana court as to how or whether these cases will affect ‘bittorrent’ law.

    ME2 Productions Inc v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 2:17-cv-00096)
    … v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 3:17-cv-00186)
    … v. Does 1-8 (Case No. 1:16-cv-00390)
    … v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00764)
    … v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00695)
    … v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 2:16-cv-00468)
    … v. Does 1-12 (Case No. 2:16-cv-00478)
    … v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00697)
    ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOE 1 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-03020, Case No. 1:16-cv-02757, Case No. 1:16-cv-02758)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Arizona District Court:
    These cases also appear to be assigned to judges in a rotating fashion, however, it is appearing that Judge Diane Humetewa is taking on more bittorrent cases than any of the others. So watch her court for leadership moving forward.

    ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:17-cv-00581, Case No. 2:17-cv-00587, Case No. 2:17-cv-00623, Case No. 2:17-cv-00622, Case No. 2:17-cv-00615, Case No. 2:17-cv-00210, Case No. 2:16-cv-04039, Case No. 2:16-cv-04075, Case No. 2:16-cv-04114, Case No. 2:16-cv-04112, Case No. 2:16-cv-04123, Case No. 2:17-cv-00216, Case No. 2:17-cv-00217, Case No. 2:17-cv-00218, Case No. 2:17-cv-00222)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the New York Eastern and Southern District Courts:
    NOTE: Single “John Doe” cases are being filed here. Warning!

    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe-69.125.223.48 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-01196)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe -24.44.105.211 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-06161)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe – 68.194.38.87 et al (Case No. 1:16-cv-06160)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe(s) – (Case No. 1:17-cv-00929)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe – 74.71.172.215 et al (Case No. 1:17-cv-01049)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Oregon District Court:
    Again, warning! These are single-doe cases.

    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe-76.27.219.56 (Case No. 3:16-cv-01724)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe-73.164.239.74 (Case No. 3:16-cv-01725)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe-24.21.195.166 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00158)

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

    OTHER CASES (WITHOUT COMMENT):

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Connecticut District Court:
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 3:16-cv-01834)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 3:16-cv-01835)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 3:16-cv-01837)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 3:16-cv-01838)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Georgia Northern District Court:
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 1:16-cv-03904)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-12 (Case No. 1:16-cv-04054)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES 1-11 (Case No. 1:16-cv-04208)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES 1-11 (Case No. 1:16-cv-04052)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES 1-11 (Case No. 1:16-cv-04210)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 1:16-cv-04207)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 (Case No. 1:16-cv-04055)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Hawaii District Court:
    *3/10 UPDATE*: ME2 only started filing cases in Hawaii on 3/2/2017.  This is new territory for this copyright holder.

    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1 through 20 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00078)
    … v. Does 1 through 19 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00079)
    … v. Does 1 through 15 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00098)
    … v. Does 1 Through 16 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00096)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Illinois Northern District Court:
    (Think, John Steele / Prenda Law Inc. / Steele|Hansmeier / #Prenda old territory.)
    … v. DOES 1-32 (Case No. 1:17-cv-01469)
    … v. DOES 1-25 (Case No. 1:17-cv-01476)
    … v. DOES 1-33 (Case No. 1:17-cv-01473)
    … v. DOES 1-24 (Case No. 1:17-cv-01478)
    … v. DOES 1-34 (Case No. 1:17-cv-01471)
    … v. DOES 1-23 (Case No. 1:17-cv-01532)
    … v. DOES 1-31 (Case No. 1:17-cv-01536)
    … v. DOES 1-34 (Case No. 1:17-cv-01539)
    … v. DOES 1-28 (Case No. 1:17-cv-01541)
    … v. DOES 1-28 (Case No. 1:17-cv-01535)
    … v. DOES 1-25 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00712)
    … v. DOES 1-25 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00706)
    … v. DOES 1-25 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00708)
    … v. DOES 1-42 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00714)
    … v. DOES 1-26 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00710)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Kentucky Western District Court:
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 3:16-cv-00702)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Maryland District Court:
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 8:16-cv-03730)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Missouri Western District Court:
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 4:16-cv-01271)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Ohio Northern and Southern District Courts:
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 3:16-cv-02715) — Northern
    ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOES 1-14 (Case No. 2:16-cv-01062) — Southern

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Pennsylvania Eastern District Court:
    (This is Jordan Rushie territory.)

    ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. JOHN DOES 1-8 (Case No. 2:16-cv-06138)
    ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. JOHN DOES 1-13 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00572)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Utah District Court:
    *3/10 UPDATE*: ME2 only started filing cases in Utah on 3/2/2017.  This is new territory for them (and for the Utah District Court).

    ME2 Productions v. Does 1-25 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00158, Case No. 2:17-cv-00157, Case No. 2:17-cv-00169)
    ME2 Productions v. Does 1-26 (Case No. 2:17-cv-00168)

    ME2 Productions ISP subpoenas ordered in the Virginia Eastern and Western District Courts:
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00058, Case No. 3:17-cv-00057)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 5:16-cv-00083)
    ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-11 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00002)

    [CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about the Mechanic Resurrection subpoena-based 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 ME2 Productions subpoena, or you can call us at 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number].

    BLOG POSTS:

    Article(s) Written on the Mechanic: Resurrection / ME2 cases:
    ME2 Productions, Inc. Texas-based Copyright Infringement Lawsuits,” on 2/17/2017

    Digging into the mindset of copyright troll attorneys; analysis of the ME2 Productions, Inc. lawsuit,” on 2/20/2017

    ME2 subpoenas due today. ISPs will comply,” on 3/3/2017

    Everything you need to know in one page about your ME2 Productions, Inc. ‘Mechanic:Resurrection’ Lawsuit and ISP subpoena,” on 3/21/2017

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

    HOW AN ATTORNEY SHOULD REPRESENT A ME2 PRODUCTIONS CLIENT:

    Because bittorrent-based copyright infringement cases appear to be similar, I thought it would be beneficial to take a few moments and simplify the process. That way, when you pay an attorney, you will know exactly what the attorney will be doing.  (Look here for an article on when to hire an attorney, and at what point does it become too late to hire an attorney.)

    Here are the steps your attorney (us, or anyone else) should be taking on your behalf.

    STEP 1) STOP PLAINTIFF FROM CONTACTING YOU OR ANYONE ELSE ON YOUR BEHALF (WORKPLACE) ABOUT THE CLAIMS AGAINST YOU.

    Once your plaintiff attorney learns that you are represented by an attorney, all communication must be with that attorney alone. Phone calls or letters to client directly once a notice of representation is provided can jeopardize that attorney’s law license.

    STEP 2) RESEARCH AND DISCUSS CLAIMS COMPARING PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY’S DATA OF USE VERSUS ACTUAL USE OR NON-USE.

    Attorney Joshua Wyde and Gary Fischman appear to be researching the claims and linking the accused IP addresses to determine whether that accused defendant has been involved in the download of other copyrighted films.  They appear to be watching the activity of the IP address (specifically, before and after the date the ISP sends the subpoena notice to the account holders) to see if there is a change in the downloading activity of the accused subscriber.

    It is important to share truthful information with your defense attorney so that claims against you can be disputed with facts and dates.  The plaintiff attorneys have data that they rely on, but their reliance on that data is based on a STORY which may or may not have an alternative explanation.  Obviously, your attorney should have the common sense to discuss the claims in order to refute their story without admitting guilt on your behalf.

    STEP 3) DISCUSS AND NEGOTIATE SETTLEMENT OPTIONS WITH PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY, WHETHER BY PAYING A SETTLEMENT FEE, OR NO SETTLEMENT (PROCEED WITH LAWSUIT).

    Normally the plaintiff attorneys in a copyright infringement lawsuit (or more frequently, a bittorrent-based “copyright troll” lawsuit) will immediately approach a settlement regardless of guilt or wrongdoing. This is not always the case with the ME2 Productions, Inc. attorneys, as they do not always offer settlements to accused defendants.

    The “no settlement” letter option is obviously the scenario where the client did not do the download, or the plaintiff attorney was unwilling to come to an amicable arrangement.

    Obviously if neither side can agree on an early solution to the problem, then yes, it makes sense to proceed to allow the plaintiff attorney to name and serve your client, file an answer with the court, and proceed with defending your client’s interests in the courtroom.

    STEP 4) NEGOTIATE PRICE (IF BENEFICIAL, CONSIDERING CLIENT’S ABILITY TO PAY). PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION OR STATEMENT IF NECESSARY TO SUBSTANTIATE CLAIMS.

    Many accused defendants downloaded the copyrighted movie not realizing that the download was illegal.  This is because there is software (e.g., Popcorn Time) which, on its face, appears to be legitimate.  However, unbeknownst to the end user, Popcorn Time uses a bittorrent backbone in order to acquire the file for the end user.  It is here that the account holder gets ‘caught’ downloading the video, because his/her real IP address is exposed as the Popcorn Time software joins one or more bittorrent swarms in order to acquire the video.

    popcorn_time-me2-productions-subpoena-mechanic-resurrection-movie-lawsuit

    Unfortunately, it is not always known whether a software source is legitimate or not.  For example, as far as I understand, the videos presented on the Popcorn Time software are usually pirated, and downloading the videos or viewing the videos can get the end user sued for copyright infringement.  Contrast this with other movie sources, e.g., Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc., these are legitimate.  However, there are many “in between” software platforms and websites which appear to be legitimate, but may not be.  Most notoriously – Crackle.  So far, to me it looks as if Crackle movies are legitimate and can be viewed without being sued for copyright infringement, but I could easily be wrong and we will not know this until the lawsuits start flying.

    Regardless of the intention of how the video was acquired, downloaded, or viewed, this is our goal — to have the circumstances of the accused defendant be relevant and useful in a negotiation with ME2 Productions, Inc. to arrive at a settlement price the client can afford.

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    STEP 4A) IF ATTORNEY IS UNCOOPERATIVE, CONSIDER ARGUING FOR MINIMUM STATUTORY DAMAGES

    Obviously this is not a preferred outcome, but it still must be considered.  If an attorney is unwilling to settle (or if he or she is being unreasonable in settlement negotiations, e.g., asking for too much money, or requiring the client to take some action outside negotiating a settlement agreement), there is another alternative strategy.  Have your attorney file an answer on your behalf, admit guilt to the claims of copyright infringement, and argue for what is called “minimum statutory damages” of $750 plus the other side’s attorney fees (which at this point would be minimal).  While not a preferred alternative, it is a method of forcing a reasonable settlement amount upon the plaintiff attorney if the download actually occurred.

    STEP 5) NEGOTIATE TERMS OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT.

    The settlement agreement should be specific to the claims of copyright infringement, and they should include the nuances of contract law in order to ensure the agreement is enforceable.  The terms should not ‘admit guilt’ on behalf of the client, and the scope of the contract should include not only the accused defendant (the account holder), but also the household and/or family members.

    There are other crucial elements to have in a settlement agreement (e.g., attorney fee shifting specific to copyright infringement lawsuits), but the above should be sufficient.

    STEP 6) HAVE PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY SIGN AGREEMENT(S), THEN HAVE CLIENT SIGN AGREEMENT(S) AND PROCESS SETTLEMENT PAYMENT.

    This is self explanatory. ME2 Productions, Inc. is not bound to an agreement until they sign it (or until their attorney with authority to sign signs it on their behalf as their agent). Attorneys generally try to get the John Doe Defendant to sign first and pay their settlement fee, and then ‘maybe’ the plaintiff attorney will sign it, and ‘maybe’ the attorney will accept the payment, and ‘maybe’ the attorney will release that defendant from liability once the settlement is received. These are games a plaintiff attorney may play, and for this reason, it is advisable to have the defense attorney insist that the plaintiff attorney sign the agreement first in order to bind their client to the terms of the agreement… before their client signs the agreement or pays a penny in settlement of the claims against them.

    STEP 7) FOLLOW-UP WITH PLAINTIFF TO HAVE CLIENT’S “JOHN DOE” ENTITY DISMISSED FROM CASE.

    Once again, this is self explanatory, but unfortunately, it must be a step. Too often, plaintiff attorneys have the clients sign first and pay first, and then when they get around to it, they’ll sign the agreement and release that defendant from liability. However, this could take weeks or months.

    The reason for this is because once their client has their money, without being contract-bound to release the defendant from the lawsuit (assuming the John Doe Defendant signed first), the John Doe Defendant who paid their settlement fee becomes a lower priority to the busy plaintiff attorney (who is juggling sometimes hundreds of defendants in multiple cases) who is more worried about the due dates for their other cases, or who is more worried about extracting settlements from other defendants. This is why it is important in STEP 6) for the plaintiff attorney to sign the agreement first.

    Nevertheless, even with a signed agreement, sometimes the plaintiff attorneys need ‘reminders’ to do what they are duty-bound to do. Thus, your attorney should not close the client’s file when payment is sent, but rather, the attorney should stay on top of the plaintiff attorney until the dismissal is actually filed in the court dismissing that John Doe Defendant from liability.

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    TIMELINE: ME2 PRODUCTIONS SUBPOENAS AND HOW TO HANDLE THEM

    Any ME2 Productions “copyright troll” bittorrent-based copyright infringement lawsuit really revolves around the ME2 Productions subpoena which moves from the court to the accused John Doe Defendants.  Tracking a ME2 Productions subpoena can help an accused defendant understand the timelines of when they can fight, when they can settle, when they can ignore, and whether they are anonymous or not at each step.

    NOTE: I have moved the contents of this section to its own page, because the topic of “Subpoena Stages and Anonymity” is not limited to the ME2 / “Mechanic: Resurrection” movie cases.

    ME2 Productions Subpoena is first introduced to the court for approval.

    An ME2 Productions subpoena is first introduced to the court when the plaintiff attorney files the lawsuit and asks the court for permission to obtain the identities of the various internet users accused of downloading ME2 Productions’ “Mechanic: Resurrection” movie.

    ME2 Productions Subpoena, once approved by the court, is sent to the ISP.

    The federal judge approves the ME2 Productions subpoena (usually by rubber stamp), and the ME2 Productions subpoenas are then sent to the “abuse” department of the various ISPs (e.g., AT&T U-verse, COX Communications, Comcast, etc.).  These ISPs in receipt of the ME2 Productions subpoena are ordered to hand over the accused subscriber’s information to the plaintiff attorney.  They send a notice to the account holder that a ME2 Productions subpoena has been received, and that they are under a duty to comply with the subpoena by a certain date unless the account holder files a Motion to Quash the ME2 Productions subpoena before the arbitrary deadline they set (usually the deadline is 30 days from the notice sent to the subscriber).

    The ISP forwards the ME2 Productions Subpoena to the accused account holder giving him a chance to file an objection with the court.

    You (the account holder) receive the notice containing the ME2 Productions subpoena, and you learn that you are implicated as a “John Doe” (an unnamed defendant) in the ME2 Productions v. Does lawsuit.  At this point, you are still anonymous.

    The ISP complies with the ME2 Productions Subpoena and hands over your contact information to the plaintiff attorney.

    Assuming you do not file the Motion to Quash (there are many articles on this website explaining why you might not do so), the 30-day deadline set by your ISP will lapse, and your ISP will comply with the ME2 Productions subpoena.  They turn over your information to the PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY (but not to the court or anyone else).  You are still anonymous.

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

    The exact moment your anonymity expires.

    At this point, the life of the ME2 Productions subpoena is over, as it has served its purpose and the plaintiff attorney is in receipt of your contact information (and whatever other information your ISP was forced to hand over to it).  At this point, you are a “John Doe” defendant in the lawsuit, and only your plaintiff attorney knows your real identity.  YOU ARE STILL ANONYMOUS at this point (as to the court and the world, as the plaintiff attorney is not going to share your information unless he decides to name and serve you as a defendant in the lawsuit).

    Your anonymity expires once the ME2 Productions plaintiff attorney realizes that he or she cannot get a settlement from you, and based on their evidence that you are the downloader of their “Mechanic: Resurrection” movie, they file an amended complaint with the court with your name as a defendant, and they serve you with a copy of the complaint.  At this point, you have been “named and served,” and you are no longer anonymous.  At this point, you need to decide whether it makes more sense to stand and defend against the claims against you (again, consider the attorney fees issue), or to negotiate a settlement and amicably step away from the lawsuit.

    NOTE: If you choose to fight, be aware of Prof. Matthew Sag’s paper entitled “Defense Against the Dark Arts of Copyright Trolling,” and the considerations surrounding using what are otherwise “valid” defenses to copyright infringement which likely DO apply to your case.

    [CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about the Mechanic: Resurrection 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 ME2 Productions case, or you can call us at 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number].

    In Sum, about this article:

    In sum, copyright infringement cases are all similar, but each one has its nuances. The steps described in this article apply to any John Doe Defendant in any copyright infringement lawsuit, and for this reason, I wrote this article 1) to not only give the client an understanding of the steps which are required in representing a client prior to being named and served in a John Doe lawsuit, but more importantly, 2) to allow that client to hold their lawyer’s toes to the fire and make sure they are being represented carefully and individually.


    [CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about the Mechanic: Resurrection 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 ME2 Productions 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.

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