IGNORE route representation empowers a defendant to say “NO” to extortion.

ignore route represenation

Why I love the IGNORE route for our innocent clients.

I wanted to take a moment to share a revelation I had regarding the IGNORE route — a strategy we often discuss with clients who did not do the download and do not wish to settle.

NOTE: The word “ignore” is actually a misnomer, as we do anything but ignore. Traditionally, there are three options an accused John Doe Defendant accused of downloading a movie has:

1 — “fight” or “litigate” the case on the merits;
2 — settle the claims by negotiating a settlement payment;
3 — resolve the claims WITHOUT paying a settlement payment.

IGNORE ROUTE REPRESENTATION is a legal alternative to not hiring an attorney at all — just “ignoring” the case and hoping for the best.  Hiring an attorney in the “ignore” route will allow him to navigate your John Doe entity through the lawsuit and its pitfalls… to its eventual dismissal. 

The stated goal in the IGNORE route is NOT to pay a settlement.

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IGNORE route allows us to shoulder the burdens of no-settlement representation.

IGNORE route representation simply employs the strategy of hiring an attorney for the purpose of having that attorney shoulder the burdens a John Doe defendant would experience when analyzing and managing the risks involved in defending against a “copyright troll” copyright infringement case.

We simply have been here many times before with many past copyright holders and their attorneys, so we have seen how various plaintiff attorneys react to what are common scenarios or “story lines” that occur in these cases, and how judges act to move the case forward.

We have also defended against attorneys who broke the law and ended up losing their law license and going to prison, and we have defended against skilled attorneys who truly believe in taking the plaintiff’s side of a copyright infringement lawsuit.

I don’t know how to say this more clearly — we have seen many tactics and strategies arise, succeed, and fail over the years, and this has provided us an arsenal of tools that we can use when defending the interests of each client.

What are the FACTORS involved in analyzing a case for our client?

Involved in the analysis of representing a client in IGNORE route representation are:

1) reviewing or being aware of OTHER CASES in THAT specific FEDERAL COURT,

2) understanding the PAST RULINGS AND PROCLIVITIES of THAT FEDERAL JUDGE,

3) understanding the proclivities, talents, and skills of THAT PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY who sued on behalf of a particular copyright holder, and

4) making educated decisions based on OUR OWN PAST EXPERIENCES of each of the above to properly decide how to proceed at each stage of the lawsuit.

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IGNORE route deprives the copyright holder of the settlement they wish to extort.

Personally, the “ignore” route has always been one of my favorite strategies because not only does it deprive the plaintiff attorney and his client of a settlement when a settlement is not warranted, but it empowers my client to understand what is happening throughout the lawsuit so that they could see the case as I see it with my own eyes — based on my understanding of the circumstances and factors influencing the outcome of the case.

My favorite part about the IGNORE route representation strategy is that it gives my clients an authoritative way to say “NO!” to what would otherwise be a settlement extortion scheme.

Why the IGNORE route works.

IGNORE route representation is a well crafted strategy which analyzes and predicts deadlines, and it has correctly predicted the trends with very few surprises or accidental occurrences (e.g., without clients getting named and served or suffering some other complication due to attorney inexperience or inattention), and it accomplishes this goal simply because I take the time to do my research and watch the cases.

I hate to say this, but too many attorneys fail their clients simply because they do not do their homework.  They do not research their case, and they approach the lawsuit without understanding how a bittorrent-based copyright infringement lawsuit is litigated.  They approach the opposing counsel blindly without understanding who they are (with no knowledge of their past activities, proclivities, or personalities), and they approach the case itself thinking it is merely “just another copyright case” without understanding the motivations of the copyright holder or the nuances of how bittorrent-based “copyright troll” cases differ from traditional “copyright infringement” cases.  In the end, their ego and their unpreparedness only hurts their client.  And if they file a pro hac appearance with the court and they enter the court without researching what rulings have been made in the past in THAT district, or without knowing the personality of THAT judge presiding over the case, I have nothing to say except that they caused the results they achieved for their client.

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There are also a number of settlement factories and copycat attorneys who claim to do everything that we do, but cheaper.  These are often settlement factories who load their websites with advertising trash and repetitive articles designed to overwhelm you so that you end up calling one of their call centers. I hate to say this — while there will be many attorneys who offer the “ignore” route after reading this article, be aware that the ignore route is not merely keeping an open line of communication with the plaintiff attorney — it is doing what attorneys call “due diligence” in analyzing a case and coming up with conclusions and strategies that are very particular to each client’s PERSONAL NEEDS, the FACTS as to what actually happened, the client’s FINANCIAL ABILITIES and social pressures, AND all of the FACTORS I mentioned above (e.g., analyzing THAT plaintiff attorney, THAT copyright holder, THAT judge, THAT court, THAT federal court’s rulings, and the physical TIMING and ENVIRONMENT surrounding THAT particular case on THAT day or moment). You really can’t copy that, and “THAT” is exactly what you pay for with our law firm.

This method of representing clients is one of the “products” I have been proud to offer clients for the last SEVEN (7) YEARS as an alternative to the options they are often provided by other attorneys — who either push them to settle the claims against them, or leave them helpless to deal with the matter on their own — and I am happy to shoulder the burden and to be their eyes and ears of the case, protecting them with privileges an attorney is granted by the law.  There is so much more to say here, but I believe I have more than made my point.


[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about the ISP subpoena you received 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 copyright infringement case, or you can call us at 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number / SMS].

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. Subpoenas FAQ | What You Need to Know

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

While our law firm represents ME2 Productions, Inc. defendants as clients in a number of states (specifically, those states in which we can ‘pro hac’ into and represent a defendant should settlement negotiations go awry), I simply cannot track every single bittorrent-based lawsuit that is filed across the U.S.   However, I do know of subpoenas received by John Doe Defendants in a number of cases are due today.

This article should be a simplistic “what do I do” article.  Nothing new will be introduced here for those of you who have read my blog in the past.  At best, this will be a quick refresher of what happens at the pretrial stages of a copyright infringement lawsuit before a John Doe Defendant is named and served.

Because I am neck deep in cases, instead of writing out this article, I am dictating it into a recorder and am paying someone to transcribe it for me. Thus, pardon the conversational tone.  This is really the way I speak.

[Lastly, some of you have e-mailed me asking why I am only making 2-3 time slots available each day on the https://www.torrentlawyer.com/calendar/ scheduling site when there are literally hundreds of John Does affected by these lawsuits.  The simple reason is because I am managing the firm’s inflow of clients (I will not take every client I speak to, but I will hold your hand until you find an attorney), and I do not believe in flooding our firm with 100+ new clients for one copyright holder and treating them all the same way in a turn-key fashion.  I used to think that this could save our clients money, but my experience after representing clients is that if I am able to take each client separately and negotiate each client the best I can, I am often able to get the client released from liability without paying any settlement (if the client did not do the download), and if they did the download, I am able to negotiate significantly lower settlements when I handle client circumstances individually rather than as a group.]

ME2 LAWSUIT SUBPOENA Q&A:

Question: “I received a subpoena from my ISP about the ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does lawsuit.  What do I do?”

Answer: Chances are the lawsuit was filed in the state in which you live.  If you live outside of the state in which you were sued, that federal court likely does not have “personal jurisdiction” over you.  For circumstances like this, you may consider filing a motion to quash.

SHOULD I FILE A MOTION TO QUASH?

Question: “Should I file a motion to quash even though I have been sued and I live in the state?”

Answer: If you file the motion to quash, the court will set a hearing in order to determine whether they have personal jurisdiction over you.  The judge will ask whether you live in the state.  If the answer is “yes,” then motion to quash will likely be denied.  I’m simplifying, but this is the point.

NOTE: For accuracy, you were not sued.  You are at this point merely implicated as a “John Doe” Defendant, which means that your Comcast ISP (or whatever ISP you have) has identified you as being the account holder who was assigned an IP Address (e.g., 123.848.245.163), and that IP Address was ‘seen’ or ‘caught’ participating in a bittorrent swarm where the download allegedly happened.

Question: “ABC Lawyer told me that even if I live in the state where I was sued, I can still hire an attorney who will file a motion to quash for me for $2,500 where he will expose the copyright trolls’ scam and maybe cause the judge to dismiss the case.  Should I pay for one of these?”

Answer: The motion to quash is not the proper place to raise issues relating to the actions of the copyright holders.  Filing long-winded motions to quash will simply prompt the judge to ask, “yes or no, does your client live in this state?”  When the answer is yes and your lawyer turns to you and informs you that “your motion to quash failed,” you’ll realize that you wasted your money.

There are other procedural times to fight your case, especially if you did not do the download.  Fighting your case in the motion to quash is generally a really bad idea.

Question: “Who cares if I was ‘seen’ downloading?  Doesn’t everyone use bittorrent anyway? Why is this illegal?”

Answer:  The short answer is that downloading and piracy is socially acceptable as a ‘tolerable evil’, but it is still nevertheless illegal.  It took me a few tries to answer this question, and in trying, the following two blog articles came of it:

1. ‘The boot of government crushes the skull of its citizen’ when it comes to encryption and anonymity, and

2. The Evolution of Piracy and the ‘coincidence’ that early copyright cases were rooted in pornography-based content.

In sum, copyright holders are finicky about whether, how, and in which way they will allow their copyrighted film to be shown.    Copyright law, as encoded in 17 US Code § 106 describes a number of exclusive rights given to a copyright holder (which means that the copyright holder is given authority to 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), the right to display (stream), if any of these are infringed, the copyright holders get antsy because each violation of these rights stops them from being able to profit from the movie (or ‘work’) they created.

The peer-to-peer networks have been a source of angst for the copyright holders because until now, each of these ‘exclusive rights’ are taken out from the control of the copyright holder, and are given to the internet users.  When movies are listed on a bittorrent website and are downloaded, the copyright holders do not profit from the piracy, and while there has been some considerable debate of whether movie companies actually lose money from piracy (I am on the side that their ticket and DVD sales and licensing fees are hurt by piracy, but the damage is not as exaggerated as they claim it to be), but as a result of the loss (perceived or not, real or not), today copyright holders to consider it ethical to sue end user downloaders for the full $150,000 statutory damages for the download of one movie.

My opinion is that suing downloaders is misguided solution to the piracy problem, and that a better solution would be either compulsory licensing from the ISP, or simply providing better competitive solutions to give internet users the ability to PAY for access to cable TV and traditional TV networks (without paying the inflated cable bill prices they are still trying to charge).

Question: “Before Comcast hands out my information, am I still anonymous?  If as a John Doe I am not yet a defendant in the case, at what point do I become a defendant?”

At this point, your plaintiff attorney does not have your name, and neither does the court.  At this point, you are also still anonymous, which means that other than the filing fee, the plaintiff attorney has not yet spent any money or time investigating you or your involvement in the lawsuit.

You do not become a defendant until you are ‘named and served.’ This would happen later on in the lawsuit after the plaintiff copyright attorney tries to 1) convince you to settle, or 2) they are unable to contact you, or 3) they have formed a belief that you (the ISP subscriber) are the downloader.

Once someone knocks on your door and serves you with a copy of the complaint (or once you are served by a number of other methods), only then do you become a defendant in the lawsuit.

IS COMCAST (OR MY ISP) FORCED TO COMPLY WITH THE SUBPOENA?

Question: “Can I call Comcast (or my ISP) and tell them I object to them sending out my information?  Isn’t giving out my information a crime?”

Answer: Comcast is under a duty to comply with the subpoena, which was ordered and signed by the federal judge for your case.  The ISP can and does often ignore the deadline set by the attorney in the subpoena sent to the ISP [they comply whenever they decide to comply, and if the plaintiff attorneys don’t like it, they can sue them or bring them into court, but they almost never do], but the ISPs almost always comply.

Even if you call your ISP and complain, and even if you object to them sending out your information, they will tell you that they must comply and that they WILL comply unless you file an objection with the court.  This objection is the motion to quash we discussed before.

There was a time when these bittorrent-based ‘copyright troll’ lawsuits were new (back in 2010), and there was a time that I researched whether a subscriber can sue his ISP for sharing his information with the copyright holders over his objection.  I even considered representing John Doe Defendants at the time as a class action lawsuit against the ISPs, however, the case law was horrible, and the damages weren’t worth the time or money the clients would have paid in order to sue their ISPs.

100% ANONYMOUS SETTLEMENTS BEFORE ISP COMPLIES WITH SUBPOENA?

Question: “Should I have my attorney contact the plaintiff attorney before he gets my identity from my ISP?  Can I settle with the plaintiff attorney and stop my Comcast ISP from divulging my identity to the plaintiff attorney?”

Answer: Generally, this is not required.  I have had circumstances that the defendant ABSOLUTELY wanted to keep his involvement in a lawsuit ANONYMOUS, and in cases such as this one [where the defendant had something to lose if the plaintiff attorney learned his identity], then yes, I could negotiate a 100% anonymous settlement before the ISP hands out the John Doe’s information to the plaintiff attorney.  I can even stop the ISP from complying with the subpoena.  How??

I have been successful asking various plaintiff attorneys to write or transmit a letter to the ISP and cancel the subpoena as to that particular John Doe Defendant, and both the paid attorney and the ISP happily complied, and my client remained 100% anonymous.  Win-win.  The client remained anonymous, the ISP had one fewer infringement file to take care of, and the pocket-filled plaintiff attorney saved an extra few bucks because he did not have to pay the ISP for the IP address lookup for that John Doe Defendant (sometimes ISP charge plaintiff attorneys large sums of money to lookup and handle the files of each of the John Doe Defendants).

However, one thing that is LOST when negotiating BEFORE the ISP hands over your information is LEVERAGE.  If the John Doe approaches the attorney asking to be anonymous, the plaintiff will want to know, “what does he have to hide?”  In addition, because any anonymous negotiations will arouse suspicion in the eyes of the plaintiff attorney, they might be less willing to negotiate down the price in a settlement negotiation when they sense that the other side has something to lose by having their name exposed to him/her.  We can still do the settlements anonymously and clients still do request this, but be aware that leverage is lost when premature negotiations are made, and thus the cost of the settlement to the copyright holder may be higher than the ordinary negotiation.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER COMCAST COMPLIES WITH THE SUBPOENA?

Question: “Do I become a defendant in the case after my ISP complies with the subpoena and hands out my information to the plaintiff attorney?”

Answer: Again, no.  As far as the court is concerned (and as far as the world is concerned), nobody except you, your ISP, your attorney, and the plaintiff attorney know your name.  Robots and spiders who like to ‘spider’ legal sites and post information on the parties of the cases also cannot know who you are, even after the ISP complies with the subpoena.

Rather, when the ISP complies with the subpoena, likely, they will send over a spreadsheet 10-20 lines long (depending on how many John Doe Defendants there are in the case), and you will be one of those ‘lines’ on the spreadsheet.  The plaintiff will learn who you are, but you will remain an anonymous John Doe Defendant until the plaintiff attorney decides to name and serve you.

When the plaintiff attorney receives the list of names and contact information for each John Doe Defendant, he will separate that pile of names into two piles: 1) subscribers that are represented by attorneys (where their attorneys sent a ‘notice of representation’ to that attorney), and 2) subscribers who are not represented by an attorney.  The experience of the ‘Subscribers who are not represented by attorney’ has best been described to me like ‘being called by a horrible creditor for a debt; only that creditor is an attorney and could ruin my life.’

Question: “Will the ‘copyright troll’ attorney contact me to extort a settlement?”

Answer: Funny enough, likely not.  Attorneys have gotten reprimanded by the courts in recent years for abusive practices such as sending settlement demand letters (I used to refer to them as ‘scare’ letters because their purpose was to frighten and scare the defendants into paying the requested settlement amount).  So rather than saying, “we want $6,000 for so-and-so title (or whatever they are asking),” the plaintiff attorneys will simply state that they have every intention of moving this case to trial, and if the defendant or his/her attorney wants to discuss settlement options, they are more than willing to cooperate.

So no, they will likely not try to contact you.

Question: “If they do not contact me, should I just ignore and do nothing until they name and serve me?”

Answer: Waiting to be named and served is a DANGEROUS legal strategy, for the simple reason that you are thrust into the “fight” option where you are forced to either spend tens of thousands of dollars to some defense attorney to litigate the case for you, or you have committed yourself to become a legal expert unrepresented “pro se” defendant.

If you have any intention of keeping your identity private, it is best to have your attorney negotiate the release of your “John Doe” placeholder entity WHILE YOU ARE STILL A JOHN DOE.  As soon as you are named and served, your identity as being involved in a copyright infringement lawsuit will become public, even if your attorney convinces the other side that you are not the downloader.  And, even if you ended up paying a settlement amount in lieu of litigating the claims against you, if you do so after you are named and served, your identity will become public knowledge and ‘there is no way to put that genie back in the bottle once it’s out.’

Point in sum. It is *almost ALWAYS* better to have your attorney proactively contact the plaintiff attorney before you are named and served.  That way, if a release based on non-guilt is negotiated, it will be done anonymously.  If a settlement is reached, then it will be done without the world learning that you were part of a copyright infringement lawsuit.

WHO IS THE ATTORNEY SUING ME?

TEXAS CASES: Gary Fischman (Fischman Law PLLC)

NOTE: Gary Fischman is the same attorney who is suing defendants in the I.T. Productions LLC cases, the September Productions cases, Cell Film Holdings cases, and Fathers & Daughters Nevada cases.  He is often seen filing lawsuits in conjunction with Josh Wyde.

(I will obviously update this for other states.  For the moment, I have been representing clients in the Texas Southern District Court (TXSD) because our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC practice is physically located in Houston, Texas.)

SUMMARY: ME2 SUBPOENAS DUE TODAY.

I could go on forever with these questions and answers, but the point is that your plaintiff attorney will likely be getting your contact information today for a number of the ME2 Productions, Inc. lawsuits in various states, and the reason for this is because your ISP (primarily, Comcast) is coordinating the compliance with the subpoena by bunching the various subpoenas together and handling them all at the same time.

Thus, expect that tomorrow, your respective ‘copyright troll’ plaintiff attorney will begin calling you, and from there, the process continues as I described above.


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

Cases filed in the Texas Southern District Court [2017 cases]:
Attorney: Gary Fischman (Fischman Law PLLC)

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

Cases filed 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. Does (Case No. 2:16-cv-02783)
The following cases also filed as ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does:
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

Cases filed in the North Carolina Eastern District Court:
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:

ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1, et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00881)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1, et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00885)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1, et al (Case No. 4:16-cv-00273)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1, et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00896)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-8 (Case No. 5:16-cv-00914)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 7:16-cv-00385)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOES 1-10 (Case No. 7:16-cv-00386)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-8 (Case No. 7:16-cv-00384, CONSOLIDATED into 5:16-cv-00914-FL)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 7:16-cv-00394)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 4:16-cv-00279)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-9 (Case No. 5:16-cv-00875)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe (Case No. 7:16-cv-00383)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-13 (Case No. 4:16-cv-00278)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00917)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00920)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 et al (Case No. 5:16-cv-00922)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 5:16-cv-00202)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 5:16-cv-00206)

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

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

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

Cases filed 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-00210)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04039)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04075)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04114)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04112)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:16-cv-04123)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:17-cv-00216)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:17-cv-00217)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:17-cv-00218)
ME2 Productions Incorporated v. Unknown Parties (Case No. 2:17-cv-00222)

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

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)

Cases filed 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)

OTHER CASES (WITHOUT COMMENT):

Cases Filed 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)

Cases Filed 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)

Cases filed in the Illinois Northern District Court:
(Think, John Steele / Prenda Law Inc. / Steele|Hansmeier / #Prenda old territory.)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOES 1-25 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00712)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOES 1-25 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00706)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOES 1-25 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00708)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOES 1-42 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00714)
ME2 PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. DOES 1-26 (Case No. 1:17-cv-00710)

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

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

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

Case(s) filed 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

Cases filed 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)

Cases filed in the Virginia Eastern and Western District Courts:
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. Doe 1 (Case No. 3:17-cv-00058)
ME2 Productions, Inc. v. DOE 1 (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 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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Dallas Buyers Club rivals adult film bittorrent lawsuits in quantity of lawsuits.

Dallas Buyers Club filings have reached a quantity of lawsuits — so much so that they rival the hundreds of adult film lawsuits that flood the federal courts.

As a quick recap, the Dallas Buyers Club, LLC piracy lawsuits started in Texas and Ohio, and like a cancer, over the past year they have metastasized into the federal courts of Illinois, Florida, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and even Hawaii.  Copyright lawyers employed by Dallas Buyers Club have even moved their copyright enforcement activities offshore into Canada, Australia, Finland, Denmark, and Japan.

Regardless of where they go, their business model is the same — Voltage Pictures, LLC or Dallas Buyers Club, LLC files a peer-to-peer lawsuit alleging copyright infringement against multiple John Doe Defendants (generally referred to by plaintiffs as “pirates”), they convince a federal judge to rubber-stamp a subpoena demanding that the ISP turn over the contact information of the accused account holders unless the accused account holders file what is known as a “motion to quash.”  The target of the subpoena is almost always the account holder, implying that the account holder is the actual downloader or infringer who downloaded the Dallas Buyers Club (2013) movie.  The plaintiff attorney then sends one or multiple settlement demand letters to the accused downloaders in each case threatening that each will be “named and served” as a defendant in the lawsuit unless they pay a settlement of thousands of dollars (settlement requests average $3,500 to $6,500 [and in one case, $14,000, really?] depending on the state in which the lawsuit is filed).

Where the settlement demand letters blur the line of ethics is that many plaintiff attorneys employ scare tactics, making the John Doe Defendant believe that the lawsuit has already been filed against them personally.  Various attorneys have sent accused downloaders “waiver of service” forms and questionnaires along with their settlement demand letters suggesting that the not-yet-named-defendants answer these questions voluntarily, or that they waive service effectively negating the need for the plaintiff attorney to name and serve them as a defendant.

What bothers me is that because Dallas Buyers Club is not an “adult film” copyright infringement lawsuit (but rather, a “real” movie with a valid copyright and without the stigma of being an adult film), the federal judges are giving them leeway to move in and out of the federal courts to “enforce” their copyrights.  In U.S. copyright law, there is a legal presumption of validity, which means that a judge will initially lean towards favoring the copyright owner until that copyright owner has been shown to be abusing the legal process through a pattern of abuse.  Attorneys for copyright holders who represent the plaintiff generally (in our blog and in the eyes of the courts) get increased scrutiny because they have represented other copyright holders in similar lawsuits employing the same strategy of “sue and settle, but try not to name and serve [and if you do, bluff to the judge that you are prepared to go to trial on the merits of the case].”

These lawyers who file Dallas Buyers Club lawsuits (these are those who sue defendants, NOT those who defend defendants) include a growing list of attorneys, such as: Keith Vogt (Texas), Michael Hierl (Illinois), David Stephenson Jr. (Colorado), Eric Osterberg (Connecticut), Richard Fee (Florida), Paul Nicoletti (Michigan), Carl Crowell (Oregon), Leon Bass (Ohio), and Gregory Ferren (Hawaii).

Many of these names are familiar to those who have followed our “copyright troll” / bittorrent lawsuit blogs over the years, and we often see these names representing one copyright holder after another in the same fashion.  Regardless of who the lawyer is, be aware of the motivation of the Dallas Buyers Club lawsuits — to create a ‘windfall’ profit for the company by pursuing those who download the movie without authorization, and to scare and intimidate the accused downloaders into paying large settlement amounts to avoid defending the claims against them in court.

Related: Dallas Buyers Club launches post-Oscar copyright salvo, sues 615 Does (ArsTechnica)


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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Judge Bates “removed” from Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,495 case. Potentially bad news for defendants.

Like most of you, we here at the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC have been watching the Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,495 (1:11-cv-01741) case in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

To our surprise and against the 1+ year trend of the DC Court, earlier this month, Judge Bates went against the trend to remain silent about the validity of these cases and inquired about whether or not John Doe Defendants in the case actually lived in DC. In short, we understand that if the judge came to the conclusion that this is yet one more of John Steele’s mass bittorrent cases (but filed in DC as a result of forum shopping), then the judge would have likely come to the conclusion that the DC court did not have jurisdiction to try the case. As a result, he would have likely SEVERED AND DISMISSED the case, giving Steele|Hansmeier, PLLC (now Prenda Law, Inc., a story in itself) the opportunity to file against defendants in their home states. As you have read in previous posts, as a result of such a dismissal, Steele would have three years from the alleged date of infringement to file these lawsuits in defendants’ home states.

What no doubt concerned Steele (and what caused an overflow of conversations on the various bittorrent forums) is that six days ago, Judge Bates took the extra step and invited Doe Defendants to file motions to quash with the Clerk’s office, stating that they would be put under seal (meaning, hidden from view).

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However, in spite of the judge’s invitation, I have not been advising people as to whether they should or should not file the motion to quash — and in fact I have been overly cautious about his invitation to do so — because historically, the District of Columbia Court has typically UNSEALED motions to quash when they deny them, leaving all the formerly sealed motions unsealed and naked for everyone to see.

The DC court has historically been AGAINST accused internet downloaders. Yes, we have certainly had our fair share of victories, but then again, many of the original cases are still alive (and because of this, plaintiffs have added perhaps thousands of new defendants to various DC cases, hence the new subpoena letters for older cases). I do not see why Judge Bates would be bold enough to go against former judges’ orders for essentially identical cases [See, Stare decisis (Anglo-Latin pronunciation: /ˈstɛəri dɨˈsaɪsɨs]) is a legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedents established by prior decisions.], and the fact that Judge Bates was willing to go against Judge Beryl Howell and the others made me optimistic, but still cautious.

As much as this invitation to file appeared to signal a victory for the accused internet users, for whatever reason — political pressure, angry judges, etc. — today Judge Bates has essentially stepped down presiding over the case and he has handed the case over to Judge Facciola. This magistrate judge has seen bittorrent cases before, and in my opinion this could be a sad moment for the accused Does. To be clear, I understand that this transfer might not have been done with the permission or consent of Judge Bates. In fact, his order explicitly states, “Consent of the District Judge [him] is not necessary.” So perhaps we can piece together what has happened behind closed doors.

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While it remains my opinion that this case suffers from issues of improper jurisdiction and improper joinder, Judge Bates is no longer making the decisions as to whether the case will be dismissed or not. Similarly, it is no longer clear whether it is in Does’ best interests to file the motions to quash, or whether they will suffer the same fate as all the other motions to quash filed in the DC court over the past year.

As for what defendants should do — I would probably wait and see what Judge Facciola does. Will he continue in Bates’ footsteps and kill the case? Or will he deny the motions to quash and move forward? We can only wait and see.

Being accused of file sharing is NO LAUGHING MATTER.

To my readers:

A few days ago, Wall Street Journal reported that a Minneapolis federal court found Jammie Thomas-Rasset guilty of violating copyright law.  Jammie is a single mother.  The court ordered that she pay $1.5 million for sharing 24 songs over the internet.  The plaintiff was the Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”).

I’m posting this piece of information to impress upon those contacting our law firm — the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC — that contrary to what you’ll read on the forums, the threat of being sued is real.  This is just one example of a case where the accused internet user likely read about low settlement amounts, and when the RIAA offered her a $25,000 settlement [where the proceeds of that settlement would go to a music-related charity fund], she rejected that offer because she didn’t believe such a lawsuit could happen to her.

I want to point out that judgement is for sharing a number of SONGS.  Our potential clients are looking to defend against downloading MOVIES.  Think for a moment about the seriousness of this.  Lucas Entertainment, Far Cry, and the Hurt Locker subpoena requests are all claiming the same violation of the same copyright law that was enforced against Jammie Thomas-Rasset just last week.

When someone calls me and balks at the prospect of paying a few thousand dollars to settle a MOVIE copyright violation, I scratch my head and wonder if they realize what they are up against.

With the representation the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC provides our clients, before we suggest that our client consider paying anything, we insist that the media company demonstrate that they have evidence linking our clients to the accused infringing download.

It also goes without saying that simply informing the media companies that their accused potential defendant is represented by an attorney, the media company is put on notice to only contact the attorney and not the client.  By doing this, they are forced to adhere to the state and federal debt collection statutes, and the consumer statutes protecting the accused from any deceptive statements that might be given to an unrepresented accused internet user.  Lastly, when writing the settlement, we make sure the release that accompanies the settlement contains language that prevents the media company from using the settlement as an admission of guilt and turning around and suing the internet downloader for the SAME DOWNLOAD they just paid to settle.  It sounds unthinkable, but remember, it is the internet service provider (the ISP) who is served with a subpoena request demanding that they turn over their subscribers’ records.  Once the media companies have this information, they immediately contact the to-be defendants and solicit a settlement.  Remember, they do this without naming the defendant in the lawsuit.  The settlement does not stop the company from coming after the defendant again in a formal lawsuit (using the settlement agreement as an admission of illegal activity).

In short, as twisted as this might sound, this is the reality of what is going on.  Be careful out there.  Hire an attorney and properly defend yourself.  Play their negotiation game, and hope that they either drop the charges or offer an amicable settlement.  When they do, be reasonable.  Many would-be clients are kicking themselves for not spending $12 at the theater, or paying a Netflix membership when they had the chance.  Now they must deal with this, and it is unfortunate.

However, ALWAYS REMEMBER that the goal is to avoid the lawsuit being filed against you.  Because if a lawsuit is filed in your jurisdiction accusing a copyright violation, it is no laughing matter.

Warm regards,
Rob Cashman

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