It just occurred to me that some settlement factory websites are not written to educate you, but rather to lure you in to click on that law firm’s webpage or blog.
Obviously every business writes a website to grow their business — law firms (including mine) are no different. However, I have been well aware that some of us attorneys write useful content for the purpose of educating you — the accused defendant. Other attorneys just write contentless keyword-spammed articles which are written to show up at the top of search engines.
"68 John Doe Defendants Sued in Florida." "23 John Doe Defendants Sued in California." ...and so on.
In this article, I explain why I think these content-less websites are settlement factory websites meant only to lure you in.
We are changing the structure of our websites.
We have been doing “spring cleaning” of the TorrentLawyer blog these past few weeks; I am not sure you have noticed. Most of the changes are “under the hood” — I’ve been re-categorizing older content, and updating useful information with today’s lawsuits so that our content is more orderly… for myself and for you.
In the coming weeks, I will hopefully be updating the structure of the pages themselves so that they are more readable (my articles typically have been horribly content-laden – an older employee once told me that “reading my articles was like walking through mud”). I hope to fix that shortly.
I researched and wrote every one of my articles.
This blog has hundreds of articles that I (Rob Cashman, Owner of the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC) personally researched, wrote, and edited. I researched and wrote each article myself. I have never hired someone to write my articles for me, nor do I think doing so is authentic or honest.
We started this blog to bring clarity to a new area of law.
I am not a journalist, I am an attorney. However, in 2010 (now ten years ago), I decided that someone should write about the growing number of mass-bittorrent based copyright infringement lawsuits. Even the other attorneys did not understand at the time how intellectual property laws and copyright laws applied to someone accused of downloading music and movies (ugh, now adult films). So I created this blog to hash out those topics.
Copyright Trolls, a pimple sprouted from patent trolls.
We called these companies who file these lawsuits “copyright trolls” after patent trolls who purchase the rights to certain patents for the purpose of extorting others for hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions of dollars. You can read up on these topics on an older blog called “Cashman IP.”
Now defense attorneys betray their clients.
Now we are ten years later, and the number lawsuits have grown exponentially, but so too, the number of attorneys claiming to “defend John Doe Defendants against the copyright trolls” have grown exponentially as well.
Misinformation floods attorney blogs like blood.
These attorneys pump out “bad information” on their websites, often suggesting motions to quash, or suggesting that John Doe Defendants immediately settle when these two options mask better, more practical approaches.
But some attorneys appear to have read my articles (and other articles on the web, of course), but they forgot to look up the actual law, and so they grossly misinform accused defendants when they try to get them to sign on as clients. One such attorney [who to my horror is actually at the top of search engines now] knew nothing about copyright law or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and on many occasions referred to copyright infringement lawsuits as “criminal lawsuits” (you know, where if you are found guilty you go to jail…?!?)
Calling a copyright case a “criminal” case is criminal.
I am obviously nobody’s police man, but on a few occasions, I had to physically yell at this attorney to learn the law he is practicing and stop telling John Doe Defendants that copyright infringement cases ARE NOT CRIMINAL CASES. THEY ARE CIVIL CASES FOR MONEY DAMAGES.
…This guy too has a website and a blog, and he pays Google AdWords for you to visit his website. This (he, and attorneys like him) is why there is so much conflicting information on the internet about these cases.
BIG difference between copying and theft.
I always thought that some of these newer attorneys were simply “standing on the shoulders of others.” But the fighting between these attorneys is simply terrible.
When my research shows up on another attorney’s blog…
Some defense attorneys copy each other’s websites (try to copy-and-paste content from this blog; I have actually needed to disable the ability to copy content from my website).
Why? Because my research and experience shows up on their pages, as do case number lists of who was sued in which court, along with other content that I spend time researching.
I have tested this by making “errors” in the case numbers or title of who the “John Doe subscriber accused IP Address …” was, and I have seen them “lifted” and pasted into other attorneys’ lists and blogs.
I encourage healthy competition (and even encourage it), but when what I write ends up on another attorneys website, it is rant-worthy (FYI, it is copyright infringement too, as funny as that is considering what we do).
When what I tell potential clients in phone consultations is copied word-for-word…
In addition to copying each other’s written content, and some attorneys lack the originality to simply talk to a potential client about his/her circumstances. This is because the defense attorney hires inexperienced attorneys (or, non-attorneys they make you think are attorneys) to take their phone consultations for them. These extra bodies read the same “scripts” to potential clients, often pushing the client to settle or file a motion to quash, etc.
I too say the same thing (or cover similar topics) each time I speak to a client, e.g., I walk them through the options once they are sued, the probable outcomes of each option, etc. But my conversations are based on MY experience based on MY knowledge from the hundreds (maybe thousands) of cases I have represented accused defendants. Too often, newer attorneys just read scripts, and these “scripts” were copied from other attorneys in their phone consultations.
I sometimes chuckle when I ask potential clients (e.g., when there is a red flag) show me that they are an actual defendant in a lawsuit in order to take their phone consultation. This is silly, but too often, I have had my law firm’s methodologies and things I literally tell clients — statistics and facts only I would know based on my years of experience — copied by other attorneys (or their newly hired attorneys), word-for-word. I know this because I am often not the first attorney someone speaks to when they speak to me, and I often ask what they were told prior to speaking to me.
I still believe having defense attorneys in each state benefits defendants.
I always thought that it was a good idea that defense attorneys too should be located in every state in which the copyright trolls were suing defendants. The whole idea of “one attorney in one state representing every defendant from every state” smelled.
When one attorney represents all clients from every state (as we saw with hindsight in the settlement factory attorneys, below), too much power concentrated in too few attorneys.
This scenario invited collusion between the plaintiff attorney and the defense attorney. It suggested to me that if one attorney is handling each and every case in every settlement (or every lawsuit), the defense attorney will not fight hard for their client and will come to malpractice by not properly representing them.
Settlement Factory Attorneys born in a cottage industry.
I was right, and for years, I have called out settlement factories and their tactics because their attempts to “cut corners” deprives the accused defendant of proper attorney representation.
From these mass-bittorrent-based copyright infringement lawsuits was born the “settlement factory” attorney. This is a quantity-based law firm represents clients in a boilerplate fashion. Call it a “discount” law firm because they represent everyone the same way (although I many times objected to them charging a flat rate fee of $2,500 for what amounted to less than $2,500 worth of work).
Feel secure in the hard-earned money you are paying your attorney.
The logic was that if a “settlement factory” discount attorney is billing $300/hour, and his “streamlined” settlement negotiation takes him only five hours of time, then he should only bill you $1,500 (= 5 hours x $300/hour), not $2,500. So like so many other “scams” affiliated with settlement factories, even the amount they bill does not match the amount of work they do for a client.
Refocusing this article back to settlement factory websites not written by the attorneys who host them.
I have written many articles in the past about settlement factories, but to my surprise, now their settlement factory websites are yet one more scam. These same attorneys plaster the search engines and YouTube sites with ads and pay-per-click links to bring traffic (you) to their websites.
You click, they pay Google AdWords for you to visit their devoid-of-content site.
If you only knew how much these same attorneys pay per click (you can look them up on https://www.semrush.com), you would be absolutely floored! Type in “Strike 3 Holdings subpoena” [or the attorney websites who show up in the Google Paid Results to these searches] into SEMrush and you will be horrified if you learned that ONE PARTICULAR ATTORNEY regularly pays $60.00 PER CLICK in their Google AdWords campaigns.
If I told you that more than one attorney is also paying these crazy fees (rather than writing authentic, real content), you would be horrified and betrayed by these attorneys who fight for your click-juice. [For context, if they were paying $3/click, I wouldn’t balk. And, I have run Google AdWord campaigns in the past and would again in the future, but holy smokes!]
I would never pay $60 to have someone click on my site. They do, and this should concern you.
So, I am out of time once again, and I need to get back to work. With a chuckle, I wrote this quick article calling these guys out on their websites and their ghost-blogged content.
In sum: I always thought that a certain handful of bittorrent defense attorneys post repeating content that was so devoid of content (after all, how much can you write about the same thing?).
What I did not notice was that the articles these attorneys churn out might not have been written by those attorneys at all.
P.S. – I wouldn’t be surprised if these same attorneys started panicking and writing “I’m authentic, I write my own content” articles over the coming days and weeks. It is usually the ones that jump who are actually guilty of the thing I have just pointed them out for.