Nothing smells like “copyright troll” to me more than a new local counsel filing multiple copyright lawsuits against hundreds of John Doe defendants ON THE SAME DAY. Then, to avoid having all the cases be assigned to the same judge (so that the cases do not all fall on one bad ruling from a hostile judge), this new copyright troll cunningly manipulates the legal system by splitting the lawsuit into smaller “John Doe” lawsuits, each one having less than 100 defendants. Each lawsuit is randomly assigned to a different judge in that district.
Vision Films, Inc. (link) appears to be not a production company, nor does it appear to be the copyright holder for the film(s) upon which it is suing. Rather, it appears that this is a distribution company that acquires the rights to license titles to third parties on behalf of the production companies (the ones who have the copyrights). Copyright trolling (e.g., suing hundreds of internet users for the downloading of their films) appears to be part of their business plan as well.
Welcome new copyright troll, “Vision Films, Inc.” And a hearty welcome to Vision Films, Inc.’s new copyright troll attorneys, Matthew Lee Stone of Schneider & Stone (in the Northern District of Illinois), Joan M. Swartz of Law Office of Joan M. Swartz, L.L.C. (in the Missouri Eastern District), Stamatios Stamoulis & Richard C. Weinblatt of Stamoulis & Weinblatt LLC (in the Delaware District Court), and Van R Irion of Law Office of Van R. Irion, PLLC (in the Tennessee Eastern District Court). It is clear that Vision Films, Inc. has chosen top notch attorneys from big and powerful law firms. …For the solo practitioners they chose, I could have recommended better copyright trolls for them in seconds just by looking at the courts in which they filed.
Anyway, here is the list of cases, separated out by jurisdiction:
CASES FILED BY MATTHEW STONE IN THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS:
Vision Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-70 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00064)
Vision Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-63 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00065)
Vision Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-70 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00066)
Vision Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-73 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00067)
Vision Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-67 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00068)
Vision Films, Inc. v. John Does 1-43 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00071)
CASE FILED BY JOAN SWARTZ IN THE MISSOURI EASTERN DISTRICT COURT:
Vision Films, Inc. v. Does 1-30 (Case No. 4:13-cv-00020)
CASE FILED BY STAMATIOS STAMOULIS & RICHARD WEINBLATT IN THE DELAWARE DISTRICT COURT:
Vision Films Inc. v. John Does 1-24 (Case No. 1:12-cv-01746)
Since these cases were just filed on Friday 1/4/2013, some of them are too new to be seen even on PACER/ECF. However, from what I have been able to glean from the complaints that were online, each lawsuit appears to be for the same film, “Blood Money,” (the title is coincidental with the type of extortion they plan to foist on their defendants).
On a personal note, I really wish these attorneys would have done some research before accepting cases such as these. Vision Films, Inc. may be suing for the downloading of their non-pornographic movies, but inevitably, they and their lawyers will become synonymous with the other cases. Further, the bittorrent joinder swarm legal theory is a faulty theory full of holes which cannot survive on the merits. I don’t know why any reputable law firm would assert this theory unless they are planning on using the federal courts and the legal system as a weapon to be one of the “me too” copyright troll settlement factories. Anyone who has stepped foot in the Northern District of Illinois should know that the judges don’t play that game anymore.