Feeds:
Posts
Comments

ID-100157775Image courtesy of @artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Much of the bittorrent world is saddened by the leaked news reports of the recent “Bellwether” case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Malibu Media v. John Does, Case No. 5:12-cv-02088) where at least one defendant is reported to be facing close to $112,500 in damages plus attorney fees for the peer-to-peer downloads he is said to have taken part in. The plaintiff attorneys, along with Keith Lipscomb and others who have a vested interest in seeing bittorrent cases against internet users succeed are drinking champagne and celebrating their victory.

It is both my professional belief and my personal conviction that copyright trolling lawsuits are wrong, and while there is nothing illegal in suing a defendant for copyright infringement, doing so in my opinion is unlawful and morally corrupt. These lawsuits are nothing more than a STAGE SHOW to permit a behind the scenes SHAKEDOWN of accused interent users, whether or not they actually participated in the accused infringement. For G-d’s sake, the “guilty” so-called “criminal” defendant merely clicked on a link, and downloaded a title that was openly shared with thousands of other downloaders. To hit that defendant with a shock lawsuit where they face $150,000 statutory damages for a video that could have been purchased for a few bucks is a disproportionate punishment for the “crime” of downloading copyrighted films. Rather, instead of suing downloaders and letting the piracy continue, why not just end the piracy problem by issuing a DMCA take down notice to the bittorrent tracker? The alternative of sitting in bittorrent swarms and employing tracking software to track the IP addresses of who is downloading to me just seems like an abusive step to what would otherwise be a simple problem of making the torrent files go away so that unsuspecting downloaders couldn’t click on the links.

It is my conviction that copyright infringement lawsuits are wrong because it is simply immoral to shake down EVERY John Doe Defendant (yes, each one) with the threat of having to defend a lawsuit in federal court unless they cough up tens of thousands of dollars for downloads that the John Doe Defendant often did not even take part in. I have personally seen copyright trolls such as Malibu Media, LLC take large sums of money from defendants who did not do the download, but who were pressured into settling simply to avoid being named in a lawsuit. It is no secret that defending a case is sometimes significantly more expensive than settling a case.

Yet even with the pending resolution of this lawsuit, accused defendants across the U.S. in their own lawsuits should understand that this ruling will not be binding on other federal courts in other federal districts. Each federal court makes their own rules as to what constitutes copyright infringement, and what evidence is required to prove a defendant guilty when the so-called infringement happens via a bittorrent download. This is our job as attorneys — to know which districts have rules in favor of bittorrent users, and to know which districts have ruled in favor of the copyright holders. No doubt, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania will now become a favored spot to sue internet users accross the U.S. for copyright infringement.

Lastly, on a personal note, this case does not change the way a lawyer handles copyright infringement cases. At least in our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC, there is no silver-bullet approach — some defendants choose to settle, and many do not. Considerations as always involve 1) whether the download actually happened and the circumstances surrounding the accused activities, 2) the accused defendant’s willingness to fight and defend a copyright infringement lawsuit, 3) the accused defendant’s aversion to risk of having their name become public knowledge in a court proceeding, and 4) the accused defendant’s financial ability to take each of the various pathways we suggest.

In sum, not all guilty defendants settle, and not all non-guilty defendants fight.  It is simply a calculation and a risk assessment that is based on the client’s desires, the federal district in which the lawsuit is filed (taking into consideration past bittorrent cases filed in that jurisdiction), the judge who assigned to the case (taking into consideration his past rulings), and the plaintiff attorney (or more frequently, the local counsel’s) proclivity towards naming, serving, and taking defendants to trial balanced with their willingness to negotiate an amicable settlement should we decide to go that route.

Bittorrent cases [in their current form] have now been around for three (3) years, and now we have a verdict where a case has been taken to trial — by Malibu Media, LLC surprisingly enough.  When we started, there were no cases taken to trial, and now there is one.  Before the appearance in 2010 of the bittorrent cases, all we had to go on were the old Napster and Grokster cases, combined with the various lawsuits filed by the RIAA / MPAA and miscellaneous copyright infringement files dealing with the internet. Up until now we have been developing case law surrounding peer-to-peer downloads as each case matures. Now we are starting to get some clarity as to the law surrounding bittorrent use.

Malibu Media, LLC has been filing lawsuits across the U.S. with a fervor with one change — most of them appear to be “Single John Doe” lawsuits against defendants whom they believe have deep pockets.

In other words, it appears that Malibu is looking at the geolocation data of the various IP addresses of the so-called downloaders, and they are going after defendants who live in towns which have high value residential homes. I know this because based on the individuals who call our office, a disproportionate number of them have commented that they have multi-million dollar estates, and they were wondering whether it was ethical to target high value individuals in their copyright infringement lawsuits.

To make matters worse, Malibu Media, LLC appears to have incentivized their local counsel with financial rewards for bringing in higher settlements. In the olden days, I could have called one of their contacts directly, and within a few phone calls, I knew what kind of settlement a defendant could get based on how many “titles” or alleged instances of infringement they were accused of downloading. From there, the client and I would decide whether it made more financial sense to fight the case by waiting to be named and filing an answer in court, or whether it made more financial sense to settle the case. Malibu has complicated this process in order to provide the appearance of legitimacy for the courts. Now, they are having their local counsel negotiate the settlements themselves. This would be okay, but it is my experience that local counsel are asking for higher numbers than I know Malibu would have settled for just a few months ago. “The old settlement numbers you used to have with Malibu are no longer in effect,” one local counsel told me as she pushed for higher numbers. “We are doing this ourselves now.”

To make matters worse, when Malibu Media, LLC identifies a downloader by his IP address, they track that IP address and monitor that defendant to see what other bittorrent files that defendant is downloading (wiretap?). They continue to monitor that defendant downloading non-Malibu Media titles such as “The Walking Dead,” “Homeland,” “Breaking Bad,” often creating a list multiple pages long of “other” infringing activities that defendant has taken part in. Their logic is that because a particular defendant downloaded those other titles, he is a “serial downloader” and thus it is more likely that he downloaded their titles as well. A number of us attorneys have explained to their local counsels’ deaf ears that just because a particular IP address downloaded a number of bittorrent titles does not mean that the accused defendant is that downloader. However, even the best attorney’s understanding of the law can be clouded when money influences that attorney’s understanding of it.

On a positive note, in just a few weeks, we have seen judges rule that the “other” BitTorrent activity listed in their complaints [for works not owned by Malibu Media] is inadmissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence (“FRE”), specifically Rule 404 on “Character Evidence.” The reason for this is because “Evidence of a person’s character or character trait is not admissible to prove that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character or trait.” In other words, proving that a particular defendant is a “serial downloader” is not admissible to prove that on a particular date and time, that defendant downloaded Malibu Media’s copyrighted titles. Shame on Malibu attorneys for not knowing this.

Further, judges have ruled that introducing evidence of “other” downloads is not relevant and is actually prejudicial to the defendant, and thus that so-called evidence is not admissible to prove that the defendant downloaded Malibu Media, LLC’s titles. As one example, Judge Stephen Crocker has frozen all of Malibu Media, LLC’s cases in the Western District of Wisconsin for this very purpose (link).

In sum, messing up on the Federal Rules of Evidence and doing so on each of their “Single Doe” upper-class cases was a big mistake which they might not be able to undo.  And also on a positive note, because they have filed so many “Single Doe” cases across the country, judges across the U.S. are looking deeper into their tactics and their evidence of infringement.  See @Ddragon229’s article on the FCT website, “Winds of change begin to blow on Malibu Media” for details on the character evidence issue.

Despite this, Malibu Media, LLC continues to file lawsuits across the U.S. in alarming numbers, and in each case, they continue to file this prejudicial information of “other” downloads as their “Exhibit C” in each case. A snippet of cases filed in just the last few weeks is pasted below:

Cases filed by Chris Fiore in the Pennsylvania Eastern District:
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02858)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02859)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02867)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02868)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02854-JP)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02855-MMB)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02856-JD)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02857-SD)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No.2:13-cv-02863-PD)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02864-HB)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02765-MSG)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02766-MSG)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02767-WY)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02768-PD
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02769-RB)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 2:13-cv-02770-CMR)

Cases filed by Mary Schulz of Schulz Law PC in the Illinois Northern District:
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:13-cv-03726)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:13-cv-03699)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:13-cv-03700)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:13-cv-03703)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:13-cv-03704)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:13-cv-03705)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:13-cv-03706)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:13-cv-03707)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:13-cv-03710)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe (Case No. 1:13-cv-03711)

Cased filed by Paul J. Nicoletti of Nicoletti & Associates PLLC inn the Michigan Eastern District:
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 71.238.205.92 (Case No. 4:13-cv-12231-MAG-MAR)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 68.42.185.159 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12210-RHC-MJH)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 68.43.4.96 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12213-SFC-DRG)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 68.43.84.236 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12214-AJT-MKM)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 68.60.140.87 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12216-PDB-RSW)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 68.62.41.133 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12217-VAR-RSW)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 69.14.181.108 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12218-NGE-DRG)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 69.246.89.172 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12220-AJT-DRG)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 67.149.158.6 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12197-GAD-PJK)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 67.149.89.224 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12198-PDB-MKM)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 68.40.123.7 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12200-GER-MKM)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 68.40.46.12 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12201-DPH-DRG)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 68.43.35.2 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12202-PDB-DRG)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 68.41.170.197 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12204-GAD-RSW)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 68.41.19.221 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12206-DPH-LJM)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 68.41.86.4 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12208-MOB-RSW)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned IP address 68.42.172.154 (Case No. 2:13-cv-12209-SJM-MKM)

Cases filed by Paul J. Nicoletti of Nicoletti & Associates PLLC in the Indiana Northern District:
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe 12 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00166-PPS-RBC)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe 5 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00164-PPS-RBC)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe 9 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00165-PPS-RBC)

PERSONAL NOTE: Even with all these cases, I have only listed 46 cases having 46 defendants. With the hundreds of filings, it becomes impossible to track and report on each case. The more I look at each of these cases, the more I feel as if they have succeeded in preventing attorneys like myself from tracking and reporting on each of their hundreds of cases. Obviously I am still here, and I am still reporting on these cases. My list of cases to track has just gotten a bit larger.

houstonlawy3r:

Sometimes there are no words other than silence to best express the thoughts I have about Judge Wright’s order essentially referring John Steele and the Prenda Law Inc. gang to the IRS’ Criminal Investigation Division (CID) for all the settlements on which no taxes were paid. There is one police agency that a criminal organization does not want to be contacted by, and that is the CID.

The $81K in sanctions essentially funds the lead attorneys who spent time on this case. And, the referral to the bar associations means that the principals at Prenda Law Inc. may no longer have their law licenses shortly.

In sum, there is not much for me to comment here, except to be silent, because the judge’s order itself says all it needs to. Copyright trolling may seem profitable for the attorneys filing the lawsuits, but no money can compensate for the loss of freedom that one experiences when what was once a multi-million dollar law practice lands the principles in prison for tax evasion. This should be a lesson to all other copyright trolls out there. Judge yourselves accordingly.

Originally posted on Fight Copyright Trolls:

We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Congratulations to everyone involved, especially Morgan and Nick.

Media coverage

View original 382 more words

houstonlawy3r:

For those of you interested in the “chemistry” behind the bittorrent lawsuits and the “SHA1 hash numbers” affiliated with each title allegedly downloaded in each copyright infringement case, Die Troll Die has written up a very simple to understand article on the topic.

His analysis relates specifically to the The Thompsons Film, LLC v. Does 1-155 (Case No. 6:13-cv-00469) and similar cases, however the application of the SHA1 hash number analysis is relevant to any bittorrent lawsuit.

Originally posted on DieTrollDie:

While answering a question for a Doe, I decided to dig a little deeper into the various “Thompsons” cases filed throughout the US.  I apologize for missing an ‘interesting‘ aspect in case The Thompsons Film, LLC, v. Does 1-155, 6:13-cv-00469.   complaint_00469(OR)  The SHA1 hash number I listed was ONLY ONE of THREE hash files in the IP address listing.  I was a bit shocked, as this type of activity is very old-school copyright troll, as well as stupid in my opinion.  John Steele (Steele-Hansmeier/Prenda Law) liked to do this with his early cases.  We had another Troll try this a while back in Louisiana over a year ago – Multiple Hash Files.

TMovieHash1

The reason I call it stupid is because it shows that some of the BitTorrent activity is not related and thus some of the Does are improperly joined with the others Does. …

View original 442 more words

The Divide - New Copyright Trolls
For those involved in the R & D Film 1, LLC  cases across the US, I wanted to give you a heads up as to the “state of affairs” of those cases.

I have been watching R & D Film 1, LLC (a.k.a., “R&D Film 1“) since they began suing defendants for downloading the copyrighted title “The Divide.” [Whether they themselves have made ANY ATTEMPTS to take down the offending torrents using tools provided to them in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is not the topic of this article.] 

R&D Film 1 lawsuits showed up in July, 2012, and now 37 weeks later, I am surprised they are still alive.

DRAMA IN THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI

The R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-35 (Case No. 4:12-cv-01743) case has shaken a few people up, because it is unclear which defendants were dismissed, and which were named and served.

In January, Judge Jean Hamilton invoked Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4(m), which gave R & D Film 1, LLC 120 days to name and serve defendants. As you know, this is a tool judges have at their disposal to dispose of cases which get stale — they are not forced to dismiss stale cases. This deadline according to the judge’s calculations passed on 3/29/2013, but according to the plaintiff attorney’s calculations, it passed on 4/9/2013.

On 4/11/2013, the judge issued an “Order to Show Cause” why this lawsuit should not be dismissed, plaintiff attorney Joel Samuels responded, “but judge, we DID name and serve certain defendants,” and then Samuels dismissed everyone else [Does 1,6,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,30, and 35] without prejudice. Obviously we haven’t seen the list of who was “named and served,” but I must believe that Samuels wasn’t lying to the judge. That would be a bad idea.

So this case is still in play, and our firm is watching it carefully because what happens in one R & D Film 1, LLC case affects their other cases. Of note in Missouri — these cases are beginning to age, and I suspect more judges will be imposing FRCP Rule 4(m). Already, in EACH OF THE CASES, the other plaintiff attorney Matthew Cutler has filed a “Request for an extension of time to name and serve defendants,” which have been granted by the respective judges. In his next round of requests, they may not be so forgiving.

CASES FILED BY MATTHEW L. CUTLER OF HERNESS & DICKEY IN THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI:
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-33 (Case No. 4:12-cv-01741)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-39 (Case No. 4:12-cv-01742)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-35 (Case No. 4:12-cv-01743)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-14 (Case No. 4:12-cv-01754)

WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON: NO DRAMA.

As you know, on January 8th, 2013, Richard Symmes sued a total of 315 John Doe Defendants in Washington. I wrote about it here in my “(WAWD) R&D Film 1, LLC hires Richard Symmes to file against 315 Defendants” article.

In the R & D Film 1, LLC cases in the Western District of Washington, the story is the same for all the cases. Judge Lasnik has taken over all the cases, and he has allowed R&D Film 1 to serve the ISPs with subpoenas. At this point I have no indication as to whether Judge Lasnik is actively copyright-troll friendly or whether he is simply unifying the proceedings and allowing all cases to proceed.

Interestingly enough, all the defendants appear to be Comcast subscribers, and notwithstanding the Six Strikes System (not to confuse Ira Siegel/CEG-TEK’s “CopyrightSettlements.com” system and the lawsuits of the copyright trolls), Comcast is forwarding the subpoenas to their subscribers. The problem is that all defendants here are IN WASHINGTON (meaning, jurisdiction is fine), so everyone calling me is asking about a motion to quash, but quashing is not the answer since they live in the state in which they were sued.

CASES FILED BY RICHARD SYMMES IN THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON
(ALL ALIVE AND WELL):

R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-46 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00050)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-45 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00051)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-41 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00052)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-22 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00053)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-51 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00054)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-50 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00055)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-44 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00056)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00057)

ILLINOIS NORTHERN DISTRICT — “IN AND OUT” LIKE A BANDIT:

In the Northern District of Illinois, R&D Film 1 plaintiff attorneys Michael Hierl and Todd Parkhurt are literally “making away like bandits” with their quick “in-and-out” strategy in the courtroom.

As soon as either of these lawyers get the subscriber information from the ISP, they hit the John Doe Defendants, and they hit them hard, soliciting a number of settlements. As soon as they reach a certain pre-determined number of settlements, they immediately dismiss the case and get out of the court as quickly as possible. No judge oversight — they are “in and out” like a flash before any judge notices what they’ve done.

This is the same pattern for EVERY ONE OF THEIR CASES.  I have left my notes next to their cases (below) because I thought the pattern was telling of their strategy.

CASES FILED BY TODD S. PARKHURST & MICHAEL A. HIERL OF HUGHES SOCOL PIERS RESNICK & DYM LTD. IN THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS:
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-52 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05810) closed 4/4
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-20 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05817) closed 4/11
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-57 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05821) closed 4/17
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-62 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05822) closed 4/10
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-36 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05823) closed 4/18
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-88 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05825) not yet dismissed; last hearing was supposed to happen on 1/23. didn’t.
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-29 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05827) closed 4/17
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-20 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05828) closed 4/18

R&D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-37 (Case No. 1:12-cv-09036) Still alive; Judge Matthew Kennelly denying motions to quash. Status hearing held and continued to 6/4/2013
R&D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-92 (Case No. 1:12-cv-09039) Still alive; Status hearing held on 3/19/2013 and continued to 4/23/2013.
R&D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-103 (Case No. 1:12-cv-09041) closed 3/20
R&D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-66 (Case No. 1:12-cv-09043) Still alive; ORDER granting motion for leave to take discovery prior to Rule 26(f) conference.

NEW JERSEY DISTRICT — ALL CASES “DEAD”

New Jersey is where copyright troll cases die a quick death. If you remember, all of the Century Media, Ltd., Baseprotect UG, Ltd. cases, along with all of Jay McDaniel’s bittorrent cases were in NJ and they are now dead.

All the New Jersey R&D Film 1, LLC Cases were assigned to Judge Noel L. Hillman and referred to Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio. They have dealt all cases (below) a swift death by requiring that local counsel Stamatios Stamoulis explain to the court why each of these cases should not be SEVERED AND DISMISSED for improper joinder.

Essentially, these cases will fail because New Jersey does not buy into the “bittorrent swarm” theory that every downloader was part of the “same transaction or occurrence” as is required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

CASES FILED BY STAMATIOS STAMOULIS IN THE NEW JERSEY DISTRICT:
R & D Film 1, LLC v. John Does 1-28 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00482)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. John Does 1-103 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00483)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. John Does 1-104 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00484)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. John Does 1-105 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00485)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. John Does 1-31 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00486)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. John Does 1-28 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00487)

NOTE: NJ’s Dragon Quest Productions LLC v. John Does 1-100 (Case No. 1:12-cv-06611) will be affected (and likely killed) as a result of this as well.

In sum, it’s a battle ground, and R & D Films 1, LLC (sometimes spelled R&D Films 1, LLC in the case filings) is fighting to gain as many settlements as is possible. The fact that an Eastern District of Missouri attorney told the court that he named and served defendants indicates to me that R&D Film 1 is willing (maybe) to pay their attorneys to take this fight to the discovery level, if the copyright troll attorney is up for the challenge. Some clearly are not.

PERSONAL NOTE: I am waiting to see whether people were actually named and served (or not); I assume the lawyer’s statement is true because a lawyer would never lie to a court, would they? (#Prenda)

Congratulations to the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients and former defendants who were dismissed from the Nu Image, Inc. v. Does 1-3,932 (Case No. 2:11-cv-00545) case in the Middle District of Florida.

We’ve known that this case has been “dead” since December, when the court denied the plaintiff’s request for an extension of time to name and serve defendants. I was surprised that they did not instantly dismiss the case months ago, but it lagged on with almost no activity.

I suppose the timing of this case is fortuitous for those following the Prenda Law Inc. scandals, because the judge in this case is US District Judge John E. Steele, having no relation to John Steele of Prenda Law Inc.

A few months ago, I referred to this case as an “abandoned, dead floating ship.” Even then I had no idea that the timing of the death of this case by Judge John Steele would coincide so nicely with Judge Wright’s hearing just the day beforehand.

For those that want to know what actually happened here, the politics were very simple. Copyright troll attorney Jeffrey Weaver of Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver, PLLC (now “Dunlap Weaver, PLLC sans former partner Grubb”) took this case after his main attorney Nicholas Kurtz left the firm leaving the oldest copyright troll without teeth to go after defendants. Nu Image, Inc. came in wanting to sue, and so Jeffrey Weaver took the case. Almost 300 documents, 79 weeks, and 2 days later, the case is dead.

Congratulations again to all 3,932 defendants who have been dismissed from the case.

Link to the dismissal order.

While the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC and its clients were celebrating “freedom,” I am sure some of my readers will be wondering the fate of Prenda Law Inc. / Steele Hansmeier, PLLC / John Steele / Paul Duffy / Mark Lutz / Brett Gibbs et al. after their hearing today before Judge Wright.  Today was the big day where the world of those who have been injured by Prenda Law Inc.’s activities looked on to see their demise.

In sum, the hearing was short, and John Steele and his “gang” showed up as they were ordered to, but they decided to plead the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution rather than answer Judge Wright’s questions.  As a result, the judge did not allow them the pleasure of “pleading the fifth” as he appears to have no interest in lawyer gamesmanship.  Thus, after 12 minutes, he walked off the bench and ended the hearing.

While there was no immediate gratification for those who flew over to attend the hearing, in my opinion, “Popehat” described their fate better than I ever could:

“Prenda Law may still be standing. But it’s dead.”

I would be very surprised if I saw any further activities coming from this law firm. I expect that in a few days (if not sooner), Judge Otis Wright will write an order which will make any copyright troll shake in their boots, and it is my hopes that this order will serve as a warning shot to any of the other copyright trolls who go after individual downloaders using the tactics and corporate structures that Prenda employed.

It is my opinion (although I *am* still cautious until I actually see Judge Wright’s order,) this will likely be the end of Prenda Law Inc., John Steele, and Paul Duffy, as I expect that this will evolve into inquiries which will endanger their law licenses. I don’t think we’ll see the end of them, per se, as it is not so difficult to find a hungry lawyer who will agree to have his hand held while he lets others practice under his law license in the shadows.

On the other hand, I believe the result of this case (and Judge Wright’s influence over the the future penalties of unlawful copyright enforcement tactics) will force the bittorrent cases to evolve from its current state (which comprise mere pre-trial settlement “or else” tactics) to actually taking clients to court on the merits.  Also, while the inquiry in this case surrounded plaintiff copyright trolls who “invent” corporate figureheads, who seem to falsify copyright assignment documents, and who structure their business tactics to allow their activities to proceed with limited affects on the attorneys furthering their scheme) no doubt, this will be a damaging blow to those copyright holders who try to enforce their copyrights against individual downloaders.

Articles on the topic:
Forbes: Porn Copyright Lawyer John Steele, Who Has Sued More Than 20,000 People, Is Now The One In Legal Trouble

ArsTechnica: Prenda lawyers take Fifth Amendment; judge storms out: “We’re done” — Those in attendance describe Judge Otis Wright as “incandescently angry.”

TechDirt: Team Prenda Shows Up In Court, Pleads The Fifth… Angry Judge Ends Hearing In 12 Minutes

TorrentFreak: Prenda Copyright Trolls Plead the Fifth

Fight Copyright Trolls (SJD): Prenda trolls appear in Judge Wright’s courtroom only to plead the Fifth. Furious judge ends the hearing after 12 minutes

Follow-Up Articles:

ArsTechnica: Judge smash: Prenda’s porn-trolling days are over

Popehat: Prenda Law’s Attorneys Take The Fifth Rather Than Answer Judge Wright’s Questions

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 112 other followers