Feeds:
Posts
Comments

URGENT UPDATE: Bait Productions apparently did not like having all of their cases consolidated into one case, so they decided to file their own individual cases against named defendants. In the past two days, they have named 9+ defendants. Will they name all 1,536?

Here are a list of defendants named in the past 48 hours:
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Langston M.
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Brad C.
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Steven F.
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Peggy B.
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Charlene V.
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Ana V.
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Francisco V.
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Steve W.
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Ruxter L.
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Doe 1

Now obviously, it is apparent that they are immediately suing and naming defendants from their original 25+ cases AS SOON AS THEY RECEIVE THE NAMES OF THE ALLEGED DOWNLOADERS FROM THE ISPs. What is concerning to me is that I know that a number of ISP deadlines were right around the corner, maybe even yesterday or today. For this reason, if you were implicated in any of the Bait Productions lawsuits, then contact an attorney ASAP (it doesn’t matter if it is me or anyone else).  I certainly have a lot to say about your next steps, what your options are (e.g., whether or not to file a motion to quash, etc.), and regardless of what path you choose to take (whether you retain our firm or not), what the expected result would be and the likelihood of each result.

I hate to sound like I’m asking people to call me, but quite frankly, Bait Productions’ actions of turning around and immediately naming defendants changes the game, and I cannot rely on slowly writing blog articles about their cases and waiting for accused defendants to figure out what is going on and educate themselves because maybe many months later what I write about might become relevant to them. This is happening TODAY.

As far as appointments go, when you contact me, you’ll immediately notice that there are not a lot of appointment time slots available. Just e-mail me, and let me know what date your ISP will be handing out your information, and I will prioritize my calls to you based on who’s information is going out soonest.

FYI, below is [for now, an incomplete] list of Bait Productions’ lawsuits before the consolidation:

The consolidated Bait Productions Pty Ltd. case can be found in the Florida Middle District Court under case 6:12-cv-01779.  It applies to the following cases:

Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Does 1-81 (6:12-cv-01779)
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Does 1-96 (6:12-cv-01780)
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Does 1-40 (5:12-cv-00644)
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Does 1-36 (5:12-cv-00645)
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Does 1-82 (8:12-cv-02643)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-95 (8:12-cv-02642)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. John Does 1-26 (2:12-cv-00628)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-78 (3:12-cv-01274)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-44 (2:12-cv-00629)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-71 (3:12-cv-01252)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-31 (6:12-cv-01721)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-73 (8:12-cv-02554)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-41 (8:12-cv-02555)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-52 (8:12-cv-02556)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-66 (3:12-cv-01204)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-73 (6:12-cv-01637)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-42 (3:12-cv-01205)
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Does 1-70 (8:12-cv-02466)
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Does 1-54 (8:12-cv-02468)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-72 (8:12-cv-02470)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-36 (8:12-cv-02464)

[NOTE TO READERS: I AM POSTING THIS AS IS, AND I SUGGEST THAT SJD & DTD ALSO PUBLICIZE WHAT HAS HAPPENED. I WILL UPDATE THE BLOG AS THINGS HAPPEN.]

As a follow-up to the “Sunshine State: No longer a “Happy” place for copyright trolls” article I wrote on Tuesday, I was surprised to see that one of Dunlap Weaver, PLLC’s cases — this one having 3,932 John Doe Defendants — survived UNSCATHED. It blows my mind that this case is still alive!

Nu Image, Inc. v. Does 1-3,932 (Case No. 2:11-cv-00545) in the Middle District of Florida was filed back in September, 2011, and our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC has been tracking the case since its inception. Jeffrey Weaver of Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC (“DGW”) filed this lawsuit after his lead attorney, Nicholas Kurtz left the firm to do who-knows-what.  Having a copyright troll / mass bittorrent extortion outfit with no lead attorney to fight the cases must have been a disaster for the firm, and so DGW partner Jeffrey Weaver took the case.

Now, over two years and 293 docket entries later (yes, watching this docket will max out your PACER payment every time you load the page), the case hangs in limbo.  On December 26th, 2012, Judge Sheri Polster Chappell denied Nu Image, Inc. more time to name and serve defendants.  We would think this would be the death nail for the case, but for some reason, the judge has not yet dismissed it.  (I can only assume this means that she is giving Weaver one last chance to prove that he is not a copyright troll, meaning that he actually has an interest in protecting his client Nu Image’s interests and going after the accused defendants.)  I have seen this firm name defendants before (even out of spite or vengeance when a certain attorney insulted them publicly [no, that wasn't me that time]), so while I wouldn’t be surprised if they pull out an “Ace” and name hundreds of defendants, I really don’t think this will happen for the following reason:

DUNLAP WEAVER, PLLC is lacking local counsel across the country.  While many of us attorneys have been building our local counsel networks across the U.S. (both on the defense side and on the plaintiff copyright trolls’ side), this law firm appears to have been stagnant, perhaps suffering from a bad economy and a failed copyright trolling business model.  They were the first, the biggest, and the oldest copyright trolls, but when they fired a number of paralegals who [unbeknownst to the partners at Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC] were doing most of the “scare” work and settlement negotiations for them, and when their lead attorney jumped ship, I expect they received an unexpected dip in their settlement rates (more like a fall-off-a-cliff wake-up call).

As a result of lacking a significant local counsel network of attorneys, they cannot sue the 3,000+ defendants in their home states.  And, of the 3,000+ defendants, very few of them live in Florida.  Thus, they are no doubt experiencing some legal logistical issues.  This doesn’t mean that they cannot go after defendants.  It simply means that they haven’t gotten their act together to do so, and that they may never get organized in time to do so.

As a funny side note, I wanted to point out that “John Steele” is the U.S. District Judge for this case.  Not the same John Steele that we know from Prenda Law Inc., but another John Steele.

In sum, I am watching this case carefully because I would like to see it go bust like the others.  I am dumbfounded why this case wasn’t killed with the others.

2/4/2013 UPDATE: CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL CASHMAN LAW FIRM, PLLC CLIENTS WHO HAVE BEEN DISMISSED FROM THIS CASE!

To glance back at the Patrick Collins, Inc. v. Does 1-75 (Case No. 3:11-cv-00389) case in the Southern District of Texas case that we have been tracking almost daily since August, 2011, I wanted to give a quick snippet that I think this case is about to go bust.

Lionel Martin (is he even still doing these cases?) is the plaintiff’s local counsel for this lawsuit. Late last year, the judge ordered that plaintiff Patrick Collins, Inc. has taken too long with this case, and that they decide whether they will proceed against each defendant or not. Their deadline to decide (by the way) is today.

Now obviously things can go terribly wrong in this case, and if so, we would see a whole SLEW of filings naming a number of the 75 defendants in the next twenty-four hours.  More likely, we’ll hear radio silence from the plaintiff attorney, and the case will be dismissed.  I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything further.

The Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,495 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01741) case in the District of Columbia has been dead for almost a month now, and Prenda Law Inc. (now the “Anti-Piracy Law Group”) is still calling each and every dismissed defendant as if the case were still alive.

In my opinion, these calls to dismissed defendants are indeed very concerning. The threat is that unless a dismissed defendant settled, they will immediately name and serve them in the federal court in their home state.


HOW TO CHECK WHETHER THEIR THREATS HAVE ANY MERIT

I have literally been hearing about these threats from dismissed defendants for weeks, and there is a VERY EASY way to test whether their threats have merit or not — simply check to see whether Hard Drive Productions, Inc. has filed lawsuits naming individuals. The easiest way to do this is to visit http://www.rfcexpress.com, scroll down on the right-hand side, and check only the “copyright” button. Type “Hard Drive Productions” into the “Party Name” field, click submit, and you’ll see the last state and the last date they filed suit against defendants. [As of 6:45pm on 1/16/2013, there have been ABSOLUTELY NO FILINGS by Hard Drive Productions, Inc. since they tried to sue defendants here in the Southern District of Texas using Doug McIntyre as their local counsel -- and you know how badly that ended for them.]


SHOULD YOU CALL THEM?

Now this should be common sense, but you NEVER want to be calling the attorney who is threatening to sue you. Especially when you already know that their game is to extort and solicit settlements from those they believe they can scare into settling.


CAN THEY FOLLOW-UP ON THEIR THREAT AND SUE YOU INDIVIDUALLY?

Obviously Prenda Law Inc. (now the “Anti-Piracy Law Group”) has the capacity to name and serve many individuals in many states.  However, they are lawyers just as we are lawyers. And, whatever Prenda Law Inc. does on behalf of a client, somebody needs to pay the bill (especially if there is local counsel involved). If they are suing on behalf of Hard Drive Productions, Inc., then Hard Drive Productions, Inc. needs to pay their bills (or, you do by way of your settlements). Lawsuits are not cheap for a plaintiff, and the up-front cost of filing one ($350 per lawsuit), plus all the time drafting and responding to motions in front of a judge for each case is quite an undertaking.


SHOULD YOU SETTLE?

Thus, if you have no reason to settle, then don’t settle. If you see that they are naming and serving individuals, then contact one of us lawyers. Depending on your circumstances and if I can figure out a way for you to fight your case without settling, that might be the cheaper alternative. Just please don’t try to respond to their calls thinking that you’ll negotiate your way out of this. The only way to get out of this is to back them into a financial corner forcing them to drop your case, defend your case on the merits, or to pay them to make the case go away. I like any option that does not include sending them a check.

A number of copyright trolls hit a snag when the judges in both the Middle District of Florida (FLMD) and the Northern District of Florida (FLND) froze a whole slew of cases, consolidated some, and severed many others. This is just a simple indication that 1) federal judges in Florida are talking to one another, and 2) Florida has caught on to the copyright trolls’ extortion scheme.

In the Northern District of Florida, the mass bittorrent lawsuit West Coast Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-581 (Case No. 5:12-cv-00277) was “smoked,” resulting in all defendants [except one] being severed and dismissed from the case. Judge Smoak not only denied plaintiff attorney Jeffrey Weaver of Dunlap Weaver, PLLC (think, “Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver, PLLC” from the olden days) an extension of time to name and serve defendants (as if he would have if he was given the chance) but he also killed Weaver’s lawsuit by severing out all the defendants. Now obviously Jeffrey Weaver can always re-file against individual John Does in their home states, but so far [with few exceptions] I have not seen individual lawsuits from these plaintiff attorneys.

However, here is the problem with the West Coast Productions, Inc. severed case. We know it is severed. You now know it is severed. However, your ISP does not know, and as far as they are concerned, they are still under an order signed by Judge Smoak on 9/4/2012 forcing them to produce the names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mails of the 581 accused defendants. And, based on my conversations with defendants in this case over the past few days, these deadlines are coming up right around the corner.

I would assume that eventually the ISPs would pick up on the dismissal after enough notice, but I want to remind defendants to make sure to give notice to your ISP not to produce your information. This is something you can do on your own, but if you want an attorney to do it for you, I have already taken care of this for my own clients. Remember, your ISP gets paid by the plaintiff attorneys for each name they hand over, so they have a financial interest in producing the names “accidentally,” unless you give them notice. And, Jeffrey Weaver (your plaintiff attorney) will gladly pay your ISP for their accident because he wants nothing more than to get your names so that he can ask for $3,500 from each one of you. For this reason, be smart and follow-up with this, whether you use me to send the letter and documentation to your ISP for you, or whether you do it on your own.

As if the severance is not enough exciting news, in the Middle District of Florida, PRETTY MUCH EVERY CASE HAS BEEN EITHER FROZEN, SEVERED, OR DISMISSED.  Hoo yah!

I am happy to share that many of these cases were frozen in their tracks BEFORE THE JUDGES GAVE ORDERS PERMITTING THE PLAINTIFFS TO RECEIVE SUBPOENAS.  In other words, the ISPs were never subpoenaed, and you — the thousands of John Doe Defendants — never received ANYTHING in the mail!  Here are just a few examples of various cases:

West Coast Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-448 (3:12-cv-01277) — STAYED
West Coast Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-675 (3:12-cv-00964) — STAYED

Night of the Templar, LLC v. Does 1-23 (6:12-cv-01777) — SHOW CAUSE WHY SANCTIONS SHOULD NOT BE AWARDED.
Night of the Templar, LLC v. Does 1-92 (6:12-cv-01778) — SHOW CAUSE WHY SANCTIONS SHOULD NOT BE AWARDED.
Night of the Templar, LLC v. Does 1-98 (8:12-cv-02645) — SEVERED AND DISMISSED.

Bait Productions Pty Ltd. cases — CONSOLIDATED; ALL CASES ASSIGNED TO JUDGE COVINGTON AND GIVEN NEW CASE NUMBER (6:12-cv-01779).  This applies to the following cases:

Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Does 1-81 (6:12-cv-01779)
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Does 1-96 (6:12-cv-01780)
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Does 1-40 (5:12-cv-00644)
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Does 1-36 (5:12-cv-00645)
Bait Productions Pty Ltd. v. Does 1-82 (8:12-cv-02643)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-95 (8:12-cv-02642)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. John Does 1-26 (2:12-cv-00628)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-78 (3:12-cv-01274)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-44 (2:12-cv-00629)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-71 (3:12-cv-01252)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-31 (6:12-cv-01721)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-73 (8:12-cv-02554)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-41 (8:12-cv-02555)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-52 (8:12-cv-02556)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-66 (3:12-cv-01204)
Bait Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Does 1-73… and so on.

According to @copyrightclerk, “Bait Productions ha[d] 25 active cases in the Middle District of Florida against a total of 1,536 defendants.” Her write up on the consolidation of Bait Productions cases can be found here.

In sum, while Florida might be “the sunny state,” it appears as if a deep cold front has come in and given the flu to the trolls.  I saw a number of Florida cases from other plaintiffs as well that have been frozen, killed, stayed, or severed and dismissed.  It took them over two years, but I am happy they have finally caught on.

Our firm has been working in a bubble for over two years now, focusing exclusively on copyright infringement lawsuits as they relate to accusations of piracy through the use of bittorrent (“torrent”) peer-to-peer programs over the internet.

However, it has been brought to my attention that our “copyright troll” problem is bigger than just bittorrent.  People even today are receiving DMCA threat letters for the so-called infringement of other things, such as the unauthorized use of pictures, articles, poems, you name it — even works that are not copyrighted at all.  However, unlike our federal copyright infringement lawsuits, these settlement extortion “scare” letter campaigns take place on a larger scale, outside of the courtroom, and there is no federal judge overseeing an actual lawsuit.  The Copyright Enforcement Group appears to now be doing it, Getty Pictures has been doing it for years, and most recently, non-attorney John Jolin is doing it on behalf of Linda Ellis and her poems.

These new kinds of threat letters are obviously less “sexy” than the six-figure [and sometimes seven-figure] lawsuits in the federal district courts across the U.S. that our law firm has been dealing with, but these smaller copyright trolls need to be dealt with, and they need to be handled with the same harshness as the larger copyright trolls we have been fighting for years now. Maybe it is time for a few of us attorneys to explain to these smaller trolls the definition of a declaratory judgement. If they want to throw around threats of “we might sue you unless you settle,” well, maybe we should bring a few of these threat letters in front of a federal judge and see what they think about this.

On a personal note, I am not sure whether approaching this topic in our “Torrent Lawyer” blog will muddy the waters since our blog has been focused on copyright trolls of the bittorrent kind, but whether we discuss “photo trolls,” “literary trolls,” or “music trolls,” they are still all copyright trolls.

RE: AF Holdings LLC v. Matthew Ciccone (MIED; Case No. 4:12-cv-14442)
Local Counsel:  Jonathan W. Tappan (a.k.a., Anti-Piracy Law Group, a.k.a., Prenda Law Inc.)
Judge: District Judge Gershwin Drain (Magistrate Judge Laurie Michelson) –> case reassigned to Mona K. Majzoub.

Prenda Law Inc. (now formally known as the “Anti-Piracy Law Group”) might be the most prolific copyright troll law firm out there, but they have become quite skilled at hiding their activities, even from the likes of me. In the past few months, I have seen many lawsuits bearing the title, “AF Holdings LLC v. John Doe.” My immediate assumption was that there was just one defendant in each of these cases [about to be named], but no! Just how many John Doe Defendants are in each of these “single John Doe” cases? As of today, the answer is now, “sometimes hundreds of defendants.”

Case in Point: AF Holdings LLC v. Matthew Ciccone (Case No. 4:12-cv-14442) filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The title of the accused infringed work is “Sexual Obsession.” For the purposes of this blog entry, I will ignore the fact that this pornography video was copyrighted by Heartbreaker Films and not AF Holdings, and I will also ignore the non-existent [fake] CEO “Alan Cooper,” and copyright assignment issues which have been circulating around the blogs.

At first glance, it looks like yet one more John Doe (Ciccone) defendant was named in one of their many “single Doe” lawsuits. However, buried deep in the lawsuit (in Document 10) is what is known as a “Joint Motion for Expedited Discovery” naming an ADDITIONAL 300 JOHN DOE DEFENDANTS INTO THE LAWSUIT.

Now these 300+ John Doe Defendants are getting subpoenas from their ISPs telling them that unless they file a “motion to quash,” their ISP will be complying with the subpoenas and handing over their information.

On a personal note, I have been dealing with copyright trolls such as the Anti Piracy Law Group for almost two years now. In the olden days, their lawsuits used to look like “AF Holdings, LLC v. Does 1-1,040” where it was obvious how many defendants were in each lawsuit.  With this new information, now I need to delve back in to what appeared to be “single John Doe” lawsuits and see whether there is really one defendant or hundreds in each lawsuit.

One point for you, John Steele. I didn’t see this one coming.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 109 other followers