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.
Posts Tagged ‘Motion to Quash’
Posted in Copyright Trolls, Federal Criminal Law, Joinder, P2P, Peer-to-peer, The Thompsons Film LLC, Torrent, tagged 1:13-cv-00595-DCN, 1:13-cv-00687-WYD-MEH, 1:13-cv-02365, 1:13-cv-02367, 1:13-cv-02368, 1:13-cv-02371, 2:13-cv-00126-LRS, 2:13-cv-00260-EAS-MRA, 2:13-cv-00320-UA-SPC, 2:13-cv-00560-RSL, 303128C04F9E11A17E76DB1399F4D40F996BFE3E, 4:13-cv-00577-RWS, 4C55A9C583CDC447A14CF245BBD9C1F3AAA30C23, 6:13-cv-00469, 6:13-cv-00671-CEH-TBS, 88144855EEC090F98A93D85547BD540A8EF50716, 8:13-cv-01103-MSS-MAP, 8:13-cv-01104-JSM-TBM, : (310) 284-3494, bittorrent, Carl D. Crowell, copyright trolls, firstname.lastname@example.org, Crowell Law, David J. Stephenson Jr., DieTrollDie, Douglas E. Riddell, E9B2E49113086845E0F92FC5B06D2CFAE44731D4, Elsa Ramo, email@example.com, HARNESS DICKEY & PIERCE, hash numbers, Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym Ltd., Joel R. Samuels, Law Offices of Elsa Ramo, Matthew L. Cutler, Maureen C. VanderMay, Michael A. Hierl, Motion to Quash, PAu003570840, PAu003651594, SHA1 hash numbers, The Thompsons, The Thompsons Film, The Thompsons Film LLC, Thompsons Film, Todd S. Parkhurst, VanderMay Law Firm on May 1, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in AF Holdings LLC, Copyright Trolls, District of Columbia (DC), Federal Criminal Law, Joinder, Judge Beryl Howell (DC), Judge Wilkins (DC), Motions to Quash, P2P, Peer-to-peer, Personal Jurisdiction, Torrent, tagged 1:12-cv-00048, 1:12-cv-00048-BAH, AF Holdings, copyright trolls, Does 1-1058, interlocutory appeal, ISP Subpoena, joinder, Judge Beryl Howell, Motion to Quash, personal jurisdiction, Prenda Law Inc. on August 10, 2012 | 19 Comments »
There is a balancing act in this post as to how to make it NOT deathly boring, and how do I convey the information you need to understand what you have in front of you. Here we go.
Judge Beryl Howell once again issued a scathing opinion favoring copyright trolls and ruling against John Doe Defendants, their ISPs, the EFF, and everyone in favor of making these cases go away once and for all. However, there is a twist here in her decision, so read on.
In the AF Holdings LLC v. DOES 1-1,058 case (Case No. 1:12-cv-00048-BAH, Doc. 46) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Howell wrote a 42 page opinion essentially regurgitating all of her opinions of “judicial economy,” “personal jurisdiction,” “joinder,” whether an ISP has standing to file a MOTION TO QUASH on behalf of their subscribers’ arguments, and whether a subscriber’s MOTION TO QUASH is “ripe” for adjudication.
I want to be clear that this order is not written to the John Doe Defendants filing motions to quash, but to the ISPs who filed motions to quash on behalf of their subscribers. To put it into context, this order is written to the ISPs telling them why they must comply with the subpoenas requesting their subscribers’ information. However, her opinion has clear implications as to what a John Doe Defendant needs to be aware of if he decides to file a motion to quash in her court.
Restating her opinion of these cases, Judge Howell believes the following:
1) Copyright trolls have a right to sue defendants for sharing content over the bittorrent network.
2) “Personal jurisdiction” over a John Doe Defendant is IRRELEVANT before that defendant is “named and served” as a defendant in a lawsuit.
3) The proper place for a NAMED defendant to assert a lack of personal jurisdiction is in a responsive pleading (e.g., the “answer”) under a FRCP Rule 12(b)(2) motion.
4) A motion to quash by an unnamed defendant is NOT the proper place to assert improper jurisdiction.
5) “Joinder” — the question of whether the various John Doe Defendants are properly sued together (e.g., based on the “bittorrent swarm” theory) is IRRELEVANT before those defendants are “named and served” as defendants in a lawsuit.
6) Only NAMED defendants (not ISPs, not John Doe Defendants) may assert improper joinder.
7) A motion to quash by an unnamed defendant is NOT the proper place to assert improper joinder.
“JUDICIAL ECONOMY” (CONVENIENCE OF THE COURT)
8) It is more economical to deal with 1,000+ defendants in one lawsuit rather than dealing with the identical issues in 1,000 lawsuits.
Now essentially, as much as Paul Duffy, John Steele, and everyone at Prenda Law Inc. are overly excited about their wonderful order, there is not much that is new in this order that we didn’t know from Judge Howell’s previous orders.
Her breakdown of WHY MOTIONS TO QUASH DO NOT WORK, however, was astounding.
In her opinion, she states that NOWHERE IN THE FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE DOES IT SAY THAT A THIRD-PARTY MAY FILE A MOTION TO QUASH BASED ON IMPROPER JURISDICTION OR IMPROPER JOINDER.
Her words: “The plaintiff is correct that lack of personal jurisdiction and misjoinder are not delineated under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ["FRCP" Rule] 45 as bases to quash a subpoena issued to a third-party [e.g., an ISP]. Indeed, third-parties cannot assert these defenses as a basis to dismiss the underlying action because, if either of these flaws did exist in the underlying action, they must be raised, and may be waived, by named defendants. See FRCP Rule 12(b)(2) (lack of jurisdiction must be asserted in a responsive pleading [e.g., in the "answer"]); FRCP Rule 21 (“Misjoinder of parties is not a ground for dismissing an action…)” (emphasis added)
You can find a link to the actual order here.
This ruling is just another one of Judge Howell’s many opinions essentially saying the same thing. The issues that inherently plague these cases (“jurisdiction,” “joinder,”) are unimportant to her, because as far as she is concerned, the copyright trolls have done everything properly according to the letter of the law. Further, as far as she is concerned, there is no need for these smaller “John Doe 1-5″ cases that we see Lipscomb & Eisenberg filing on behalf of Malibu Media, LLC, Patrick Collins, Inc., K-Beech, Inc., and the like. Rather, just sue hundreds or thousands IN ONE CASE in HER DC COURT and she’ll let it go on indefinitely while the copyright trolls extort thousands of dollars from each defendant.
Further, as I have said before, JUDGE HOWELL (A FORMER COPYRIGHT LOBBYIST) DOES NOT CARE IF COPYRIGHT TROLLS EXTORT MONEY FROM JOHN DOE DEFENDANTS. She even clearly states it here:
“At this stage, the plaintiff is attempting to identify those infringing… That the plaintiff chooses, after obtaining identifying information, to pursue settlement or to drop its claims altogether is of no consequence to the Court.“
MOVING FORWARD FROM THIS CASE:
Luckily, however, Judge Howell is just one judge in one small federal court, and her opinions ARE NOT BINDING on other federal courts outside D.C. And, even in D.C., we have a clearly an opposing opinion by Judge Wilkins, who has killed a number of bittorrent cases. In short, Judge Howell has created a CLEAR SPLIT IN THE D.C. COURT which she has certified for interlocutory appeal.
What this means is that D.C. now has two opposing sets of case law, each which says the law is something opposite from what the other says it is. For this reason, Judge Howell has authorized an immediate interlocutory appeal to a higher court so that these issues of jurisdiction, joinder, and the other issues discussed in the case (not discussed here) can be decided once and for all by a higher court.
Posted in AF Holdings LLC, District of Columbia (DC), Dunlap Grubb & Weaver PLLC, Federal Criminal Law, FRCP Rule 4(m) (120 Day Rule), Hard Drive Productions Inc., Judge Bates (DC), Judge Beryl Howell (DC), Judge Reggie Walton (DC), Media Law Group (DGW), P2P, Peer-to-peer, Prenda Law Inc., Torrent, Voltage Pictures Inc., tagged 145, 1:10-cv-00873, 1:11-cv-00529, 1:11-cv-01274, 4(m), AF Holdings, bittorrent, copyright troll, DC federal court jurisdiction, DC jurisdiction, Does, Does 1-1495, Does 1-3, Does 1-3545, Duffy, Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, FRCP, FRCP Rule 4(m), Hard Drive Productions, Hurt Locker, Hurt Locker case, Imperial Enterprises, ISP, John Doe, Judge Bates, Judge Beryl Howell, Judge Facciola (DC), Judge Howell, Judge Reggie Walton, Judge Walton, Media Law Group, MLG, Motion to Quash, motion to quash DC, Paul Duffy, Prenda Law Inc., quash, reasonable expectation of privacy, Rule 4(m), scare letter, sealed motions to quash, Steele Hansmeier, Voltage Pictures on December 25, 2011 | 5 Comments »
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — Everyone knows by now that DC is not a friendly jurisdiction to be sued in. Like Washington D.C., the judges do not follow one another, and each judge does what he or she feels should be policy. Two examples — Judge Beryl Howell, a copyright lobbyist turned federal judge, and Judge Bates — friendly towards downloaders (but subsequently removed by other judges from the Hard Drive Productions, Inc. case). As far as I am concerned, this court is wrought with as much politics as Washington D.C. is in general.
So let’s go through some case updates, sorted by plaintiff attorney.
I) DUNLAP GRUBB & WEAVER, PLLC
Imperial Enterprises v. Does 1-3,545 (Case No. 1:11-cv-00529) [at one point it was Imperial Enterprises, Inc. v. Does 1-3,145] — dead. On 9/26, Judge Reggie Walton ordered the plaintiffs to name and serve or dismiss defendants or dismiss them [according to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("F.R.C.P."), Rule 4(m)] by 12/20/2011. Instead of naming defendants, Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC (who sends out settlement demand letters under the name “Media Law Group” or “MLG”) decided to dismiss all defendants. Case dismissed; congratulations to all Cashman Law Firm, PLLC defendants (and all others) who were Doe Defendants in this case. See order here.
Voltage Pictures, Inc. v. Does 1-24,582, a.k.a., “the Hurt Locker case” (Case No. 1:10-cv-00873) [at one point it was Voltage Pictures, Inc. v. Does 1-5,000] — dead. This one was actually funny. On 11/4, Judge Beryl Howell got tired of this case being on her docket. So she gave Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC (“DGW”) until 12/5 (extended to 12/12) to name and serve defendants or to dismiss them (again, the judge invoked F.R.C.P. Rule 4(m) to wipe what became a stale case off her docket). However, DGW missed the deadline, and instead of having the judge dismiss the case, they dismissed it themselves to save themselves the embarrassment of having yet another case dismissed for them failing to move forward against defendants.
Regarding this plaintiff attorney, I received word that they were gearing up to sue individual defendants in their home states. This is nothing new as they have already started “naming” defendants for their older dismissed cases. More recently, I received word that they are hiring local attorneys and following the Patrick Collins, Inc. model of stating to dismissed defendants, “we have hired XYZ attorney in your state — unless you settle with us, we will name you in a lawsuit in your state.” The problem here is I have reason to believe they’ll follow up with the lawsuits.
There are some other “conspiracy” issues regarding this plaintiff, namely that they sent subpoena letters demanding names and contact information for various John Doe Defendants *AFTER* dismissing their IP addresses and releasing them from the case. This was written up by Torrentfreak.com, and you can read up about it here. (NOTE: After the ISPs refused to hand over subscriber information, they added the IP address back into the lawsuit — something I don’t think they were allowed to do — but these Doe Defendants have since been dismissed as well and now they are receiving “scare” letters now as we speak.)
II) STEELE | HANSMEIER, PLLC (NOW PRENDA LAW INC.)
As we know, a few months back, Steele Hansmeier, PLLC (now Prenda Law Inc.) ventured into the DC District doing some “forum shopping” with their Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,495 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01741) and their AF Holdings, Inc. v. Does 1-1,140 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01274) cases — having been essentially locked out of their own Illinois jurisdiction, they were looking for a few favorable rulings based on DC’s “plaintiff-friendly” reputation in the bittorrent cases of the past year (they have since found a happier home filing suits in the Florida / Miami Dade state courts). In these cases was the first appearance of Paul Duffy who has since taken over Steele’s position in the firm (yes, it appears as if he is out).
AF Holdings, LLC v. Does 1-1,140 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01274) has survived scrutiny without a hiccup as Prenda has been “pretending” to search and see which defendants lived in DC. To make their searches appear valid, they immediately started dismissing a bunch of defendants a few at a time (“NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal re Does 1-8,” “…Does 9-15,” “…Does 16-35,” “…Does 36-65″ — what I do not understand is, “Hasn’t Judge Reggie Walton figured out their game yet?” After all, it appears to me as if none of the defendants [so far] live in DC. And, they filed the complaint in JULY 2011! Did it REALLY take them 5 MONTHS to figure out that the first 65 defendants did not live in DC? I could have done this in just a few minutes using known geolocation tools). In short, Judge Reggie Walton is allowing this to move forward for now, but he is not stupid. My prediction is that he is going to bust this case using FRCP 4(m) any time now.
Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,495 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01741) is the case that is filled with controversy. It was in this case where Judge Bates figured out that most of the defendants did not live within the jurisdiction of the DC court. He invited Doe Defendants to file motions to quash and promised that he would keep their information sealed and private. My first inclination when I saw this was “watch out! — DC does not keep sealed documents as private — as soon as they deny the motions to quash, they expose the defendants’ information when denying the motions.” Then a few days later, as we wrote about here, whether for political reasons or from pressure from the other judges, Judge Bates was removed from the Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does case and he was replaced by Judge Facciola, someone who in my estimation was not friendly towards bittorrent defendants. For weeks, we saw nothing from him — no indication as to whether he would honor Judge Bates’ offer to submit motions to quash anonymously, or whether he would summarily deny them. I suspected he would deny them in line with DC’s past strong stance AGAINST motions to quash.
Well, I am sad to share that Judge Facciola ended up being exactly who I thought he was. In his 12/21 ruling, he reversed everything Judge Bates was trying to do when he wrote in his order that “I will not consider any motion unless it is publicly filed.” In other words, unless you use your real information in your motion to quash (e.g., your real name, address, phone number, etc. — the exact information the plaintiff attorneys are looking for in order to start sending you “scare” letters and calling you with the effect of scaring you into a settlement), Facciola’s court will not consider your sealed motions to quash as Bates promised they would. It need not be said that when you file a motion to quash, everybody can see it as the filing is a public document. However, Judge Facciola does not care about your privacy interests, nor does he care if plaintiff attorneys receive your private information, because according to him, “[i]ndividuals who subscribe to the internet through ISPs simply have no expectation of privacy in their subscriber information.” (emphasis added) I wonder when the last time an ISP allowed a subscriber to open an account without the subscriber’s personal information.
In sum, expect this case to move forward like all the others. We appear to have a copyright-troll friendly judge here, so please prepare yourselves to have your private information handed out to your plaintiff attorneys by your ISPs; until now, I expect that they haven’t done so. I would love to give you good news here, but so far there is no indication this is going away any time soon — at least not until Prenda Law Inc. gets its payday.
Judge Bates “removed” from Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,495 case. Potentially bad news for defendants.
Posted in District of Columbia (DC), Federal Criminal Law, Hard Drive Productions Inc., John Steele, Joinder, Judge Bates (DC), Judge Facciola (DC), P2P, Peer-to-peer, Prenda Law Inc., Steele Hansmeier PLLC, Torrent, Uncategorized, tagged 1:11-cv-01741, Bittorrent Lawsuit, Cashman Law Firm, copyright infringement, DC, Hard Drive Productions, John Steele, Judge Bates, Judge Facciola (DC), Motion to Quash, Peer-to-Peer, personal jurisdiction, Prenda Law, Steele Hansmeier, Torrent on November 16, 2011 | 32 Comments »
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).
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.
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.
Posted in Achte/Neunte Boll Kino Beteiligungs GMBH & Co KG (Far Cry), Federal Criminal Law, Motions to Quash, P2P, Peer-to-peer, Personal Jurisdiction, Sanctions, Torrent, Voltage Pictures Inc., tagged attorney sanctions, bittorrent, Motion to Quash, protective order, Torrent, uTorrent on November 24, 2010 | 5 Comments »
I have been closely monitoring the procedural side of a number of these copyright violation cases where thousands of internet users have been accused of illegally downloading various movies using the bittorrent protocol.
A number of these internet users have hired the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC to represent them through the “negotiation and settlement phase” of the lawsuit. I put this phase in quotes because in truth what has been happening is that the plaintiff attorneys and the underlying media companies have performed what I consider a “slight of hand” with the legal system by naming each of these defendants in the lawsuit by their IP address or by being one of 1-5000 John Does. For the most part, as of today the plaintiffs have not named any defendants in these cases. Instead, they have issued subpoenas to the internet service providers (the ISPs) forcing them to hand over their subscribers’ information. The plaintiffs claim this is so they can do “discovery.”
What is actually happening is that outside of the legal system, regardless of whether it is the Hurt Locker lawsuit, the Far Cry lawsuit, or any of the other smaller lawsuits, the attorneys have been harassing the subscribers and taunting them using scare tactics to persuade them to pay thousands of dollars each to make them go away. In my opinion, this is an abuse of the legal process, and I would like to see an attorney general order this activity stopped. Nevertheless, this is what is happening.
On the motion to quash front, a number of people have asked me why I have not been advising a “march into court” approach. So far, attorneys and individuals filing motions to quash have not been successful. Just two days ago, the attorneys in the Voltage Pictures, LLC v. Does 1-5,000 filed a motion asking the court to sanction an attorney who created forms which internet users purchased and filed with the court.
While I just spent close to an hour e-mailing the attorney against whom sanctions were requested and suggesting ways as to how to properly defend himself against their accusations, the fact that the law firm went after the defense attorney trying to help people out of this situation is notable, but it is not useful to you, the reader.
What is telling is that in their motion (Case 1:10-cv-00873-RMU, Document 19, filed 11/22/2010, pages 4-6), the plaintiffs state that motions to quash, motions to dismiss, and motions for protective orders ARE COMPLETELY INAPPLICABLE BECAUSE DEFENDANTS ARE NOT YET NAMED OR SUED AS DEFENDANTS IN THE LAWSUIT. The plaintiffs continue (on page 5) and say, “The subpoenas are issued to the ISPs, and the Doe Defendants do not have to do anything in responding to the subpoenas [because they have not yet been named in the lawsuit].” (Emphasis added.)
I must point out that I disagree with the plaintiffs here because in my understanding, being named in a lawsuit (regardless of whether the defendant is named as an IP address or as a Doe Defendant) causes undue harm to the defendant even prior to being named as a defendant. The reason I say this is that each Doe Defendant is sent a threatening letter from their ISPs accusing them of illegal activity. Each Doe is put on notice that he or she has been named in a lawsuit and thus anticipates being sued. Each Doe Defendant is advised to retain an attorney and is told that he or she can be criminally and/or civilly liable for violation of the federal copyright laws. Each Doe Defendant is then ACTIVELY solicited and threatened by the attorney plaintiffs to “pay up or face a real lawsuit” where a judgment can cost a family their home, all their savings, their freedom, and possibly force them into bankruptcy. In my opinion, to say that a plaintiff at this point has no right to file such a motion, and that such a motion is not yet applicable until the defendant is actually named in the lawsuit is simply irresponsible lawyering.
But so far, I have not seen the motions to quash be an effective tool against the media companies looking to enforce their copyrights. I have not seen the judges letting defendants off the hook for simply sending in letters and/or form responses asserting what in my opinion are proper jurisdictional arguments.
Posted in Federal Criminal Law, P2P, Peer-to-peer, Torrent, tagged Computer Law, computer law attorney, cyber law attorney, cyberlaw, EFF, EFF.org, Far Cry, Federal Criminal Law, Houston, Hurt Locker, ISP, Lucas Entertainment, Motion to Quash, New York, P2P, Peer-to-Peer, Robert Z. Cashman, Subpoena, Texas, Torrent, TX on November 10, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
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.
Posted in District of Columbia (DC), Federal Criminal Law, P2P, Peer-to-peer, Torrent, Voltage Pictures Inc., tagged Computer Law, computer law attorney, cyber law attorney, cyberlaw, EFF, EFF.org, Federal Criminal Law, Houston, Hurt Locker, ISP, Motion to Quash, P2P, Peer-to-Peer, Robert Z. Cashman, Subpoena, Texas, Torrent, TX on November 8, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
…I’ve been hearing through the grapevine that the Hurt Locker copyright prosecution team has begun their next wave of lawsuits. Internet users will be shortly receiving a subpoena from their attorneys accusing them of downloading this movie.
Nothing to do yet, at this point, the prosecution only wants your information so that they can contact you to elicit a settlement to deprive you of your hard-earned cash without a trial. Again remember — they haven’t named you in their lawsuit, nor is the settlement they are proposing a settlement to a lawsuit they have filed against you. They are trying to circumvent that step in the legal process and skip to where you pay them to go away. Has anyone heard another term for this sort of activity? It starts with an e.
Through the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC, we are telling these thugs to back off and to follow the law. We are also sending letters to various political operatives attempting to get them to change the law with regard to the way it is being applied (or misused) to charge users of committing crimes without filing suit in a court of law. There is no such thing as an extrajudicial hearing, and the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” has not changed.
Regardless of whether you obtain an attorney to defend your copyright infringement case (and there are MANY reasons for doing so), remember that the burden of proof is on them to prove their case before you bring one iota of evidence. At this point, some unrepresented parties are answering their questions and giving them forensic data to their computer and their hard drives to prove they are not guilty of that particular crime. Forensic computer experts have caught the scent of this game as well and have started up’ing their prices.
Again, at this point, they have only contacted your ISP asking for your information. While it is to your benefit to hire an attorney so that you are not “low hanging fruit,” so to speak, remember that there is nothing to defend against and provide evidence for because YOU HAVE NOT BEEN NAMED AS A DEFENDANT AND THUS YOU HAVE NOT YET BEEN SUED.
“What Happens Now That the ISP Subpoena Date Has Passed?” – an update for those accused of downloading illegal movies, music, or software.
Posted in Federal Criminal Law, P2P, Peer-to-peer, Torrent, tagged Computer Law, computer law attorney, cyber law attorney, cyberlaw, EFF, EFF.org, Far Cry, Houston, ISP, Lucas Entertainment, Motion to Quash, New York, NY, Robert Z. Cashman, Subpoena, Texas, Torrent, TX on September 2, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
One of the interesting niche areas of law that the Cashman Law Firm practices is Cyberlaw, where we protect internet users against companies who accuse them of copyright infringement based on illegally downloaded movies, music, and software.
A few weeks ago, a number of lawsuits have been filed where the plaintiffs (e.g., Lucas Entertainment, Inc.) have filed subpoena requests against a few hundred or in some cases a few thousand potential defendants, amicably called “John Doe #XXX.” Their intent was to have the internet service provider (ISP) turn over their subscribers’ information so that they can contact them directly to elicit a multi-thousand-dollar settlement for the illegal file(s) that were downloaded based on the internet user’s account or IP address.
Many of these subpoena deadlines have since passed, and now internet users who have been caught downloading are asking me what happens now.
Being that a majority of ISPs have clauses since the September, 11th 2001 World Trade Center attacks and the Patriot Act that followed which allow the ISPs to turn over subscriber information to third parties, regardless of the subscriber’s attempts to suppress the subpoena with what is called a motion to quash, it is likely that many ISPs have nevertheless turned over user information to these companies.
The next step is for the movie and music companies to do an analysis of which downloaders are easy targets, e.g., “low hanging fruits,” and which will be more difficult to approach. Because of the high cost in attorney fees in order to track down and contact the accused downloaders, they will likely classify users into groups — those that are unrepresented by an attorney, those that may have a defense (e.g., the download was from a cybercafe or some IP address where they will have difficulty proving that it was that user at that keyboard at that IP address linked to the download of that movie (or music file or piece of software), and last, those that will be difficult to approach [likely because they are represented by an attorney].
Once they are finished with the analysis, the phone calls, letters, and threats will start. They will first call those they believe will not defend themselves and they will collect the maximum settlement amount. Those that pose some threat to them (e.g., they have a defense), they will likely be offered a lower settlement amount (which the attorneys will claim will be significantly cheaper to accept and pay rather than defend themselves in a lawsuit, even if they are found not guilty). Last, but not least, those that are represented by an attorney will likely be contacted last, as the competent cyberlaw attorney will be aware of the law and defenses which would hinder them from collecting a settlement from their clients. Additionally, the attorney will force them to adhere to the law and he will know what acts and statements would be considered deceptive, threatening, or in violation of consumer protection laws. Because the other side knows that they can be quickly and effectively sued by the attorney if they err in attempting to collect a settlement from a potential defendant (and not an actual defendant, because in most cases they will try to extract a settlement without even filing a lawsuit).
This appears to be the state of affairs as they are right now with a number of the copyright infringement cases that are currently in progress. Obviously they could start contacting potential defendants to elicit a settlement as soon as tomorrow, or they could gather evidence and wait until the potential defendant has lost any records of a defense they would have asserted up to the statute of limitations period (this would likely be defendable based on a laches or similar defense). Similarly, they may go after each defendant WITHOUT doing an analysis separating out those that would be difficult to collect from from those who would be easy to collect from. We cannot know what goes on behind closed doors, but this would be bad business for them, so an accused internet user must assume that they will measure his ability to defend himself, and he must assume they will take into consideration whether there is a lawyer defending him or whether he is unprotected.