To catch up, I decided to introduce one of such filmmaking fiascoes and its lawyers who, most likely, took the bait and replied to one of the spam-like offers promising loads of money for little work. Well, people still fall for the Nigerian scam, so it is not too surprising. What is surprising (and sad) is that otherwise respectable attorneys decide to wander into the shady world of the trolling business model, the model that is “essentially an extortion scheme,” according to Judge Otis Wright.
Meet Breaking Glass Pictures and its “masterpiece” — a horror movie “6 Degrees of Hell” (IMDB rating: 2.8 out of 10). We don’t know the exact price tag¹ and box office numbers, but simply reading a couple of user and critic reviews, we can conclude that producers have been able to collect just a fraction of what they invested into the production:
My take away here is simply walk away, enuff said. (6 degrees of boredom…) — HorrorNews.net.
But you know… you can always blame the consequences of lame filmmaking on bloody pirates. So, a trolling lawsuit has been filed by Alexandra Capachietti of Burson and Levinson LLP in the Massachusetts District: Breaking Glass Pictures v. Swarm (MAD 13-cv-10735). Another attorney listed in the complaint is Shepard Davidson of the same firm.
The complaint lists 91 Does, and the timestamps of alleged infringements span two months. This lawsuit dead on arrival in my opinion: in light of the last year rulings, swarm-based joinder is a no-go in Massachusetts. Recently this case was referred to Judge Leo Sorokin, which makes me almost certain that 90 Does will be severed from this case rather soon. But what really made my day (and what explains the title of this post) is the first paragraph of the complaint, where the second sentence is all-capital and bold:
THE MOTION PICTURE IS NOT A PORNOGRAPHIC FILM.
One cannot make it up. Reading this yell-out, I can’t help hearing:
- Since this lawsuit is not about “Teen anal sluts,” your honor must ignore the solid case law regarding joinder, and allow me to rob the court district of $31,500 in filing fees ($350 for each Doe if filed individually).
- Since this lawsuit is not about “Big Black Beef Stretches Little Pink Meat #7,” it is not a shakedown campaign, so it is appropriate to send out letters threatening $150,000 statutory damages and demanding a couple of thousand dollars to make this nightmare to go away (which is less than the cost of defense even if a Doe is innocent).
- Since this lawsuit is not about “Mom’s Black Cock Anal Nightmare 2,” it is OK to lie in these letters that “unless you send us money, you will be named as a defendant.”
- Since this lawsuits is not about “Jeff Cums in Colby’s Mouth,” a subscriber can be treated as an infringer and it is fine to threaten and harass him or her.
- Since this lawsuit is not at all about pornography, we only protect the rights of starving artists, and do not abuse the loopholes in the copyright law. Not at all.
I want to conclude this post with a quote from the abovementioned Rob Cashman’s post:
[...] If I’ve offended anyone, I’m not sorry — new attorneys shouldn’t be taking on copyright trolling cases. If you are really interested in stopping piracy of your copyrighted content, then there are better ways to police your client’s copyrights than to let the infringement continue and then sue the downloaders. Try a DMCA take down letter one day. You might find that it works.
Making awful movies does not make you entitled to profit. There is a sad correlation: the majority of movies that are subject to copyright trolling lawsuits are box office failures, and while I do not advocate illegal downloading, only a cynical, lying, hypocritical troll can argue that piracy is a major contributor to those failures. This and similar lawsuits are about easy money at the expense of disturbed lives, damaged careers and relationships, as well as serious overall harm to the productive society.
Shame on you, Alexandra Capachietti and Shepard Davidson, — baby copycat trolls.
- Thanks to John Henry for a nice catch: it happens that these two troll attorneys are not strangers to this shakedown “business”: NGN Prima Productions, Inc. v. Swarm and Does 1-17 (MAD 12-cv-11877) was filed on 10/05/2012, nothing has been happening on this case since then. A copycat complaint alleges infringement of “Recoil” — a movie by NGN Prima Productions, a Canadian company that also targets Canadian Internet subscribers.
- Another John Henry’s nice catch: the complaint is plagiarized from Horny Black Baby Sitters #3 (Texas crooks Chalker Flores LLP, who, in turn, plagiarized it from Marc Randazza’s pleading). Paragraph after paragraph verbatim. Judging on the title, it is a pornographic movie, which doubles the irony of the fact that “combatants against piracy” Alexandra Capachietti and Shepard Davidson don’t think twice before pilfering others’ pleadings.
¹ A commenter claims that, according to the BGP Facebook page, the movie’s budget was 133K.