Liberty Media v. John Does 1-441

Overview

Case ID: 120401874 Control No.: 12042085
Filed: 04/17/2012

All warfare is based on deception.
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Such is the lawsuit entitled Liberty Media Holdings, LLC v. John Does 1-441; a deception being practiced upon the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in which the plaintiff is seeking pre-complaint discovery of the personal identifying information of 441 Comcast subscribers. Plaintiff has claimed that it needs this discovery in accordance with Pa. R. Civ. Procedure 4003.8  (writ of summons) so as to bring a future complaint for unjust enrichment and conversion against these individuals based upon their alleged pirating of plaintiff’s unspecified adult content during the period of 10/30/2011 through 2/2/2012.

On 3/18/2012 Judge Allan L. Tereshko granted the plaintiff pre-complaint discovery by means of a subpoena on Comcast. Subsequently on 6/11/2012 Comcast filed a motion to quash the subpoena and a motion for a protective order which was denied on 7/13/2012. Plaintiff filed a petition on 7/20/2012 to hold Comcast in contempt of court for failing to produce the pre-complaint discovery which has yet to be decided. Comcast made a motion for reconsideration of the judge’s denial on 7/23/12 which the judge also denied on 7/31/12. Undeterred Comcast filed a motion for permission to take an interlocutory appeal of the judge’s denial of their motions to the Superior Court on 8/1/2012. One of the John Does filed a motion to quash the Comcast subpoena on 8/3/12 which is pending.

Does wishing to fight this lawsuit should look at some of its obvious problems:

  • Lack of subject matter jurisdiction: A future state lawsuit for unjust enrichment and conversion is preempted by the federal Copyright Act.
  • Lack of personal jurisdiction: TAC has pointed out that the large majority of the IP addresses are located outside of Pennsylvania and the individuals linked to those addresses may be outside of the court’s jurisdiction (long-arm statute).
  • Improper joinder
  • Damages: Unlike a copyright infringement lawsuit, there are no statutory damages for unjust enrichment or conversion. In all likelihood plaintiff’s damages would equal a lost sale (i.e. purchase price of the adult content). Plaintiff has admitted this in its motion to take pre-complaint discovery (unjust enrichment = “…film’s sale’s price, which is normally paid by law-abiding customers”). So assuming the high end of a retail sale for plaintiff’s content; $60 per film downloaded as damages.
  • The best grounds for a motion to quash comes from the standard for pre-complaint discovery: “Under no circumstance should a plaintiff be allowed to embark upon a “fishing expedition,” or otherwise rely on an amorphous discovery process to detect a cause of action he lacks probable cause to anticipate prior to the pre-complaint discovery process under this standard.” He said that he couldn’t find any previous case where pre-complaint discovery was used to obtain the identity of a John Doe, let alone 400 of them, which made this a fishing expedition. (This is a lawyer’s opinion: thanks to anonymous commenter for this update.)
Troll attorney

Update 9/27/2012: Jordan appeared to be a decent fellow, and after some research and conversations with colleagues, he decided not to be involved in mass bittorent cases anymore (as a plaintiff’s counsel). We wish him the best of luck.

A. Jordan Rushie of Mulvihill & Rushie LLC
Pa. Id. 209066
Mulvihill & Rushie LLC
2424 East York Street
Suite 316
Philadelphia, PA 19125
215-385-5291
Jordan@FishtownLaw.com
Local counsel for Mark Randazza
Documents

List of IP addresses with resolved URLs (OCR: may contain errors and omissions)

Update

09/05/2012
This case is over.

Comments
  1. that anonymous coward says:

    In case this is your first visit, this case smells to high heaven.
    A majority of the IP addresses not in PA and this was easily checked before hand.
    They do not name any single piece of content, so this might be for multiple.
    They do not talk about damages.
    There is a distinct chance this is multiple files combined into 1 filing to save court costs, Federal Courts stopped them from combining different films into 1 filing previously.

    They claim erroneously that an IP address points to the infringer, and thats a lie.
    More to come….

  2. that anonymous coward says:

    This is NOT the normal copyright trolling case.
    This has been filed in state court, but does not talk about pursing copyright infringement charges.
    How a CA or NV based company can shop this case to PA, for accused scattered across the country is really disturbing.

    • Raul says:

      TAC,

      Will try to sort out this obvious bullshit via SJD, tomorrow and post a summary but will circulate to all to make sure it is accurate.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I received a letter from comcast telling me my IP was going to be Subpoena’d for this case and that they would comply on August 16th. My question is, do I file a motion to quash or wait? Also, I’m in California, what does it mean for me that this was filed in Philadelphia?

    Thank you.

  4. Watching the fall says:

    WTF! I thought trolls worked for better jurisdiction these days after having been ‘schooled’ otherwise. Looking at the resolved URLS these occurred over a two month period which a cursory review looks to be time frame 10/31 – 12/4. Not to mention from states all over.

    Sorry but I can’t scratch my head enough on this one as there has been absolutely zero due diligence displayed in this instance.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I wish I could make sense of this. I see (via court docs) plaintiff’s attorney filed something mid-July? trying to hold Comcast in contempt for not compling with April and May supoenas and requesting it comply immediately. The I see something filed 8/1/12 looking like Comcast’s MTQ and for a protective order were denied and that they comply with the supoena immediately. However, it then says in the following paragraph that enforcement of the May 18 and July 13 Orders will be stayed pending final disposition of such an appeal due to difference of opinion of whether or not the court has jurisdcition on the matter. Does this mean the discovery is STILL being ruled on?

    Also, it looks like a John Doe filed a MTQ on 8/3/2012 not under the premise of lack of jurisdiction, but that IP isn’t equitable to a person, [it's a fishing expidition and extortion- paraphrasing], etc.

    I’m meeting with a lawyer on Monday to see what my options are. I hate the waiting game. I’ve got to stress out all weekend about this. Times like this I wish I was a lawyer. I don’t care if I was a fool for representing myself. I’d do it. However, I don’t know enough to chance it with a MTQ done by me.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Reading some of the articles on here just conflicts me. Do I file a MTQ or does that look like an admission of guilt? Will Liberty go after my IP specifically just because they might say “only a guilty party would file a MTQ?.”

    • Raul says:

      There is no way to sugarcoat this.

      The attorney behind the scenes is Randazza and he is nothing if not relentless. He is going to hound you regardless if you file a motion to dismiss/sever/quash or issue a protective order or not. If it were me I would most definately challenge personal and subject matter jurisdiction and joinder. You might want to also look into Copyright Act preemption which is tied to the subject matter jurisdiction problem. There are probably other problems with this lawsuit but I have not had a chance to delve into it, yet.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Say they get your info and start calling. Can you send them a letter saying you only want communication in writing to stop the phone calls? Debtors for credit cards have been able to do that in the past. At least that would stop the daily phone calls. Also, are they allowed to contact you more than once a day?

  8. doecumb says:

    If you clearly tell the trolls to stop calling, they should stop. The doesn’t mean they will, but they sometimes do. There has been no summary information as far as I know, only individual reports of trolls not stopping.

    From casual research on the web, there seem to be two sets of applicable laws: laws protecting citizens from marketing calls and laws protecting citizens from calls by debt collectors.

    The troll calls are threats to sue unless the Doe pays up. Trolls are calling specifically in the situation where there is no court judgement, and probably no individual case filed. There is no legal debt, since no judge has ruled on the individual case.

    My view is that troll calls and letters should be regulated the same as other marketing. (Here the trolls trying to sell avoidance of embarrassment and a legal dispute.)

    The laws restricting marketing calls and communication are strong than laws applying to debt collectors.

    http://www.fcc.gov/guides/unwanted-telephone-marketing-calls

    Some states have further restrictions.

    When trolls continue telephone harassment after being told to stop, the trolls may be legally vulnerable. If calls come for any reader, keep a record and/or recording. File complaints with your state’s Attorney General’s office, consumer protection office.

    I hope a savvy judge orders trolls to disclose information about these calls. The calls themselves are evidence of a scam instead of a legal dispute. A judge could ask how often and how many calls were made to Does in separate cases, including the total number of calls for all the Does in all the porn purveyor plaintiff’s cases.

    There has probably been lots of unlawful wrong-doing in troll phone harassment activities. If Does report this law-breaking, more planks will be removed from the bottom of the sinking troll ship.

  9. Anonymous says:

    In the “Writ of Summons” package, the cover sheet identifies Does 1-265 (not 1-441). Is there a separate case going on as well in Philly, or do we think that was a copy/paste error? If there’s a second case I’m just curious if they are structuring it the same way.

    • Anonymous says:

      This must be a different case. There is definitely one in PA and it is for 441 “does”. What state is the one you’re referring to in?

      • Anonymous says:

        Now I’m not sure. I looked up the one you were referring to and it looks like the same case. Maybe they added more “does” to the original filing?

  10. Raul says:

    Maybe I need to just grow up but looking at Troll Rushie’s pic above makes me think Jordan “CopperCab” Rushie.

  11. that anonymous coward says:

    The $60 pricetag is hopeful. If they are going after other downloadable clips on the site, they have lower price points.
    Another interesting concept to consider is Corbin Fisher (the “brand name” for their gay porn) has a history of suing their users, and once upon a time had modified their terms of use to say that even if you were hacked and someone downloaded content in your name you owed them $25,000 (IIRC). I’ve not spoken with enough of the targets to know if they are or were members of the site.

    And lets not forget in the middle of this… Oron had offered to help LMH sue Oron users who used their cyberlocker.

    • SpankyDoodle says:

      Good enough reason to never buy a Corbin Fisher product again. I’ll have to educate myself on any parent company or sub-brands so I can avoid the whole lot of it.

      • that anonymous coward says:

        Meh I never cared for their product myself, it was bland, boring and a rehash for the same looking guys pretending to be str8 but “exploring”.
        Then there was their studio moving to NV to film (about the time the lawsuits really got into gear) to avoid the CA condom laws and reports that a location they had been using in FL had been outed to the neighbors as being a porn set. (Republicans seemed less than happy to have gay stuff happening in the neighborhood)
        They suffer from the same problem many legacy players do, they fail to adapt and blame their decline on “piracy” rather than their own failure to keep up with consumer demand.

        Porn helped drive VHS players into homes, and they think we still live in those times where people have to pay $60 for porn. They hate tubesites, they hate amateurs who have cameras in their phones better than much of the porn was shot with. They still think you have to pay $60 for a chunky plastic tape to be mailed to you in discreet brown packaging in 4-6 weeks.

        The world changed, you might not make as much as you did if you keep doing it the same way. But if you adapt you can find a way to make even more money in the digital age.
        ProTip: Suing consumers is a really good way to make sure you make less money.

        • Raul says:

          As well as future customers that are too young to qualify for a credit card.

        • that anonymous coward says:

          and those who are terrified of the CC company finding out they are gay or bisexual.
          Have to think the idea of a porn studio becoming known for outing customers in this fashion would have understood it would hurt their bottom line much more.

        • SpankyDoodle says:

          Suing, outting, and threatening your customers (correction: former customers) does seem like a lousy business model. I must have missed that day in school.

        • that anonymous coward says:

          @SpankyDoodle – I feel bad for the victim in the $250,000 “win” case.
          He was a current CF subscriber, they tracked his logins into their site and matched them to IPs of uploads on a torrent site.
          While the actual amount to be paid was closer to $25,000 (as long as he never does anything wrong ever again) and makes his monthly payments on time.
          Funny how his name got out there and most likely damaged his reputation, but OMG he uploaded 6 clips he stole kajillions from a boring porn house.

          Some would say I advocate filesharing, and to an extent I do. But I would rather see it coming from the studios themselves. Its called advertising. Hell Dan Bull (google it) released a set of remixes of a song he released and made it onto the global charts without a label. At the same time all of the tracks for sale, and more goodies where available for free on The Pirate Bay.. Dan uploaded them himself. Even when it was available completely free, people still went and bought. Funny how that works, when you treat them like fans who want to share… rather than future longterm payments to be milked.

  12. Anonymous says:

    How would you find your Doe # if your IP is part of this?

    • Raul says:

      Not easily; click on Exhibit A above and scroll down, while counting, until you arrive at your IP address.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I thought I read a comment on this site or DTD where someone called Comcast and they told him it had lots of subpoenas for his IP address. Has anyone tried this? I’d be curious to know if I was a target. Not sure how much info they could give though.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I talked to Comcast and the manager told me there were multiple people who called Comcast stores around the bay area with the same letter. Does anyone know when’s Comcast appear is going to be heard?

  15. Anonymous says:

    I spoke to a lawyer about this. He feels the troll’s approach of using pre-complaint discovery in a state court is novel and “clever” (in a bad way).

    The troll doesn’t have to provide any specifics of the alleged wrongdoing or harm, because that will be in the supposed eventual complaint. Likewise, the troll sidesteps most of the objections noted above:

    “Lack of subject matter jurisdiction” – although a future lawsuit for unjust enrichment and conversion might be preempted by the federal Copyright Act, that wouldn’t play into a pre-complaint discovery motion. Since there’s no complaint, the specific subject matter hasn’t been nailed down, so the question of jurisdiction isn’t yet relevant.

    “Lack of personal jurisdiction” – again, since this is pre-complaint, the troll can argue that, until discovery is complete, they can’t know what specific complaint they will file against whom and in what jurisdiction.

    “Improper joinder” – until there’s an actual complaint, the defendants are apparently not joined, so this would again not apply.

    “Damages” – although damages for an actual complaint of unjust enrichment or conversion may be limited to the retail sale price of the content, there is no complaint yet. After pre-complaint discovery, the plaintiff may file a completely different complaint under a different theory of law in a different jurisdiction.

    The lawyer I spoke to thought the best grounds for a motion to quash comes from the standard for pre-complaint discovery: “Under no circumstance should a plaintiff be allowed to embark upon a “fishing expedition,” or otherwise rely on an amorphous discovery process to detect a cause of action he lacks probable cause to anticipate prior to the pre-complaint discovery process under this standard.” He said that he couldn’t find any previous case where pre-complaint discovery was used to obtain the identity of a John Doe, let alone 400 of them, which made this a fishing expedition.

    • Raul says:

      While I disagree with the lawyer’s opinion as to the relevancy of the problems with this lawsuit (especially lack of subject matter and personal jurisdiction), he makes an excellent point with regard to this lawsuit being a “fishing expedition”. I wish I had thought of it and SJD ought to add it as an update.

  16. Anonymous says:

    For people who have talked to a lawyer about this case, can you please give me a recommendation on which lawyer to talk to? Presumably, it would be a lot easier (=cheaper) for the lawyer to file multiple motions to quash on this one case.

  17. Anonymous says:

    If they are going for $60 in damages, doesn’t this case more properly belong in small claims’ court? You can’t demand a jury trial over $60: that’s why small claims’ courts exist.

  18. imajohndoe says:

    In the complaint, Rushie asks for a jury trial and marked the checkbox stating damages were greater than $50K. $60 x 441 Does = ~$24,000. Something is not adding up here…

    • Anonymous says:

      Who knows what the actual damages could/should be? Since no file(s) are named, it could be for multiple files and at $60 per file . . . well, you get the idea. Bottom line this is a fishing expedition because they claim this is not copyright infringement. However, I would bet that if they actually do file against anyone it will suddenly BECOME a copyright violation suit.

  19. Anonymous says:

    So the plan (assuming discovery goes through and one or more defendants actually fights back) would be to use pre-complaint discovery in PA to determine defendants’ identities, and then sue a second time in defendants’ home states? Wouldn’t such a scheme — doing an obvious and transparent end run around the lack of pre-complaint discovery in many states — be thrown out of court immediately by any half sane judge in states that don’t have pre-complaint discovery, or, for that matter, by federal courts that have more and more frequently been denying discovery on these types of fishing expeditions?

    Again, assuming defendants actually fight back.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Movement on this. I didn’t download the doc, but previewed the cover page via the court docket viewer. It looks like Plaintiff’s motion for contempt is denied and Comcast’s obligation to comply with July 13th Denial Orders are suspended until any order on appeal is final. This is good news right? Can someone confirm?

  21. Anonymous says:

    I’m one of the 441 Does. Yay. I’m filing a Motion to Quash based on what I’ve read here and in other documents I’ve found on the internet. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t have a fool for a client, but I would like to know what people think of the short versions of my arguments:
    1. The subpoena does not specify what intellectual property was allegedly infringed.
    2. The venue is improper; the court lacks jurisdiction over the Defendant.
    3. While providing insufficient information to describe the alleged infringement, the subpoena is overbroad in what it requests.
    4. The subpoena and presumptively resulting lawsuit inappropriately joins 441 defendants into a single legal action.
    5. The Plaintiff is attempting to use the discovery process to unmask Defendants and coerce pretrial settlements.
    Thanks!!!!!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Got an attorney to assist in filing motion for me but was told that one has to be licensed in Pennsylvania – I’m clear on the other side of the continent. How do I find someone to help since I am on Social Security and cannot afford to travel? Furthermore, I am in my sixties and not even aware that so called company that’s suing me even exists! There must be a way to stop them from throwing their fishing line from one corner of the US to the other.

  23. that anonymous coward says:

    Greetings to the new Does joining us here.
    As you can see above people are taking various steps and paths to fighting this off.
    Browse the replies, read up on why this case is not that scary and might fall apart.
    If you have questions, ask.
    Your not alone, it is not as bad as you imagine it to be, remember… deep breaths.

  24. Anonymous says:

    [removed]

    • that anonymous coward says:

      There are currently 2 class action suits against different groups, none of them are LMH.
      There was the Wong Case which recently settled for a sealed amount where a targeted Doe sued them.

      Did you get a letter with a settlement request, or did you call the Troll?

      • Anonymous says:

        [removed]

        • Anonymous says:

          Do you have links to the class action complaints?

        • Anonymous says:

          Thanks, this site is fantastic btw.

        • that anonymous coward says:

          I was curious mostly because tracking this case is a tremendous PITA, and was concerned that settlement letters had gone out. Trying to get any actual details of what is alleged is very difficult they are being very vague and abusing this state court. Had there been a settlement letter that went out that mentioned a threat of filing a copyright case, I would have suggested sending a copy to the Judge in the case pointing out they lied to the court.

          Only if LMH files a dismissal of the IP that is supposed to be you from the action and alerts Comcast to not supply your information. Otherwise, barring Comcasts appeal and the motions of other Does derailing the case, Comcast is bound by the courts order which is to produce information on the subscribers who were assigned various IP addresses on different days and times. Hopefully your lawyer made sure that your covered on all of the bases.

        • Stressed says:

          I understand a lot of people are waiting this out to see everything pans out. Settling was also an option in my mind as well just make this all go away. Which attorney did u go with and I would be very curious of what they are settling for.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can I ask what was the reason you decided to settle? Did your lawyer think there might be future complication other than what we all know?

      • Anonymous says:

        [removed]

        • that anonymous coward says:

          All “settlements” in these cases (read extortion) come with an NDA. This makes sure that no one finds out if you managed to settle for less than the asking price. If it got out that the trolls were willing to settle a $5,000 claim for $2,000 (or less) everyone would want that deal. This would lower their bottom line and hurt them.
          This Anon is extra screwed because of the reputation damage that would have long lasting implications and could derail his career before it even begins.

          I RARELY suggest people settle, only the Doe can make that final call, there are sometimes reasons paying the extortion is the lesser of 2 evils.

          There was the blind Doe targeted in another case, as reported by TorrentFreak.com, who settled because he was a computer “security” expert who had his wife grab a new router and just set it up when their last one failed. He forgot to check the settings and someone connected to the open wifi and allegedly downloaded the porn. While he didn’t feel responsible, the damage to his work would be huge. Security Expert fails to secure own network… would you hire him?

          For some professions the mere baseless accusation can result in hassles, because many people are unaware of how flawed these cases are and what an abuse of the system they are.

          The trolls rely on their threats to your good name to get you to settle, not the facts of the case. This is and continues to be extortion sanctioned by a court.

  25. Anonymous says:

    TAC, Raul, or SJD this is a stupid question. Is there any way the trolls can get the IP of who posts to this site (i.e., should I be posting from a wireless cafe or use a VPN)?

    • that anonymous coward says:

      An IP address does not equal a person, which is the whole problem with these trolls cases.

      It is not a crime to seek information online on a topic that is not getting the media coverage it should. If anyone should be “afraid” it should be SJD, DTD, Raul, Myself.
      If the lawyers thought a lawsuit would shut any of us up, they would have tried already…

      This should demonstrate how afraid of them I am…

      https://torrentlawyer.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/at-what-point-does-a-copyright-troll-stop-being-a-troll/#comment-2034

      We use some common sense guidelines, if your a Doe in a case of 4000 you can speak slightly more freely than someone who is a Doe in a case of 5. No identifying information, even posting anonymously in a tiny case makes it easier for the troll to try to figure out who you are and what your fears are. They will use those fears in the next round of letters/calls they send out.

      To unmask people here would really be a case that they would lose.
      Hurdle 1 – They know who paid for the account, no way to say who posted it.
      Hurdle 2 – Is one of those rights they still let us use, the 1st Amendment. We have a right to talk, and we are not making threats of harm or any other actions that cut through the 1st Amendment protections.
      Hurdle 3 – Several states have Anti-SLAPP laws. This allows the target of a lawsuit meant to silence a critic get that lawsuit tossed and get damages for the attempt.
      “Copyright Troll forced to pay thousands for trying to silence blogger critical of his cases.”
      That is the last headline they want to put out there, as any of us targeted are media savvy and would use the soapbox to point out that if these cases actually had merit they never would have sued. Plus they would have helped fund the cause fighting against them… :D

      Don’t panic about posting, just be cautious about over sharing details specific to you.

    • SJD says:

      I addressed this question in my Privacy Policy. In short, yes, I do see all your IP addresses and I will keep them private, won’t give to anyone if asked. However, this is a WordPress-hosted blog and WordPress is obliged to give away information if lawfully requested. To the best of my knowledge these guys are great and won’t disclose information absent court order. Will they fight a court order? I don’t know.

      Anyway, as many noticed, you should not be worried unless your comment is illegal, i.e. death threats or bold defamation. But I would delete such comments anyway.

  26. DoHimDry says:

    The trolls would have to subpoena the host of the site the same way they do the ISP’s to get our info. So the answer is yes. But who really cares. Posting on this site is not illegal nor is anything illegal being done. But I am surprised they have not done it yet. It would be easy as fuck to do a set-up scam with them posting threatening remarks against themselves and taking screen shots of the page and using that to make the claim that they need the IP’s to identify threats made to them. The trolls themselves would use safe IP masking so they would not rat themselves out. Ingenious aint it?????? And since they would file this claim in LeChiens court, he would totally order the host site to hand over everyones IP’s. Really surprised they have not done this yet.

    • Anonymous says:

      But if you didn’t use an email address or any other identifiable info, then all these forums have are your logged IP, so they’s have to go through two subpoena processes instead of just the one they typically have to do.

      They would have to subpoena this site to get your IP address. Then, they’d have to get an additional court order to subpoena your ISP with the IP and date/time stamp they first obtained through a site that is not theirs or one of their plaintiff’s..

      I agree with you. Posting is simply free speech. To be safe, make sure you are not defaming them, incriminating yourself for any alleged violations/infringements, and/or making threats of physical harm against yourself or anyone else. You should be all set to say what you want otherwise.

      If they don’t have an IP address on their own “monitoring” to begin with, then it makes it hard to initially file against a John/Jane Doe in any venue of their choosing. They’d have to start in the jurisdiction of the site host, which may or may not be friendly to their cause. In LeChien’s Lightspeed case, they at least had an IP logged (not person or subscriber) by the plaintiff that could be geolocated to St Clair Co to at least file there to begin with while improperly joining 6500+ IP addresses, whereas they would not have any of that to begin with regarding any post on this forum. Heck, when you collect 6500+ ip addresses on your own over 4 months, you’re bound to get at least one from each state (and probably just about every county) in the US!

      Besides, what would they sue you for? There’s no leverage re porn, $150K statuatory damages, computer fraud, or or anything else of consequence.

      I’m glad SJD, Raul, and TAC do what they do. Kudos to them!

      Just my $0.02

      • Anonymous says:

        It was rude of me to not include DTD amongst the list of names in my statement: “I’m glad SJD, Raul, and TAC do what they do. Kudos to them!”

        Sorry for the oversight :-(

    • that anonymous coward says:

      The first amendment protections would stop a Judge cold from ordering every IP turned over, just the IP making the threats… which would lead back to the trolls…
      Protip – Trolls don’t understand the internet, they lack the skill to actually pull that off…

  27. J. says:

    I’m one of the Does in this case and right now I don’t even have $500 for the cost it would be for me to hire a lawyer to try to get a settlement. I have until Thursday before Comcast gives my information to the trolls. I doubt I’ll have the money by then. Am I screwed?

    • that anonymous coward says:

      J. – Welcome.
      Standard disclaimer… I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice. Blah blah blah.

      There currently is no settlement demand that we are aware of. This case, of questionable merit, only seeks to get the names of people who pay the bill for an internet connection. There are claims that they might have been unjustly enriched by “stealing” copies of porn.

      There is a motion from Comcast and another Doe in the case, I am unsure what the outcome of those is or if they have been heard yet.

      Just because someone mails you a letter demanding money is no reason to pay them. These letters are often filled with information not portrayed accurately in regards to the recipient of the letter. They are designed to make you very afraid and willing to pay them money to go away guilty or not of the claims. They do not care if you did or did not do it, they want to get paid.

      You are not screwed, it is possible the troll will get your and 440 other peoples names.
      It would be very hard for them to pursue cases in the PA court against people who are well outside of the PA courts reach, and the questionable methods used to obtain the names would come up in a case filed after the fact in a Federal Court.

      If you tell the troll you did it, then you would be screwed. If you suggest you didn’t do it, but someone else might have they will tell you your screwed and owe them money for not protecting the company. If your Wifi was not secured they will make a similar claim that your at fault, while this is not entirely settled as a matter of law several courts have ruled that there is no viable negligence claim as there is no duty for people to police their connections and be responsible for others actions.

      This is just the first wave of the troll attack, take a deep breath and let it out.
      It is not the end of the world…
      300,000 other people in this country have gotten this kind of notice and survived.
      It might be a wise idea to check with other lawyers and see if anyone has a lower rate to offer limited assistance, mainly just keeping the troll from sending you mail, calls, email directly.
      I don’t have a crystal ball and am unsure how they are going to play this case out but we will do our best to stay on top if it here.

      • Anonymous says:

        1. Case has not been heard yet. Comcast asked for the suspension of the contempt till its appear is heard, LMH responded, and it is now pending judge Tereshko to decide (Hopefully before Aug 16th otherwise those motions are meaningless.

        2. Maybe someone can help me understand what is so special about this case in comparison to other cases? I understand it was filed in PA court thus except for revealing the names of the subscribers there’s nothing they can do to non PA residents (lack of jurisdiction).What they CAN do it to take those names and file lawsuits in federal court. This is possible, though in my understanding the plaintiff has committed in front of the PA court not to, so it’s really a riddle for me what they are planning here. Any thoughts?

        3. Can the plaintiff know if the network is secured or not? In my opinion the answer is no. Any ideas?

        • that anonymous coward says:

          1 – Waiting for them to do anything is maddening.
          2 – This case claims to NOT be a copyright case, but rather some weird unjust enrichment and conversion case. Once they have the names, they can threaten Does everywhere in Federal Court. They didn’t like how the Feds treated them, so they found another path to get names.

          Problem 1 – of the 441 IPs maybe at best 30 are in PA (the checklist had some OCR failure), meaning the bulk of the people they seek to unmask are well outside of the jurisdiction of the court and outside of PA law.

          Problem 2 – they state no actual claim, no actual harm, just an open ended comparison to people storming into a DVD store stealing things off the shelves. I will not bother to recap that copying is not stealing at this point.

          Problem 3 – They are suing for a NV based company in PA. They shopped for this forum, to take advantage of a state law because the standard route used to pursue these cases is becoming difficult to breeze through.

          Problem 4 – They claim the IP’s point to the actual infringers, this is a false statement. If they somehow knew each and every name connected to the IP address was the actual infringer they wouldn’t need this discovery in a state court, they could be in Federal Court trying to get $150,000 in damages from each person.

          Problem 5 – the filing is so thin, it is almost transparent that this case was brought to get names to send scary letters and “fact” pamphlets to the Does to coerce them into settling a claim of questionable merit.

          Randazza, who while not the named principle in this case has admitted he is running the show, likes to take weird case law and twist it. He was the one who used an old case about a tugboat operator not having a radio and twisted it to try and claim that Does had a responsibility to LMH to keep their connections secure. A company many of these people have never heard of or dealt with, and you have a magical responsibility to them to protect their copyrights or pay them $10,000 because your negligent. One worried what stunt he has lined up for this new case. This is the first PA state case filed in the Troll Wars, so we have no idea whats coming next.
          When the first FL state cases hit, it took a hot second to figure out they were abusing the law to get names without all of the protections Federal Courts put into place.

          3 – They have no clue. They will spin but we know the mac address connected was x. And a majority of the time that mac address is the modem or router… what or who was connected to it past that point… they have nothing. Then there is the simple fact you can clone mac addresses (its built right into a buncha routers) or change them with a program… not exactly DNA or a fingerprint is it?

          LMH – losing cases because Randazza can’t get the name of the horrible porn movie right in his paperwork… and we fear him why?

  28. doecumb says:

    Here’s what’s not special about the Philadelphia cases: Shady groups are trolling for legal discovery. It’s the usual “get Doe contact information to run an extortion racket” thing.

    Here’s what’s “special”:
    (1) The case is being filed in a STATE COURT, rather than a Federal court. Copyright is federal law. Since roadblocks are appearing in federal courts, trolls are trying to sneak around to trick state courts.

    (2) This is a mass trolling case. Any case with hundreds or thousands of Does surely is. That means that for almost all Does, jurisdiction is improper. The plaintiff and most defendants are outside of PA. These mass troll cases have been failing in federal courts (aside from a certain judge’s court in D.C.).

    So the trolls are abusing judicial process to find an inappropriate loophole. They’re trying to win a federal case in the wrong setting-a state court. They’re trying to use state courts to evade federal court precedents against them.

    They’re hoping that state courts are less familiar with the scam. They hope that distance and less accessible records will make it harder for Does to be informed and to counter. They’re probably depending on some state courts being overworked and underfunded, with even less time and resources to study issues than busy federal courts.

  29. Anonymous says:

    My lawyer just emailed me and said he had spoken with Comcast’s lawyer, who said they will not be complying with the discovery subpoena until their (Comcast’s) appeal is decided. Furthermore, my lawyer will be filing a “petition for removal” of this case to federal court tomorrow. Presumably this petition, if successful, would move the entire case to federal court, at which point this particular case could only be used to subpoena information about John Does located in eastern Pennsylvania, which would make the whole thing economically infeasible for the plaintiffs to pursue.

    • Anonymous says:

      I feel like the judge should just be made aware of this fishing expedition. I don’t see how this is even being allowed to go through. He claims this is not a case of copy right infringement in order to gain information from Comcast via the state court, but I’m positive once he has the desired information he will take it to Federal court as a copy right infringement case. How is that legal?

    • Raul says:

      Now that trolls are asleep, wishing you success today. Please report back.

      • Anonymous says:

        There are lots of motions being filed in the last 2 days. Is a decision in any of those quashes applicable for people who have not filed a quash? Like, suppose the judge decide to accept the quash – will his decision be applicable for other Does meeting the same conditions?

        • Anonymous says:

          I believe that quashing the subpoena effectively cancels the whole thing. It means that Comcast doesn’t have to reveal any information about any of the IPs (or do anything else).

          However, some of the motions were to quash or modify. So, if the judge isn’t willing to quash, they ask that he consider narrowing it. For example, to request that Comcast only reveal info about those IPs which resolve to addresses in Pennsylvania. Or, failing that, to only reveal city and state (and not name or street address) for those outside of Pennsylvania.

  30. #Rushie'sADouche-Kabob says:

    Hello my fellow 440 brothers. Thanks for all the info! I’m finally going to sleep tonight :)

  31. Anonymous says:

    I read the previews of the various motions on the PA court website. What a clusterf**k! If the taxpayers of Philadelphia only knew the 100′s of hours uncompensated by the plaintiff the court will burn up to wade through this s**t. I wish I had filed something, anything, and all 441 defendants filed to gum up the courthouse even more.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Someone should file a counterclaim class action for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) on an entire class.

  33. Anonymous says:

    TAC, SJD, or Raul (or anyone else) can you tell me where you read stuff to get so knowledgeable on these types of cases? It seems you don’t have a law background per se, but you seem extremely well informed. Short of sitting in a law library or ponying up a fortune for a LexisNexis membership I’m not sure where the best resources are. Especially for whatever state I live in. Just curious.

    • that anonymous coward says:

      Ohai.
      You can start here and dietrolldie.com then move onto Mr. Cashman’s blog.
      Copyright law is all Federal, and you can read the law online for free.

      The frightening thing is sometimes I think SJD, DTD, Raul and even me sometimes know more about the law then the trolls. We always point out, we are not lawyers, this is not legal advice. Most of it is more common sense. :D

      My skill set has been honed for the last few years of reading these cases, finding the flaws and pointing them out. It helps when they talk to the media, as in the case of Evan Stone. In his interview with ArsTechnia he spoke about exactly how his system worked and I pointed out he was actively participating in the alleged infringement. The doctrine of unclean hands would have destroyed any of his cases had they made it to court. It took much time but he finally crashed and burned. I might even be old enough to remember all of the RIAA cases, and the comedic moments from that. Lots of use of Google is required when you don’t understand something, or just asking questions… if you don’t understand something you can bet someone else is just as curious about it.

      The main flaws I can find are most often technical, they try to portray IP addresses like they are DNA or fingerprints pointing to the subscriber but as we all know… this isn’t true.
      Lacking any legal standing we can’t interject into these cases, but we can point out the flaws to the targets and calm them down. People imagine the most horrible outcomes, and operate in total fear. Once they understand how shaky the basis for these cases are they calm down, when they see cases being dismissed they calm down, when they see countersuits they root on those Does who have the means to take the fight back to the trolls.

  34. Raul says:

    To earn your BA in Douchebaggery you need to have completed at least 1 year in following troll lawsuits + been the target of such a BS lawsuit + possessed of both anger and curiosity which you can then apply to a Graduate Degree in Good Karma.

  35. Raul says:

    Good News for Corbin Fisher’s Latest Batch of Victims!

    It has been confirmed that one of you brave Does has retained counsel and that counsel has wisely made a motion to remove this state lawsuit to federal court. If successful (highly likely) this lawsuit ought to implode fairly fast.

    • SJD says:

      And just to confirm that Karma’s ways are inscrutable, the wise counsel, who moves the court to remove this state lawsuit to federal court, coincidentally is a sweetheart of a pretty, strong and motivated lady who is fighting in another state court, against trolls and their plaintiff who (Karma strikes again!) is named after a fruit that gets rotten very quickly once exposed to the heat of publicity.

      • Anonymous says:

        Are you trying to say that something is in the works to get the Crook County Guava case removed to NDIL fed court?

        • SJD says:

          Alas, it is impossible without consent of all defendants. Is it possible to negotiate removal with Adam? I don’t know. All I want to say that Erin Russell is going to represent one or more Doe on this case, but so far as Does, i.e. non-parties only.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bravery has nothing to do with it, in much the same way that guilt or innocence is totally irrelevant. I retained counsel to minimize the expected cost of the this lawsuit. My lawyer agreed to submit a motion to quash and to fight this case, and, failing that, to negotiate a settlement with the plaintiffs on my behalf. I fully expect that, had it come down to it, my attorney would have paid for himself in the reduction in the final price tag of the settlement. If that price tag happens to be $0 because the case is dismissed, so be it. But a reduction of $5,000 in the final amount of a hypothetical settlement would similarly (more than) cover his retainer. I’m surprised more people don’t do this calculation and retain counsel. It would slow down these cases to a snail’s pace and make the plaintiffs less likely to file these en masse John Doe suits.

  36. SMDH says:

    Raul, you beat me to it.

    • Raul says:

      Just confirmed with Charles Thomas the listed 1-265 Does on the federal docket is based on a typo; there are still 441 Does in this lawsuit.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Any news? People have been quiet recently. What is the status?

    • Raul says:

      I’ll follow up tomorrow, Boy Scout Troll has promised to email some court filings, we’ll see about scout’s honor.

      • SJD says:

        I thought that from now on we can just go to Pacer, can’t we? The case was removed.

        • Raul says:

          Rushie is going to fight that, I think.

        • SJD says:

          Lawyers told me that removal cannot be fought, you just notify and that’s it – removed. Not sure if there are local specifics though.

        • Anonymous says:

          What is a removal exactly? Why is it a good thing?

        • AC says:

          The trolls are trying to pull their stunts in state court because federal courts are starting to wisen up to their tactics. However, state court does not have jurisdiction over copyright infringement, so they’re not going the copyright infringement route but “conversion and unjust enrichment.” They’re claiming that defendants were unjustly enriched by the enjoyment of the film they would have otherwise had to pay for…. good luck with that one.

          Anyway, removal is when the defendant removes the case from the state court and transfers it to federal court to resolve the jurisdiction issue.

        • Raul says:

          Hard to believe Rushie could argue this with a straight face but he might oppose the petition on the ground that it is not a Copyright Act infringement lawsuit but purely a state intentional tort lawsuit, we’ll see.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Why do you think that removing this case to the federal court will be favorable to Does?

    • Raul says:

      If removed it is highly likely the federal judge will find that the complaint should be dismissed because the federal Copyright Act preempts the state intentional tort claims alleged in the present complaint. Also stricter views on personal jurisdiction and joinder so Rushie can’t play as loose and fast with these issues without risking a reprimand or even sanctions.

  39. Anonymous says:

    So what are the next steps? Should we just sit and wait? How do we know if the removal is approved or not? What’s Comcast’s side in all this? Did they already gave Rushie Does’ contact info?

    • Anonymous says:

      It looks like removal was granted? Some of this is Greek to me. Does anyone know what they alleged the Does downloaded? It seems weird that the initial complaint didn’t name any file(s). Anyone know if it was one or multiple files?

      • SJD says:

        As far as I was told by an attorney (specifically about this case), there is not such thing as “granted” or “denied”: removal is not permissive, defendant has a right to do so, and once he said “removed,” it’s removed.

        I only skimmed the complaint and have an impression that plaintiff alleges that 441 Does from all over the country came to one DVD store and assaulted the owner with ski poles.

        • that anonymous coward says:

          They used a horrible analogy describing alleged infringement (because remember campers they can’t actually prove ANYTHING.) as being like a flash mob descending on a store and stealing DVD’s off the shelves while wearing t-shirts with their IP addresses on them.

          This was meant to appeal to the Judge in terms he has dealt with before, people robbing other people and all you have to do is give us these subpoenas we can catch the bad people we have eye witnesses that can put all of those people there stealing. IP Address =! A Person.

          The outright claim that the person paying the bill is infact the infringer is going to hurt them, because we’ve NEVER EVER (look ma sarcasm!) seen a case where people have hacked Wifi or used open wifi to get online. I am willing to bet they would have brought the tugboat back up from the bottom of the ocean to claim even if you didn’t do it you still owe them money.

          Is our young eager beaver even cleared for Federal Court?

          I can’t wait for this case to get tossed out and watch the errors pile up during them trying to shore the case up. With any luck having to admit what was allegedly “stolen” will break the case, as we are not even sure this action was brought over 1 film or clip – it could be over multiple different things and the Federal Courts have already ruled 1 case per filing. You will not save money by combining unrelated things together.

        • Anonymous says:

          I’m a Doe and my attorney says that removal requires the consent of all defendants. However, because this is pre-complaint discovery the defendants aren’t yet actually party to the lawsuit. Apparently, we’re awaiting a ruling from both courts as to whether removal is proper.

          In any case, the Federal District Court received the motion for removal. The case has been referred to Judge Baylson for management. He’s also overseeing all other file sharing cases in the district.

  40. Charlie says:

    I am the attorney who removed this case to Federal court. Liberty has voluntarily dismissed the case. All Does remained anonymous and their info was not released. Liberty may refile this case, but I think it is unlikely that they will try to do it in Pennsylvania state courts again.

  41. [...] Liberty Media case has been voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs and the case is closed. All Does remained [...]

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