Posts Tagged ‘Copyright’

On Friday 1/23/2015, FLMD Judge Merryday did not buy Keith Lipscomb’s excuses, denied Malibu Media’s motions for extension of time to serve defendant in four Malibu Media cases (14-cv-02341, 14-cv-02347, 14-cv-02359, 14-cv-02338), and dismissed those cases for good.

“Damages above that which would Make it Whole”

These dismissals were preceded by a motion to quash/dismiss/protective order filed by a defense attorney Bill Wohlsifer in Malibu Media v Doe (FLMD 14-cv-02341) on 1/14/2015. This motion (specifically the dismiss part) raises an interesting argument: the plaintiff cannot recover the statutory damages from individual members of the same Bittorent swarm in separate actions. As an example, the defendant notes a virtually identical Ohio case (same swarm, almost the same time).

The defendant argues that Malibu implicitly assumed swarm-wide joint and several liability, thus the plaintiff is estopped from demanding statutory damages individually:

MALIBU cannot have it both ways. Thus, if the Court were to find that Plaintiff sufficiently implied commonality in the same transaction or occurrence or joint and several liability (despite the omission of any such language), by pleading same swarm/hash, the remedy is inconsistent with the cause of action, fails to state a cause of action, and must be dismissed because the complaint seeks non-cumulative statutory damages per defendant.

In addition, Wohlsifer calls out Lipscomb’s predatory practice of collecting (via settlements) way more monies from named and unnamed defendants than the plaintiff is entitled to:

MALIBU seeks damages above that which would make it whole. Accordingly, Plaintiff may only seek damages per swarm, not per defendant. Moreover, it is not out of the realm of possibilities that Plaintiff may have already been made whole by alleged members of this swarm prior to bringing this action.

This above that which would make it whole concept resonates with Booth Sweet’s one satisfaction rule argument. Last week Dan Booth published a must-read article “The ‘One Satisfaction’ Rule: A New Approach to Curbing Copyright Trolls” in the Landslide (an ABA Journal). This theory is currently being tested in Malibu Media v David Ricupero (OHSD 14-cv-00821).

I like this trend and have big hopes that these ideas gain traction: if Malibu’s and other trolls’ multiple-ransom-for-one-work gravy train derails, it will severely neuter their extortion racket.

Alas, 14-cv-02341 and the other cases assigned to Judge Merryday were not dismissed based on the merits of the defendant’s motion, but because of the failure to timely serve defendants, as we will see below. As Bill Wohlsifer noted,

This is a bitter-sweet result as I am glad the case was dismissed so that the plaintiff takes nothing by way of its lawsuit and my client can return to life without the threat of a civil suit, but I was looking forward to a court ruling on the defensive motion I filed.

Order to show cause, followed by lame excuse, followed by dismissal

US Federal Judge
Steven Merryday

On the very same day (1/14/2015) Lipscomb filed a bunch of motions in this and other FLMD cases to extend time to serve defendants — motions very consistent with his tactics of frivolously delaying the proceeds. He argues that because his ex parte motion for discovery was granted only on 12/2/2014, ISP didn’t have time to cough up the subscriber’s information.

Judge Steven Merryday was not impressed: he noticed that the Rule 4m’s 120-day complaint-to-service period was about to expire and wanted to know why it took so long to move for discovery (around two months from the lawsuit inception). Thus, he orders to show cause in this and three other cases assigned to him:

Seventy-six days passed between the start of this action and the issuance of the plaintiff’s subpoena, and the plaintiff offers no reason for the delay. Accordingly, the plaintiff fails to offer sufficient information to determine whether the plaintiff pursued this action with due diligence.

Lipscomb responded on 1/22/2015 with a facepalm-inducing reasoning:

1. On September 12, 2014, the paralegal at undersigned’s office in charge of calendaring deadlines and filing motions went on maternity leave.

[…]

5. Because of the transition between office staff, Plaintiff’s Motion was unintentionally not filed with the complaint.

You get the idea. It is not easy to take this excuse seriously, isn’t it? The judge was not impressed either (even less impressed than at the time of OSC), so he denied the motions for extension and dismissed this and three other cases:

 

While reading Lipscomb’s lame excuse, I noticed the following (emphasis is mine):

Although Plaintiff’s Motion had been drafted and was ready for filing, the paralegal hired to replace the paralegal who left was still getting acquainted with this office’s practices and procedures and trying to familiarize herself with the firm’s expansive caseload and status of each case.

I think that this “explanation” runs afoul of the clear requirement of the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct:

A lawyer’s workload should be controlled so that each matter can be handled adequately.

Even if the paralegal story was indeed the reason for the delay, having the single point of failure like this was very unprofessional.

So, essentially Keith Lipscomb presents a violation of the Rules of Professional conduct as an excuse. Nice. Even the classic “dog ate my ex parte motion” explanation would be more appropriate.

There is more. Lipscomb claims that (emphasis is mine)

This deviation occurred in a very small number of cases and was caused by the staffing transition. Until the firm engaged in a periodic internal audit of the lawsuits which it filed and oversees, this mistake was not caught. As soon as it was noticed however remedial action was taken.

My bullshit-meter was triggered, so I checked the other dockets and discovered that in these four cases the discovery motion dates span 10/30/2014 to 11/14/2014 — more than two weeks. Assuming that the mistake “was caught” at the end of October, why did it take two weeks to take the “remedial action”?

Lipscomb and his gang continue to molest the courts and plunder the citizenry. And he does it pretty sloppily: any time I have a cursory look, I immediately uncover inconsistences and contradictions. It is heartwarming to see that at least some judges are allergic to Lipscomb’s BS while other courts blindly trust even the crookest “officers of the court.”

In every culture assaulting elderly and weak is the hallmark of evil. Michael Keith Lipscomb’s parents apparently failed him so miserably that he cannot tell right from wrong even in cases obvious to a kindergartener. Just like Prenda or Ira Siegel, Lipscomb, himself or through his goons, shook down elderly in the past, and he will continue doing so if not stopped.

In Good Man Productions v. John Doe (FLMD 14-cv-81507) the defendant, through his/her attorney filed an omnibus motion to leave his family alone. The following quote is simply unreal:

In the instant case, JOHN DOE is seventy-four and a half (74-1/2) years old. […]

JOHN DOE lives with a spouse (hereafter “SPOUSE”) and two children (hereafter “CHILD 1” and “CHILD 2”). SPOUSE has late stages of Alzheimers and requires regular care of others. SPOUSE regularly has visitors to care for him/her. CHILD 1 is severally mentally retarded and therefore requires the care from others. CHILD 2 is severally disabled with mental disability. To make matters worse, JOHN DOE is in bad health due to a recent bout with cancer and the combination of his/her health and age makes him/her unable to care for the family. Because of JOHN DOE cannot provide adequate care for SPOUSE, CHILD 1, and CHILD 2, many other persons including medical professions, neighbors, cleaning professionals and their teenage children, and others regularly enter the home for lengthy periods of time and have access to the internet.

(Exhibit C: Declaration of John Doe)

To add insult to injury, the “plaintiff” is a dissolved entity that most likely has no standing to sue (at very least, Lipscomb continues to defraud the courts by not notifying judges about this fatal problem). Any competent defense attorney will have no issue crushing such a joke of a lawsuit.

As a rule, the defense attorney should have conferred about the motion prior to filing it. Although there is a slight possibility that it didn’t happen and Lipscomb had no idea about this Doe’s circumstances and will dismiss the case on Monday, something tells me that it won’t happen. In the past this moral castrate continued pursuing even clearly innocent people, threatening to ruin their lives.

Thanks to Raul for the find.

A refurbished copyright troll Jordan Rushie likes to pathetically repeat that

.@fightcopytrolls you fail to understand that i represent clients - not causes

 

The problem is not in the principle per se (although it is prone to abuse and it easily becomes a “Nuremberg defense” of the ongoing harm that copyright trolls continue to inflict upon the society). The problem is not even a casually pejorative use of the word “causes” — there is a much bigger elephant in the room if one questions the validity of the “client” part of the phrase.

First of all, in representing of one particular “client” (e.g., Good Man Productions, Inc. v. JOHN DOE subscriber assigned IP address 173.63.99.202, NJD 14-cv-07877), Jordan, accusing people of copyright infringement, sees nothing wrong in signing pleadings written by someone else, without even mentioning the actual author (oh, irony). To be fair, Jordan is good at changing the font: I always give credit where credit is due:

 

The sad thing is that Jordan doesn’t even read what he signs:

 

What cases are undersigned “you” talking about, Jordan? To the best of my knowledge this is your first job as a goon for the Miami shakedown artists. Anyway, I’ll give you a benefit of doubt and assume that it was your peculiar way of saying “zero.” Indeed, 0 · 99% = 0.

I’m not even mentioning the fact that the pleadings themselves were hastily molded from a typical Malibu complaint (“copyright-in-suit” for a single claim, seriously?)

Back to the I represent clients not causes claim. The above facts are enough to make the most gullible person skeptical that Mr. Rushie ever directly contacted the “client” — an empty shell, one of dozens, created solely to register a single copyright and subsequently “plunder the citizenry,” as Judge Otis Wright aptly described the sick copyright extortion “business.” Knowing a little bit about Lipscomb’s kitchen, I believe that local representatives are not even allowed to fart without the Troll Center’s permission, less contact the rights holder (more about that in an oncoming post).

But that’s not all. The “client” in question is “Good Man Productions., Inc.,” which… is a dissolved business entity according to the California Secretary of State page:

 

So, even if you wanted to represent a client, you are out of luck, Jordan. Sorry, but you are doomed to represent a cause instead. What cause you may ask? I don’t know, something related to following certain emergency vehicles maybe?

Now go ahead and notify the courts that your “client” doesn’t exist and all the 11 lawsuits you filed in the NJD are essentially fraudulent. I won’t bet a dime on that though: such an act would require possessing a virtue called “candor”; or at least a basic honesty.

Everything I said equally applies to Jordan’s brothers-in-scams, who clogged the US courts with 99 frivolous (and, apparently, fraudulent) lawsuits:

  • Jason Kotzker
  • Jonathan Hoppe
  • Keith Lipscomb
  • Paul Nicoletti
  • Christopher Fiore

 

 

Dear Karma! I sinned. If you want to punish me, please make me a toad in the next life, but not a walking embarrassment for the lawyer profession that shakes down people over a Steven Seagal movie.

Thanks to Raul for a nice catch.

Update

1/18/2014

This is funny and sad at the same time: I anticipated that panicking crooks would scramble to mitigate the damage, but didn’t think it would happen so fast. So, on the very next day after Raul spotted and tweeted about the dissolution, a new entry appeared in the search results for “Good Man Productions” on the California Secretary of State page:

 

Too little, too late: as a commenter below noted, this is a brand new company with the same name and the same agent, not a “revived” original rights holder — unlikely a legally sound cure for the sloppiness.

I’m waiting for the information about the exact time of the dissolution and write an update (or rather a new post) as soon as I have it.

The long story short, A. Jordan Rushie (a Philadelphia attorney who used to represent copyright troll victims) started filing Guardaley-driven, Lipscomb-coordinated shakedown lawsuits in New Jersey. At the time of this post’s writing, he filed 11 complaints for a single-copyright plaintiff “Good Man Productions, Inc.” — the rights holder of a single B-rated direct-to-DVD movie “A Good Man.

Not surprisingly, this film was in part produced by Voltage Pictures.

So far this plaintiff filed 99 cases nationwide (DC, CO, PA, NJ, FL, MI) using the usual suspects as local filers.

A 2012 fishing expedition

We first encountered Jordan Rushie in 2012, when he and his misguided “guru” Marc Randazza attempted to abuse a loophole in a local Pennsylvania law in order to obtain personal information of 441 alleged infringers of a Liberty Media Holdings’ gay porn flick. It was a clever (in a bad sense of this word) way to learn identities of suspected file-sharers and subsequently pressure them to settle out of court by means of threatening to make their purported porn habits public (and outing closeted gays in the process, but who cares). This scheme was not much different from what Keith Lipscomb and John Steele exploited in Florida, perverting an antiquated Pure Bill of Discovery.

Interestingly, while on this fishing expedition, the trolls didn’t bother to mention how they obtained the IP addresses — no signed affidavits, no named “experts” — nada. Just a bold statement that the plaintiff somehow knew. Based on other federal Liberty lawsuits, it is clear though that a German IP harvesting company was behind this endeavor¹, and not only as a forensic provider but as an actual, undisclosed, party of interest.

At that time Randazza took umbrage at me comparing him to John Steele, but failed to coherently explain why I wasn’t right.

Half a year later, after this case was removed to the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Rushie and Randazza hastily dismissed it — in part because this blitzkrieg was noticeably frivolous and very weak, comparable to the infamous Prenda’s Guava fraud², and in part because after long conversations certain attorneys convinced Rushie that what he was doing was unethical.

Bellwether [mis]trial

In the wake of what looked like mea culpa, Rushie started defending troll victims; particularly against the most prolific law abuser Keith Lipscomb. The culmination of Jordan’s defense work was his participation in the so called “Bellwether trial” — a good beginning turned rotten — a judge-mandated lawsuit (to test the merits of trolls’ evidence) turned into a farcical bench trial with defendants who are de facto settled and no cross examination of the plaintiff’s witnesses whatsoever.

Today I don’t want to dive into all the details of this giant clusterfuck, I just want to mention that after a quick second look there is a lot of fishy detail, and a bit of work is needed to put this puzzle together. For instance, the following Rushie’s tweet raised my brows and made me think about the fine line between settlement and collusion:

I agree. Lipscomb put on a good trial, evidence was reliable. I asked for non-jury - not him

 

Well, I know that Rushie will rush to explain that it was better for the Doe he represented, that a lawyer shouldn’t fight for the cause but for the client, and so on… Still, it’s a lot of suspicious events surrounding this “defense.” For example, in the aftermath of the Bellwether Rushie commented:

I approached Malibu about settling the case early in the litigation. We came to an agreement while the motion to dismiss was pending (November 2012), before discovery had started. We were able to work out something that was reasonable and fair, taking into account my client’s exposure and assets. Two days later the motion to dismiss was denied in its entirety. My client was never deposed (nor were his neighbors or family) because we were able to resolve all the issues without the need for discovery.

So, if everything was essentially amicably decided back in 2012, dragging the client all the way to the trial only to settle days before didn’t make sense. As a veteran IP attorney, who confronted Rushie in the blog’s comments, stated (emphasis is mine),

[…] the local bar in Phili was watching this closely and my colleagues and I were appalled at the lack of experience, knowledge, and decorum of ALL counsel in this case. The “scuttlebutt” around the local Federal Bar is that Judge Baylson was as angry at Mr. Smith for allowing his client to perjure himself as he was at the defendant, and was not at all pleased with the quality of lawyering in this case. Understandably. He ordered a bellwether and got a bunch of junior associates playing lawyer.

As importantly, the one and only issue that was decided by the court was completely absent from your post mortem analysis (you walked right over it in one of the paragraphs). I also read the nice “pat on the back” you gave yourself, on your website. The fact that your client admitted liability and settled-out on the eve of trial isn’t exactly the type of thing that pads one’s resume, young man.

I urge readers to look at the entire debate here.

OK, enough about this disaster: I hope more information and input will be available sooner or later to make less speculative conclusions. Fast forward to today.

For the 2014 Christmas Santa brings us a refurbished troll

Jordan Rushie dumped a steaming pile of Good Man Productions lawsuits on 12/19/2014, signing them as an “of Counsel Associate” of a lawfirm Flynn Wirkus Young. In this post I don’t want to go over the lawsuits’ specifics, will have plenty of opportunity later. I recapped some documents of the Good Man Productions, Inc. v. JOHN DOE subscriber assigned IP address 173.63.99.202, (NJD 14-cv-07877). The complaint, apparently cut from a typical Malibu Media one, is here. Note that Mr. Rushie only signed complaints, but didn’t not author them. Complaints filed by him and the other Lipscomb’s trolls are identical, word-to-word, only fonts, dates and signatures are different.

To Mr. Rushie’s honor, he was always upfront in his preferences: he openly admired Lipscomb and even Prenda:

The lawyers at Prenda are actually quite competent. They are a real law firm. You can say a lot of stuff about Steele and Hansmeier, but not that they are bad lawyers. Prenda, and Steele Hansmeier, litigated hundreds of cases in federal courts, many of which they won on. They blazed some new ground, and the law on joinder is split because of them. The ownership behind the corporations might be questionable, but at least they’re competent and have significant litigation experience.

So while I find it funny (I don’t know how one can seriously think that the buffoon Lipscomb is a capable attorney — lucky weasel, yes, but not much more), I wouldn’t say that Jordan betrayed either some ideals or certain people, no. I just admit that I let illusions reign, and my disappointment is of my own making.

As I see it, Rushie is just a small spineless man who waited for a while, and after he concluded that our busy-with-chasing-bigger-fraudsters legal system doesn’t really care about petty copyright extortionists and trolls’ “business as usual” won’t likely prompt prosecutions and bar investigations, he weighted his chances and couldn’t resist an offer of easy cash, even if that cash stank badly.

I already mentioned that Rushie repeats “I represent clients, not causes” as a mantra. Not a bad mantra, but the elephant in the room is that the “client” we are talking about here is a joke — a “company” hastily created for a sole purpose of using outdated, possibly unconstitutional laws to shake down US citizens. More troubling is the “expert” (“Excipio” in this case, but it can be any name: Guardaley changes them as gloves) — an undeclared party of interest that actually steers this travesty. The same people (APMC, Excipio, IPP, MaverickEye, you name it) who are “hoping the judge won’t question [expert’s] qualifications too much” are responsible for a Prenda-like massive fraud: submitting nearly 200 forged signatures in declarations by a non-existing “expert” Darren Griffin working for a non-existing “Crystal Bay Corporation.” No, everything I just said is not merely a fruit of my imagination; it is the result of thorough investigations conducted by attorneys Chris Lynch and Morgan Pietz, about whom Mr. Rushie once said:

Look, I like the EFF and what it does. I’m good friends with some of the guys on the PA subpoena defense list (Leonard French, Charlie Thomas, Aman Sharma and Steve O’Donnell). I would highly recommend all four of those guys. in California might be the best Doe defense lawyer in the country right now.

Won’t it be awkward, Jordan, to threaten hapless Does with insane statutory maximums and financial ruin after saying that

@ThePietzLawFirm @Raul15340965 @BoothSweet @LegallyErin I completely agree. $750 - $150K + fed court litigation is outrageously unfair.

 

…or requesting the exculpatory evidence after publicly stating that

@HoustonLawy3r @DieTrollDie The exculpatory evidence could work against them, if someone fills it out and then they proceed w/ litigation

 

…or explaining friends why you describe yourself as an “unapologetic libertarian” in your Twitter profile while being in cohorts with those who attempted to use the state power to invade people’s privacy — literally intrude a defendant’s home — in a civil lawsuit.

I don’t have to explain time and again why these lawsuits are the real legal Ebola: an intellectually curious independently thinking person will grasp this in a second. Nonetheless, I have a premonition of half-assed sophistry in defense of the parasites after this post is published. I wash my hands. I will be closely watching Mr. Rushie’s cases and report a slightest newsworthy development, but I’m out of a “debate” that was already reduced to attacking my anonymity.

Confronted by DieTrollDie who asked why the change, Rushie replied:

No. I genuinely enjoy torrent litigation. Defense side is boring lately. P side is way more interesting.

 

Well, there is a snark, and there is a snark. I like good, politically incorrect, lightly offending humor, but when an attempt to be funny is used as a substitute for arguments, I frown rather than smile. It just reminds me Steele’s “run, mice, run while I laugh all the way to the bank” comments. Not funny.

Followup

 


¹ Matthias Schröder-Padewet signed numerous declarations for the lawsuits filed by Randazza. This guy was involved in a brazen massive fraud upon the US court system.

² Ironically, these pleadings were “pilfered” by Rushie’s next door office neighbor and drinking buddy Isaac Slepner, who was hired by Steele/Hansmeier to file a copycat fishing trip for a bogus plaintiff Guava LLC.

Prenda is a gift that keeps on giving.

Court Jester

No matter how this phrase is banal and overused, it will be repeated many more times, guaranteed. Because… Prenda is a gift that keeps on giving. At different times different clowns appeared in the farce; today it was Jacques Nazaire’s turn to take the stage. For those who don’t remember, Nazaire is a Georgia Craigslist lawyer who entertained us in the past by telling the court that Judge Wrights’ famous order is irrelevant in Georgia because California recognizes gay marriage, and because Anonymous attacked PayPal. He called the EFF “terrorists organization” and his “your momma” email to me prompted so many laughs…

In the aftermath of the November 20, 2014 hearing in the AF Holdings v Patel (GAND 12-cv-00262), motions and notices by both sides continued to pour into the swollen docket. For example,

 

But one particular Jacques Nazaire’s filing left my face burning from an involuntary facepalm:

 

First of all, there is no such thing as a post-dismissal sanctions hearing by a jury. This isn’t going anywhere, period. The case was dismissed. What “trial” for God’s sake? We really need the Twenty Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution, which addresses the problem with attorneys who embarrass themselves and the legal profession: those comedians should be banned from the courtroom.

But, if for the sake of argument we assume this childish act has a quantum of merit, I think that when Nazaire wrote

[…] listen to the factual [non-legal] issues of this case […],

he mixed up the “factual” and “legal” terms. The questions derived from the “factual issues” are pretty damning:

  • whether Prenda seeded its smut to entrap file-sharers;
  • whether Prenda forged the signature on the copyright assignment;
  • whether the “client” AF Holdings exists at all;
  • whether former Prenda’s paralegal, John Steele’s drinking buddy and a fugitive from justice Mark Lutz, is really a principal of a sham corporation AF Holdings;

 

The list can go on and on, and some of the “factual issues” have already become “facts” — Judge O’Kelley has adopted Judge Wrights’ findings in full.

When facts are not on your side, the only way to get away with scams is to juggle legal [non-factual] issues. That’s how all the copyright troll cockroaches (Keith Lipscomb, Michael Hierl et al) avoid justice today and continue plundering citizens with impunity — by exploring the cracks in the legal system while playing fast and lose with facts.

Here is our advice, Jacques: stop digging. Humbly accept the sanctions that Judge O’Kelley will most likely impose on you. All your temper tantrums will only worsen your situation. Don’t embarrass yourself any longer, fade into obscurity: even though you took orders from the con artists (who, I hope, will end up in jail soon), your shenanigans were relatively minor, and I bet that Prenda’s victims are willing to forget them if you stop disturbing the past over and over again.

 


¹ Note that Duffy continues deceiving the court by signing his missives as “Duffy Law Group” — an entity that was involuntarily dissolved a long time ago.

The AF Holdings v Patel (GAND 12-cv-00262) Show Cause Hearing, which was abruptly interrupted by a snowstorm on the 1/28/2014 afternoon, was finally continued and concluded almost ten months later, on 11/20/2014. I was not there — Kat was, and she wrote a detailed and vivid three-part story. It doesn’t make sense to retell it in my own words: firstly, as I said, I was not there; second, Kat is simply a terrific storyteller, so pour yourself a glass of wine and read:

 

 

While we are waiting for the written order, the minute sheet is worth mentioning: in part because

The Court verbally adopted as part of its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, Judge Wright’s Order, Central District of California, paragraphs, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 & 11¹. (See Wright Order 2:12-cv-8333-CDW).

 

I’ll copy and paste the adopted paragraphs for your convenience:

1. Steele, Hansmeier, and Duffy (“Principals”) are attorneys with shattered law practices. Seeking easy money, they conspired to operate this enterprise and formed the AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13 entities (among other fungible entities) for the sole purpose of litigating copyright-infringement lawsuits. They created these entities to shield the Principals from potential liability and to give an appearance of legitimacy.

2. AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13 have no assets other than several copyrights to pornographic movies. There are no official owners or officers for these two offshore entities, but the Principals are the de facto owners and officers.

3. The Principals started their copyright-enforcement crusade in about 2010, through Prenda Law, which was also owned and controlled by the Principals. Their litigation strategy consisted of monitoring BitTorrent download activity of their copyrighted pornographic movies, recording IP addresses of the computers downloading the movies, filing suit in federal court to subpoena Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) for the identity of the subscribers to these IP addresses, and sending cease-and-desist letters to the subscribers, offering to settle each copyright infringement claim for about $4,000.

4. This nationwide strategy was highly successful because of statutory copyright damages, the pornographic subject matter, and the high cost of litigation. Most defendants settled with the Principals, resulting in proceeds of millions of dollars due to the numerosity of defendants. These settlement funds resided in the Principals’ accounts and not in accounts belonging to AF Holdings or Ingenuity 13.

No taxes have been paid on this income.

5. For defendants that refused to settle, the Principals engaged in vexatious litigation designed to coerce settlement. These lawsuits were filed using boilerplate complaints based on a modicum of evidence, calculated to maximize settlement profits by minimizing costs and effort.

6. The Principals have shown little desire to proceed in these lawsuits when faced with a determined defendant. Instead of litigating, they dismiss the case. When pressed for discovery, the Principals offer only disinformation—even to the Court.

8. The Principals maintained full control over the entire copyright-litigation operation. The Principals dictated the strategy to employ in each case, ordered their hired lawyers and witnesses to provide disinformation about the cases and the nature of their operation, and possessed all financial interests in the outcome of each case.

9. The Principals stole the identity of Alan Cooper (of 2170 Highway 47 North, Isle, MN 56342). The Principals fraudulently signed the copyright assignment for “Popular Demand” using Alan Cooper’s signature without his authorization, holding him out to be an officer of AF Holdings. Alan Cooper is not an officer of AF Holdings and has no affiliation with Plaintiffs other than his employment as a groundskeeper for Steele. There is no other person named Alan Cooper related to AF Holdings or Ingenuity 13.

11. Plaintiffs have demonstrated their willingness to deceive not just this Court, but other courts where they have appeared. Plaintiffs’ representations about their operations, relationships, and financial interests have varied from feigned ignorance to misstatements to outright lies. But this deception was calculated so that the Court would grant Plaintiffs’ early-discovery requests, thereby allowing Plaintiffs to identify defendants and exact settlement proceeds from them. With these granted requests, Plaintiffs borrow the authority of the Court to pressure settlement.

Brett Gibbs Paul Duffy Adam Urbanczyk John Steele Paul Hansmeier Mark Lutz Yo momma...

 


¹ The paragraphs 7 and 10 deal with Brett Gibbs’s conduct, and were not adopted by Judge O’Kelley simply because they are irrelevant for this case.

If was bound to happen earlier or later:

11/21/14 — Morgan Pietz of The Pietz Law Firm, together with Drew Pomerance of Roxborough, Pomerance, Nye & Adreani, have filed a Class Action Complaint (with Exhibits) against Rightscorp, Inc., and its management, on behalf of two people who have received alleged unlawful telephone calls, emails, and letters from Rightscorp’s “DMCA Agents.”

The complaint seeks class damages against Rightscorp for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, California’s Rosenthal Act, and Abuse of Process. The complaint alleges unlawful robo-calls, as well as other unfair debt collection practices, and that Rightscorp has abused the legal process by issuing DMCA Section 512(h) subpoenas that it knew were objectively baseless []

Rightscorp Class Action — Robo-Calls and DMCA Subpoenas

Answering my question about a potential of more plaintiffs joining the action, Mr. Pietz said: “We would still be very interested to talking to anyone who was being contacted by Rightscorp or who paid settlements, particularly anyone who was getting the pre-recorded robo-calls¹.”

 

 

Previous Rightscorp posts
Media coverage

 


¹ Speaking about robocalls, nothing is new under the sun. Especially in the copyright trolls’ world.

By Dbs

I showed up at the courthouse about 10 minutes before scheduled time. After running through security and running an item back out to the car, finally got to the courtroom with 2-3 minutes to spare. I met Dan Booth and Jason Sweet at the door there, looking for the same room. Dressed in sharp clean black suits they were cordial and friendly. They looked like, and acted like, a team. Before the case they were pretty guarded around me, not knowing who I was, why I was there, and having their focus on the task on hand. After the typical courtesy dance for who’s opening the door for whom, Dan grabbed the door and all three of us headed in side by side.

The door opened in the back of the courtroom, typical wooden bench style seating for a courtroom with a solid row on the back wall, 5-10 rows ahead of the door, and then the counselor’s area and Judge’s bench. JBL 10 inch speakers mounted on the wall — two at least, 60 inch TVs mounted at the front of the gallery and monitors galore at the counselor’s tables. (They had a pretty sweet tech setup up front for presentations as well… but I’m quickly heading off topic. Sorry folks, I’m a nerd, not a legally inclined individual, these are the things I notice.)

Promptly on entering we were notified by a court official that the hearing before us was still going on, they’re running late, and it’d be 15-20 minutes until the Lightspeed Media case was up. Booth and Sweet grabbed the front pew near where they planned to sit for their hearing. I grabbed the pew right behind them hoping to gleam anything off of them ahead of time — but alas, the sound system was a bit loud for me to overhear them then. At the time that I sat, Comcast’s attorney was already present in my row as well — Andrew Toennies. There was a bit of small talk between Booth, Sweet, and Toennies, a few jokes, but fairly quiet as the case ahead of us came out from chambers. Just a few small whispers between them after while the other case wrapped up.

Five minutes later enough folks filed out of the Judge’s chambers that I almost wondered if he had a TARDIS hidden back there. Judge David Herndon was one of the last out, with a small grin on his face he made a wisecrack to a few of the folks nearby (joke obviously unrelated to the case at hand). It was nice to see a bit of personality out of the Judge, whom I’ve usually seen to be a pretty stoic bunch. Overall I’d say that he was formal and very businesslike in his overall conduction, but he had a warmth/”jovial” air about him. I could tell he was someone you sure didn’t want to get on the wrong side of, capable of a stern dressing down if needed — but I also thought he easily could be someone that a child could be comfortable testifying in front of as well. A healthcare case, in a settlement phase, continued with some status related stuff for the next 5-10 min that I didn’t pay too much attention to. (But hey, I have the next hearing date/time, and that the judge thanked the parties for working so well together through this phase and that it was a refreshing change of pace.)

About 1:10, as the above hearing occurred, Duffy and Hansmeier entered the room. Paul Duffy had a navy suit on with light blue shirt, slight wrinkling in the trousers. His face looked very “worn” or tired… I didn’t get a great look but I wasn’t positive that he’d shaved that morning. Shorter, a little pudgy, had definitely seen better days (As we’d say here in the Midwest, “Rode hard and hung up wet.”). Paul Hansmeier had a decently sharp navy suit, white or light pink shirt I think and tie. Very cleanly shaved, he was taller with an athletic build. He almost reminded me of what T.J. Oshie (St. Louis Blues hockey player) would look like with a white collar haircut- I was surprised by how young he looked in person, striking me as anywhere from late twenties to mid-thirties. He maintained a very professional appearing and calm demeanor throughout the day. The two made a beeline for the back bench real near where the aisle to the tables was, sat, looked at their phones or ahead and didn’t talk- not to anyone else, or each other. Continue reading…

I was astonished to find out that a teen pornography purveyor and the most litigious copyright troll in the US history Malibu Media filed 25 lawsuits in NYSD on 11/7/2014 and 11/10/2014 for the first time in more than two years.

Jacqueline M. James
Porn troll Jacquline M. James

The local troll is a solo practitioner from White Plains Jacquline M. James. I didn’t find any reputational hiccups in her career, which suggests that she was simply lazy to do a diligent research before stepping into this pile of manure. I’m willing to give her a benefit of doubt: let us see if she is willing to correct her mistake.

This move is bold and astonishing because historically New York has not been exactly friendly to trolls. Lipscomb and Co tried to shake down this state’s citizens in the past — only to be admonished by judges here and there.

The most important event was Magistrate Brown’s Order, Report and Recommendation that essentially ended mass extortion lawsuits in this state in 2012. Granted, Lipscomb ceased filing mass Doe suits long time ago, but the extortionate nature of his today’s “business” remains unchanged.

Other copyright trolls (Mike Meier, Marc Randazza) didn’t find much love in New York either. Judge Harold Baer called trolls “copyright locusts [that] have descended on the federal courts.” And Judge Victor Marrero even suggested that pornography may not be entitled to copyright protection.

So, it will be interesting to observe New York judges’ reaction to the return of the infamous porn troll.

Below is one of the cookie cutter complaints written either in the Miami Troll Central or Karlsruhe.

 

Dear trolls, today is the Veterans Day. In case you have a quantum of soul not eaten by the greed cancer yet, it’s time to reflect on your conduct. Our fathers didn’t die so you would make dirty money on selling US citizens to the German Mafia over obscene material.

In a recent letter to shareholders, the CEO of an anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp, Christopher Sabec, said (emphasis is mine):

Rightscorp’s game-changing solution to the problem of multi-billion dollar digital theft provides monetary remedies to the holders of violated copyrights. […] At Rightscorp, our unique proprietary patent-pending technology crawls the internet, identifies repeat infringers of copyrighted material, alerts the ISPs who then forward a letter warning infringers that they could be liable for $150,000 in damages and provides a link to a reasonable $20 settlement offer per infringement. If the infringer accepts the settlement, our automated system sends half of the payment to the copyright holder. Repeat infringers have seen their service terminated by their ISPs for non-payment of Rightscorp notices. Our technology is unique — while other technologies identify illegal downloaders, our technology is the only one in the market that detects, tracks, and documents repeat infringers.

Christopher Sabec
Christopher Sabec
(PayArtists / Rightscorp)

Bragging about the “unique,” “game-changing” technology caught my attention: shaking down peer-to-peer filesharers (and innocents who were caught in the wide net of poorly developed “proprietary technologies”) is not new. So it sounded implausible that Rightscorp’s approach was indeed that novel.

I recently wrote about a ridiculous way of boosting one’s significance by buying fake Twitter followers. Rightscorp’s Twitter account, with or without its owners’ blessing, is apparently one of such accounts as it has hundreds of faux followers. While hardly significant by themselves, facts like this result in a reasonable suspicion, which in turn drives the curiosity, and hence the willingness to travel down the rabbit hole.

Nexicon
Sam Glines
Sam Glines
(Nexicon / Norse)

Let’s go back to 2008. Once upon a time there was a fine company called Nexicon. TorrentFreak reported:

Some people might remember Nexicon from the Getamnesty site we mentioned in the past, or perhaps as the Youtube copyright cops. The company has a history as a cigarette retailer but went on to hunt pirates after they were sued for selling smokes to minors and failing to report their sales to the tax office.

After its transformation into a pirate tracking outfit Nexicon launched its Getamnesty program which offers copyright holders a chance to turn piracy into profit. They cleverly circumvent privacy protection laws by using ISPs to forward settlement requests for various copyright holders to alleged infringers. One of their most successful partner programs is the Payartists website which is a misleading name to say the least.

The money collected through Payartists is not going to any artists at all. The only artist they collect ‘settlements’ for on the site is Frank Zappa, and he passed away in 1993. All the settlement money collected now goes to The Zappa Family Trust which is headed by Zappa’s widow.

Techdirt’s and Wired’s articles about this company describe its questionable practices too.

Interesting fact: Nexicon spread the information that

Nexicon believes it has a valuable product on its hands and announced today that it has filed a patent application for Get Amnesty. The application, which has not yet been published on the USPTO’s website, aims to patent Nexicon’s MARC platform that analyzes “over 19 billion file transactions each day” with “specialized artificial intelligence” to validate the contents.

It seems to be a lie: no such application exists (and I assure you, Rightscorp’s principals are aware of it).

Tommy Stiansen
Tommy Stiansen
(Nexicon / Norse)

After making a big initial buzz, the company disappeared from the business arena in 2011: its registration was revoked, its stock was delisted, and its domain name is now for sale by what appears to be Korean cyber-squatters. In addition, an ex-employee sued Nexicon’s principals for breach of contract.

Two of Nexicon’s key people, CEO Sam Glines and CTO Tommi Stiansen recently founded a “darknet attack intelligence” company Norse Corporation. Their long and intimate involvement with Nexicon is totally missing from their LinkedIn profiles, interviews, and Norse executives’ bios page. Obviously, both don’t like to be associated with their past fiasco.

Now, back to 2008.

PayArtists

What does it have to do with Rightscorp? The connection is more than direct. Both Roghtscorp’s key players, Robert Steele and Christopher Sabec, together with a musician and a Malibu businessman Tommy Funderburk, ran a “proto-Rightscorp” named PayArtists (already mentioned in the TorrentFreak’s article quoted above). In October 2008 they partnered with Nexicon to “provide GetAmnesty anti-piracy solution to the music industry”:

Nexicon, an emerging provider of next generation digital media protection and digital media business intelligence solutions, announced the formation of a partnership with PayArtists to provide anti-piracy services for the music catalog of the musician Frank Zappa. PayArtists will leverage Nexicon’s MARC technology platform and GetAmnesty product to help music artists, record labels and other copyright owners enforce their copyrights with music fans who have illegally downloaded protected music.

Bloomberg wrote on 10/9/2008:

PayArtists was formed by a group of three individuals that include Tommy Funderburk, an internationally recognized songwriter and recording artist, a prominent music industry lawyer, and an accomplished merchant banker. As exclusive rights holders to Nexicon’s applicable technologies to address anti-piracy worldwide in the music industry, PayArtists will monetize internet piracy of illegal music downloads, on behalf of copyright owners. Music fans who have illegally downloaded music from a PayArtists’ client will receive an infringement notice via email directing them to a unique artist-branded PayArtists site. Users then have the option to settle with PayArtists, on behalf of the copyright owner, to avoid potential litigation.


Tommy Funderburk
(PayArtists / Muzit)

So, it looks like our PayArtists trio didn’t have their own snooping and payment processing technology and simply acted as brokers for Nexicon’s infringement monetization solution.

How did this million-dollar idea work out? It looks like the word “success” is hardly applicable here, as

  • The company, registered on 12/30/2009 (C3267755), was suspended by the California Franchise Tax Board and silently disappeared (company’s last tweet is dated 6/30/11).
  • PayArtists.com now redirects to Muzit — a new Funderburk’s company that claims that it uses Bittorent snooping to “automatically send friendly marketing emails” to alleged infringers. If it is true, I totally back this business model, a model of engaging alleged pirates instead of shaking them down.
  • Both Steele and Sabec don’t mention this endeavor; their LinkedIn profiles don’t list PayArtist at all.
  • Tommy Funderburk has more than one LinkedIn profile. The first one, that does mention PayArtists, is most likely abandoned. It states that

    In 2010 Tommy founded PayArtists in response to the music industry’s failed policy of suing fans around the world for downloading music and other copyrighted material. […] PayArtists provides artists and other copyright owners a truly fan friendly business model and proprietary technology to connect with and market to the global P2P community.

    The second one is all about the abovementioned Muzit. Compare the bio to the first one:

    In 2010, Tommy founded Muzit Inc. in response to the music industry’s failed policy of suing fans around the world for downloading music and other copyrighted material. Muzit’s proprietary fan engagement platform employs patent pending technology and a truly fan friendly business model which forensically identifies individual, unauthorized downloaders of copyrighted content in real time and then automatically sends friendly marketing emails to those who use the over fifty networks like BitTorrent to acquire their music for free.

    Again, I praise Mr. Funderburk’s new approach if it is indeed about engaging the fans, not shaking them down. I only want to show how strongly he is trying to distance himself from one of his the past occupations, PayArtists — an extortion outfit.

Patent US20130097089
Robert Steele
Robert Steele
(PayArtists / Rightscorp)

When Rightscorp bullshits shows its potential to prospective investors, it doesn’t mention the past PayArtists fiasco. Instead, it brandishes its “patent-pending technology.” Indeed, on 4/2/2012 Robert Steele filed a patent application for “System to identify multiple copyright infringements.” I repeat the quote from Sabec I began this article with:

Our technology is unique — while other technologies identify illegal downloaders, our technology is the only one in the market that detects, tracks, and documents repeat infringers.

It seems that because it is clear that the process itself is not new, Sabec is trying to claim that detecting repeat infringers is the crux of the invention. Let’s find out how revolutionary it is. The patent application refers to “repeat infringer” as follows:

A repeat infringer may be detected by monitoring a predetermined threshold associated with the number of entries populating each generated data structure. For example, the method may provide that once a predetermined number (such as, for example, 5, 10, 20, or any positive number greater than 1) of data structure entries are identified that have substantially the same IP address and substantially the same port number […]

Robert Steele

To me, it doesn’t sound like a “game-changing,” ingenious discovery, but rather like a quote from a kindergarten math study book, but I’m not a patent attorney. After reading EFF’s “Stupid patent of the month,” I realize that anything is possible.

Other than that, all the other Rightscorp’s claims, such as

[…] our unique proprietary patent-pending technology crawls the internet, identifies repeat infringers of copyrighted material, alerts the ISPs who then forward a letter warning infringers that they could be liable for $150,000 in damages and provides a link to a reasonable $20 settlement offer per infringement.

have been (unsuccessfully) tried by Nexicon.

Again, I’m a dummy when it comes to patents and cannot vouch for the claim that Nexicon’s GetAmnesty infringement monetization solution can be considered a prior art (although to me it certainly is the case), I hope that specialists will have a look and clarify. Maybe R. Steele’s patent application is totally legit, I don’t know.

Nonetheless, it is clear that Rightscorp’s principals attempt to white out their past connection with an unsuccessful corporation (whose own principals attempt to white out their involvement in it), assumingly to attract new investors’ money for the business model that was tried in the past and failed.