Posts Tagged ‘Justice Abuse’


Copyright troll
Douglas McIntyre

TGIF!

Copyright trolls are so busy extorting their fellow countrymen they have hard time keeping up with the court rules. Not all the judges tolerate sloppiness though. Copyright troll from Houston, Douglas McIntyre, a local goon for multiple troll masters (including Prenda and DGW), was lashed by a district judge Lynn N. Hughes in a short-but-sweet fashion:

 

To those who can’t read the embedded document:

Case 4:11-cv-04431 Document 11 Filed in TXSD on 03/16/12
First Time Videos, LLC, Plaintiff, versus Does 1-46, Defendant.

Order Striking Report

The court ordered First Time Videos to report by March 7, 2012. When it had not reported by March 15, the court called its counsel to ask on the status of the case. A few hours later, First Time sent an e-mail to the court’s case manager attaching a three week old report. The next day, Fist Time filed it without a caption or a signature by counsel,

The court is not an ex-girlfriend’s Facebook wall. All documents must be filed with the court, captioned, signed by counsel, and with service certified.

The report filed by First Time on March 16, 2012, is struck

Signed on March 16, 2012, at Houston, Texas

Lynn N. Hughes
United States District Judge

Update

6/19/2012
Judge Hughes dismisses this frivolous lawsuit, with style.

 

Page views since the beginning

Yes, it has been one year and half a million page views since I fired my humble flashlight… Not all the wishes have been fulfilled: mass bittorent lawsuits flourish, uneducated Does settle, trolls continue inventing new ways to game the judicial system.

Yet the past year was not spent in vain. This site, as well as DieTrollDie’s and others, is super-visible on the Internet and anyone, who knows how to search the web, finds us in no time. As a result, the knowledge (and anger) kicks in faster than fear manages to take over one’s senses and ability to think critically. It is difficult to estimate, but I’m sure that a significantly smaller number of people settle these days, and one of the ways to stop the speculative invoicing disease is to cease feeding it’s bearer — the troll.

Of course, we will win. I am indefinitely grateful to everyone who is about to make it happen.

I want to ask for a small favor: please answer the following easy question. Be comfortably honest: I don’t have any means to see the poll log and hence to match IP addresses with results, so your constitutional right to anonymous speech is respected. I’m just curious.

By Raul

As a part of the Third Massive Wave of the Copyright Troll Lawsuits (lawsuits filed at the close of December 2011 and continuing to the present) there has been a new wrinkle added, which are claims for trademark infringement. This post will take a look at the plaintiff behind this claim, the nature of the claim and whether or not it has any merit.

As a preliminary matter, a copyright troll asserting a trademark infringement claim is not, technically “new”: these claims have been previously raised when a Troll filed an Amended Complaint in an attempt to spread FUD or to paper over the fact that it has a problem with the underlying copyright. However, with these “John Stagliano, inc d/b/a Evil Angel Productions” complaints this is the first time we are seeing a sole trademark infringement claim being brought against Does.


Pornographer John Stagliano

John Stagliano a/k/a “Buttman” is a big time director, producer and distributor of pornography which does business as Evil Angel Productions, Inc. He is also a self-proclaimed Libertarian who fails to see the conflict between his philosophy of minimal government intrusion and using the judicial branch of our government to intrude into and terrorize ordinary citizens by his authorization. In other words, he is a hypocrite.

There have been approximately a dozen of these lawsuits (allegations are identical — porn titles can be different) filed across the country as of April 22, 2012 by the usual Trolls (Fiore, Kotzker, Hoppe and Lipscomb). For the purposes of this post, we will look at the first filed John Stagliano trademark complaint, which claims the infringement of its Evil Angel trademark filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (embedded below). Mega Troll Michael Keith Lipscomb is the attorney of record for this lawsuit (3:12-cv-00337-HES-JRK) that involves the cute title “Occupy My Ass”.

 

Trademark infringement is based on the Lanham Act, which is a federal statute that regulates the use of trademarks in the world of commerce. It gives those who have registered their trademark with the Patent and Trademarks Office certain rights and remedies. One if these remedies is to sue for trademark infringement when, for example, Prada discovers a company that is selling counterfeit Prada handbags or Rolex uncovers a manufacturer of phony Rolex wristwatches. The Lanham Act provides for the issuance of injunctions to stop the manufacture or selling of counterfeit goods as well as statutory damages.

Stagliano’s complaint makes three separate claims under the Lanham Act:

  1. Infringement under Section 1114(1)(a) which gives a trademark holder the right to sue the counterfeiter of that trademark when used “in commerce any reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation of a registered mark in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of any goods or services on or in connection with which such use is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive”,
  2. Contributory trademark infringement, which is inducing another to infringe on a trademark, and
  3. False designation of origin claim which is deliberately causing confusion at the origin of a product. Take as an example the counterfeit Prada handbag which has a label indicating it has been manufactured in Italy when, if fact, it was made in China.

So what is the fatal flaw to these claims? The complaint does not plead any specific facts as to how the Does sold, distributed or advertised any goods whatsoever. Also, since when is a porn flick a trademark?

In commenting on the trademark infringement claims of Patrick Collins, while denying the Troll leave to serve third party subpoenas Judge Legrome D. Davis of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania had this to say:

…we do note that “[f]or infringement of federally registered marks, what the Lanham Act requires is that the accused use be ‘in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution or advertising of any goods or services’ in a context that is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception.” 4 J. Thomas McCarthy, McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition § 23:11.50 (4th ed. 2011). Further, the accused use must constitute a “use in commerce” for a trademark infringement action to lie. See 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1).

Here, Plaintiff’s complaint baldly asserts that each of Defendant’s unauthorized uses of the PATRICK COLLINS and ELEGANT ANGEL marks will confuse consumers into purchasing Defendants’ goods or services, mistakenly believing them to be Collins’ goods and/or services. However, the complaint lacks any specific factual allegations that John Doe Defendants sold, distributed, or advertised any goods, much less goods bearing Plaintiff’s trademarks; or that Defendants have used Plaintiff’s trademarks “in commerce.” Instead, the facts alleged in the complaint show, at most, that all twenty-six (26) John Doe Defendants participated in a BitTorrent swarm to obtain a copy of Plaintiff’s movie. We harbor some doubt that these facts, even if true, support a claim of trademark infringement. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements” will not survive a motion to dismiss). As such, Collins’ trademark infringement claims do not give us good cause to permit Collins to subpoena John Doe Defendants’ ISPs.

Based on this Memorandum Order it looks as if Patrick Collins might be infringing on John Stagliano’s beloved trademark (Elegant Angel v. Evil Angel) and he should send his Trolls after Patrick Collins. That trademark infringement lawsuit would have more merit than the ones I have discussed here today.

This weekend Raul shared his initial insight on the Lightspeed Media Corporation v. John Doe lawsuit (in reality a fishing expedition targeting 6,500 victims), questioning its merits. Both Raul’s article, and this lawsuit itself, especially the judge’s decision to deny all the motions to quash/dismiss and ordering ISPs to hand over user data to the trolls, generated some buzz in the porn-oriented blogosphere. Most of the comments and articles presented this decision as a victory, portraying Steve “Lightspeed” Jones as a hero fighting evil pirates and hackers. Raul did a decent job debunking these simplistic views, and the following comment will undoubtedly add grains of bitter salt to the chorus of cheerful ignoramuses.

I asked attorney A.J. Yolofsky (I already introduced him in a recent mood-boosting post) about his opinion, and here is what he said:

The claim brought under 18 USC 1030 is a farce. Any first year attorney can run a truck through the hole in their pleading. You’ll notice in paragraph 22, no specific sub-paragraph is identified to support the actual alleged violation. They correctly allege that the state court may have jurisdiction (there’s an exclusive jurisdiction argument here).

I did a brief review of the statute and my gut tells me this is a farce. Obviously, Lightspeed is neither a government nor financial institution. Thus, the potential violation of a “protected computer” as the term is defined in 18 USC 1030(e)(2)(A) is eliminated. They may have some support under the concept that the computer(s) in question may be used in interstate commerce, which would possibly satisfy the definition under 18 USC 1030(e)(2)(B). However, I believe there are probably evidentiary issues there that would need to be developed.

It’s a bit more difficult to determine if any of the violation provisions of 18 USC 1030(a) have been violated. Subsections (a)(1), (a)(2)(A), (a)(2)(B), and (a)(3) are all unavailable to Lightspeed. This leaves the broad catch-all provisions of (a)(2)(C) and (a)(4), though both of those subsections have problems on their face. In particular, (a)(4) would require the specifics of the alleged fraud to be alleged.

Fundamentally, this complaint should fail for many of the same reasons that Prenda’s complaints fail. They do not meet the pleading standards of Iqbal and Twombly.

One other thing about this recent complaint. A plaintiff can have either a breach of contract claim or an unjust enrichment claim, not both. The latter exists to fill a gap where two parties did not form a contract, but one provided something of value to another without receiving anything in return. Did Doe actually have a contract with Lightspeed? I don’t know. In the absence of an express contract, what I think would be fun thing for Lightspeed to actually prove would be what “benefit” it conferred upon Doe for which it did not receive payment?

So, it would seem from the lack of information presented by Lightspeed in its complaint that they would be vulnerable to a motion to dismiss, yet don’t forget that this case currently lingers in a state court (although it alleges the federal claim). Recently I and others were understandably angered by a Miami-Dade county court judge Schumacher, who signed an order without reading it and then vacated that order, but now I’m not mad at him anymore: it was explained to me that state judges usually have neither the time nor the staff to research the law and evaluate the arguments made by the parties; thus, they rely more on the attorneys who present the briefs. Thus, if an attorney happens to be a former judge from the same district, or a crook, or (like in our case) both, then we have what we have. Federal judges, on the other hand, have the law clerks to help read, understand, and research the pleadings.

So, because of the federal claim alleged, first step in these state cases would be to remove them to federal court pursuant to 28 USC 1441. This would cost the filing defendant the federal case filing fee of $350 or so. However, this will get Prenda and its cohorts back in front of the federal judges, which is where they do not want to be.

Who can remove? The statute says that removal may be accomplished by the defendant or defendants. Thus, one argument would say that only Doe #1, not the unindicted co-conspirators would be able to remove the case. However, the other Does could obtain permission to intervene and then file a motion to remove. I’m not a lawyer, and don’t want to speculate further, but I have a gut feeling that this route should be seriously considered. Trolls will keep working around the edges in order to avoid scrutiny, but we should continue shedding the light on their swarm of vermin, and removing this case to the federal level is worth trying.

This lawsuit is a farce.

Update

I really like this comment by a reader (emphasis is mine):

I bothered to look at 18 USC 1030. Although I am not a lawyer, I did however work with environmental law for over 10 years (environmental law makes most other law look stupid). Lightspeed cannot possibly be filing under 18 USC 1030. There is literally no case there, at all. The entirety of that code surrounds a “protected” computer, and there is literally no way in hell they are working with a protected computer unless he received an executive order stating that his porn is a national security issue. Not even the general catch all provision of 1030 a(4) applies on 2 counts. 1 because again there is no protected computer, and 2 because each individual who gained access to the computer would have to be responsible for $5k in accumulated usage value over a 1 year period. First, the problem with this is that if you pay a membership fee you are entitle to view and even download ALL of their content. Therefore, the value of the accumulated material acquired with a shared password would be the membership cost. But forget about all that because it isn’t a protected computer to begin with.

I am sorry, I know I am not an attorney, and I am not trying to give advise here, but it really looks like Lightspeed is using a very specific federal regulation that is meant for a specific class and is twisting it and trying to use it in state venues. In my opinion, his claim not only cannot hold up in state courts because it is a federal statute, but it wont even hold up in federal courts because he does not fall in the protected class of computer genre, unless of course some porn star is secretly passing state secrets to other porn stars during filming and as a result of this the feds feel that this is a national security issue.

Raul clarifies:

With regard to the Comment above I did look into that issue before writing my first post and I believe that the CFAA does not just apply to a “protected computer”: because it also applies to computers that are used in of affect “interstate commerce” which has been broadly interpreted by courts across the country. The reported decisions/opinions that I looked at where a CFAA complaint has been dismissed usually zero in the fact that the plaintiff cannot possibly make the 5K threshold as is the case with Lightspeed Media.

Update 2

A must read Opinion and Order by federal judge Naomi Buchwald that discusses the 5k threshold of the CFAA, page 52 — spotted by Raul.

Update 3

5/3/2012 by Raul

Lightspeed has many problems when it comes to damages. One of them is that our legal system requires you to mitigate your damages which means that once you notice you are being damaged you have to take steps to prevent more damage and if you do not, you cannot recover those damages which could have been avoided. In this lawsuit, Steve Jones freely admits that he monitored hacked passwords to his website for one year and that he did nothing to stem the access other then harvest IP addresses. In other words, he failed to mitigate his damages. A decent attorney could crush this lawsuit on this issue alone unless his client was the first one to hack the websites that Steve noticed.

This is the first post by a long-time reader (and valuable contributor to the discussions) Raul. I hope he will be back soon to share more of his thoughts in the form of another (and another) blog post.

Disclaimer: This post in a way constitutes legal advice but is being submitted for discussion purposes only.

I wanted to write my first post and try to keep it simple about the case entitled Lightspeed Media Corporation v. John Doe currently pending in the Circuit Court of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, St. Clair County, Illinois (complaint is embedded below). Don’t let the title deceive you : this is not a lawsuit against a single malicious hacker, but a mere fishing expedition, which has a sole goal to obtain contact information of 6,500 Internet users and start extortion racket. Naming one person and burying hundreds, and (like in this case) thousands, of subscribers in a complaint is one of the new sleazy tactics employed by trolls in order to deceive both courts and public.

Who is Lightspeed Media Corporation?


Pornographer Steve Jones

Lightspeed Media Corporation (LMC) is a pornography enterprise located at 4402 N. Arcadia Drive, Phoenix Arizona 85018 (remember this). It is owned by Steve Jones, a former computer consultant who, along with his wife,

…publishes photos and videos of youthful models, and has long used terms such as “barely legal” and “barely 18″ in its marketing. Users pay between $30 and $40 a month, depending on how many sites they want to access.”

(According to Wall Street Journal.)

Today Steve Jones charges (NSFW link) either $34.95 or $39.95.

Who is LMC’s troll?


Former judge Michael O’Malley

LMC is being represented by an attorney affiliated¹ with Prenda Law by the name of Michael O’ Malley, who until August 2010 was a judge in the court where this lawsuit is pending. Undoubtedly he is on friendly terms with the judge who has been assigned to this case in what American Tort Reform Foundation has identified as being in the top list of “judicial hellholes” in the USA.

 

 

Who is LMC’s Forensic Computer Expert?

Quick answer: Steve Jones. According to the complaint at paragraph 14,

Plaintiff retained Arcadia Data Security Consultants, LLC (“Arcadia”) to identify IP addresses associated with hackers that use hacked passwords and the Internet to access Plaintiff’s private website and content.

[to do this] Arcadia used forensic software named Trader Hacker and Intruder Evidence Finder 2.0 (T.H.I.E.F.) to detect hacking, unauthorized access, and password sharing activity on Plaintiff’s websites.


Arcadia‘s
address is 4402 N. Arcadia Drive, Phoenix Arizona 85018, which is the same address for LMC. Arcadia’s sole member is Steve Jones (likewise Matthew P. Collins is the Organizer of Arcadia and Attorney of Record for LMC).


A million-dollar mansion at 4402 N. Arcadia Drive

Furthermore, guess who owns, markets and likely commissioned the creation of the forensic software? Yup, Steve Jones (www.arcadiasecurity.com ²). So a more accurate statement of paragraph 14 would be “Plaintiff’s principal, Steve Jones, retained Steve Jones to use Steve Jones’s forensic software to identify…”. No reports, investigations or testimony would be admissible in an honest court because they would be found to have been issued or given by a “biased expert” or one who has a financial interest in the outcome of the lawsuit.

What is the Amount of Money Involved In This Lawsuit?

LMC is claiming damages in excess of $100,000 plus attorney’s fees and costs. Back to reality, Buffy the Pirate Hunter (a.k.a. John Steele) has threatened to sue individuals and if that is the case then, in my opinion, LMC’s damages would be the cost of a lost monthly membership ($34.95 – $39.95) if a case actually went to trial.

What of Earth is Going on With Count I of the Complaint?

LMC’s troll is bringing lawsuit in a state court based upon a federal statute known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) on the ground that John Doe and his 6,500 co-conspirators used hacked passwords to access his websites (how this could happen to a former computer consultant who has been working in online porno business since 1999 is beyond me). On its face it looks a little scary but I do not believe the troll has pleaded a claim that would survive a motion to dismiss. This is because to make such a case the troll has to prove that his client sustained “damage” or “loss” of at least $5,000 which I think is not realistic.

The CFAA states that “damage” means any impairment to the integrity or availability of data, a program, a system, or information and “loss” means any reasonable cost to any victim, including the cost of responding to an offense, conducting a damage assessment, and restoring the data, program, system, or information to its condition prior to the offense, and any revenue lost, cost incurred, or other consequential damages incurred because of interruption of service. In plain English and within the context of this lawsuit it means that the Troll has to show that LMC spent at least $5,000 to repair and/or re-secure his websites. The complaint claims it can reach this amount “in the form of actual damages, statutory damages, and reputational injury” but there are no statutory damages contained in the CFAA and as to reputational injuries to a pornographer that uses models/actresses who are barely 18… good luck with that.

What About the state claims of conversion, unjust enrichment, breach of contract and civil Conspiracy?

The simpler ones (conversion and unjust enrichment) are arguably valid but the damages are small ($34.95 – $39.95). The other two causes of action (breach of Contract and civil conspiracy), in my opinion, are laughable under the circumstances of this lawsuit.

 

I will keep an eye on these cases and, if the need arises, write a post about personal jurisdiction and removal under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In the meantime, do not feed the trolls.

Thanks to On2ndthought for unearthing some interesting facts presented in this post.

Notes

A resource and discussion page dedicated to Lightspeed “hacking” cases.

4/16/2012: A follow-up post: Attorney’s opinion: Lightspeed’s claim is a farce.
5/5/2012: Another follow-up post by Raul: Lightspeed Media Corporation v. John Doe: a quick follow-up Q & A.

Here is an interesting blog post about St. Clair county and its public servants.


¹Pay attention to the address where deposition is set to take place: this is the official Prenda Law headquarters (a.k.a Troll Central).

² Initially I linked to www.arcadiasecurity.com, but it was brought to my attention that Steve Jones redirects to a Google image search for “gay love”. Is this how a mature individual behaves? You decide. Update: now it redirects to the Facebook main page; also, Steve Jones’s name is not listed in the domain name registration anymore: don’t worry, we have plenty of screenshots.

Thanks to an anonymous commenter who pointed me to this exciting event. K-Beech, Inc. v. Does 1-31 mass bittorent case (mdd 8:12-cv-00088) was filed by a copyright troll Jon A. Hoppe on 01/10/12. Not much happened there since then: not surprisingly, discovery was granted, later two motions to quash were filed, and that’s it.

I have been keeping an eye on this lawsuit intrigued by the following blog comment:

Doe 1 of 31 says:
March 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm
Defendants from 8:12-cv-00088-AW, please contact me ASAP! My lawyer friend suggested some unusual idea, and he is confident that it will work.
THE CASE MAY BE OVER AS EARLY AS NEXT WEEK, but we need to get together ASAP, ALL of us. Please!
doe1of31@gmail.com

And, yes! Last week this lawsuit was indeed dismissed, not by the troll, but… by the defendants. Apparently Does managed to get together and draft the following notice. I’m happy and proud that my humble blog facilitated that.

The idea was indeed unusual, and I was skeptical at first, until I read the Federal Rule 41(a) “Voluntary dismissal”. This rule has 3 paragraphs: (1) – dismissal by the Plaintiff; (2) – dismissal by Court Order and, rarely invoked, (3) – dismissal by the Defendant(s).

To use (3), one important condition should be met:

RULE 41. DISMISSAL OF ACTIONS
  (a) Voluntary Dismissal.
    …
    (3) By the Defendant(s). An action may be dismissed at the defendant(s)’s request only, without a court order, only if Plaintiff’s Counsel is
            (i) a crook; or
            (ii) a douchebag; or
            (iii) an asshole; or
            (iv) the above virtues are combined in any proportions.
        Unless the notice states otherwise, a dismissal under this paragraph (3) is with prejudice.

It is an exciting news because it may effectively end the copyright trolling legal plague. Mass bittorent infringement lawsuits are designed to wrestle Does to settle. This is achieved by threatening them with liability based on statutory damage awards that were clearly intended to be used only in large commercial cases. No sane and honest person thinks that demanding 150,000 from an individual for the most minor violation of the copyright law is proper and ethical. Any lawyer that files such a lawsuit clearly meets the Rule 41(a)(3) conditions.

Also, notice that the case was dismissed without prejudice, which means that defendants are free to file a lawsuit against Plaintiff K-Beech Inc. and/or Plaintiff’s Counsel, troll Jon A. Hoppe. I hope it will happen sooner or later.

Good work, Does!

(Please mind the date of the publication)


Andrew Crossley

Half a year ago I wrote about the sanctions imposed on Davenport Lyons’ solicitors. Today I woke up to read some huge yet anticipated news: one of the most famous proto-trolls, Andrew Crossley of ACS:Law was suspended for 2 years by UK’s Solicitor Disciplinary Tribunal.

Although, unfortunately, this feast of common sense does not take place here in the US, I hope that this sanctioning will send shivers down domestic trolls’ spines, especially since Mr. Crossley’s suspension was not the worst of his foes. In addition to that, he went bankrupt, and his reputation was completely destroyed. We do not see similar outcomes in the US at this time, because the speculative invoicing scam started in Great Britain much earlier, and giving the similarities between the British and the US judicial systems, the end of copyright trolling legal plague in the US is inevitable, in my opinion: we will get there sooner or later.

Meanwhile stay strong, educate yourself, and do not feed the trolls. Some settlements are inevitable: I understand that a teacher accused of downloading teen porn is risking too much even if he is innocent. Yet if you settle just out of irrational fear and do not make any effort to educate yourself and understand that trolls simply bluff, and that in 99% of cases they cannot do anything to you beyond harassment, settling is a bad service to society.

The news has been already widely covered, so I better stop here and let you read these reviews:

 

Also, I’d like to use this opportunity to send regards to our British brothers-in-arms, who diligently covered and accelerated ASC:Law’s downfall:

 

For the reference, here are the charges vs. Andrew Crossley brought by SDT:

  1. Allowed his independence to be compromised;
  2. Acted contrary to the best interests of his clients;
  3. Acted in a way that was likely to diminish the trust the public places in him or in the legal profession;
  4. Entered into arrangements to receive contingency fees for work done in prosecuting or defending contentious proceedings before the Courts of England and Wales except as permitted by statute or the common law;
  5. Acted where there was a conflict of interest in circumstances not permitted, in particular because there was a conflict with those of his clients;
  6. Used his position as a Solicitor to take or attempt to take unfair advantage of other persons being recipients of letters of claim either for his own benefit or for the benefit of his clients;

I do not believe that the UK and the US judicial systems are significantly different: at least some of these charges should be applicable to our domestic crooks (and some additional charges — not implausible at all). Pity we do not have a central authority like Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal here, though there are some authorities that oversight attorneys’ conduct. Here is one for Illinois. I urge everyone to find similar organizations in states where trolls are licensed and overwhelm those organizations with complaints.

Update

02/24/12

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal’s judgement is now published:

Happy holidays! I wish you love. According to one guy, whose existence made this world a better place, it’s all you need. It’s a common mistake to think that the opposite of love is hatred. Hatred is like a spice, a healthy dose of anger is OK and even necessary when dealing with those who threaten our peace and livelihoods, just don’t let hatred and anger take you over. Drink socially, hate socially. Don’t get addicted.

The real opposite to love is fear: these two concepts don’t mix in any proportions. So the first and foremost thing I wish you is to fight and kill your own fear. It is easier than it seems at the moment of a predatory assault, the moment when a trolls’ victim opens an envelope and finds veiled lies, ridiculous threats and frivolous demands.

Extortionists induce fear — this is a part of their “business,” and they are very skillful at that. Since fear shortens lives, copyright trolls have committed much worse crimes than extortion. Look, they have been trying to scare more than 250,000 people into paying, and if fear that their victim experiences shortens his or her life by a mere day (very conservative estimate!), then they have already collectively murdered more than 10 people. Think about it.

As for me, I’m going to continue shedding light on these blackmailers and murderers in a hope that their Halloween scary letters — like the one embedded below — will make people react with disgust rather than fear.

Thank you all for being strong and considerate. So far this blog has generated more than 2,500 comments, and I did not witness anything but intelligence, insight, respect to others, and desire to help. Isn’t it too much for “pirates,” trolls?

Oh messy and enjoyable Christmas shopping! Wise shoppers buy more than they need in order to show nice things they bought to their significant others and return unapproved items to the store later, after their hangovers are properly cured.

Paul Duffy (Prenda Law) continues to shop for judges using the same approach. I wrote about Duffy’s judge shopping spree in DC four days ago, and I couldn’t suppress a chuckle when I read forum comments this morning.

Yesterday Paul Duffy filed three new troll cases in the Northern District of Illinois:

 

The latter case was assigned to… honorable Milton I. Shadur (no introduction necessary). You don’t have to be a fortune teller to accurately guess what happened after this assignment:

  • 12/21/2011 CASE ASSIGNED to the Honorable Milton I. Shadur. Designated as Magistrate Judge the Honorable Sheila M. Finnegan.
  • 12/21/2011 NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal by First Time Videos LLC of Action Without Prejudice (Duffy, Paul)

 

This looks like a farce. Will anyone stop these comedians?

Remember how John Steele was ridiculed by judge Shadur after his two troll cases in a row were assigned to a judge who once said that this divorce-lawyer-turned-copyright-hound “abused the litigation system in more than one way”?

It seems that attorney John Steele (“Steele”) might be well advised to stay away from Las Vegas or other casinos, because his current filing on behalf of plaintiff Boy Racer, Inc. has—despite odds in the range of 25 to 1—been assigned at random to the calendar of this District Court, which had previously been the recipient of another random assignment of a Steele-filed action (that one being CP Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-300, No. 10 C 6255). This Court had ended up dismissing the CP Productions action for the reasons stated in its February 7, 2011 memorandum order and its February 24, 2011 memorandum opinion and order, which (among other reasons) rejected attorney Steele’s effort to shoot first and identify his targets later.

Now we witness how Paul Duffy, Steele’s apprentice, follows in his master’s steps. Duffy was no luckier with his DC cases than Steele was in Chicago. His debut lawsuit was assigned to judge Bates, who (unlike many other judges) paid attention to anonymous motions and strongly suspected that the court was used as a front end for a brazen scam, so he ordered Does to go forward and speak out their frustrations under seal, protecting them from premature harassment. Subpoenas to ISPs were stayed.


Federal judge
Robert Leon Wilkins

In his next two cases Duffy was even less fortunate: the first one was assigned to judge Robert Wilkins, known for his strong opposition to “fishing expeditions” — lumping together defendants from many jurisdictions. So what did Paul Duffy do? He simply dismissed the entire suit immediately after learning to which judge this case was assigned: the case was filed on 11/15, dismissed on 11/18. The second one was assigned to… judge Wilkins again. I was curiously watching… And what do you think? This case was dismissed on Friday: this time it took 9 days: a record! Surprised? I’m not.

I’m not a specialist in legal ethics and court rules, but from the common sense perspective, the mechanism of randomly assigning judges to cases makes a lot of sense as a safeguard against tendentiousness. If “shopping” for judges is not a sanctionable conduct, I would be disappointed. As Mike Masnick wrote a couple of months ago,

With so many lawyers jumping into the copyright trolling game lately, using the same basic blueprint (if only they’d sue each other for infringement!), it would be nice if we could get a higher court to issue a bright line rule that said such a joining of totally unrelated parties is totally improper. That could cut off this whole shakedown game quickly. But until we get that, these copyright trolling operations will just continue forum shopping, hoping to find a judge who isn’t hip to how they’re just using the judicial system as a way to force people into paying money.

By the way, anyone still believes that these scumbags are “fighting piracy”?

Update

5/14/2012
DieTrollDie reports that at least one of these lawsuits reemerged in Texas by Prenda’s goon Douglas McIntyre: it’s slightly different, more sleaziness is added (trying to present it as a lawsuit against a single Doe but listing pages and pages of co-conspirators), but the IP addresses are reused.

5/29/2012
Comcast notices blatant judge shopping and refuses to hand out customers’ info. Now Sleele emerges from under the bridge trying to compel Comcast to betray its customers.

Rob Cashman posts news and insight regarding this drama.

6/26/2012
Judge Wilkins rules: denies Prenda’s motion to compel, only allowing Prenda to get location (state and city) of each accused subscriber: Pyrrhic victory: this information is openly available via geolocation tools.

Note Judge Wilkins’s awareness about all Prenda’s deeds: he even mentions a counter-suit (Abrahams v. Hard Drive Productions, Inc., No. 3:12-1006) and extortion letters. We’ve been watching each Prenda’s step, and trolls did not like it, but when a federal judge hints that he watches too, it should send some shivers down scumbags’ spines.

Raul adds a few initial impressions:

  1. The judge has given to the ISPs a roadmap should they elect to contest Prenda’s other pending subpoenas and succeed.
  2. The judge has cleverly pointed to a “new” ground for Does to move to quash: abuse of Rule 45.
  3. The judge has shoved Prenda’s abusive subpoena practices up its collective ass.
  4. The judge has pointed out that Prenda’s legal theory of civil conspiracy (“borrowed” from Randazza) is bullshit and is preempted by the Copyright Act and it’s venue provision. This ought to be useful for any Doe caught up in just about any Prenda lawsuit (LMC, CP Productions, Sunlust, etc.).

I am sure I missed a few thing but those are the highlights. What the judge did not mention is how Rule 41 will now come into play, DTD did a post about this in May. Basically if you are named in two voluntarily dismissed lawsuits, it operates as an adjudication in your favor meaning trolls cannot sue you a third time. Prenda is now in a Catch-22 position as it will have to dismiss Millenium II Does if they do not reside in TX, but if they do that, Rule 41 bars a third lawsuit.