Ira Siegel is one of the most sinister and cynical figures on the copyright trolling arena. He participates in setting up shameless honeypot schemes to profit from alleged copyright infringement and his lawsuits list thousands of Does.
One of the cases this troll filed last year was On the Cheap v. Does 1-5011. The latest developments on this case are summarized by E-ttorney at Law™ Stewart Kellar in his blog: he wrote this post in anticipation of today’s hearing by the magistrate judge who had ordered Mr. Siegel to show a cause why his case shouldn’t be dismissed on the grounds of improper joinder and wrong jurisdiction. And today’s hearing was very interesting as expected.
Stewart Kellar did a fantastic job reporting real-time from the courtroom via Twitter — see the copy of the transcript below.
Judge Zimmerman was skeptical and visibly annoyed — not good news for the troll. But the resulting order has exceeded my expectations: among other things, judge Zimmerman has ordered to disclose the total amount plaintiff had received in settlements from any of the doe defendants. The reply is expected by August 31. Plaintiff has also been ordered to provide a copy of any form letter it had sent to any doe defendant offering a settlement:
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time a judge forces a troll to disclose the extortion details. In other words, the troll was ordered to show up in the bright spot of light, and this is great: trolls’ fear of light is even stronger than their lust for money.
Twitter report by @ettorneyatlaw (Stewart Kellar)
Date: August 24, 2011
Case No: C 10-04472 BZ
Case Name: ON THE CHEAP LLC v. DOES 1-5011
Plaintiff Attorney(s): Ira Siegel
Defendant Attorney(s): for Amicus: Corynne McSherry
- At the On The Cheap Order to Show Cause hearing. Ira Siegel is here as well as Corynne McSherry from EFF. Updates to come.
- The On the Cheap hearing is starting. Ira Siegel and Corynne McSherry and Julie Samuels from EFF approach.
- Judge Zimmerman is “concerned about how this case is developing, or not developing.”
- Zimmerman has read “decisions from other courts that trouble me” and Does that have filed here raise questions.
- Zimmerman asks the publication date of the registered copyrighted work, methods of distribution.
- Siegel says film has been sold and is for sale. Judge heard from some of his colleagues that some films have been created just to be shared
- Siegel “takes umbrage” that Judge Zimmerman is insinuating that this strategy is a front to share films online and sue people for it.
- Zimmerman points out that a substantial portion of the alleged downloads happened before the copyright registration.
- Siegel says his clients engaged Copyright Enforcement Group (Dunlap, Grubb, and Weaver) to log the IPs. Clarification: yesterday I mistakenly said Copyright Enforcement Group was Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver (USCG). They are not, DGW is not CEG AFAIK
- Judge Zimmerman asks why the Northern District was chosen when both Siegel and Client are in LA.
- Siegel says “based on our math” venue is proper. Zimmerman says, let’s do the math.
- Siegel reads from a card to insult EFF as wanting “freedom from the tyranny of having to pay for content.”
- Zimmerman brings up copyrightability of the film and whether it is a Constitutional “useful art.”
- Siegel says to Judge Zimmerman that he intends to name defendants in October. Zimmerman asks about the form demand letters.
- Judge wants know how a torrent swarm subjects one to jurisdiction. Siegel says being on a swarm subjects people to jurisdiction nationwide.
- Siegel says everyone knows that most adult films are made in California. Judge Zimmerman questions that notion.
- Zimmerman is very skeptical about Siegel wanting to conduct jx discovery on 5011 defendants.
- Zimmerman is concerned about Siegel holding IP Address holder liable for anything that happens on their account.
- Siegel says discovery will be complete by September and will name people by October. Will dismiss many outside of California.
- Zimmerman asks “how would you feel” if you were being accused and don’t know if and when you’ll be named?
- Siegel compares torrent downloading to “flash mob violence.” Says if people say they didn’t do it but say someone else did, he will sue them
- Judge Zimmerman asks if any Circuit has ruled on these cases. Ms. McSherry says these cases aren’t filed intending to bring them to trial.
- Judge Zimmerman says this looks like an effort to extract settlements from as many people as you can. Siegel says “this is not fair.”
- Zimmerman has a problem saying it is purposeful availment of every state by being on a torrent. He is more troubled by jurisdiction motions
- Zimmerman has a problem with Siegel’s basis for jurisdiction, wonders aloud whether it is subject to Rule 11.
- Zimmerman wants to know “what happens now?” Why hasn’t anyone been served? Is concerned about improper joinder, jurisdiction and managing it
- Zimmerman: “how do I fit 5000 defendants into my courtroom.” Siegel says he’s trying to figure out which ones to sue and where by October.
- Siegel says “I don’t believe a class action in this type of case is appropriate.” Judge Zimmerman thinks Siegel sees the problems here.
- Siegel says this Court “should wait to see who we sue come October.” Zimmerman says each defendant is entitled to a 7 hour depo of plaintiff
- Zimmerman has never had subpoenas that have been out for so long. “Why don’t you just dismiss this case and bring it again when you’re ready
- Siegel: if we name 100 here, it’s one thing if we name 5000 it’s another. Let us use our wisdom to decide who to sue.
- Zimmerman has a problem with arguing that joinder and jurisdiction issues are premature. Says Siegel is being oxy-moronic by saying…
- “The more unmanageable I make these cases, the more time the Court should give me to figure out what I’m going to do.”
- Judge is bothered by the notion that Courts are being used as collection agencies. Not sure what is “just, speedy, and efficient” about this
- Siegel says “when we have our list of defendants and the Court sees what we are doing, then they can judge it…
- Please don’t put any hurdles in front of us yet, wait until October.”
- Judge Zimmerman takes this case under submission.
- @Prod_By_BLACKK Judge Zimmerman will Rule sometime [hopefully] before October. He seemed skeptical about the case and could maybe dismiss it