This lawsuit differs from others in many ways, but the main difference is that the plaintiff is not a copyright holder of the movie that was allegedly shared, but a German IP-harvesting technology company Baseprotect. There is no indication that copyright was transferred in full to the latter. Plaintiff asserts that his standing to sue is based on an agreement with the movie producer to… be allowed to share the movie on p2p networks! Sounds like a Righthaven-style fraud to me (see the entire agreement at the bottom of the complaint below).
It’s not a secret that German IP-harvesting companies are in many cases the actual bosses of the ongoing scam. Lawyer firms that use speculative invoicing tactics try to make an impression that they hired those IP-harvesting companies on behalf of movie makers “victimized by piracy,” but it is actually the other way around. Stopping piracy was never a goal for the trolls. Even more — if piracy is somehow magically stopped, all the conspirators (a law firm, an IP-harvesting company and a rightholder) would lose an easy source of cash. So they are far from willing to kill the goose that lays golden eggs.
In my opinion, this lawsuit is doomed and will fall apart soon. I already mentioned that most likely plaintiff does not have standing to sue, but there are many other problems here as well. While other trolls proved to be inventive and able to change their tactics as judges invalidate particular maneuvers, such as improper jurisdiction and questionable joinder, lawyer Bonnie C. Park of The McDaniel Law Firm seemingly did not do her homework diligently and made every mistake that any clever copyright troll would avoid these days. This lawsuit lumps together defendants from different jurisdictions and from different providers. In addition, it is hard to believe that all the 1449 defendants used the same swarm.
Another oddity that I noticed is the fact that an obscure Polish movie “Weekend” that has a single very unfavorable review on IMDB caused such a great interest among US bittorrent users. My strong suspicion is that people confused it with the award-winning English movie, not released to theaters and media yet, also titled “Weekend.” I guess the con artists from Baseprotect did not have particularly hard time convincing a virtually unknown Polish film co-op to participate in a get-rich-quick scheme and capitalize on this coincidence. [Update: the case docket shows that many movants bear Polish surnames, so my guess may be incorrect. It looks like this move is popular among Polish-speaking community. IMDB ratings and reviews may not reflect the actual popularity of a certain movie.]
Although this particular extortion attempt is late and sloppy and the downfall of speculative invoicing in USA has already started, some folks will inevitably succumb to scary extortion letters and will unnecessarily part with a couple of grands, if/when ISPs provide defendant names to the lawyers. So sad.
I want to conclude this post on a bright note. This particular lawsuit is good news overall: such a brazenly fraudulent assault against common sense accelerates the process of washing off carefully applied make-up of righteousness from the ugly, greedy faces of other copyright trolls.
If you are a victim of this lawsuit, look at this post: it answers many questions I usually receive. Though there is basically nothing new there, the relevant information (otherwise dispersed over posts and comments) is concisely put together by DieTrollDie. Actually, victims of other lawsuits will find this post helpful too.
In addition to this lawsuit, Jay McDaniel fired a couple more extortion campaigns, including
Baseprotect UG, Ltd. v. John Does 1-X (2:11-cv-02021-DMC -JAD)— dismissed 11/15/2012. BASEPROTECT USA, INC. v. SWARM # 06159132D21BBC88ED40B6E51278879F2725243F et al (2:11-cv-07288-SDW-MCA)— dismissed 11/15/2012. BASEPROTECT USA, INC. v. SWARM # 1277D1F87FA9C4F28D43D2C07E9EF6816E366ED1 et al (2:11-cv-07289-SDW-MCA)— dismissed 2/28/2013. Baseprotect USA, Inc. v. Swarm # 2FB37F51EE4580E804848C519A227B03 et al (2:11-cv-07290-SDW-MCA)— dismissed 11/15/2012. Baseprotect USA, Inc. v. Swarm # 6F3E88FE60CA4A30467E1F93EEDE61B787BFCE07 et al (2:11-cv-07291-SDW-MCA)— dismissed 11/15/2012. Baseprotect USA, Inc. v. Swarm # C32E92D72464FFCA072C0BFAC77C5AD7F7584036 et al (2:11-cv-07292-SDW-MCA)— dismissed 2/28/2013.
- All the Baseprotect cases, including the subject of this post, were dismissed on 2/28/2013 or earlier.