Guardaley | X-Art
Court scolds copyright troll Malibu Media for improper litigation tactics
Today Judge Black issued orders to show cause in two Malibu Media v. Doe cases assigned to him (OHSD 14-cv-00707 and 14-cv-00718). This is the third OSC in each case. The first one was about Malibu not serving the defendants timely. The second OSC dealt with Malibu’s delay to apply for entry of default. And the third one was issued today — to show cause why these two cases shouldn’t be dismissed for failure to timely move for default judgement — despite explicit orders to file such motions within 21 days.
Judge’s patience is surprising, borderline frustrating, but as we read past the first three pages, it becomes clear that his patience is so thin that the next violation, no matter how small, will be disastrous for Faroniya and Lipscomb. What started as a narrow, case-related stuff, developed into a holistic, damning description of the troll’s modus operandi:
The Court does not view Malibu Media’s conduct in this action in isolation. Rather, the Court views it as part of an unmistakable pattern that has emerged in other actions before this Court and in context of observations made by multiple other federal judges in cases involving Malibu Media.
This Court has observed the conduct of Malibu Media and its counsel of record in over 60 cases filed in this District in the past twelve months. This is not the first case in which Malibu Media has filed a summons return well after the date of service. Counsel appears to have made a misrepresentation in seeking an extension of time to complete service in two cases. The Court also issued an order to show cause after counsel publicly filed a defendant’s name in direct violation of two orders unambiguously ordering counsel to file that information under seal.
Judge Black outlines every questionable conduct he is aware of (and makes a note that it may be just a tip of the iceberg):
The Court is not blind to the reality that these allegations likely substantially underrepresent the amount of misconduct that goes unreported by defendants who simply pay Malibu Media’s settlement demand rather than face the prospect of expensive and extensive litigation regarding their purported interest in pornography.
The judge unapologetically calls Malibu Media ”copyright troll” amid Lipscomb’s comical protestations and his reliance on Judge Baylson’s “not a troll” indulgence issued during the shameful Bellwether Settlement Conference:
The Court is aware that Malibu Media, through separate local counsel, has filed thousands of similar cases in federal courts across the country. A copyright troll has been defined as “an owner of a valid copyright who brings an infringement action not to be made whole, but rather as a primary or supplemental revenue stream.” […] Under this definition, Malibu Media certainly qualifies. However, Malibu Media generally responds to this allegation by pointing to comments of the trial judge in the so-called bellwether trial as unassailable proof that its intentions and tactics differ from other entities that bring copyright infringement actions related to pornographic movies. […] The greater weight of experience suggests otherwise.
Judge Black calls out at length Malibu’s abusive tactics of filing inadmissible, scandalous “third party infringement evidence” — the infamous “Exhibit C,” for which Malibu and its local Mary K. Schulz were sanctioned twice in Wisconsin.
It is heartwarming to see that this judge can recognize when Lipscomb adapts his tactics ostensibly to comply with orders, but in reality — to smuggle the old sleaze under the guise of novel approaches:
Malibu Media is a sophisticated litigant, so it should not be allowed to avoid sanctions simply by adapting its tactics after being questioned by multiple federal judges.”
As an example of such “adaptation,” the judge presents his own experience of striking certain paragraphs from a complaint, having found those paragraphs to be “Exhibit C” in disguise:
Instead of attaching Exhibit C, Malibu Media adapted its practice and now made an explicit reference to a document with “additional evidence” that the defendant had distributed a large number of third-party files through BitTorrent. Malibu Media disingenuously offered to produce this document to the Court with the seemingly off-handed remark that “many of the titles to the third party works may also be relevant to proving Defendant is the infringer because they correlate to the Defendant’s hobbies, profession, or other interests.” Id. Citing the two Wisconsin district court cases that imposed sanctions for attaching Exhibit C, the Court struck the offending paragraphs from the complaint and ordered Malibu Media to file a conforming amended complaint forthwith. Two months later, Malibu Media voluntarily dismissed the action without filing an amended complaint.
In one of the cases Judge Black also threatens Rule 11 sanctions for apparent false statements about the service (this is not the first Malibu service-related lie):
The affidavit of process server Kevin Allen states that he personally served Defendant at Defendant’s home on January 26, 2015. This directly contradicts counsel’s representation in the February 10, 2015 motion that “despite the process server’s efforts, the Defendant has not been served.”
The harsh language of these orders suggests that if young Faroniya and/or his Miami curators manage to annoy this judge just a bit more, the force of his hammer descending on the troll’s head will be as large as his enormous patience.
Thanks to Raul for recapping the documents (OSC 14-cv-00707 Doc 17; OCS 14-cv-00718 Doc 15).
Remember the case where defendant’s identity was revealed in violation of the court order? On the same day Judge Black addressed three pending issues there, and while he ruled essentially in favor of the plaintiff, the tone was basically the same as in the orders discussed above (“further games won’t be tolerated”). Scroll down to the 5/27/2015 update.
- TechDirt: Ohio Judge Fed Up With Malibu Media: Appears To Give Copyright Troll One Last Chance
- Reuters (paywalled): Judge says ‘copyright troll’ shoe fits porn producer Malibu Media
Keith Lipscomb, Malibu Media’s general counsel and founder of the Miami firm Lipscomb Eisenberg & Baker, said in an interview that there have been many other judges who have “rejected the accusations” that Malibu Media used abusive tactics.
Didn’t John Steele say something similar a couple of years ago?
In the one case that has gone to trial so far, in which three defendants admitted liability, U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson in Pennsylvania said in 2013 that the company was not a troll. “Rather,” Baylson said, “Malibu is an actual producer of adult films.”
This is astonishing: Judge Black specifically referred to “so-called bellwether trial” (Black’s words) as “is of little relevance to the present inquiry,” and Lipscomb continues to stubbornly pound that table. Facepalm.
- Law360: Porn Co. Malibu Media Looks Like ‘Troll’ To Ohio Judge
Well, well… One day after the deadline (of course!) the troll responded to Judge Black’s scolding Orders to Show Cause.
If you have neither law nor facts on your side, and pounding the table would inevitably prompt judge’s wrath, run with your tail between the legs.
Embarrassing, to put it charitably…
19 responses to ‘Court scolds copyright troll Malibu Media for improper litigation tactics’
Great post. Gonna drop the third piece of today’s trifecta here in which the gang gets further admonished by Judge Black. https://fightcopyrighttrolls.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/4920355-0-28533.pdf
Yeah, I plan to cover it some time tomorrow. Too much stuff for one evening. Will write an update to Malibu Media attorneys reveal defendant’s identity despite the order prohibiting that. Judge is not amused.
It is a lot of ammo for one day from one Judge. Thanks for the effort.
Thank you and Raul for publishing the article below. It prompted me to expand on a Motion to Strike I was working. Upon reading your post it occurred to me that Attorney Lipscomb’s current form of pleading (plaintiff’s Complaint) flies in the face of Judge Conley’s Order (in my opinion). What Attorney Lipscomb has done attempts to circumvent the sanctioned conduct by not attaching Exhibit “C,” but still referring to it as a gotcha document waiting in the wings. The result is the same, but for the publication of third-party titles.
I attached a copy of my Motion to Strike Pleadings to this email for your reference or use.
Bill Wohlsifer, in his motion to strike scandalous paragraphs from the complaint, essentially independently came to the same conclusion as Judge Black.
Also, the answer, to which this motion is a complement, has very interesting affirmative defenses.
While I agree that the answer is well written, it bothers me that many of the affirmative defenses are based on the theory that the swarm should be joined, when the community has spent so much effort fighting the concept of joinder based merely on the hash.
On an unrelated subject to my previous reply, I wonder how Attorney Wohisifer’s client got named in the first place. Does she not have someone with a penis living in the house, or at least visiting from time to time?
Oh My God…..what an excellent Answer and Affirmative Defense motion!! I hope other defending attorneys take note.
Those Affirmative Defenses are spot on, pointing out how hypocritical, inconsistent, and poorly written the extortion troll pleadings are. The AD points exceptionally well to the conduct that is being employed by claiming liability over and over again, both in the same jurisdiction and across the Federal judiciary, for the same alleged infraction…..that one should really hit hard if the judge is paying attention and really cares about FRCP rules and justice. The entire AD should put the extortion operation on its heels.
Hopefully the judge will allow most or all of these AD’s, since it would shed light on a great deal of the porn monetization extortion scheme. Then we can all watch these filthy roaches scatter under the judicial light.
Take that you scummy extortion troll salad-tossers!!!
Even if they file a motion does not mean the Judge will accept it correct?
Given the lack of answers, I REALLY don’t see this Judge letting them grab the ball and run home.
I do hope that the Judge responds by saying he expects his answers in a TIMELY fashion and they will be here until HE is satisfied.
The judge ordered them to show cause as to why the complaint shouldn’t be dismissed with prejudice, and they voluntarily dismissed it with prejudice. Unless he issues another Order to Show Cause, I’m not sure what else he can do.
Even though Mr. Downs is now the prevailing party, since he never appeared, I also don’t see how MM can be hit in the pocketbook on this case either.
Yeah, most likely nothing of significance will follow. So the crooks lost $800 in filing fees and whatever pennies spent on cookie cutter motions. Oh, they paid to the ISPs too (I don’t know what is the price tag ISPs put on their customers when they sell them tot he trolls). Compared to the millions Lipscomb & Co stole from people, it’s a drop in the pond.
I recently became part of a case (not sure if that’s the right word to use yet) in IL. regarding Glacier Films through Comcast, Docket # 1:15-cv-04010. Searching around it seems Im one of 12 or so Does, Doe 1-13. It says I have the option to file a protective motion to quash but need a valid reason to get it passed in my favor, which I don’t believe I can provide. Im not in a position to hire a lawyer let alone fight this but at this point Im just going to have to wait til after the specified date to see where this goes. At the very most Im hoping for a somewhat cheap settlement can be reached.
I see other similar cases involve upwards of a few thousand Does or defendants so Im a little concerned as to being part of such a small group. Will they expect a higher settlement given the low volume of potential defendants? Im stressed as it is but at this point all I can do is wait and see what comes of this initial situation.
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