I received an email from my ISP informing me that information about me was subpoenaed in connection to a lawsuit. What is it about?
Welcome to the club of 200,000+ victims of predatory lawsuits, kind of scam but with one difference – scammers, a.k.a. copyright trolls, albeit being unethical, usually don’t break any written laws, so you cannot just report them to authorities, it will not work. They don’t break the Law, they abuse it. To learn more about this extortion scheme, read About.
DO NOT PANIC
What should I do?
You have two options.
- Do nothing. Your case may be dismissed prior to the date ISP is set to reveal your personal details to plaintiff. If the case is not dismissed, and the troll eventually gets your name, you will start receiving threatening letters and phone calls. Keep reading to understand how to deal with these threats.
- Try to fight back. File a motion to quash the subpoena or dismiss multiple Does. An outcome of such a motion is uncertain – it is really depends on the judge, and since it costs virtually nothing to you, it is worth trying. Even if you don’t succeed, your effort is not in vain: judges’ awareness of this scam grows, and if this judge receives many motions like yours, it may alter his initial opinion on the matter. In addition, trolls normally write and file an opposition to every motion; therefore they spend their time. And more of a troll’s time is wasted, less time he has to inflict damage to the society.
I decided to file a motion. Do I need a lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer at this phase has some advantages: judges will more likely listen to a lawyer than to a pro se defendant, but I don’t think you should spend money at this stage: it is uncertain if a troll can get your name at all. Note that there are good templates that you can use for your motion.
What should I write?
Read this post, download the file linked from it, and modify it accordingly. Don’t forget to specify your e-mail address. I recommend creating a disposable e-mail account (aol, yahoo, hushmail, etc.) specifically for this case – the answer to “Should I specify my name or should I file anonymously?” question explains why you should do that.
The mentioned post’s comment section is very active, so if you have a question, don’t hesitate asking it there: there are many people who are willing to help. Also, visit DieTrollDie’s blog – it has more motion templates, articles and discussions.
How do I stay informed about developments in my case and/or similar cases?
If your motion is filed with the court and you specified an email address, all the new documents for your case will be sent to you as soon as they are filed.
Otherwise it’s hard to get details on a particular case unless it’s been involved in a recently interesting and newsworthy decision or you find one of the Does. Best bet is to get a PACER account and then get Firefox and run the RECAP plugin. This extension merges the regular PACER database with the free records archive maintained by RECAP. When you access PACER with the plugin installed it modifies the pages displayed so if the document is already in RECAP’s archive you can view it for free. If the document is not in PACER, when you download it (it costs $0.08/page from PACER – will be $0.10 starting March 2012) the RECAP plugin will automatically upload it to their database so that you and others can view it for free in the future. It sucks that PACER charges, but for these cases the documents are not that big and if you rack up less than $20.00 in a quarter, they’ll actually waive the fees. Chances are if you just need to follow your own case or keep tabs on a couple interesting cases you probably won’t end up having to pay. It’s also a great thing to do for the community as the more people browse PACER with RECAP the more documents become openly available and the more we all learn.
You can also search the RECAP archive for cases and find documents that others have uploaded, however I strongly recommend going the PACER account/RECAP plugin route as I have found that the index for their web search is very out of date relative to what is available when using the plugin.
If you want just to check if a new document is filed in a case, you can use RFCExpress: although their prices for documents are ridiculous (many documents they sell are available for free elsewhere), unlike PACER, they don’t charge for the document listings, just make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the document list and hit the “Request List Update” button.
Is it legal to share court documents I received by email or downloaded trough Pacer?
Absolutely! Court documents are in public domain and can be distributed freely. You can legally upload the documents to a free pdf hosting service, like Scribd, but I suggest using Recap service as detailed in the previous paragraph.
Should I specify my name or should I file anonymously?
Technically you cannot litigate in a court anonymously, but it is up to the judge. Your goal is not to litigate, but to give the judge an opportunity to make an informed decision. Some judges don’t know the real goal of these lawsuits and how impudently trolls are abusing the judicial system to enrich themselves. So your motion can educate judges. Some judges are angry at trolls but don’t have an excuse to dismiss your case, so your motion can be that excuse.
What should I send with my motion, and where should I send this?
You should sign both the motion and the certificate of service. Also, you may want to attach a proposed order (see an example here).
You have to send a copy of the motion to plaintiff’s council – his address is specified on every court document he files. You don’t have to include a copy of a proposed order.
I recommend using priority or other certified mail with delivery confirmation: this way you will be sure that your motion is delivered, and the troll won’t be able to claim that you failed to serve a copy to him.
If you fight anonymously, make sure that you don’t reveal your address. You cannot send a certified mail without a return address via a postal clerk: he will not accept it, and specifying a fake address is not a good idea – you don’t want to break the law and commit a fraud. In this case you should either buy priority mail stamps or use an automated mailing center.
Envelopes of anonymous filings are usually filed with motions, so everyone will know where you will have sent your motion from. If eventually the troll learns your address, it will not be difficult to calculate the addressee. Since trolls want to discourage defendants from fighting, you will possibly receive a “special treatment”, i.e. will be selectively prosecuted, the settlement demand will be increased, etc.
Hence, I recommend asking your friend in another state to re-mail your motion. If you estimate that many defendants live in your state/city, you can drive a couple of counties from your home to mail it. Alternatively you can use a remailing service like this one: it is very cheap.
I received a letter from a lawyer accusing me of copyright infringement and demanding money. Should I pay?
No. Albeit lawful, this is a known scam. By paying you make this scam sustainable, so paying is harmful not only to you, but to society in general. Read the About page and the blog posts for more information.
Plaintiff’s lawyer politely asks questions over a phone or in an e-mail. He sounds friendly and assures me that I have nothing to worry about if I’m innocent. Should I answer his questions?
No. Since the “evidence” against you is very weak, he will try to provoke your self-incriminating statements. Sometimes it is hard to see how your no-nonsense words can be used against you, but those lawyers are professionals in twisted logic, so they attempt to use your statements to increase pressure to settle.
So what should I say/write?
Just hang up / ignore his emails. If for any reason you want to communicate with plaintiff’s lawyer, consult with an attorney first, and not just any attorney, but one with experience in copyright litigation field and have a good reputation.
I was named in a lawsuit and served with the summons and the amended complaint. What should I do?
At this point it is not wise to ignore this matter, so you must reply. You may want to hire a lawyer, it is up to you: a motion from a lawyer weights more than any pro se filing, plus lawyers can notice troll’s procedural errors and the case can be dismissed based on those errors before merits are considered. On the other hand, many judges are more tolerant to mistakes in pro se filings than to lawyers’ errors.
Why can’t I just ignore this matter as I ignored ransom letters?
In civil cases if a defendant fails to answer to the complaint, so called “default judgment” will be issued by a judge. Law is law, no matter how unfair it is, judges are bound by it. They can in theory lessen the amount claimed by plaintiff, but still the resulting fine will be most likely disastrous for you.
Can I just refuse to accept certified mail, so the troll wouldn’t have a proof of delivery?
Although it is technically not illegal to refuse mail, some judges still may treat you as if you received the court documents. In some jurisdictions, even sending a certified letter constitutes a proof of service. So I wouldn’t recommend playing this game.
Can I proceed without a lawyer in this case?
If you don’t want to spend money on legal help, which is understandable, you may try to file an answer to complaint yourself. Fortunately, there is a growing pool of good samples. For example, look at this one.
What happens next?
Based on my observations, you will most likely be dismissed without prejudice eventually. Expect more attempts to push you into settlement and threats of trial, these are largely hollow threats. One exception: if you are wealthy, trolls can dismiss you without prejudice and sue you in your jurisdiction. But if you are wealthy, you will be able to hire a good experienced IP lawyer, and you wouldn’t be reading this FAQ in the first place.
What is the difference between being dismissed with or without prejudice?
If you are dismissed with prejudice, plaintiff cannot sue again based on the same allegations. Otherwise he can file a new lawsuit against you.
You probably saw many notes of dismissal in court documents. When you see a mass dismissal with prejudice shortly after ISP supplied plaintiff with names, it translates into the fact that those people paid ransoms. If someone is randomly dismissed without prejudice, then most likely troll finds it impractical to pursue this particular defendant for variety of reasons, but he wants to be able to keep this person on the hook, just in case, or he is resolved to pursue these defendants individually in proper jurisdictions.
I see some cases when people are sued individually in their home states. I’m afraid that this can happen to me as well, and I will be financially devastated. Isn’t a settlement my best option?
Many bad things can happen to us. Think about it in statistical perspective. You are scared – this is the exact reason why these individual cases were conceived in the first place – to show everyone the intention to sue you no matter what. This is a bluff. The troll will be financially ruined if he chooses to sue everyone individually. Also, most likely he will proceed with an individual suit if he learns that you have some assets he can take from you. Another possible reason is to vindicate for your loud opposition: not surprisingly trolls try to discourage people from fighting back. So if you chose to fight, do it anonymously.
319 responses to ‘Our FAQ’
Does anyone have info on case # 12-01794 CA13 ? I received a voice mail from Serena Duncan asking for my lawyer information. She gave that case number as reference.
I recieved a notice form cableone Friday, July 20. 2012, that they had be ordered to send my personal information to Prenda law. They said they would not send it for 30 days. What are my options. Thanks for your help. concerning my ip address on sept 23, 2011 6;19pm. I live in texas. Thanks again
find the case in this forum if it is listed and read that thread. don’t talk to the troll lawyers at all. Play the waiting game and see if you are personally served in your jurisdiction. If your case is not listed in this forum there are many threads that discuss Prenda. In fact, most have to do with Prenda. Everyones situation is slightly different. According to trolls you are gulity, and even if you are actually innocent then you are guilty by association. In other words, if your IP came out of the IP lottery machine then obviously it is YOU that copyright infringed on some movie called “Alice’s Rectal Rooter Malices” or some thing, or maybe, “Blown Apart Gay Rectums”
Thanks for the advice, I guess I’m one of the 6700 does court file # 11-6-683
If I live in DC should I worry that they will take me to court individually?
I’m hoping someone can help me. I received several emails last week from my ISP about notice of copyright infringement and various pornographic films. I’m assuming at some point this company (film company) will name me as a John Doe.
It looks like these films are all from the same company. My question is: Has anyone ever done a blanket settlement for any films of the plaintiff you may have downloaded that would include known, unknown, or suspected violations, etc.? Lord . . I don’t want my name associated with these films and having phone calls every time a troll files a new motion would just make me want to kill myself. Anyone had any experiences like that?
The sad fact is these are working because people like me don’t want to be associated with these films publicly even if we didn’t do it. The trolls are winning as long as they mass lawsuits are allowed to continue.
I received a threatening letter from Prenda, like so many others here. I found the practice Lalchandani Simon specializes in fighting against copyright trolls, but they want $1,000 to represent me. Do I pay, or wait the storm out? No summons has been issued; only harassing phone calls.
To add: Prenda Law (specifically Joseph Perea) has my full name
Even though Perea has started with the individual lawsuits (mostly AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13) they represent a very small percentage of Prenda’s pool of potential victims, less than 1%. So it becomes a personal decision depending on your threshold for harassment and risk.
Hello, two semi-quick questions. Recently I’ve been looking over a case I’m listed as a part of and I noticed that the video title I allegedly downloaded was not not actually copyrighted for about 80 days after the alleged act. How significant is this? Also from what I can tell the case hasn’t had any movement for about a two months; the last action was a Response in Opposition to MtQ for one of the four MtQ. Is This significant at all? Thank you for your time and I love the site.
Josa, if the registration of the copyright is more than 90 days from 1st publication, then they are only allowed “actual” damages (retail price of the movie). If it was registered at 80 days, then all parties could be subject to Stat damages. Any infringement after the registration can equal Stat damages.
Thank you for your reply. That info was exactly what I was looking far. Being mathematical, I calculated that between date of first publication and date of registration was 90-92 days.
I just received something in the mail today, a mass subpoena notification from Neustar. It has my name, and IP address from [date] in it. It says
It is the policy of [MY ISP] to notify a subscriber that a subpoena has been received for the subscriber’s records.
Accordingly, please be advised that on [date], a Civil Proceeding Subpoena was received from Michael Dugas, Attorney, phone 800-380-0840.
[MY ISP] will comply with this subpoena on [date] unless we receive legal documents that delay or terminate the process on or before [date].
[MY ISP] is not a party to this lawsuit and has no information about the basis for the subpoena. Any questions you may have about the subpoena itself should be referred to Michael Dugas, Attorney, phone 800-380-0840. If you have a need to contact Neustar about this letter or our procedure, please contact us at 877-510-4357, option 4. To better enable us to provide prompt assistance, please refer to case xxxxxxxxxx when calling.” At the bottom of the page there was a 571-phone number to fax the letter with my signature and the date to.
I’d had contacts twice before in the last three years from my IP about downloading, but this is the first time I’ve had a physical letter outside of my IP come about it. I was nervous, and contacted the Dugas number, and talked to another attorney and the matter sounded on the up and up. Later, I felt a bit more uneasy and I called the Neustar number and that also sounded like it was valid. Finally a few hours ago I decided to grab the bull by the horns and call my ISP. I eventually got someone in my local office, and when I explained everything to them they said not to send anything, that it sounded like an identity scam. They even said I should take the letter to my local police on the matter.
Still not 100% content, I talked to another ISP representative and they gave me my ISP’s corporate phone number for legal. I talked to someone there and they said it sounds valid — but when we were done, even she thought it might be a bit iffy, and asked me to fax a copy of the unsigned letter to her so she can make sure.
My question is (and I’m sorry for all the details): from everything I’ve seen here it sounds like it’s valid. Thoughts? And worst case scenario, what should I be looking ahead to? Even the lawyer I talked to at Dugas’ number said that getting the records doesn’t mean that it will show I downloaded the file in question. I just really want to figure out what to do next; definitely feeling as nervous as anyone else would be at this.
Many thanks in advance.
One thing I think we need to do is put some pressure and public scrutiny on Neustar. It’s fine that many ISP’s are outsourcing the handling of these subpoenas but the letters that Neustar sends out are a big problem. From the ones that I have seen they give the name and number of the troll lawyer and are written such that they imply that you should contact the troll to find out more about what the letter means. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read posts on here from people who have gotten one of these letters and the first thing they do is call the troll! I think Neustar is the trolls best friend!
I received a summons naming me in a suit last week for allegedly downloading 1 movie. I got counsel for help with this. Recently, the lawyer relayed that the settlement letter asked for 18k for 24 movies in total. I do not have their movies or bittorent on any of my systems. Is this what these guys do? I am frustrated and leaning towards fighting them.
Very new to all of this, and I’m doing my best to cram-educate myself.
1) I really can’t tell if I’m in a “John Doe” case, and can’t figure out where/why I’m involved at all. Case is one of AF Holdings vs [Individual]. (hXXp://www.wefightpiracy.com/) – WARNING: Prenda Web site!!!. I have no idea where I fit in at all. I keep reading the thing over and over, and don’t see any “Doe references”. I don’t know how many people are involved in this case, or what.
2) Are AF Holdings and Prenda the same thing?
3) Should I be mad at my ISP for not fighting harder for me? Should they just be rolling over and giving up the info? Should I be jumping to a different ISP?
4) Michigan: I can’t see a lot of information on cases happening in Michigan. Have judges in this area been tossing cases out right and left, or are they sympathetic to the trolls?
5) Is there a record of these trolls actually taking someone to court? (More importantly, Is there anyone who has just given the 4 RPR responses, and been taken to court afterwards?) Just want to know if the ignore method has ever gone wrong for someone.
6) Does the harassing ever go beyond phone calls/letters? Do these trolls ever head to an employer with details of your case involving “Embarassing Porn Title 58”?
1) If an ISP account holder is identified in a court filing, I guess they are a discovered Doe who has lost the anonymity. If somehow there is an allegation for you involving the same “work” in the same district but you are not named in the case, then you’re still a Doe. (The account holder is typically named, even if there are others in the household.)
If an account holder is named, generally they are the single defendant. Some group cases for initial (contact info) discovery have identified one Doe by name, with others in a group added as “co-conspirators”. The trolls are trying to get the other names to add to their shakedown list.
If you haven’t already, you might check with your ISP legal department to see if and when your information was released. They may supply information about the subpoena that led to your name being released or that “threat”. If there is a group, the ISP might tell you how many if it’s not on the subpoena.
1a) You are right to be concerned about connecting to Prenda’s site. If it’s necessary to go to that site, it’s best to do it through a VPN and Tor, or some similar services.
2) Without full legal inquiry and insider info, it’s hard to definitely know who are the overlords and who are the underlings in these scams. AF Holdings is technically a shell corp either for or with rights assigned by Heartbreaker films, owned the porn performers/businessmen Nina Mercedez and Raymond Balboa.
AF Holdings is incorporated in Nevis, probably to specifically hide shares and liability. It’s a good guess that Steele, Hansmeier, and/or Prenda cronies have a large role at least. It’s tempting to say that AF Holdings and Prenda are joined at their rear-ends.
3) Different ISP’s have fought the trolls in limited ways at some times in some places, but not that often.When the ruling is determined, they followed subpoenas. If there’s another choice in your area, you and your friends could switch if you know that the new ISP is better at protecting subscriber rights. Here one forward thinking ISP one that got attention:
4) Maybe someone else can give the regional report. Get A PACER account and follow your case and others. You can track things in a briefer way by checking RFC and the Internet Archive (see below). Post your own summaries here to help others.
5) Does who were named have been subpoenaed. The main court proceedings that have gone through are the one where Does fought back. Even those cases have not gone to the trial decision stage yet. There were some default judgements against Does who did not respond to subpoenas. I don’t have information about the RPR’s effectiveness in discouraging subpoenas. We won’t get it from Prenda, who makes a living from fear mongering. A Doe who pushes back against trolls is a less appealing target generally. Prenda trolls have sometimes claimed the opposite, promising vengeance. Fear is their main tool.
6) There are limited reports or trolls contacting a discovered Doe at work. There are state as well as Federal laws to restrict this. It makes the troll extortion look even worse. If it did happen, even with a phone call to the defendant at work, it’s good to document it as much as possible. And with RPR or something similar, a clear message to the trolls to stop makes continued harassment riskier.
If basic orientation about your situation remains a problem, think about giving a call to a defense (against trolling) lawyer, maybe one that gives a free consultation.
Disclaimer: This post is not to be construed as legal advice and is for discussion purposes only.
Im one of the 300 from MI as well. From what ive seen the comcast letter uses my name but all the court stuff has the defendent spot blank. Does this mean that they dont know our info yet? And there was a motion to stop the release of info and a court hearing on the 20th for it. Does this apply to all 300 of us or just the people who filed a motion with that lawyer?
i tried to settle this just to get my internet turned back on for 200 dollars it did not take it and i quickly realized it was probably just to get my information. now a month and a half later i have got a certified email with all my info including address on it from marvin cable law offices. i did not even realize there is certified email. anyway its naming me, my adress, my ip address, and the single movie in question. it is asking for close to 2 grand, what is my next step. do i play the waiting game for a summons or do i contact a lawyer immedietley.
You can play the waiting game and have them sue you and get a lawyer then, or you can try to settle this now through a lawyer. It’s your choice. Both ways, you should get a lawyer. This is a good warning for others who might get a message to settle on a website — this may be just to get personal identifying information. Rob Cashman would be interested to hear your story, I’m sure.
Hapless MA troll Cable has not sued anyone to the best of my knowledge. By that I mean he has not served anyone with a summons and complaint since I last checked. I would ignore the threat and doubly so if you live outside of MA but it is always good to get an attorney’s opinion.
Hi SJD and Raul,
I have a quick question and think maybe one of you can help. With regard to CEG Tek, Rob Cashman on his blog mentioned cable,siegel, and the rest of them have not sued anyone since July 2012 does that include mass suits? Also if I were to look for future suits that might worry me do these plaintiffs now get the jurisdiction correct? I see combat zone, nu corp, nu image Patrick collins, MM, have reduced quantities and are in proper venues. With that said if the are going to sue someone is it safe to say they will sue in proper venue? Also have the Florida/Miami Dade bill of discovery cases ceased? That seems to have been the “long arm” jurisdiction statute capital.
Sorry for all the questions, but any help you guys can give is greatly appreciated.
I am not a lawyer and lack the knowledge of trolls to the level of SJD, DTD, etc. I will offer only amateur informal observations for discussion purposes only.
(1) It’s a trend generally, for well over a year, that the troll groups have filed cases with allegations limited by state, trying to avoid the jurisdiction argument. Though it is less profitable to make demands to smaller batches of alleged Does, it remains much more lucrative than individual disputes.
You’ve probably seen blog info here and elsewhere about CEG-TEK’s different tactic: DMCA settlement letters at SJD, DTD, torrentlawyer and other sites, for example:
It seems probable that,until the porn copyright trolling tactics are halted by courts, if discovery is sought for Does, most of the time the jurisdiction will be proper. (Geolocation, not to mention the alleged torrent harvesting software, is not “infallible”. A quick google search will find discussions. And maybe some trolls will try to sneak a Federal mass troll cases through.)
(2) While the mass porn copyright trolling suits are now less common in Federal courts, as you note, some trolls file in state courts where their motions have a better chance. The most recent listings I see for Michael Keith Lipscomb’s porn purveyor client Patrick Collins, Inc. are on:
12/19/2012 vs. 350 Does (Clerk’s file #2012 R 912653)
11/06/12 vs. 661 Does (Clerk’s file #2012 R 800177)-other plaintiffs in this one include:
Harmony (LTD); NuCorp (LTD); BERLIN MEDIA ART JT; Raw Films (LTD) and K NRRVH.
These two appear to mass Doe cases. It seems unlikely that trolls would make allegations against 661 individuals for a minor porn film in one state county. I have no special information about how often this plaintiff and troll group will file. It could be, for instance, that it takes time to get these single Miami-Dade cases through, or that this group is busy with other matters:
Click to access gov.uscourts.mdd.227254.15.0.pdf
You can search the Miami-Dade state courts records, by plaintiff name, here:
Those Miami Dade case entries from 11/06/12 and 12/19/12 are not new filings. They are cases from the first half of 2011 that were closed for lack of activity – Lipscomb was almost immediately granted the discovery subpoenas that he wanted for extortion letters or new suits in the correct federal venue so there was no reason for any follow up at all in the Florida court.
The most recent Miami Dade mass Doe suits for the usual Lipscomb clients that come up now are 7/6/12 (2012-26292), 7/31/12 (2012-30010), and 8/17/12 (2012-32591 and 2012-32595).
This case dismissed..http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-zacourts/california/casdce/3:2012cv01474/387345/18
Oops heres the right link
I received a notice from Lesko, Purzel, et.al. . Back in 2012, I got the notice from my ISP that they were requesting the names of the “does”. Based on research and a brief legal discussion, I decided to ignore it and not file a motion to quash since they are generally not effective and if I did it myself, it negates any semblance of privacy anyway. Besides which, it seems more and more of these are getting thrown out of court as the courts are catching on to their tactics. In March I got a letter from their attorney that said if I paid them $4,000 they’d go away. So recently I got served by a process server. But there are some things about this that don’t seem right. It requests that I respond to Lesko within 21 days. But there’s no court date set. What kind of answer are they expecting? It further states that if I don’t respond to them that judgement will be rendered against me by default. How can that be done without going to court? I’ve never heard of something like this before.
A bit of history. I run an open network and have for 10 years. It’s accessible to anyone and we and our children have frequent visitors. I don’t have the named file and to my knowledge never have. In researching, it seems this outfit has been suspected of “seeding” their downloads and piggybacking on other downloads and then monitoring specifically to strongarm people into paying. Unfortunately, with the time delay, there’s probably no way to go back a year to figure out whether this is true. If it is happening, I’m sure the time delay is no accident. The March letter also says that each IP address is unique (the ISP’s address assigned to my modem is all they have). Anyone that runs a network knows this to be untrue. Although a router has a single address from the ISP and that is unique, there are potentially hundreds of devices behind the network. And on home networks you’ll find countless thousands of 192.168.1.1 addresses across the country for example. Hardly unique. There’s no way from the information to pin it down to a single device.
If I want to play worst-case-scenario, regardless of all the above, how can they request damages that exceeds the value of the supposed product? Wouldn’t they have to prove the loss? And with torrent sites specifically, each only serves a portion. From the ISP, they have a 6.5 minute connect time. Given that, how do they reconcile across the seeders and that no one may even have the complete file or be serving the complete file? There’s no way to know if any given device is even set to reseed.
So I’m trying to figure out the best approach to this. Given that I had been unemployed for some time, I cannot afford either high legal fees or a judgement rendered based on incorrect information or lack of understanding by the courts. Seems some judges are much more informed than others.
Unfortunately, the best approach is act through a lawyer — unless you want to invest a lot of time to understand how to properly reply: some people do it, and some actually succeed, but only a few are capable and dedicated enough. Even for them, they spend much more in terms of time than they would pay a lawyer.
I still think that ignoring a matter if you are a part of a mass lawsuit is a right thing to do unless you are served. Also, this is the first time I hear that Paul “Anal” Lesko pursues people individually. I’m sure he does it to maintain a patina of legitimacy: this scumbag wouldn’t go these lengths otherwise.
Navigate to your state in the “Discussion” menu and call all the attorneys listed there (also from the EFF list): the majority will talk for free.
BTW, following Cashman’s lead I redacted your message to protect your privacy. Always assume (and this is not simply an assumption, but reality) that trolls read these forums. And some of them are vindictive and can target people who fight (or share information) to discourage similar behavior.
SJD, how can I reach you?
Email is in ContactContact but I can’t just promise quick response: I’m traveling, maybe in the evening.
I just wanted to quickly share my experience with the copyright troll industry. I received a letter from my ISP in July of 2011. It included a copy of the copyright infringement papers filed with the court, which listed dozens of Does who had allegedly downloaded porn via BitTorrent. I chose to ignore it. I started to receive phone calls from trolls on a regular basis. It got to be a bit nerve wracking at times, but I stuck to my guns. This went on for almost a year. Then, the calls stopped. I haven’t heard from any of them in over a year now. One important point: My case was dismissed without prejudice several months after it was filed, but he trolls kept calling for about 6 or 7 months. I ignored them anyway. Thanks to SJD for her work. You really helped me keep my nerve with these assholes, and without this site my case would have probably had a different outcome.
I received a certified letter from an attorney in NJ. In it was a list of 16 items that were listed as violations. Also, there was a questionnaire called Exculpatory Evidence Request Form, which asked 4 questions: It asks that if you are not the person who downloaded the 16 items, 1. send the name and address of the person who was responsible; 2. Explain why I think the person downloaded this; 3. Explain in detail all the facts that you believe supports your assertion of innocence; and 4. state whether I have ever received a notice from my isp informing me that my internet service was being used to commit copyright infringement.
I have not responded. So, my question is: should I respond? What should I do, just ignore this?
Thanks for any advice you can give me.
First and foremost, be very careful. You’re dealing with pornographer Keith Lipscomb, the most aggressive and unethical troll in an aggressively unethical industry.
The “Exculpatory Evidence form” has nothing to do with exculpatory evidence. It’s seeking incriminating evidence from people without the legal training to understand what they’re providing. Anything you tell them will certainly be used against you if it’s applicable and what actually exculpatory will likely be ignored.
There have been varying opinions on whether to respond to this at all. You aren’t in any way obligated to. I don’t believe it can do you much good and the wrong answers could potentially do you a lot of harm. But I also believe that ignoring it suggests to the troll that you’re intimidated by the legal system, don’t speak English, etc. and would be ripe for a default judgement if you also don’t respond to a summons.
In my opinion the safest thing to do is to hire a lawyer. This is serious business. If you don’t want to do that, I would give a very limited response along the lines of Die Troll Die’s RPR. I didn’t do it, I don’t know who did, leave me alone or I will fight you in court. Don’t overtly lie in your response, don’t go into any details, don’t do the trolls’ research for him. If they really want to find out the answers to those specific questions then they can pay for a deposition.
Thank you for your reply. I am considering responding in the way you suggested, but then, I am also considering not responding. I’ll have to think about this for a bit. You make good points on either alternative. If this escalates, I will then hire an attorney. We did not download any of this stuff, and I don’t know how my ISP could have gotten on this Verizon list. Any ideas on how I could have gotten on this list to begin with?
Btw, I live in a triplex, and all three parties got this subpoena response from Verizon. This is what made me suspicious. Neither of the other two parties would have done anything like that so it is unlikely any of us did download anything.
The most likely false positive by a large margin is someone else – neighbor, guest, guy in the parking lot – using your connection. It could also be a clerical error by Verizon in matching the IP on the subpoena to a subscriber.
I had not read of an initial subpoena going out to all the people at an address. Are all three of you on the Verizon bill?
Yes, but with different modems. For a while, we were sharing a modem with our downstairs neighbor since they only had one computer and we had five. Verizon allowed up to 7 computers. We all had encrypted passwords to couldn’t see each other’s activity. It was a couple in their mid 40s and I can’t believe they did any downloading since some of the dates on the list were after they moved out. One day as I checked the mail there were envelopes in all three mailboxes. I’m planning to talk with them when I get the chance.
First, please keep in mind that in the past, pointing a different, possible infringer has both (1) only given the troll multiple targets, rather than “exculpating” one, and (2) further fed trolls to bankroll more trolling. In the past, trolls have tried to demand money from Doe account holders for “negligence” when a different person was the alleged suspected infringer. I believe that multiple troll groups have used this tactic.
Of course this is a divide and conquer tactic. Trolls have demonstrated patterns trying to use misleading “requests” for information to coerce all parties, rather than a single Doe. The ideal is to be on good enough terms with the meighbors to let them know about the scam. Part of the tactic involves using good faith responses by one party against the whole group.
Second, your ISP should have either its own legal department or assigned/outsourced legal record keeper. They can be contacted and asked about what subpoena and legal proceeding caused the release of information, when and what information was released. It is also possible to ask them if they IP address and date/time stamp of the accusation was really assigned to that account. Some ISP reps have given crummy advice, where Does were encouraged to call the troll unawares for details. Call them only for information.
Third, numerous Doe defense lawyers with experience repelling trolls will do an initial free consultation. That may give perspective, though of course even conscientious lawyers have incentive to encouraging your retaining an attorney.
See, for instance:
“‘I write bible studies and there is no way I did this. No one has been on my computer and my router is protected. My husband has mac notebook that is old and he only uses it to read the news paper. He doesn’t even know how to send an email or turn the computer on, I have to do it.’
“She said she contacted Patrick Collins Inc. in Florida and was told she would have to pay $2,380 to settle out of court.
“‘I told them I could pay $25 a month, but then I would have to give up my Advair [medicine] and will probably die,” she wrote me. They don’t care. They said I did it or I was responsible for someone who did.’”
In their letter, if you do not mind disclosing, do they reference a actual case? Reason I ask, I do not see any recent cases in NJ.
Also, please go to DTD site and read up on “Exculpatory Evidence”
good luck and keep us posted
Yes, there is a case number, Case No. 2:13-cv-01179-FSH-MAH, district court of New Jersey.
The letter starts off with how Verizon identified my IP address as downloading copyrighted materials from his client (a list of 16 porn movies, with specific dates, which we categorically deny).
Then it says: “We are currently reviewing your matter for purposes of determining whether to pursue my client’s claim of copyright infringement against you through further litigation.”
Then they asked me to fill out the Exculpatory Form or call them (they provided the number) within 10 days or they would assume I have no exculpatory evidence.
Since I don’t know who downloaded this, I do not have any evidence. It looks to me like they’re trying to manipulate me into filling out that form, which can only be used to incriminate me.
Any advice would be appreciated. I’m thinking about hiring an attorney but will not unless there is further action, but the case number indicate it has already been filed? It doesn’t make sense. They put a case number as if they have already filed, but then say they are reviewing your matter of determining whether to pursue further??
The case is already open, that’s how they were able to have the subpoena send to Verizon forcing them to disclose your identity. Pursuing the litigation would be filing more motions to the court – amending the complaint to put your name on it, issuing a summons, forcing you to provide discovery or attend a deposition, requesting a default judgement etc – within that existing case.
You should sign up for PACER (www.pacer.gov) to monitor the docket for your case, you’ll be able to see what these con artists are trying next. It shows that Cerillo just filed for a second extension of time which keeps the case open and threatening you without him actually having to do anything.
Thanks again, but how did you know it was Cerillo? That’s exactly who the attorney is. Did you look this up on Pacer? I will sign up, thanks for the tip.
You can also check on
It shows the summaries for no charge, but is not as quick to be updated.
Did you get a chance to read up on DTD’s site? http://www.dietrolldie.com
A lot of excellent info there. and best of luck, hopefully some of the senior guys here will chime in with some advice and tips.
Thanks to all of you so much.
I looked at the case from the link you posted, and it looks like this lawyer has had many filings with the court in my case. Can anyone read into this as to intent, or is this kind of activity routine? Thanks,
It looks like a routine Malibu case to me.
Docs 1-2, 4-5 are their form letter complaint. They’ve filed this one a thousand times over across the country changing nothing except the accused IP.
Docs 3, 6-7 are the court’s rubber stamp response, approving a subpoena to Verizon to force them to reveal your identity, and scheduling a scheduling conference which is when discovery deadlines, trial dates, etc. would be set.
Docs 8, 9, 11 are the troll requesting the scheduling conference and deadline to serve you be delayed. Doc 10 is the court approving the first request and unless you (or your attorney) files a contesting request they will certainly approve the others as well. These delays are partially because of Verizon’s slow response in retrieving your information (because as every other ISP, their lookup department is flooded with these scam lawsuits) and also because the trolls don’t want to spend the time and effort to serve you, much less actually attend a conference and otherwise do the work of litigating the case. Delaying costs the troll nothing and every sleepless night for you is another chance for you to pay them to stop tormenting you.
Thank you very much. I have not been served anything, you’d think that a Doe should be served so he can make a response. The only thing I got was the info from Verizon and a questionnaire from an attorney, Cerillo. I see where the next session in court is September 3, but I’ve received nothing from the court. So, I am waiting to hire an attorney until they take it to the next level. I hope it doesn’t but I’m preparing to defend myself. Thanks again.
I click on the link you provided on July 31 with my court case information. The first motion was delayed until Sept. 3 at 10am. It is now almost 2 weeks after that date. Does this mean that Verizon has not provided them with the information they are requesting? Also, they have not made any robocalls or attempted to contact me or my wife at all. Are we still living with an anvil over our heads, and will this go on indefinitely? Is there a statute of limitations, or is the last request, the second request, indefinite? Thanks in advance.
Who are “them”? If Prenda, than all the anvils moved to the position above their heads. If not, the danger highly depends on who the troll is.
Looks like your troll is Cerillo who is local counsel for Lipscomb in NJ. He has filed approximately 50 Malibu Media lawsuits but has only served defendants in approximately 5 lawsuits with a summons and complaint (double check me on this using rfcexpress.com) or 10% of his targets. Supposedly the new business model is not to contact Does until they have been served with a summons and complaint.
To answer your questions:
1. If the motion to take early discovery has not been decided Cerillo does not have your info and cannot contact you.
2. The statute of limitations for copyright infringement is 3 years.
Thanks, Raul. I am going to wait, then contact an attorney. I intend to fight this, we are totally innocent. I am assuming that like other court cases, you are innocent until proven guilty.
Hurray, my case was dismissed.
9/19/2013 13 ORDER dismissing Motion to extend as moot and dismissing action, w/out prejudice. Signed by Judge Faith S. Hochberg on 9/18/2013. (nr, ) (Entered: 09/19/2013)
9/18/2013 12 NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal by MALIBU MEDIA, LLC (CERILLO, PATRICK) (Entered: 09/18/2013)
Thanks to all of you who’s advice helped my wife and me through this very annoying time.
It’s not Prenda, it’s Malibu Media, through Cerillo.
Congrats! Cerillo’s history suggests he is shy of taking matters beyond the shakedown stage.
Does anybody have any info, or know where I can find some info on UFC (Zuffa) suing individual people? I received a email from a lawyer representing UFC stating they are suing me for streaming one of there ppv’s. The email sounds very similar to other copyright troll emails. Thanks
are judgements routine (mm case)? i have no money to pay an attorney to respond to this
I’m now not sure where you are getting your information, but good topic.
I needs to spend a while learning much more or understanding more.
Thank you for magnificent information I was looking for this information for
I just recently got a letter from my ISP that Malibu Media is asking for my personal details. Can I just move out of my apartment so that I won’t get the summons later? What is the probability that they will devote resources to track me?
Didn’t I already reply?
This covers most questions I have since I got a letter but I’m actually just worried about going to prison for copyright infringement.
I have a question about the letter and subpoena request I received from my ISP. In the court documents for the Subpoena that is issued to my ISP, it says they (my ISP) must produce the requested documents (my name and address) by November 2, 2015, to the law offices of the plaintiffs lawyer. But the message from my ISP, on the cover page mentions I have to quash the subpoena by November 16, 2015 and alert my ISP by this time or they will release my information, if I decide to quash it. I don’t get why the letter from my ISP has a later date than what is issued on the Subpoena. Can anyone explain this? Are ISP’s given a month to actually comply with a subpoena? I’ve noticed in other documents uploaded (mail from other does ISP’s), the same thing occurs, the quash date suggested by the ISP is later than the date to produce the documents.
Any information would be very much appreciated. Thank You.
I’ll reply tonight. For now I redacted your name: trolls do monitor this site and letting them know your name prematurely isn’t a good idea.
While ordered to produce documents by a certain date, ISPs often delay, given that they have limited resources to comply. Technically ISPs are in violation of court orders, but trolls are reluctant to press, fearing to wake a bear: if an ISP is annoyed, it may oppose (as Verizon did recently), and it has resources to squash the troll badly.
So, to be on the safe side — file by November 2; yet 99% November 16 will be just fine.
I was wondering about a few more thing similar to the subpoena date question previously asked.
Is there a way to know when an ISP released the information to the plaintiffs?
Also, is there a way to see exactly what information the ISP released or is it private?
Thanks for the site and all the answers. It’s greatly appreciated.
Well, the only way to learn it is to call the ISP’s legal department. It is it not a bad idea, and I believe that they will be able to answer these questions precisely.
The information is usually limited to subscriber’s name, mailing address and email, nothing else. Read the order granting discovery – in most cases it explicitly specifies that.
Got a question: If I in fact downloaded the files, is there any benefit at all in going to court? Their lawyer is asking for a lot of money to settle and I’m guessing it might be even more costly if we go to court and I admit to downloading the files. I believe the Malibu lawyer knows I make good money and I don’t doubt they will take me to court. (This really sucks)
“Breaches of copyright result in lost earnings for content creators. The value of many creative works, especially those with limited merchandising potential such as nonfiction books or photographs, is entirely contained in their intellectual property. If that value is reduced by sharing a work online as soon as it is published, it is the work’s creator who is hit first. Ultimately, less money flowing through creative industries could negatively affect the quantity and quality of works on offer.”
How is it relevant to the theme of this blog? Put it this way: people can disagree about the legality and/or societal harm (or benefit?) of prostitution, yet nearly everyone agrees that pimps are pure evil. Copyright trolls parasitize on illegal activities just like pimps do, helping no one but their pockets, ruining lives, careers and relationships in the process.
I made the mistake of calling CG TEK and giving my name and phone number. I may have showed fear during talking with their “customer representative”, and said that I would negotiate for a lesser price as “I didn’t have a job/money”.
The ISP account that I am using has a different name, number, and address associated with it. Am I or they in trouble?
You are not in trouble: if you stop torrenting (in case you ever did: false accusations do happen) and ignore all the subsequent communications from CEG-TEK, you’ll be fine. If the title you are accused downloading of is “London is Falling,” it may be a bit more uncertain.
Go to DieTrollDie’s page about CEG-TEK and read comments: there you’ll find a wealth of information and likely comfort.
Yes, I’ve extensively read the DTD website and plan to have the ISP account holder and myself contact the Service Provider to change wifi password, and ensure that “for whatever reason (hacked, etc.)” the copyright infringement will no longer happen again. I have uninstalled the torrent program.
The studio is MG Prem!um L+d. I am not aware of them filing any law suits so I am a little more at ease.
Thank you for the quick response and comfort
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