I decided to take a look at another non-porn copyright infringement case. There appears to be a view that non-porn copyright infringement cases are not as bad as porn cases. I beg to differ. These cases are part of the same type of business model designed to generate settlement money, not protect a content owner. This time the case is in the wonderful State of Oregon. Oregon is one of the newer States to the copyright troll game. This case is The Thompsons Film, LLC, v. Does 1-155, 6:13-cv-00469. The movie is the The Thompsons – SHA1 hash file number E9B2E49113086845E0F92FC5B06D2CFAE44731D4. Archive docket
The Troll in this case (and others) is Carl D. Crowell, Crowell Law, Salem, OR. As his name is on a few different copyright infringement cases, it appears Troll Crowell has teamed up with another law firm or at least a BitTorrent monitoring firm. Other Troll Crowell case – VoltagePic_00295(OR) Rynoryder_00539(OR) Elfman_00333(OR) It appears he is sticking to non-porn cases, possibly as it is easier to justify going after people who download/share main-stream movies. As the details on the actual BT monitoring are slim, I’m unable to determine any additional information. It is sad the courts take what these Plaintiffs claim at face-value and grant the subpoena for ISP subscriber information. All they had to do is state they recorded 155 Oregon public IP addresses and need the subscriber information from the ISPs to go forward. If this was a criminal case, the judge would likely want to know who did the monitoring and what their background and experience was. He is a recent article in which Troll Crowell took a smack-down – Article.
The case was initially filed on 19 Mar 13, with an amended complaint filed on 16 Apr 13. complaint_00469(OR) complaint_IPs__00469(OR) FAC_00469(OR) The main difference I noted in the amended complaint (FAC) is the removal of two of the claims – contributory infringement and Indirect Infringement (AKA: ‘Negligence’). They probably did some research and found out negligence claim was not going to be a good one to go after. The Does in this case have one claim of direct copyright infringement and are all jointly and severally liable – with this interesting note.
49. Notice is provided that on being specifically identified and on request from an identified defendant, with leave of the Court, plaintiff agrees to sever any defendant that claims prejudice in being joined in this matter and to proceed against each such defendant individually.
Looks like they are trying to head off any motions to quash based on improper joinder claims. Also notice the separation will happen ‘after’ a defendant has been identified (and likely threatened with a lawsuit). This will be interesting to see if the Troll actually does this.
Another interesting filing is a 25 Apr 13, memorandum of support for Plaintiff’s motion for continued discovery. MFR_SupED_00469(OR) Plaintiff claims –
The identity of a subscriber who is the ISP’s designated contact for an IP address used to illegally copy plaintiff’s movie is clearly relevant and properly discoverable. Should the subscriber not be the infringing party, then the subscriber is clearly a necessary and critical link in the chain of relevance to permit plaintiff to ascertain the identity of the actual infringer.
In the instant case, plaintiff believes a notable number of subscribers will be actual defendants, thus mooting the issue. But to clarify, plaintiff intends to pursue actual infringers which may require further discovery, “until a specific party is identified” as not all subscribers will necessarily be defendants.
So with this motion, the Troll contradict his claims in the complaints that the ISP subscriber is the defendants and is responsible for the infringement. The Troll now states the ISP subscriber might not be the infringer, but the information is still relevant to identifying the responsible party. The Troll minimizes this fact by claiming a ‘notable’ number of them will be defendants. I wish the judge would make Plaintiff provide more information on how many ISP subscribers are likely not to be the infringers. I wonder if the judge would have granted the motion for expedited discovery so easily if this was stated at the beginning.
I believe this memorandum is in response to two motions to quash requests by Pro Se Does. MTQ_Doe63_00469(OR) MTQ_Doe58_00469(OR) Doe 58 states he did not download the movie and prior to notification of the ISP subpoena, his wireless Internet connection was open and unsecured. Doe 63 tells the court that he didn’t download the movie in questions, and that there are roommates as well as friends and family who use the Internet connection. Also, Doe 14 objected to the release of his personal information on 25 Apr 13. Obj_Doe14_00469(OR)
Repeat IP addresses (More Sloppiness)- Of note on the public IP list is that two IP addresses are repeated. IP address 18.104.22.168 is associated with Does 13 (22 Jan 13) and 49 (2 Dec 12). IP address 22.214.171.124 is associated with Does 39 (19 Dec 12) and 40 (18 Dec 12). The BitTorrent client version appears to have been updated which caused the doubles entries.
A search of the US Copyright Office database comes back with the registered owner of The Thompsons (PAu003651594/2012-10-05) as Elsa Ramo, Law Offices of Elsa Ramo, 315 S. Beverly Drive, Suite 412, Beverly Hills, CA, 90212, (310) 284-3494, firstname.lastname@example.org. Screenshot Please note that for this movie there are two copyrights – one for a Motion Picture/Videodisc (DVD) & the other for a Dramatic Work and Music; or Choreography/Electronic file (eService). CopyRight_00469(OR) CorpDiscl_00469(OR) This will be interesting to see how many movies Mrs. Ramo is the rights holder for – she is an IP attorney in Beverly Hills specializing in movies and film industry.
Open message to Mrs. Ramo. Are you the true owner of this copyright? If so, why have you jumped on the copyright troll bandwagon? The potential damage you risk to your name and firm are not worth the quick profits this business model promises (my opinion). Copyright infringement is not right, but neither is your actions.
This case and Troll Crowell are new, but I still don’t see them going anywhere beyond threatening Does with a lawsuit stage. I would expect this case to get milked for as much settlement money as possible, prior to being dismissed. There is the chance a defendant could be named and served, but there is no reason to risk a fight without some real evidence. Even then, the defendant had better have some assets or it is just a waste of time and money. Unless the judge decides to ask some hard questions, I expect the release of ISP subscriber information. Please forward me any letters, emails, or details of telephone calls concerning this Plaintiff/Troll and the settlement demands.