The Thompsons Cases – Copyright Trolls Join Unrelated BitTorrent Activity

While answering a question for a Doe, I decided to dig a little deeper into the various “Thompsons” cases filed throughout the US.  I apologize for missing an ‘interesting‘ aspect in case The Thompsons Film, LLC, v. Does 1-155, 6:13-cv-00469.   complaint_00469(OR)  The SHA1 hash number I listed was ONLY ONE of THREE hash files in the IP address listing.  I was a bit shocked, as this type of activity is very old-school copyright troll, as well as stupid in my opinion.  John Steele (Steele-Hansmeier/Prenda Law) liked to do this with his early cases.  We had another Troll try this a while back in Louisiana over a year ago – Multiple Hash Files.

TMovieHash1

The reason I call it stupid is because it shows that some of the BitTorrent activity is not related and thus some of the Does are improperly joined with the others Does.  The movie may be the same, but the SHA1 hash number is not.  The BitTorrent clients were NOT sharing the exact same movie, they WERE sharing the exact same file.  These files have very specific hash files that are essentially a super specific identifier (high-tech term).

SHA1 is a cryptographic hash function that produces a 160-bit hash number (i.e.  E9B2E49113086845E0F92FC5B06D2CFAE44731D4) for any file (block of data) you wish.  When a file (movie) is made available on BitTorrent, the file is hashed – given a SHA1 number.  The odds of finding another file with the same hash number are out-of-this-world (another techie term).  You have a better chance of winning the power ball lottery a couple-of-times back-to-back than finding a file with the same hash number.  That is why the hash number is often referred to as a ‘digital fingerprint.’  Just change a single bit of the file and the hash number changes – that is why there are different hash numbers in these cases.

Here is a picture of spread sheet of the “Thompsons” movies cases I was able to look at.  ** If anyone has the complaint and IP address documents for the Florida cases, please send me a copy.

SSheet1

You can see that for the cases in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, we have single case files with different SHA1 hash files in them.  Essentially the local Troll has improperly joined Does to save money on court filing feels.  In addition, since the hash numbers are different, there is NO WAY the action of a Doe associated with hash # 4C55A9C583CDC447A14CF245BBD9C1F3AAA30C23 could have shared data with another Doe associated with hash # 88144855EEC090F98A93D85547BD540A8EF50716.  IT ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN!    Here are the other cases – Thompsons_02367(IL) Thompsons_02365(IL) Thompsons_00126(WA) Thompsons_00260(OH) Thompsons_00595(OH) Thompsons_02368(IL) Thompsons_00577(MO) Thompsons_00687(CO) Thompsons_00560(WA) Thompsons_02371(IL)

Also of interest is the fact that majority of these cases have BitTorrent activity during the December 2012 – March 2013 time period.  My point here is ALL of the Does who are associated to hash # 4C55A9C583CDC447A14CF245BBD9C1F3AAA30C23, during this shared time period should be under ONE case.  That or ALL the cases need to be associated to each other in the dockets.  that way once a default judgement is entered in one of the related case, it kills all the others it is linked to.  Yes it would be a logistical nightmare, but that fact shouldn’t be the determining factor.  The determining factor should be if the hash number and the time periods are the same, they are related (my opinion).  Please feel free to pass this information onto the various Doe defenders.

Previous “Thompsons” post

DieTrollDie 🙂

About DieTrollDie

I'm one of the many 'John Does' (200,000+ & growing in the US) who Copyright Trolls have threatened with a civil law suit unless they are paid off. What is a Copyright Troll? Check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation link - http://www.eff.org/issues/copyright-trolls
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41 Responses to The Thompsons Cases – Copyright Trolls Join Unrelated BitTorrent Activity

  1. Reblogged this on TorrentLawyer™ – Exposing Copyright Trolls and Their Lawsuits and commented:
    For those of you interested in the “chemistry” behind the bittorrent lawsuits and the “SHA1 hash numbers” affiliated with each title allegedly downloaded in each copyright infringement case, Die Troll Die has written up a very simple to understand article on the topic.

    His analysis relates specifically to the The Thompsons Film, LLC v. Does 1-155 (Case No. 6:13-cv-00469) and similar cases, however the application of the SHA1 hash number analysis is relevant to any bittorrent lawsuit.

  2. ongchotwi says:

    In 02367(IL) – take a quick look at Does 8 and 9. i.e. They’ve made more than one sloppy error in this case. So I’d expect a number of doubles when the torrent client auto-updates. These PDFs won’t let me copy information. Blech.

  3. Pingback: Hash File Numbers and Copyright Trolls | DieTrollDie

  4. DoeName says:

    Hi, I am one of the unlucky 35 from the eastern WA group and stumbled on this trying to figure out what to do. Any advice?

    • Sparkle says:

      I just got a letter from my cable saying these people are requesting my information in a lawsuit .. They say I downloaded something ( which I have not a clue) Iam old and very sick and when I got this I like to have fallen in the floor.. I dont know what to do .. My cable said I have to send a written letter in saying I dont want my information disclosed but wouldn’t tell me if it could be hand written , typed or it had to be a legal form .. All I do is play Farmville on face book and chat with my family in other states … And the paper work doesnt even tell me what I had down loaded just a date of 1/17/13 at 5 am .. Iam long a sleep at that time and I live a lone so does anyone know how to tell me what do I do ?? Iam so up set I had to take a nitro… HELP Please .. I live in Washington state

      *** Name Edited – please don’t use real names ***

  5. Dama says:

    I’m one of the IL cases that just received this info. I’m on the list multiple time but have no idea why. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    • DieTrollDie says:

      The reason you are on the list multiple time is because the Troll is sloppy (IMHO). It would appear that someone used your public IP address to run a BitTorrent client to download/share the movie in question. During the time the BT client was using your network, the software was likely updated and it caused a difference in the logs for the Troll monitoring it. The Troll in its sloppiness noted it as a separate instance of infringement. As they split up the monitoring result into separate cases, that is likely why you have multiple cases/notifications. Your ISP doesn’t realize what has happened, they are just responding to a valid subpoena. The problem with these cases (overall) is that the courts first assume these guys know what they are doing and there is nothing nefarious in their actions. As can be seen in Judge Otis Wright’s 6 May 13, Order, this is not always the case.

      If your information is released by your ISP, the Troll will try to contact you via phone, email, and/or letter to get a settlement from you (maybe $4K) to make the threat go away for you. If/when this happens, please send me a copy of whatever they send. They will claim they will name and serve you in the case. With these “The Thompsons” cases, the full extent of their actions is not known. I personally don’t think they will have a case actually judged on its merit (full trial). The cases are old-school porn copyright troll format and they obviously have some questionable data logging issues. It begs the question of what other errors has the Troll made in these cases.

      DTD 🙂

      • Dama says:

        Honestly, im concerned because i have no recollection of this movie whatsoever and im the only one who uses my laptop and searched for any activity on the days they call up and theres nothing

      • DieTrollDie says:

        I would look at your WiFi Firewall/Router to see if it is secure or open, as well as what other systems have been using it. Document everything just-in-case.

        DTD 🙂

      • Dama says:

        Ill see what i can do. I know our internet is password protected but ill check on the my firewall.

      • DieTrollDie says:

        Even being password protected is no guarantee that that someone cannot guess the password (especially if it is simple), or exploit a known vulnerability in the unit. You also have the possibility that some guest using your Internet connection did this without your knowledge.

        DTD 🙂

      • Doe000 says:

        I too have been threatened with a $4k settlement fee. How do I proceed?

  6. DoeName says:

    Me again, guy who posted May 4th.

    Like Dama I have no recollection of ever downloading that title, after polling family members and checking all devices for activity during those dates I am 100% certain it was not downloaded by someone in my home. My IP popping up is either a typo, a spoof or a wifi hack.

    I’m feeling confident I’ll come out OK since there is no proof of something that didn’t happen but I’m still unsure if I should file an objection?

  7. DoeName says:

    Hi, me again from 5/9. The troll just sent a packet with a Waiver of the Service of Summons they asked me to sign and return. Not sure if I should do that.

    • DieTrollDie says:

      Here is some additional information on service of summons/complaint – http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_4 If you sign and return it, you will be effectively served a summons/complaint and then if you (or your attorney) do not file and answer to the complaint, they can file for a default judgement. If you do ignore it, Plaintiff/Troll will have to have a process server serve you with the summons/complaint. Take a look at the requirements for a waiver of service. Did the Troll send you a copy of the complaint and other required paperwork? Can you scan and send me a copy of the paperwork?

      Please refresh all of us on the status of this case. How many Does are remaining on the docket?

      DTD 🙂

  8. Pamela says:

    HI, I’m also one of the Doe that received the copywrite infringement threat letter that is asking me to settle or they will precede further actions if I didn’t reply on certain date. I live in IL. I consulted a lawyer, but what he told me is pretty much settling. No other choice. I couldn’t convince myself to do this because I know for sure that I or my family didn’t downloaded any movies specially for the time that they indicated the downloading occurred. I’m still worried though what will happen If I ignore this second letter again. Would they ask for more money to settle or continue to threat? Please advice.

    • DieTrollDie says:

      I will be doing an update post on the Thompson cases in a while. Yes, I noticed the difference in the settlement amounts ($2.5K v. $3.5K). IMO that is just a sloppy copyright troll that could take the effort to try and look professional. I bet your settlement letter looks like this one – settlement letter.

      Did you talk to an attorney who knows and has worked these cases? These cases stink because they are just bastardized copies of old porn copyright troll cases and for some of the cases they were not even smart enough to separate them by the different SHA-1 hash files. Please contact some of the attorneys on the EFF subpoena defense page and/or the ones on my attorney page.

      As these are new plaintiffs to the copyright infringement law suit game, it is hard to tell what exactly they will do. Even with saying this, their cases only have a public IP address and the subscriber information they obtained from the ISPs. Do not talk to the Troll and if they get you on the phone, give them the Richard Pryor Response (see the noob/newbie page).

      I’m no attorney, so take my advice “with a grain of salt.” First – read this – https://dietrolldie.com/2013/06/20/what-to-do-when-notified-of-possible-online-copyright-infringement/ and take any/all appropriate steps to show your are not ignoring it and are trying to determine how this happened on your network. Take good notes.

      Based on previous porn cases, as well the sloppy complaints (multi-hash numbers) and settlement letter, I doubt they will do anything but threaten to name and serve you with a summons. It is very unlikely IMO, but it could happen. The overall history of these type of cases show that for the vast majority, they never go to full trial. If that happens, then hire an attorney to respond for you. The only case to date that has gone to a “sham” of trial IMO, was the PA Bellwether case by Malibu Media LLC. The normal course for these cases is file a case, get a subpoena, obtain ISP subscriber information, send settlement letters, threaten to sue repeatedly, call and harass people, collect as many settlements as possible, close the case down and never have to truly have it judged on its merits.

      This is a business model and a full trial costs lots of money. The business cannot survive by repeatedly taking people to trial. For the case with 21 Does, lets figure they get 11 people to settle for $3.5K – $38,500. They have probably only spent a max of $2K for case time, filings, and technical support. Split that between the Plaintiff and Troll firm – and note that is ONLY for one case! Not a bad return on investment is it?

      IMO – I would ride it out, talk to some knowledgeable attorneys, and see what happens. NOTE: It is normal for attorney to give you all the options, including settlement. Settlement stinks if you didn’t do it, but it is the sure fire way to make it go away for you. I didn’t do it.

      DTD 🙂

      If you or a family member didn’t do it, there is not going to be any evidence to support the claims.

      • Pamela says:

        Thank you so much for the advice, and you are right I received the same exact letter.

  9. DoeName says:

    Thanks DTD. I’m trying to figure out a way to scan them and get all the information to you. How/where should I send it?

  10. Pamela says:

    Hi DTD,

    I really appriciate the advice. I havent been sleeping since I received this letter. I dont have that money, so it was really stressing for me. But now I think I can finally enjoy my weekend.

    Thank you.

    • DieTrollDie says:

      I agree stressing out isn’t going to help. Just make sure you don’t just ignore it. Look into how this happened, update your security on your network (WiFi password, etc.) and keep good notes. I doubt you will need it, but it better to be safe.

      DTD 🙂

  11. DieTrollDie says:

    Here is the archive docket for case 1:13-cv-00687, out of Colorado.

    Note the second to last entry (Doc 13), which is the minutes of a 2 May 13, Status Hearing on the case. The hearing only lasted 6 minutes –

    Plaintiff’s Motions for Leave to Take Limited Expedited Discovery Prior to Rule
    26(f) Conference (Doc. 3, filed 3/15/13 in 13-cv-00686; and Doc. 4, filed 3/15/13
    in 13-cv-00687) is DENIED without prejudice as stated on the record.

    *** I would love to hear or simply read the transcript and the reason for the denial. *** Any of our CO attorneys have access to the transcript?

    Also take a look at the last entry (Doc 23) where the judge denied a motion to quash from a Doe because he did go about it the right way. Colorado has some very specific rule a Pro Se Doe must follow.

    DTD 🙂

    • that anonymous coward says:

      *Snark Mode Engaged*
      “Colorado has some very specific rule a Pro Se Doe must follow.”
      Aren’t there some very specific rules lawyers are supposed to be following that often aren’t followed and the courts always seem forgiving to them.
      If only both sides were treated the same.
      grumble.
      *Snark Mode Disengaged*

  12. Pingback: Troll Tricks – Waiver Of Service, 2:13-cv-00126 (WA), The Thompsons Film, LLC v. Does 1-35 | DieTrollDie

  13. Nvr says:

    I am one of the Does identified in the settlement letters above. I did not take any action. I mean I wanted to. I made some inquires with some lawyers but everything, lawyer fees, settlement fees were out of my reach; simply I could not afford it. Needless to say. The dates passed nothing happened. Considering how the Prenda case played out in Judge Wrights court room, will I be hearing from this law-firm? Are these cases dismantling? I am assuming in the Prenda case the lawyers involved their careers are doomed. Should I still worry?

    • DieTrollDie says:

      It all depends on who the Plaintiff and Troll is. If your ISP subscriber information was released to the Troll, I would expect some sort of communication/settlement demand to be made. The best thing to do is get a PACER account and monitor your case. You are the best person to keep an eye on this and keep us informed. The Prenda implosion is having some effect on other cases, but their are still many other cases out there proceeding as normal. Most of these newer non-porn BT copyright infringement cases have yet to get to naming/serving stage or any other discovery phases. I personally think they will not name/serve 99.999% of the people. I expect that these Plaintiffs will move for default judgements on some people that are unresponsive and do not appear to have to will to fight. The default judgements will be even less than the people they name/serve. I would not worry too much, but I would keep an eye on the case just in case.

      DTD 🙂

      • nvr says:

        They I received a settlement letter with a June/July response deadline which onviously has since passed. What is a PACER account and so I show some will to fight at this point, what would a good step forward? Btw like many does in this case, I did not download The Thompsons, on new years eve, really!? Whats an RPR can I get a link on that information please. Thank you for your hard work on this.

      • DieTrollDie says:

        Be sure to read and then reread many of the articles in the Newbie/Noon section. PACER is how you access the actual case online to see what is happening. The RPR is basically telling the Troll you didn’t do it and to leave you alone.

        DTD 🙂

  14. DoeName says:

    Me again, the guy that brought up Waiver of Service initially. Just updating that I haven’t heard a peep from them since sending my RPR.

    • DoeName says:

      Crap, they’ve decided to press ahead and serve me with a summons. Not sure what to do now.

      • DoeName says:

        After calming down I went to the “noobs start here” section and began reading about what comes next. It’s not the end of the world after all.

      • DieTrollDie says:

        Time to contact an attorney and make some sort of response. Twenty One (21) days to provide an answer or MM can motion for a default judgement against you.

        DTD 🙂

      • DoeName says:

        Thanks DTD. I’ve been asking around but there are no attorneys in my circle that work with IP cases. I was told by them to contact the local County Bar Association.

      • DieTrollDie says:

        Of course also check the EFF list (if you haven’t). Be advised that many lawyers not experienced in these cases may give more weight to the fact that Plaintiff will actually take you to trial. For these cases, it is the complete opposite. Saying that, a good attorney will discuss all options and settlement is one of them. In civil cases, settlement is usually financially cheaper in the long run, even if you are innocent. This is a fact the troll are exploiting in their business model.

        DTD 🙂

  15. Mike Matesky says:

    Dear DoeName,

    I represent multiple defendants in the Elf-Man and Thompsons cases in Washington (Eastern District and Western District). Please feel free to contact me to discuss defense options.

    Good luck,
    Mike Matesky

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