Veterans Day Double Feature, 2015 (Dallas Buyers Club & Cobbler Nevada)

Dallas Buyers Club FAILS in WA

In the world of BitTorrent (BT) Copyright Trolls, change is often slow and only occurs after a Troll/Plaintiff is forced. One recently reported (2 Nov 15) change came from Doe Defender John Whitaker, “Dallas Buyers Club Update.”  Archive Docket

Attorney Whitaker explains that Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) has been filing cases and telling the WA court it needed to subpoena the ISPs to obtain names of the offenders so it could amend the complaints (Name them) in the law suits. We all know this is BS when you look at the BT Copyright Troll Playbook. The Troll then came back to the court and asked to be allowed to depose the ISP subscribers, which was initially granted. After the Troll’s behavior in demanding deposition compliance was seen as excessive (motions to quash were filed), the judge agreed and quashed them. The Troll soon came back to the court with less aggressive deposition demands, which the court allowed. The court also advised Plaintiff to move the cases along or face dismissal. Of course Troll/Plaintiff acted stupidly and FAILED to name anyone or move the cases forward. The depositions were only used to pressure people into paying a settlement in fear of a trial. The judge then decided to hit DBC where it courts.

Well Judge Jones is having none of it. He penned an order denying DBC any more subpoena power until DBC either demonstrates that this is legitimate litigation or starts dropping cases. Particularly interesting is Judge Jones’ reference to a Whitaker Law Group client, Jeff Pleake, who has been very vocal with his dissatisfaction over being wrongly accused of downloading movies he’s never even seen.” (John Whitaker, Attorney)

Doc_36_Order_01819(WA)

So right now the Troll/Plaintiff has to put up or shut up. That means for the cases it has obtained ISP subscriber information and/or taken depositions, it has to dismiss them or start naming Defendants and amending the complaints to show this. This is not where the Troll wants to be. I expect the Troll could name a select few (or one) defendants, as well as dismissing the remaining cases. Doing so will cost them more money and the added risk that a person(s) will fight back. Dismissing all of the cases is an option, but it sends a clear signal that this Troll/Plaintiff will NOT take a person to trial and you simply need to ignore them. Whitaker’s client appears willing to defend himself, so lets see what the Troll does. This judge doesn’t appear to like being used as a tool for Plaintiff’s money-making business model. More to come.

Is The Northern District Of IL Getting Tired Of BT Copyright Trolls???

This is really an interesting development for those of us who follow BT Copyright Trolls. The Northern District of IL has long been seen as a haven for BT Copyright Trolls. One judge in NDIL who has dealt with these cases since at least 2010 is the Honorable Ruben Castillo. Judge Castillo has seen Steele Hansmeier/Prenda Law from its start and likely sees the same slimy operation from the other Trolls filing in his jurisdiction.

In a recent order (5 Oct 15), Judge Castillo gave one particular BT Copyright Troll (Michael Hierl) a “double-tap” on one of his cases – COBBLER NEVADA, LLC v. DOES 1-20, 1:15-cv-08398 (NDIL).   Docket_08398(IL)   Complaint_08398(IL)   Complaint_EXA_IPs_08398(IL)  

The case was opened on 24 Sep 15, and Judge Castillo wasted no time in issuing the order (sua sponte). the Troll didn’t even get to file his request for early discovery of ISP subscriber information.   Judge_Castillo_CaseDismissed_08398(IL)

MINUTE entry before the Honorable Ruben Castillo:After careful review of this recently filed complaint, said Doe complaint is dismissed without prejudice to the filing of any amended complaint which expressly names any appropriate defendant(s). Plaintiff’s counsel is hereby authorized to proceed and issue subpoena(s) to determine the identity of the Doe defendant(s). All discovery and third party subpoena(s) must be complied with even though the initial Doe complaint is dismissed without prejudice. Finally, plaintiff’s counsel is gently reminded that the joinder of multiple defendants in one lawsuit must be supported by concerted action of the defendants.Mailed notice(rao, )

Key Points

  1. Case 1:15-cv-08398 is DISMISSED.
  2. Troll/Plaintiff is ALLOWED to subpoena the ISP for the subscriber information.
  3. ANY filing of cases based off of the Subpoena/Discovery has to “expressly name” the Defendant.
  4. Joinder of Defendants will ONLY be allowed if the Troll can show EVIDENCE of a concerted effort between the joinded Defendants. I loved how the judge used the word “Gently” – take heed Troll. 😉

So what will Troll Hierl/DBC likely do? I fully expect them to subpoena the ISPs and then send out settlement demand letters for approximately $3800. They have already spent $400 to file the case, even one settlement will repay this amount. The settlement letters will NO doubt fail to inform the ISP subscribers that the case is DISMISSED or how the court obviously not impressed with the Troll case filings. Judge Castillo (and others) probably sees the mess these cases bring to the court and that they only seek to fleece people for thousands of dollars with the fear of financial ruin (My Opinion).

It is true that Troll/Plaintiff COULD file amended complaints with the ISP subscriber as the Defendant. This is a risky move (my opinion), as this judge has made it clear he thinks Troll/Plaintiff is abusing the court in a money-making settlement-generating operation. Simply naming the ISP subscriber as a Defendant without some form of a REAL investigation is good way to lose and possibly be sanctioned by the court. The one thing I could see the Troll do is ask the court to grant a limited deposition of the ISP subscriber (2 hour max.) so they can try to narrow down who the actual offender is. Of course running 20 depositions raises the cost of these cases and does not guarantee they can identify who the true offender is.

Example of the difficulty: ISP subscriber is deposed and tells the Troll: 1) Didn’t download/share Plaintiff movie and doesn’t know who did; 2) The WiFi Internet connection was run “Open” (No Password) or the password was freely shared out to multiple guests, neighbors, etc. EVEN if the ISP subscriber denied the infringement and said the WiFi was password protected, they have to determine if proceeding is financially workable.

The Troll can tell the ISP subscriber about all the “Other” files they recorded as being shared via BT and claim it fits the profile of the ISP subscriber and/or family member. They can also tell the ISP subscriber they will forensically examine the household computers for evidence. Good talk, but doing so raises the cost of their case (if they actually do it- doubtful IMO) and such actions do NOT guarantee a settlement.

The overwhelming history of mass-Doe BT cases in NDIL clearly show that a majority are NEVER named in an amended complaint. This business model works on running as cheap and fast as possible. There of course will be a small number of people who receive additional pressure from the Trolls, but this is done on a case-by-case basis.

For the 20 Does in this case, I suggest you first make sure that BT is not running on your network and to resecure the WiFi Internet access (New Password). Ensure the WiFi password not freely given out and that BT doesn’t start back up again. I would not respond to the Troll on a CLOSED case like this. They only have the public IP address (WiFi Firewall/Router IP address) and a list of “other” files that were being shared by the BT client over a certain time period (likely a month+). If you speak to them, you will undoubtedly given them some sort of information on you, your family, financial situation, etc. Do not make it any easier for them to extort you. Also, when the settlement letter start to go out, please email a copy to dietrolldie@dietrolldie.com.

If you eventually do get subpoenaed for a deposition or receive some other valid legal document/order, please do not simply ignore it. That is the time to consult with an attorney who has gone up against the Trolls. Failure to do so could lead to a default judgment and an award of thousands of dollars to Plaintiff/Troll. I will give the standard caveat that I’m no lawyer, this isn’t legal advice, and each case is individual/different. Saying that, I do think myself and other non-lawyers types who follow these cases have a decent handle on what is going on.

Offend1I’m hopeful this is a signal that Mass-Doe BT cases in the NDIL are coming to a close. This will force the Trolls to either only file single Doe cases (like Malibu Media/X-Art), or move to other jurisdictions that are unfamiliar with BT Copyright Trolls. The judge has just handed the Troll the rope. Hopefully he hangs himself with it.

DieTrollDie 🙂

“The pitfall of Bene Gesserit training, she reminded herself, lay in the powers granted: such powers predisposed one to vanity and pride. But power deluded those who used it. One tended to believe power could overcome any barrier . . . including one’s own ignorance.” {Dune Messiah, Frank Herbert}

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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8 Responses to Veterans Day Double Feature, 2015 (Dallas Buyers Club & Cobbler Nevada)

  1. WDS says:

    It seems to me that the way the NDIL order was worded, it was more to reduce the court workload than it was to keep the trolls from hassling people. If they can still serve the third party subpoenas to get the subscriber information and are allowed to serve court endorsed discovery subpoenas to those people, there is nothing to keep them from trying to scare a settlement out of people. The people served don’t even have a case number to file an objection on. The troll gets what they want on multiple people with one filing fee. I’m finding it hard to find the win in this situation.

    • DieTrollDie says:

      I will have to look at the other mass-Doe cases recently filed in NDIL. Based on this order, I think the NDIL is changing it’s norms. I agree the Troll will still get the names. Hopefully it will be a bit harder for them to scare people into paying on a closed case. Some people will see the case in closed and ignore the Troll.

      DTD 🙂

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  4. John Whitaker says:

    Update: Judge Zilly is having none of it. Short and sweet. No subscriber depositions here.

    John

  5. B says:

    Looked on PACER and saw the Cobbler Nevada cases were dismissed in Colorado…is this a move to actual civil suits/each doe being named? Or did they give up?

    Looks like one order dismissed the case without prejudice and one order was given to dismiss the party with prejudice. Thoughts?

    • DieTrollDie says:

      Do you have a list of the CO cases that were dismissed?

      I would have to look at each case, but it is likely just the Troll dismissing the cases because they are getting old and not wanting to draw more negative attention from the court. They of course could refile single Doe/Defendant cases, but unless they have additional information/evidence (case-by-case basis), they are at the same spot they were prior to the dismissal. Except that they just spent $400 to refile. They could then name/serve the Defendant in hopes it would bring them to the settlement table. Doing this is a risk, as if a defendant answers (denial), they will have to move along to Discovery – something they generally do not want. Discovery costs them more money and isn’t a guarantee of a settlement. Remember the goal is NOT to take these people to trial – but to get the settlements as cheaply as possible. The CO Trolls (non-Malibu) do not have a history of going this far. It is simply cheaper for them to move onto the next mass-Doe case and see what settlements they can get. So my opinion is they will not go any farther with these Does. Even if they do not, the Does/IP subscribers could still get letters from the Troll stating that they
      fully intend to file single cases, by my opinion is that this is BS. A cases does not need to be open to get a settlement, only the threat is needed.

      DTD 🙂

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