Lawyers representing several production companies have filed numerous copyright lawsuits against over 100 “John Doe” defendants in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii.
In each case, the plaintiff film production company alleges violations of its rights under the U.S. Copyright act arising from the Doe defendants’ alleged infringement of the film via the use of BitTorrent filing sharing technology.
In three of the new cases, the plaintiff is Cobbler Nevada, LLC. As Troll Defense previously reported, The Cobbler is comedy film starring Adam Sandler that was widely released earlier this year, with generally unfavorable reviews and disappointing box office revenues. Cobbler Nevada has filed scores of similar copyright lawsuits throughout the nation in the past year, including many such claims in California, Colorado, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
In one Hawai’i case, the filer is Clear Skies Nevada, LLC, which owns the rights to the 2014 film Good Kill. This film concerns a military drone pilot (played by Ethan Hawke) who questions the ethics of dropping bombs in Afghanistan from his remote post in Nevada.
The complaints describe in some detail the activities of hired investigator Maverickeye UG to track and document the alleged infringements. The cases each join together multiple separate Doe parties, in a purported exercise of permissive joinder pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2). As if to ward off possible challenges to joinder, the plaintiffs allege that “each of the Defendants is jointly and severally liable for the infringing activities of each of the other Defendants,” and even make allegations of contributory infringement:
By participating in the BitTorrent swarm with the other Defendants, each Defendant induced, caused or materially contributed to the infringing conduct of each other Defendant.
Each Defendant knew or should have known that the other BitTorrent users in a swarm with it were directly infringing the Plaintiff’s copyrighted Work by copying constituent elements of the registered Work that are original. Indeed, each Defendant directly participated in and therefore materially contributed to each other Defendants’ infringing activities.
In each case, the plaintiffs seek statutory damages, which range from $750 minimum per work up to $150,000 (if infringements are deemed “willful”), plus injunctions against further infringement, attorney’s fees, and court costs.
UPDATE (4/28/16): A host of additional now-familiar copyright plaintiffs filed new BitTorrent lawsuits in the Hawaii District Court.
One suit was filed by LHF Productions, Inc., which holds copyrights to the action flick London Has Fallen, featuring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart in an assassination plot caper. This follows many other LHF suits recently filed in other jurisdictions. As reported before, LHF is an affiliate of Nu Image / Millennium Films, which hold interests in films that have been the subject of prior enforcement actions, including Automata, The Humbling, The Expendables, Charlie Countryman and Bad Lieutenant.
Another action was filed by PTG Nevada, LLC, the rights-holder to the 2014 Nic Cage thriller Pay the Ghost. As discussed elsewhere, Pay the Ghost was released in September 2015 and widely panned in critical reviews.
A third plaintiff, QOTD Film Investment Ltd., holds copyrights to the newly-released Werner Herzog epic Queen of the Desert. As noted in a prior troll defense post, this film stars James Franco, Nicole Kidman and Robert Pattinson, and the new suit is part of an emerging national trolling campaign.
Finally, another similar case was filed in the same court by Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC, which owns the rights to the Russell Crowe drama Fathers and Daughters, slated for a U.S. release later in 2016.
All of these cases were filed by Honolulu attorney Gregory A. Ferren.
Several new suits were lodged by Cook Productions, LLC, an entity holding copyrights in the recently released Eddie Murphy period drama, Mr. Church. As troll defense previously reported, Cook Productions is an affiliate of Cinelou Films, a production company with a “notable catalog of major motion pictures.” The Mr. Church lawsuits filed across the U.S. represent the first known attempts by Cinelou Films at “troll-style” copyright litigation.
Other cases were brought in the name of I.T. Productions, LLC which holds rights in the 2016 film, I.T., a “techno-thriller” starring Pierce Brosnan as a technophobic aviation tycoon troubled by technical problems affecting his launch of a new aircraft rental app.
One recent case was filed by WWE Studios Finance Corp. regarding Eliminators, a 2016 action film starring Scott Adkins and WWE wrestler Wade Barrett. As posted seperately, WWE Studios is a relative newcomer to the filing of mass BitTorrent copyright lawsuits.
Two recent cases were filed by UN4 Productions, Inc. As Troll Defense has reported, UN4 Productions owns rights in the 2016 action flick Boyka: Undisputed, also known as Undisputed IV, which stars Scott Adkins as an MMA fighter grappling with the fallout from an accidental death in the ring.
An additional action was filed by Venice PI, LLC, and based on the 2017 action/comedy Once Upon A Time in Venice, which features Bruce Willis on a caper which ensues after his beloved pet is stolen. Described in a Variety review as a “direct-to-video-style Nineties throwback,” the reviewer also saw the possibility that the producers would seek revenue from “ancillary and streaming.” Combining a film’s lack of box office success with a likely substantial budget has been observed to be associated with significant amount of past BitTorrent copyright litigation.
I.T. Productions, WWE Studios and Venice PI are affiliates of Voltage Pictures, LLC, the instigator of countless other BitTorrent lawsuits involving film titles such as Dallas Buyers Club, Good Kill, The Cobbler, Fathers & Daugthers, Pay the Ghost, and The Hurt Locker.
Each of these newer cases was filed by attorney Kerry S. Culpepper of Culpepper IP, PLLC in Kailua-Kona, HI.
A case listing, with links to the complaints, are below.
Parties and subscribers receiving ISP notices of these actions can contact attorney Benjamin Justus for a free consultation regarding possible options.
Case No: 1:15-cv-00427
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-42
Case No: 1:15-cv-00428
Cobbler Nevada, LLC vs. Does 1-21
Case No: 1:15-cv-00429
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-10
Case No: 1:15-cv-00430
Clear Skies Nevada, LLC v. Does 1-11
Case No. 1:16-cv-00187
Fathers & Daughters Nevada, LLC v Does 1-12
Case No. 1:16-cv-00188
PTG Nevada, LLC vs. Does 1-15
Case No. 1:16-cv-00189
QOTD Film Investment, Ltd. vs. Does 1-9
Case No. 1:16-cv-00190
LHF Productions, Inc. vs. Does 1-16
Case No. 1:16-cv-00637
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1 through 8
Case No. 1:16-cv-00638
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1 through 5
Case No. 1:16-cv-00639
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1 through 4
Case No. 1:16-cv-00641
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1-6
Case No. 1:17-cv-00034
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1-15
Case No. 1:16-cv-00035
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1-3
Case No. 1:17-cv-00084
I.T. Productions, LLC v. Does 1-5
Case No. 1:17-cv-00129
Cook Productions, LLC v. Does 1-12
Case No: 1:17-cv-00165
WWE Studios Finance Corp. v. Does 1-16
Case No. 1:17-cv-00282
UN4 Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-20
Case No. 1:17-cv-00331
UN4 Productions, Inc. v. DOE Defendants 1-20
Case No. 1:17-cv-00335
Venice PI, LLC v. Does 1-20