Tag Archives: Malibu Media

U.S. Court Denies $28,500 Default Judgment Against Accused Pirate

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/u-s-court-denies-28500-default-judgment-against-accused-pirate-200301/

In recent years, adult entertainment outfit Malibu Media has often been described as a copyright trolling operation.

The company, known for its popular “X-Art” brand, has gone after thousands of alleged file-sharers in U.S. courts. Many of its targets settle their cases out of court, but others choose to ignore them.

Not responding at all can be quite risky. If a defendant is named in a lawsuit and properly served, the court typically requires a response. If that doesn’t come, the complaining party can request a default judgment.

This is also what happened to New Jersey resident Amiram Peled, who was accused of downloading 19 titles from Malibu Media after the company linked his IP-address to unauthorized BitTorrent activity. Peled was made aware of these allegations but didn’t show up in court to offer a defense.

As a result, Malibu Media submitted a motion arguing that it’s entitled to $28,500 in statutory damages for copyright infringement and an additional $467.55 in costs.

In many cases, courts grant default judgment requests, as there is no defense. This has allowed Malibu Media to collect dozens, if not hundreds of default judgments. However, in the present matter, a judge decided otherwise.

In a recently released opinion, U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden denied the motion, concluding that Malibu Media isn’t entitled to anything.

The denial is based on a culmination of rulings in similar BitTorrent piracy cases. While Malibu Media portrayed the defendant as the copyright infringer, the Court wasn’t convinced that Peled is the one who actually downloaded the files.

“[T]he Court is concerned that, no matter how reliable the tracing technology is, Peled’s status as the subscriber of the IP address is insufficient to prove that he was in fact the infringer of the copyrighted materials,” Judge Hayden writes.

Judge Hayden carefully reviewed how other cases handled similar allegations. While some ruled that geolocation data and an IP-address is sufficient for a default judgment to be granted, other rulings were more critical.

The order specifically cites the highly critical opinion of Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who threw out a similar case in the District of Columbia.

“In a scathing opinion, Judge Lamberth described Strike 3 as a ‘copyright troll,’ and accused it of using bad technology to support predatory litigation,” Judge Hayden writes, also referencing the part claiming that Malibu appears to use the courts “as an ATM.”

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in the Cobbler Nevada v. Gonzales case is mentioned as well. There, the court ruled that identifying the registered subscriber of an IP-address is by itself not enough to argue that the person is also the infringer.

This order trickled down to lower courts, with several judges demanding “something more” than just an IP-address in these cases. This includes a previous denial of a default judgment in New Jersey, and also the present case against Mr. Peled.

“Because Malibu Media has not made a sufficient showing to conclude that Peled in fact infringed its copyright, the Court denies the request for default judgment,” Judge Hayden concludes.

A copy of the opinion written by U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden is available here (pdf).

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‘Copyright Troll’ Malibu Media Gets Sued By its Former Law Firm

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-troll-malibu-media-gets-sued-by-its-former-law-firm-200111/

Over the past several years, adult entertainment company Malibu Media has been one of the most active copyright litigants in the United States. Targeting large numbers of alleged file-sharers, the company has received potentially huge sums in cash settlements.

But while the company usually makes the headlines for its file-sharing cases, a dispute with a former business partner is now shining a light behind the scenes. This week, Florida-based The Lomnitzer Law Firm sued California-based Malibu Media over their business dealings.

According to the lawsuit, in May 2017 Lomnitzer and Malibu entered into an agreement for the former to provide legal services to the latter.

While the precise details are to be submitted under seal, the outline is that Lomnitzer would coordinate Malibu’s litigation against pirates across the United States, receive settlements and pay them into a trust account, pay court filing fees, pay process server fees and investigators, and pay expenses related to the deposition of Malibu.

The law firm claims that it issued invoices to Malibu on a regular basis, using money in the trust account to pay some while dispensing settlement funds back to Malibu. However, the lawsuit claims that a date currently unknown, Malibu “began a program of circumventing the agreement.”

According to the complaint, this came in the form of instructing attorneys in other jurisdictions, that were previously instructed by Lomnitzer, to “bypass” the law firm. This involved sending settlement money directly to Malibu rather than Lomnitzer, “while still expecting the Firm to pay court filing fees, process server fees, etc., all incurred for and on behalf of and for the benefit of Malibu.”

Faced with these circumstances, on August 30, 2019, Lomnitzer terminated its representation of Malibu. Since then it claims to have received invoices from third-parties incurred as a result of its representation of Malibu while its own invoices to Malibu itself (totaling more than $262,500) remain unpaid.

The bottom line according to Lomnitzer’s suit is that Malibu owes the law firm $280,05.32 plus additional interest accruing after December 31, 2019. It is demanding a judgment from the court to that end, an order allowing it to use funds in the trust account towards that amount, plus an order “confirming the Firm’s lien against all proceeds of all pending litigation in which Malibu is a Plaintiff.”

To address the allegations that other law firms are paying settlements directly to Malibu rather than Lomnitzer, Malibu’s former legal team are also seeking an order to prevent Malibu from “disbursing any settlement monies from any and all pending litigation nationwide to anyone other than the Firm.”

On top, of course, Lomnitzer is demanding attorney fees and costs plus any other relief the court deems “just and proper”.

The lawsuit filed by Lomnitzer against Malibu can be found here (pdf)

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Most Active Copyright Trolls Have Stopped Filing U.S. Piracy Lawsuits, For Now

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/most-active-copyright-trolls-stopped-filing-u-s-piracy-lawsuits-for-now-191211/

While most piracy activity has shifted to streaming in recent years, U.S. courts have still been overloaded with BitTorrent related piracy lawsuits.

This phenomenon, often dubbed as copyright trolling, started roughly a decade ago and remains ongoing.

This scheme can be both simple and lucrative. Rightsholders file complaints against “John Does” who are initially only known by an IP-address. They then request a subpoena to obtain the subscriber details and demand a settlement from the account holder.

In recent years, the vast majority of the U.S. lawsuits were filed by two adult entertainment companies; Strike 3 Holdings and Malibu Media. Together, they filed over 3,300 new cases last year, which was an all-time record.

Initially, it appeared that they would continue on the same course this year. During the summer we reported that Strike 3 alone had already filed over a thousand new complaints. However, in recent months that changed drastically.

Looking through the federal court records we noticed that there was a notable absence of new cases from both Strike 3 Holdings and Malibu Media. Instead of filing hundreds of new cases, both companies haven’t been active for weeks.

Strike 3 filed its latest complaint in early August, more than four months ago. Malibu Media had its latest filing spree in August as well and only submitted seven new complaints after that, most recently in October.

 

Strike 3’s latest cases

The sudden halt in activity is remarkable, especially since both companies have different legal teams. It’s also a clear deviation from previous years. However, there’s no clear explanation for the hiatus, nor do we know how long it will last.

It could be that the companies are awaiting the outcome of certain legal proceedings. For example, in a few cases this year the court denied expedited discovery. This makes it impossible for the rightsholders to obtain the personal details of infringers.

Strike 3 has appealed that ruling and may await its outcome before filing any new cases, to prevent wasting filing fees.

In addition, there is the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from last year in the Cobbler Nevada v. Gonzales case. In that matter, the Court ruled that identifying the registered subscriber of an IP-address is by itself not enough to argue that this person is also the infringer.

This Appeals Court ruling has also proven to be a setback for both Malibu Media and Strike 3 Holdings.

Whether these legal developments are indeed a factor is unknown. Whatever the reason may be, we can already conclude that the all-time record for file-sharing cases in the U.S. won’t be broken this year. The current total is still under 2,000, with just three more weeks to go.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

‘Copyright Troll’ Files Over 1,000 Piracy Lawsuits in Half a Year

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-troll-files-over-1000-piracy-lawsuits-in-half-a-year/

While most piracy activity has shifted to streaming in recent years, US courts are still overloaded with BitTorrent related lawsuits.

This phenomenon, often dubbed as copyright trolling, started roughly a decade ago and remains ongoing.

The process is fairly simple. Rightsholders file complaints against “John Does,” who are initially only known by an IP-address. They then request a subpoena to obtain the subscriber details from the associated ISP, which are then used to request a settlement.

This ‘revenue’ model has been widely criticized and increasingly courts have become more reserved as well. Last year, there was an important Appeals Court ruling which clarified that rightsholders need “something more” than an IP-address alone, to make their case.

Nonetheless, the traditional boilerplate complaints are far from over. This week we decided to take a look at the number of file-sharing lawsuits filed in the first half of 2019. This showed that one company has been particularly active.

The adult entertainment production company Strike 3 Holdings, which distributes its adult videos via the Blacked, Tushy, and Vixen websites, takes the crown. In the first six months of this year, it filed 1,071 complaints. That’s up from last year when it filed 976 new cases in the same period.

Strike 3 filings

The second most litigious rightsholder is Malibu Media, another adult entertainment outfit. The company, known for its X-Art brand, has been an established player in US courts for a few years. During the first half of 2019 it filed 337 new cases, which is down from 681 last year.

Aside from the two adult companies, there were also some regular movie companies active. Hunter Killer Productions, for example, filed 25 cases, Bodyguard Productions was good for 16, and LHF Productions added three new complaints.

All filers have been active in previous years as well, so there aren’t any surprises on that front.

While there have been slightly fewer cases than in the first half of 2018, this year has already surpassed the total number of piracy lawsuits that were filed in 2017, which were little over 1,000. Whether last year’s record high of more than 3,300 new cases will be broken, has yet to be seen.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Judge Denies $10K Default Judgment Against Alleged Pirate

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/judge-denies-10k-default-judgment-against-alleged-pirate-170712/

In recent years, file-sharers around the world have been pressured to pay significant settlement fees, or face legal repercussions.

As the most active copyright litigant in the United States, adult entertainment outfit Malibu Media has been on the frontline of these efforts in recent years..

The company, widely known for its popular “X-Art” brand, has gone after thousands of alleged offenders. Many of its targets eventually pay up and those who fail to respond can face costly default judgments.

New Jersey resident Joe Park found himself in the latter category. The man was named in a Malibu Media lawsuit last year and failed to respond. Not just to the settlement requests, but also to the lawsuit filed at the New Jersey District Court.

Without a response, the complaining party can request a default judgment. This is exactly what Malibu Media did. It submitted a motion arguing that it’s entitled to $10,500.00 in statutory damages for copyright infringement and an additional $559.99 in costs.

In many cases, courts grant default judgment requests, as there is no defense. This has allowed Malibu Media to collect dozens, if not hundreds of default judgments. However, in the present matter, U.S. District Court Judge John Michael Vazquez decided otherwise.

In an opinion released this week, Judge Vazquez denied the motion, concluding that Malibu Media isn’t entitled to anything.

The denial is based on a culmination of rulings in similar BitTorrent piracy cases. While Malibu Media portrayed the defendant as a persistent copyright infringer, the Court is far from convinced.

“The Court is not satisfied that Plaintiff has sufficiently demonstrated that the named Defendant actually committed the complained of acts of infringement,” Judge Vazquez writes.

The Court doesn’t deny that it has jurisdiction or that the defendant was properly served, as it required. However, after reviewing several relevant decisions in similar cases, it is not convinced that there is enough evidence to show that the defendant is liable.

Among other things, the opinion cites a ruling from U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who previously denied a subpoena requested in a similar case filed by Strike 3. This highlighted that the IP-address evidence used in these cases is “famously flawed” and not trustworthy.

Judge Lamberth also criticized the litigation effort in general, accusing the “copyright troll” practice as a “high-tech shakedown” where courts are used “as an ATM.”

Judge Vazquez further cites last year’s Cobbler Nevada v. Gonzales case. Here, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that identifying the registered subscriber of an IP-address by itself is not enough to plausibly claim that this person is also the infringer.

“Plaintiff will have to show something more than merely tying Defendant to an IP address in order to sufficiently establish copyright infringement,” Judge Vazquez notes.

This ‘something more’ can be quite a stumbling block for these cases, as the rightsholders often have little or no evidence to tie the infringements to a person, other than an IP-address.

The Court realizes that this puts Malibu Media in a tough spot, but sees no other option than to deny the motion for a default judgment.

The ruling is significant in the sense that, without any defense arguments from the accused pirate, a court refused to grant a default judgment. While this is by no means the end of these type of lawsuits, it certainly represents another setback for the ‘copyright troll’ efforts.

A copy of U.S. District Court Judge John Michael Vazquez’s order is available here (pdf)

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