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Beware of the Torrent Defense Lawyer “settlement factory”

Posted by Steve Vondran | Dec 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

How to choose the best Bittorrent Law Firm – Yes, experience matters!

VIDEO:  Click on the image above to watch this VERY IMPORTANT introductory video. 

2020 Update:  Folks, please make sure you are hiring a law firm with experience in handling BitTorrent file sharing cases.  We just had a client come to us after having paid $5,000 to a "probate" law firm that filed a really lousy motion to quash a subpoena.  NOT SMART!

2019 BitTorrent Litigation Updates: 

1.  Strike 3 Holdings New Jersey Case equals BAD NEWS for early discovery motions.  I think Federal Judges may be getting tired of the THOUSANDS of lawsuits these guys are filing (along with Malibu Media). 

2.   However, they are also trying a new strategy - filing "Bill of Discovery" in Florida Miami-Dade County Court.  Is this proper?  Watch our important video on Strike 3 Strategy 2019 here which discusses the Motion to Quash and Federal Copyright Preemption.   

Introduction

There are a lot of newcomers ("newbies" and "copycats" and lawyers that are just paying for google ads) to the Torrent Defense field (illegal file-sharing of movies and software on the internet) and this blog is to give you a few things to think about when selecting a copyright torrent defense lawyer to defend your case. 

Getting a notice of subpoena from your ISP can be nerve wracking, and when that happens you have a lot of questions and you want honest answers and not a sales pitch from a settlement factory.  Our firm can get you these answers and we offer a free consultation if you are facing a file sharing lawsuit.

Howeer, there are many firms that I see lately that are apparent newcomers to this field and as a potential client you need to make sure you are choosing the best and most experienced copyright infringement law firm to represent you.  This is even more important as you should note that we have seen settlement demands as high as $50,000.  In short, there is NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EXPERIENCE in this niche area of copyright law, and even general IP practitioners have referred cases to us.  We are a leader in our field.

Here are some questions you should be asking of any firm you seek to hire to defend you in a copyright litigation case.

What is a “settlement factory”

A settlement factory can be thought of like a giant assembly line where every case essentially gets treated the same way.  Such a law firm may have a process in place that they don't want to mess with, particularly because it is fast and cheap and maximizes profits for the IP law firm.  However, this “cookie-cutter approach” to settlement can have pitfalls in that you may not be getting the specialized attention that your case need and deserves. 

These “high volume” law firms (for example the ones that advertise on google) can mean well, but this approach may not fully explain all your rights, or take into account factors that may help you reduce the amount of damages and penalties you end up paying in a case.  Our law firm takes a “case-by-case” approach.  Every case is different and depends upon its own unique facts.  My best advice is you should approach a high-volume settlement firm with extreme caution.

While our firm handles many lawsuits of this nature, including photo infringement and software infringement, we take the time to look at the facts of your case and explore the best possible copyright defenses and mitigating factors.

Dealing with Bandlow Law or other Strike 3 Law Firm?

If you are dealing with this IP law from California, realize, they can be very RUTHLESS. I say this from experience.  The lead partner for the firm formerly worked for Fox-Rothschild, who from my last search, has filed more copyright infringement law firms than any other in the United States.  However, the attorney parted ways with this BIGLAW firm and is now off on his own handling cases (from what we understand with his wife).  When he got out on his own, they filed many lawsuits some in the Central District of California and others in the Northern District of CAL.  We have dealt with many cases with this firm and have a strong track record of success, some cases ending up being dismissed with what we call "TAKE NOTHING" (zero settlement).  

It is very important to know, however, that this firm can be very aggressive.  We have received settlement demands as high as $50,000.  This is, of course, no laughing matter.  This requires a firm understanding of the strengths and the weaknesses of your case to get this demand reduced.  Rookies and newly minted lawyers who have a desire to get into IP law and particularly into copyright torrent defense, simply do not have the skills and experience to know all the key factors and arguments that can help you settle your case, and in some circumstances have it dismissed.

Recently, we are seeing Strike 3 take a new approach (in my opinion due to the 9th Circuit Cobbler Nevada case) and they are filing "Bill of Discovery" actions in Florida Miami-Dade COUNTY (not federal) COURT.  The bill of discovery seeks to uncover an internet subscribers Name and Address (ostensibly to conduct an infringement investigation and likely to seek out of court settlements.  This would help them avoid the drudgery of dealing with the COBBLER CASE in places like California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Montana and other states covered by the ninth circuit.  I have not see many attorneys discuss this, perhaps because they do not understand the dynamics like we do.  Here is a very important video I did on this topic. 

Breaking IP News - Watch Attorney Steve® Explain 2019 Strike 3 Litigation in Florida County Courts (Miami-Dade)

Motion to Quash Strike 3

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Listen to Attorney Steve® explain how to argue INNOCENT COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT and save a TON of MONEY on settlements

If you are facing defending against a p2p (peer-to-peer) file-sharing lawsuit, it is very important to understand the "innocent infringement" defense.  Click on the image above to watch Attorney Steve® explain this very important defense that may apply in your case.  For example, many people used to use NAPSTER.  Very few people had any idea that downloading and sharing files on Napster was illegal, or that it was violating any copyright laws.  Sorry Plaintiff counsel, people do not go to copyright college and are not aware that this "new technology" was breaking any laws.  There are times when an innocent infringement defense can be used to SIGNIFICANTLY lower a demand letter for allegations of copyright infringement of videos, films, photos, software, etc.

What about the IP law firm that “Bills” its time?

This is another potential problem you may face when seeking to hire the best BitTorrent litigation law firm.  You may place a call to a big law firm that specializes in IP infringement cases and they may literally scare the heck out of you with fears of litigation costs and personal or criminal copyright liability, and they may offer to put two or three attorneys on your case to handle the threat.  Now, I agree there is a serious threat at bay, but you have to consider what the LEGAL BILLS will be when you have MULTIPLE ATTORNEYS BILLING ON YOUR CASE.   

While this may be a fine approach (lots of attention and lots of "love" on your case), naturally you can expect a high legal bill under this approach. Unfortunately, with this model there is a natural inclination for a law firm to drag the case on so as to bill more time on the case, which of course will result in a higher legal fee.   No offense, but many people understand this.

While this approach may not be illegal, I would say this approach is best if you don't mind paying a large legal bill to resolve your torrent download dispute.  But why do that when we can offer you the best legal representation for a LOW FLAT RATE ONE TIME FEE for most cases.

Again, I would approach these situations cautiously and know what you are getting into if you feel compelled to hire a BIGLAW firm or a firm that likes to bill their time hourly.  You should ask these types of firms how much they think the overall bill will be IN ADVANCE. Make them put it in writing.  You at least want to know what you are getting yourself into.

Our firm, on the other hand, takes these cases on affordable flat rate legal fees for most cases.  In other words, you will know exactly what you will be paying to resolve your infringement problem, and there will be NO SURPRISE LEGAL BILLS at any time during the case.

Top 10 questions to ask your copyright lawyer you are considering to handle your Strike 3 or Malibu Media defense

Here are some of the key questions you should be asking your potential copyright defense lawyer.  Note that this is not an exclusive list. 

  1. How many Torrent cases have your handled?  We have appeared in over 125+ federal court infringement cases.  Not too many can match up to this figure.  This is important because the opposing counsel will likely know this, and the "threat" to litigate will not have a great of an impact as it might on a new law graduate or attorney that merely seeks clients via google pay-per-click ads.
  2. Do you understand the technology?  Our firm is a leader in technology law.  Not just in torent defense, but in photo infringement, software infringement, and other technology-related cases.  These are not cases to trust with your local "friend" attorney who may handle DUI, family law, tax or other non-technology types of cases.  Our videos show our passion and knowledge.
  3. Are you able to explain the pros and cons of settling a case vs litigating? (for example, a motion to dismiss based on Cobbler Nevada)
  4. Do you have any Client reviews?  We have over 50 (all 5 star reviews).  
  5. Are you able to explain what the typical copyright damages could be?  If your attorney has not handled hundreds of these cases, they may not understand the peculiarities of opposing counsel, mitigation factors, negotiation tactics and the like.  Again, there is no substitute for SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE handing torrent defenses cases.  As we like to say - You CLICK, we DEFEND®.
  6. Will settlement be confidential?  We make sure your best interests are protected at all stages of the case including settlement agreement.  If you don't know what you are doing when the case has reached a settlement amount, this could be equally as damaging.  There are many things you need to make sure are in the settlement agreement to make sure your best interests are protected.  This is not a factor to be overlooked.
  7. Will the case be dismissed with prejudice or dismissed without prejudice (and what is the difference)?  Some cases are dismissed with prejudice and some are without.  Does your attorney know the difference and why it matters?
  8. How long have you been licensed as an attorney?  We have been in practice since 2004.  
  9. Do you have any other evidence of your skill and passion for this area of law (for example, a YouTube channel that explains important legal concepts such as internet movie piracy)?  Yes, our legal video channel is approaching TWO million views and 20,000 subscribers.  We love what we do, and we are not afraid to have our work "peer-reviewed" by other lawyers (which has never really happened).  Check it out and make sure to SUBSCRIBE!
  10. Finally, trust your gut.  You have to work with a firm that you LIKE and TRUST and who will be great with COMMUNICATING with you about the case.  This may be the most important factor despite experience.  Make sure you are comfortable with the firm you choose.  

These are some of the most common questions I would be asking if I received a letter from my ISP (such as Comcast, Verizon, AT&T or Cox).  This may not be an exclusive list, but very important factors to consider.

CAUTION:  If a law firm GUARANTEES YOU any type of particular settlement (for example "I can get this case settled for a thousand dollars"), ASK THEM TO PUT IT IN WRITING AND PAY THE DIFFERENCE IF THEY ARE WRONG.  Do not be CONNED by false promises of settlement amounts which we have heard.  There is no "one-size-fits-all" settlement and I would not trust the "we have never lost a case" representation.  WINNING and LOSING can mean different things to different people.

Many factors are routinely taken into account in these types of cases:

Here is a great video from our IP youtube channel which discusses settlement factors that are considered.

Many settlements with Strike 3 are over $10,000.  They can be ruthless and greedy (in my opinion) and do not have much of a HEART, so it is important to know what your legal rights are, and to have your case examined by an experienced internet torrent copyright law firm.   Various factors will usually be taken into account by these rights holders.  For example, how much you make, whether your own real estate or not, do you have a job where wages could be garnished?  Are you a repeat infringer?  How many movies at issue?  Are all the movies copyright registered?  Are you a former military veteran?  Are you elderly?  Did someone else in your household do the downloading (perhaps a minor, fraternity brother, household guest, etc.)?  These are only some of the questions.  

Our initial consults are always free and we are here to answer your questions.  Just call us at (877) 276-5084 or fill out the contact form and we will contact you at a time convenient to you.  No pressure.  Just options.

What is the Motion to Quash the Subpoena?

VIDEO:  Click on the image above to watch this video dealing with Motions to Quash.  Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our legal channel which now has nearly 20,000 subscribers.  The motion to quash can be a VERY IMPORTANT TOOL in the Torrent Lawyers Defense Toolbox!

2019 LITIGATION UPDATE:  As noted above, Strike 3 now has firms filing "Bill of Discovery" in Miami, Florida (County Court not federal).  They are seeking an internet subscriber's name and address so they can pursue investigation (and ostensibly an out of court settlement).  I find this very curious for the following reasons:

  1. Strike 3 counsel claims they know with 99% accuracy (before filing in Florida) where the internet subscriber is located (for example, in San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, etc.), and thus, in my opinion, they know where the proper jurisdiction is to file these cases as they have done in the past.  To me, this would be in the California federal courts (copyright infringement is exclusive federal court jurisdiction) where the alleged infringer resides.
  2. However, despite this knowledge (although they claim they do not know who the "infringer" is), they claim they are seeking 100% accuracy, by filing in Miami-Dade County with their local counsel filing a "BILL OF DISCOVERY" which is technically NOT a copyright infringement action and only seeks "discovery" (although the copyright case is basically laid out in the Bill).
  3. According to a Florida IP law firm that we work with, this is an old outdated legal tool proper in only a few limited circumstances and they are filing Motions to Quash.  NOTE:  We are not licensed to practice law in Florida so I cannot opine in detail but this is what they are doing nor are we seeking or soliciting Florida clients.
  4. If a motion to quash is filed, they would have to oppose it in order to get your name and address.  If they cannot get it, they do not know your identity (i.e. they cannot "unmask" you).
  5. According to what one Strike 3 lawyer has told me, they can (and "may") still file in the California courts once they get your name and address, and I was informed that the Twombly standard makes this possible as the name and address of the "subscriber" makes it "plausible" that the "subscriber" is also the "infringer" (again, I have to point out the Cobbler Nevada case and Rule 11 sanctions for filing frivolous lawsuits)
  6. Nevertheless, we know of the Mamome Villavon Law Firm filing these cases in Florida and then working with counsel such as Bandlow Law Firm (CA) and the SMGQ Law Firm.
  7. If they don't get your name and address in their Bill of Discovery, they will be forced to file in the jurisdiction where they claim to know with 99% accuracy the alleged infringer resides.  Again, this can create a Cobbler Nevada issue, and there was a recent case from New Jersey that I also believe is causing significant problems. Click here to hear a podcast on the Strike 3 New jersey Case.

If your torrent defense firm does not understand this, then they are probably not the right law firm for you.  This is the latest goings-on in the TORRENT TRENCHES and understanding the Motion to Quash is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

KEY VIDEO - Attorney Steve® discusses the Cobbler-Nevada Case (9th Circuit Torrent Law)

Cobbler Nevada torrent defense caselaw

Make sure to SUBSCRIBE for Intellectual Property Updates!!! 

Top 10 Most Important VIDEO Resources (Make sure to SUBSCRIBE – Be Smarter Than Your Friends!!!)

  1. Overview of Bittorent lawsuit process (this will let you know what's going on)
  2. Bittorrent defense law firm "guarantee trap"
  3. ME2 Mechanic Resurrection Lawsuits
  4. FlavaWorks lawsuits
  5. Malibu Media Lawsuits
  6. Prevailing Defendants can seek their Attorney Fees
  7. What if I ignore the lawsuit?
  8. What is a motion to quash subpoena?
  9. Strike 3 Strikes Out
  10. Overview of potential "worst case" damages in Torrent lawsuits

Strike 3 Holdings Adult Porn Lawsuits - Hiring a California Law Firm if you are located in California

Strike Three is filing a bunch of lawsuits up and down the state of California in both the Central District and Northern District.  There is a HUGE advantage to hiring a California based law firm (we are one of the few CA firms that actually have significant legal experience) and we have offices in San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Monica, and Newport Beach. 

For one, if Strike 3 or Malibu Media knows your law firm is out of state (for ex. an Illinois torrent lawyer), they know it is not likely they will want to fly out and show up in federal court in Los Angeles, or in the bay area (ex. in Central or Northen Districts of California).  But, we will be there to fight them if they want to push the issue in Court. It is important to note, I asked a Strike 3 Plaintiff lawyer if Strike 3 has ever taken a case to trial and won and he said "No, but I know Malibu Media did and it's based on similar technology."  To me, this company does not want to litigate so much as they want to get a lot of settlements.  It is estimated that there is a lot of infringement (file-sharing going on) and they in my opinion, appear to be motivated to get fast settlements than engage in prolonged litigation

Out-of-state counsel can easily be coerced into a "settlement" that may or may not be in "your best interest" so that they do not have to jump on a plane and appear hundreds or thousands of miles away.  This is a very important key factor when deciding which IP defense firm to use to defend your case against these adult pornography companies.  We are ready to fight for you in California (up and down the state) and in Arizona, Texas and New York in the courts where we have been admitted.  We have appeared in over 125 copyright infringement cases, amongst the tops in the Country for a firm our size.

Here are a couple of VIDEOS that might help you if you received an ISP notice alleging illegal movie downloading:

  1. Strike Three filings in mass in California
  2. A one hour deposition may clear your name
  3. Overview video

If you received a notice of a lawsuit, subpoena or demand from BANDLOW LAW call us to discuss. We do not charge for an initial discussion that will seek to answer your most important questions.   We know you are nervous but most people feel very relieved after making the call or sending us an email using our contact form.

We have helped many clients avoid “shame settlements” in Malibu Media and Strike three cases so give us a call at (877) 276-5084.  Again, we have low FLAT RATE (predictable) fees to handle your case.

If you received a letter (or more likely the first notice comes in the form of a SUBPOENA) from your ISP, there are some very important things to consider:

1.  Call a BitTorrent Litigation law firm BEFORE you even think about contacting them for settlement (or to deny you did any downloading).  They can be more experienced than you and taking notes of the conversation.

2.  IMMEDIATELY STOP DOWNLOADING.  Some companies like Malibu Media will continue to "rack up the infringements" and check with their investigators as the case progresses (this will cost you more).

3.  Do not destroy evidence (if you are found to be spoiling, destroying or altering evidence - such as "wiping" or "bleaching" your hard-drive, this could cause HUGE problems if an expert finds out and this is exposed at trial).  For example, there was the Malibu Media "Bellwether trial" that cost one Defendant almost 250k in damages and attorney fees and spoliation of evidence was involved..

4.  Check your social media profiles (new tactics we have seen include Strike 3 Holdings seeking to overcome the "Cobbler hurdle" by looking at your social media accounts to see if they can match other downloads to your "likes" and "interests" on facebook for example.  It is not clear whether or not this tactic has actually worked or is just "junk science" (i.e. junk evidence or character evidence).

5.  Do NOT accept any invitations on LINKED IN or FACEBOOK or TWITTER from someone that appears to be a porn star (female).  We cannot confirm, but we have documented potential evidence that Strike 3 Holdings MAY have a porn star try to contact you on social media after they get your name.  Why?  If true, possible reasons:

a.  To get you to accept an invitation from a porn star (does this indicate a preference for porn)?

b.  To get you to engage in a conversation (ex. "hey, I saw you in that video from Strike 3")

c.  To be able to more fully scope out your likes, interests, history, etc.

d.  Other reasons??

Don't leave things to chance.  When serious money is involved you never know what is going to happen next. 

CONCLUSION - Contact our Copyright infringement Defense lawyer

We have been defending Strike 3 Clients and have appeared in over 125 federal court cases involving copyright infringement claims.  We have been litigating since 2004 when our firm was established.  If you are being sued in California, there are very important reasons to have a California firm represent you.  If you have to fly out for a court hearing, for example, opposing counsel will know this and may use it against you.   In California and Arizona (two states we are licensed to practice in), we are a leading firm in the are of BitTorrent litigation.

If you have concerns over dealing with a law firm that handles these cases on a “volume” basis or a "billable hour basis" and who may be rushing you to an anonymous settlement (especially an out of state law firm), give us a call and we can walk you through the general process, discuss your options, and answer your other important questions. 

We are not a high-pressure law firm like some others. We are here to help you understand the process and deal with the federal court lawsuit that may have been filed, (or which may ensue in California following a "Bill of Discovery" for example) and which, if filed, will likely seek to make your life miserable and seek a high settlement that can financially cripple you and all your hard-earned savings.

We can also help you respond to a cease and desist letter or related legal demand that involves copyright infringement of software, movies, film, photography and other protected creative content.  We understand the technology, the players and have nearly 15 years of legal and negotiation experience.  In most cases, we offer a low predictable flat rate legal fee.  We truly believe when all the factors are considered, we are the absolute best choice to handle your file-sharing case.

You can also check out our Avvo past client reviews here.  We hope this blog has helped you 

Call us at (877) 276-5084 or email us through the contact form. 

You CLICK, We DEFEND® 

- Attorney Steve® - 

About the Author

Steve Vondran

Thank you for viewing our blogs, videos and podcasts. As noted, all information on this website is Attorney Advertising. Decisions to hire an attorney should never be based on advertising alone. Any past results discussed herein do not guarantee or predict any future results. All blogs are written by Steve Vondran, Esq. unless otherwise indicated. Our firm handles a wide variety of intellectual property and entertainment law cases from music and video law, Youtube disputes, DMCA litigation, copyright infringement cases involving software licensing disputes (ex. BSA, SIIA, Siemens, Autodesk, Vero, CNC, VB Conversion and others), torrent internet file-sharing (Strike 3 and Malibu Media), California right of publicity, TV Signal Piracy, and many other types of IP, piracy, technology, and social media disputes. Call us at (877) 276-5084. AZ Bar Lic. #025911 CA. Bar Lic. #232337

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