Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts to Strengthen Gun Control Laws in the Wake of the Sandy Hook Tragedy?

Earlier this month, neighboring state Connecticut passed landmark legislation strengthening its firearms laws in response to the devastating shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year. According to the New York Post, the legislation would, among other things, create a dangerous weapon offender registry, ban over 100 firearms under the state’s assault weapons ban, mandate background checks for all firearms sales and establish rules for purchasing ammunition. The legislation passed 26-10 in the Connecticut state Senate and 105-44 in the House of Representatives. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is scheduled to sign the bill into law this Thursday at the state Capitol. The legislation would place Connecticut among the states with the strictest gun control laws, including New Jersey, New York, California and Massachusetts.

Connecticut, however, is not the only state in which lawmakers have pledged to strengthen firearms laws in response to recent gun crimes. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick also introduced legislation this Session that aims to further strengthen Massachusetts’ already comparatively restrictive gun control laws.  H 47 would further tighten Massachusetts’ gun control laws that were last significantly strengthened in 1998. The current Bill includes measures that would:

  • Limit firearm purchases to one per month per buyer;
  • Prevent the furnishing of a machine gun to anyone under 21 years of age;
  • Bring Massachusetts into compliance with the NICS background check system, specifically by requiring that all mental health adjudications be provided to the state, which will be provided to the US Attorney General for firearms licensing purposes;
  • Create four new gun related crimes: assault and battery by means of a firearm, assault by means of a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm and commission of a violent misdemeanor while in possession of a weapon;
  • Require firearms dealers at gun shows to connect to the Massachusetts Instant Record Check System, and require that private gun sales be made at the business of a licensed dealer for electronic tracking purposes;
  • Allow a rebuttable presumption that an individual charged with a felony involving a firearm and physical force is “dangerous” for determining pretrial detention; and
  • Limit access to rounds of high-capacity ammunition.

H 47 is currently before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.  Additionally, according to the Governor’s website, Patrick also introduced legislation that would increase the state budget by $5 million dollars for Department of Health programs for public awareness of mental health treatment and the promotion of public safety.

Whether H 47 will pass the House and the Senate is not certain. It is, however, important to stay mindful of changes in the law as they develop. Common gun crimes that occur in Massachusetts currently relate to carrying firearms, improperly storing firearms, and possessing firearms without an FID card, but this list is subject to change. These crimes can carry serious penalties, such as severe fines and jail time.  If you have been charged with a firearm-related crime, seek out an attorney immediately.

Breaking Glass Pictures v. Swarm Sharing Hash File

Looks like someone has not been paying attention.  Just as the last of the remaining Massachusetts bittorrent cases are in the process of being severed and dismissed, Alexandra Capachietti has filed three new cases against a total of 84 individual John Does.  The cases filed are:

 1:13-cv-10732-JLT - Complaint
 1:13-cv-10734-RGS - Complaint
 1:13-cv-10733-MBB - Complaint

Each case alleges that various John Doe defendants downloaded a film titled Six Degrees of Hell, a remarkably poorly rated horror film.

Although the complaint takes pains to point out that, unlike other similar cases, the film involved in this case is not a pornographic film (a fact disclosed in the complaint in bold, capital lettering), that fact does not address the concerns that has led the judges in Massacusetts to conclude that joinder in cases such as these is inappropriate. 

The fact that other such cases have involved pornographic material was just one of several concerns for the judges who have been busy dismissing these cases from their dockets.  The primary concern, and conclusion reached after no small amount of soul searching ont the part of the courts, has been that a transaction identified by an IP address simply does not sufficiently identify a person with enough certainty to justify filing a case. 

Whether the film at issue is pornographic or not, I would expect these three cases to meet the same end as those that came before, but only time will tell.

If you have been contacted by your ISP, or anyone else, regarding one of the three above matters, contact an attorney immediately to discuss filing a motion to quash the subpoena.

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Massachusetts Courts Stand Up To Trolls

The last few weeks have seen a huge change in the trajectory of copyright trolling cases in Massachusetts.  First, Judge Sorkin issued an order quashing the subpoenas issued in a Discount Videos case filed by Marvin Cable.  Then, Judge Young seemingly reversed his support for copyright trolling cases, and issued an order exercising the discretion of the court to sever and dismiss the charges against all the John Does except the first one in one of the earliest copyright trolling cases filed in this jurisdiction.

In the following weeks, three more cases have been effectively dismissed after motions to quash were allowed.  It now appears that there are at least three judges and/or magistrates who appear prepared to exercise the discretion of the court to shut down these cases.

The best news by far, however, is that Judge Sorkin has now denied a motion for early discovery.  In doing so, Judge Sorkin was unrestrained in his opinion of the merits of these lawsuits:

The discovery they seek cannot provide the Plaintiffs with sufficient information to identify the Doe Defendants. Nor have the Plaintiffs requested leave in their submissions to take depositions, either orally or upon written questions – the only discovery mechanism available to Plaintiff under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when seeking information from third parties, as is the case here. In light of the Plaintiffs’ counsel’s assertion at the July 30, 2012 hearing that it was prepared to take depositions (see, 12- cv-10805-NMG, Docket # 23 at 48) and in light of his concession that depositions were the only available discovery mechanism (id. at 47), the omission of any written request for depositions in the Plaintiffs’ renewed motions for discovery speaks volumes about the Plaintiffs’ lack of interest in actually litigating these cases.

Judge Sorkin went on to state that the Plaintiffs' assertions "smack of bad faith" and its conduct "suggests an improper effort to engage in judge shopping and evidences a disregard for the Court’s limited public resources."

The message is clear - copyright trolling in Massachusetts is living on borrowed time.

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Judge Searns Orders Plaintiffs to Explain Joinder

On Septebmer 21st, New Sensations v. Does 1-201, 12-cv-11720, a judge in the District of Massachusetts has ordered the plaintiffs in these peer-to-peer cases to show cause why all the does should not be severed.  What makes this remarkable is that Judge Searns entered the order without any such order being requested by the Does.  This is a strong indication that the court is prepared to revisit the issue of joinder which was allowed in the Liberty Media case (discussed here).

Forcing the plaintiffs to pay an up-front filing fee for each John Doe defendant could spell the end of these peer to peer cases, and if judges are willing to make that sort of order even before the subpoenas go out, the plaintiffs may ultimately conclude that the game just isn't worth the candle.

SBO Pictures, Inc. v. Does 1 - 46, 12-cv-11723

Case Title: SBO Pictures, Inc. v. Does 1 - 46

Docket Number:  12-cv-11723

Court: Massachusetts District Court, Boston

Plaintiff's Attorney: Marvin Cable

Complaint: 12-cv-11723 - Complaint

Complaint Attachments: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C

Content Title: My Personal Message

Content for Sale: (Unknown!)

 

Marvin Cable has filed a complaint for copyright violation, alleging that 46 John Doe defendants have downloaded a file titled "My Personal Mesage"  The copyright was registered in February of 2012.

As of 09/19/2012, I have been unable to find any web page offering this particular title for sale.

The complaint in this case includes (1) direct infringement, (2) vicarious infringement, (3) Parental liability and (4) contributory liability.

If you, or someone you know, has been contacted regarding this case, contact me immediately to discus your options.

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New Sensations, Inc. v. Does 1 - 201, 12-cv-11720

Case Title: New Sensations, Inc. v. Does 1 - 201

Docket Number:  12-cv-11720

Court: Massachusetts District Court, Boston

Plaintiff's Attorney: Marvin Cable

Complaint: 12-cv-11720 - Complaint

Complaint Attachments: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C

Content Title: Dirty Little Schoolgirl Stories #4

Content for Sale: CD Universe

 

Marvin Cable has filed a complaint for copyright violation, alleging that 201 John Doe defendants have downloaded a file titled "Dirty Little Schoolgirl Stories #4."  The copyright was registered in May of 2012.

As of 09/19/2012, this title sells on CD Universe for $24.29.  This case includes allegations of copyright infringement for the same work listed in New Sensations v. Does 1-175, except that the alleged dates of infringement in this case range from April to May of 2012, whereas New Sensations v. Does 1-175 range from May to August.

The complaint in this case includes (1) direct infringement, (2) vicarious infringement, (3) Parental liability and (4) contributory liability.

If you, or someone you know, has been contacted regarding this case, contact me immediately to discus your options.

---UPDATES---

On September 21st, in this case, District Judge Richard Stears ordered the plainitffs to show cause why all the Does except Doe number one should not be severed.  You can read the order here.

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New Sensations, Inc. v. Does 1 - 175, 12-cv-11721

Case Title: New Sensations, Inc. v. Does 1 - 175

Docket Number:  12cv11721

Court: Massachusetts District Court, Boston

Plaintiff's Attorney: Marvin Cable

Complaint: 12-cv-11721 - Complaint

Complaint Attachments: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C

Content Title: Dirty Little Schoolgirl Stories 4

Content for Sale: CD Universe

 

Marvin Cable has filed a complaint for copyright violation, alleging that 175 John Doe defendants have downloaded a file titled Dirty Little Schoolgirl Stories 4.  The copyright was registered in May of 2012.

This case includes allegations of copyright infringement for the same work listed in New Sensations v. Does 1-201, except that the alleged dates of infringement in this case range from May through August of 2012, whereas New Sensations v. Does 1-201 range from April to May.

The complaint in this case includes (1) direct infringement, (2) vicarious infringement, (3) Parental liability and (4) contributory liability. 

If you, or someone you know, has been contacted regarding this case, contact me immediately to discus your options.

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Media Products, Inc. v. Does 1 - 175, 12-cv-11722

Case Title: Media Products, Inc. v. Does 1 - 175

Docket Number: 12-cv-11722

Court: Massachusetts District Court, Boston

Plaintiff's Attorney: Marvin Cable

Complaint: 12-cv-11722 - Complaint

Complaint Attachments: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C

Content Title:  Wanna Fuck My Daughter Gotta Fuck Me First 13

Content for Sale: CD Universe

 

Marvin Cable has filed a complaint for copyright violation, alleging that 175 John Doe defendants have downloaded a file titled Wanna Fuck My Daughter, Gotta Fuck Me First 13.  The copyright was registered in Februrary of 2012.

The complaint in this case includes (1) direct infringement, (2) vicarious infringement, (3) Parental liability and (4) contributory liability.

If you, or someone you know, has been contacted regarding this case, contact me immediately to discus your options.

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Exquisite Multimedia, Inc. v. Does 1 - 46 1:12-cv-11724

Case Title: Exquisite Multimedia, Inc. v. Does 1 - 46

Docket Number: 1:12-cv-11724

Court: Massachusetts District Court, Boston

Plaintiff's Attorney: Marvin Cable

Complaint: 12-cv-11724 - Complaint

Complaint Attachments: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C

Content Title: Ironman XXX

Content for Sale: CD Universe

 

Marvin Cable has filed a complaint for copyright violation, alleging that 46 John Doe defendants have downloaded a file titled Ironman XXX.  The copyright was registered in November of 2011.

This film appears to be a low budget adult version of the recent Iron Man film.  The complaint in this case includes (1) direct infringement, (2) vicarious infringement, (3) Parental liability and (4) contributory liability.

Count 4, contributory liability includes an allegation that the  subscriber derived a financial benefit from the alleged infringers (think about a case where a landlord rented an internet connection to someoen who used that connection to infringe on a copyright).  That allegation falls outside of the negligence cliaim which has been (correctly) rejected by so many courts, and potentially within the argument adopted in the  disc jokey cases, which have been accepted by various courts.

If you, or someone you know, has been contacted regarding this case, contact me immediately to discus your options.

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