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February 2019
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Court Refuses To Allow Defendant In Copyright Trolling Case To Proceed, But Hints At Reform

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Over the course of the last year or so, coverage of copyright trolling stories turned up a common movie multiple times. That film was The Hitman's Bodyguard, and the outfits contracted to push for fees via settlement letters were both prolific and devious in trying to manipulate the settlement offer amounts to achieve the highest conversion rates. Whatever the level of intelligence that goes into these operations, however, there will almost always be a misfire, with a wrong target picked in the wrong court in such a way that makes the troll look like, well, a troll.Such appears to be the case when Bodyguard Productions went after Ernesto Mendoza in court, claiming that he downloaded the film via bittorrent. The problem with the case is that Mendoza is both very, very insistent on his innocence and also manages to cast about as sympathetic a figure as one might be able to find. Mendoza is in his 70s and has end-stage cancer. When Bodyguard Productions attempted to voluntarily dismiss the case when it became clear that Mendoza wasn't going to settle, he tried to push the court to force the case to go forward so that he could recover his legal expenses. Sadly, the court refused.

After hearing both sides, Illinois District Court Judge Robert Dow decided to dismiss the case, ordering both parties to pay their own fees. This was a huge disappointment for the alleged file-sharer, who now has to bear the costs for a case that he isn't allowed to fight. According to his attorney Lisa Clay, the Court should ensure that plaintiffs are ready and willing to prove their case.“Unfortunately, the Court’s recent order does not,” Clay tells TorrentFreak. “Granting the Plaintiff’s disingenuous motion to dismiss without penalty has the real consequence of strengthening the troll business model."
That's exactly correct. The fact that copyright trolls can simply back out of a case they aren't going to have settled -- the entire point of the troll's business model -- acts as an insurance policy against its efforts. By not forcing trolls to face the potential penalty of paying legal fees, there is essentially no consequence to firing off lawsuits with no regard to the facts. That's a truck-sized loophole in the legal system that clearly does an injustice to the accused party in copyright lawsuits.It seems that even the court in this case recognizes the problem.
On a broader scale, there’s a positive note for future defendants. In the order, Judge Dow notes that the Court should re-evaluate how it handles these cases. In addition, the potential for abuse may also deserve the attention of the Rules Committee.“[T]he points advanced by Defendant about the potential for abuse across the universe of peer-to-peer copyright infringement cases convince the Court that it should re-evaluate its own overall treatment of these cases and consider whether to suggest that the Rules Committee in this district look into the matter as well,” Judge Dow writes.
Which is great, except we still have a 70-year-old cancer patient out legal fees after a copyright troll cut and run from its own lawsuit simply because the troll was careless in filing its lawsuits. It's quite obvious that whatever that is, it sure isn't justice.

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Study: Nearly Half of SMB Marketers Say Amazon's Alexa Has More Marketing Potential Than Other Voice Assistants

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Uberall study finds that SMBs prefer Alexa over Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana Uberall, Inc., the location marketing solution for businesses competing to attract and win local brick-and-mortar customers, released a new study about how SMB (small- and medium-sized business) marketers feel about interactive voice technology. Interactive voice is the 2-way engagement that a consumer has […]The post Study: Nearly Half of SMB Marketers Say Amazon's Alexa Has More Marketing Potential Than Other Voice Assistants appeared first on Adotas.

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FBI, DA's Office Open Investigation Of Fatal Houston PD Drug Raid

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The Houston Police Department has a huge problem. A recent no-knock drug raid ended with two "suspects" killed and four officers wounded. The PD says no-knock entrances are safer for officers, not that you'd draw that conclusion from this raid.The problem the PD has is its drug warriors are dirty. The raid was predicated on a tip from a confidential informant who doesn't appear to exist. The warrant contained sworn statements about a heroin purchase that never happened and a large quantity of heroin packaged for sale that was not among the things seized from the dead couple's residence. The heroin central to the raid appears to have been taken from the console of an officer's squad car and run to the lab for some very unnecessary testing.Houston police officer Gerald Goines is the person behind this completely avoidable chain of events. After initially backing his officers, Police Chief Art Acevedo has reversed course in the face of contrary evidence he's unable to ignore. His initial defense of officers who participated in a drug raid that only turned up personal use amounts of cocaine and marijuana was perhaps understandable, given his position. But it went against the image he'd made for himself as a reformer -- someone who would clean up the department and repair its reputation.A leaked recording of Acevedo speaking to officers after the killing of an unarmed, mentally ill man seemed to make it clear there was zero tolerance for the usual cop bullshit. Acevedo criticized his officers for needlessly escalating interactions, bullying citizens for failing to show the respect officers feel is owed to them, and teaming up on post-incident paperwork to ensure most bad deeds went unpunished.But in the three years since that recording leaked, it appears little has changed. Officer Goines' willingness to fabricate a story to engage in a no-knock drug raid -- a narrative that included a nonexistent informant and drugs not purchased from the raided residence -- shows he had little worry of being outed by other officers, much less criticized for his lawless behavior. Here's how defense lawyer Mark Bennett phrased it after it was discovered Goines used a fictional informant and drugs from his own vehicle to craft a search warrant:

If you can't read/see the tweet, it says:
This doesn't happen if the cops don't feel safe doing it.
They don't feel safe doing it if there are honest cops around.
They always feel safe doing it.
Incidents like these aren't isolated. It's not a rare bad apple. You don't get to this point if you're surrounded by good cops. You get to this point because no one cares about smaller violations of trust or bent rules. The cops who get caught are the ones who have everything come off the rails at once. That happened to Goines: his drug raid produced death and injuries, resulting in a ton of public scrutiny and whole lot of questions Goines and the officers that enabled him aren't going to be able to answer satisfactorily.And there will be questions. The FBI has announced it will be investigating the fatal drug raid. If Goines doesn't want to go to jail for lying to federal agents, he's going to have to provide truthful answers that will possibly see him jailed for other charges.There's also a chance a whole lot of lawsuits will be filed against Goines and the Houston PD in the near future. The Harris County District Attorney says it's going to be looking into every criminal investigation Goines touched during his years as a law enforcement officer.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office has launched a review of more than 1,400 criminal cases spanning Houston Police Officer Gerald Goines' 34-year career.Twenty-seven of those cases are active.“Our duty is to see that justice is done in every case,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “Although the criminal investigation of Officer Goines is ongoing, we have an immediate ethical obligation to notify defendants and their lawyers in Goines' other cases to give them an opportunity to independently review any potential defenses."
One case may have already been dismissed simply because Officer Goines was present during the arrest. His fellow officers, who were unwilling to step up and report Goines for previous misconduct, will now see their work undone as the DA's office makes it way through Goines' three decade paper trail. Current prosecutions are likely to end up dismissed and any ongoing investigations he was involved in will probably be put on hold. Any one of the 1,400 cases being looked at could result in litigation that could drag his fellow officers into court to defend themselves against civil rights violation allegations.Does this mean everything Goines did was illegal? Of course not, but the ease with which he fabricated a narrative to support a deadly drug raid suggests he's been coloring outside the lines for a long time and receiving zero pushback or criticism for doing so.

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Adopting a Social Mindset: How Social Media Sparked a Content Transformation

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By David Kashak, CEO of Connatix At some point over the last few years, content stopped being just a narrative and became a conversation. Social media rewired our brains and fundamentally changed how we're programmed to receive information. Media consumption evolved alongside it, and readers have grown accustomed to interacting with a story beyond the […]The post Adopting a Social Mindset: How Social Media Sparked a Content Transformation appeared first on Adotas.

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