from the graphic-detail dept
Anyone who has spent time with us here at Techdirt will be familiar with Voltage Pictures, the movie studio that perhaps is more famous now for being a copyright settlement troll than it is for having produced the movie Dallas Buyers Club. The studio has quite the reputation for sending settlement letters to those it accuses of having pirated the movie, typically with offers to settle for amounts in the thousands, and armed with the evidence of an IP address and nothing else. The frightened masses too often fork over the demanded settlement, not realizing that having an IP address is not evidence enough to prove guilt. It’s a bullying business model that drips of sleaze.
But, like with many others that use sleazy business models, the sleaze doesn’t end there. Lying and making false promises appears to be part of the model as well. Take the case of Michael Amhari, a California man on the receiving end of one of Voltage’s settlement offers. The studio made several promises to try to get Amhari to settle, none of which it appears to have been willing to keep. For instance, Voltage wanted Amhari to take a polygraph to back up his claim that he wasn’t the one who downloaded the film.
“Plaintiff demanded that defendant take a polygraph examination in exchange for a dismissal of the case. Plaintiff’s counsel disingenuously stated that he would bear all the costs for such a polygraph test,” Amhari’s counsel Clay Renick writes.
“When plaintiff’s counsel then agreed to take such a test with the proviso that defense costs and attorney fees be covered, plaintiff then refused to pay costs and revoked his offer to conduct a polygraph.”
Instead of coming to terms, Dallas Buyers Club asked the court to order a default judgment in their favor, which Amhari’s counsel asked the court to set aside.
In addition to playing these games with a polygraph test request, Renick is also asking the court to set aside the judgement due to all the other promises Voltage made to Amhari, with promises to dismiss its claim, that it didn’t keep.
For example, they offered to dismiss the case if he would state under penalty of perjury that he was not involved, while pointing out another possible suspect. However, after Amhari submitted his declaration they moved for a default anyway.
“After receiving exculpatory evidence and the sworn declaration of defendant, Mr. Davis then refused to file a dismissal and proceeded to demand that defendant appear in the action or he would file a default. This behavior is galling and it should not be permitted by the court,” the defendant’s counsel adds.
Galling and quite exemplary of just how interested in any kind of justice Voltage Pictures is in this instance. Which is to say it isn’t at all, because it appears to keep requesting information and evidence supporting Amhari’s innocence and then rescinding its promises once its requests are met. That isn’t someone looking for a just result. It’s instead the actions of an incredibly irritating bully who is only interested in the extraction of money from someone it deems to be be bully-able. That the promises were backed by a legal staff that then has gone back to the court to try to get judgments against the defendant is breathtakingly cavalier.
Given that Amhari has agreed to pretty much every demand that Voltage Pictures has made, and has received none of the promised results, it would be nice for the court to slap the troll around a bit and at least revoke the previous default judgement.