A few weeks ago TorrentFreak unraveled a tangled web of copyright trolls who had sued hundreds of BitTorrent users under the name MCGIP. The article revealed the tight connections between the various parties involved in the scheme and the mistakes they made. Interestingly enough, soon after these findings were published MCGIP dropped their lawsuits for reasons unknown.
The ongoing mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the U.S. have led to some creative collaborations between lawyers and copyright holders.
Perhaps the most eye-catching is the setup used by a company called MCGIP. Unlike others, MCGIP have not produced any films themselves, but they ‘lease’ content from third parties and use this license to sue alleged copyright infringers. And that’s just the beginning.
What’s also noteworthy is that MCGIP is located in the same building as the Media Copyright Group (MCG), the outfit that collects the IP-adresses that serve as the former’s evidence. And coincidentally, MCG’s top technician Peter Hansmeier is the brother of lawyer Paul Hansmeier, who is a partner at Steele Hansmeier, the law firm that filed the lawsuits on behalf of MCGIP.
To top it off, Paul Hansmeier is also a partner at Alpha Law Firm, which also resides in the IDS tower in downtown Minneapolis, the same office where MCGIP and MCG are housed.
Last month the above findings were presented in an article here on TorrentFreak, in the secret hope that this peculiar operation would be brought to the attention of the courts. But when we decided to look at the various MCGIP cases against BitTorrent users this week, we were in for a surprise.
It turns out that in the month after our article was published, to the best of our knowledge MCGIP voluntarily dismissed (e.g.) all (but one) of their remaining cases, about a dozen with hundreds of defendants in total. This is peculiar to say the least, especially since in some cases the court had already granted MCGIP the right to subpoena Internet providers for the personal details of the defendants.
Why would they dismiss the cases when they are so close to “the money”?
Although we can only speculate as to why all these cases were suddenly dismissed, it might be concluded that our article was well-timed. There is no solid evidence to suggest that our report had anything to do with MCGIP’s sudden decision to drop their mass-BitTorrent lawsuits, but it’s yet another coincidence to add to this case.
So does this mean that BitTorrent users have nothing to fear anymore from these copyright trolls? Not per se. It has to be noted that all cases were voluntarily dismissed without prejudice, meaning that they can be filed again later on. But perhaps even more troubling, the key players are still heavily invested in other cases.
Peter Hansmeier’s Media Copyright Group (MCG) is collecting evidence in many other cases where the law firm of his brother Paul Hansmeier and John Steele are acting as legal counsel. They make their money one way or the other, and as long as it pays off we doubt that they will stop or slow down.
A small battle may have been won, but the war will undoubtedly continue.