Why settle for copyright infringement accusations when you can have it all? That seems to be pro se filer Michael Henry Smith’s rationale. Apparently, his self-published fictional account of the Waco biker/cop shootout hasn’t racked up as many sales as he believes it should. And now, the Internet must pay.
MICHAEL HENRY SMITH, Plaintiff
ALPHABET INC., AMAZON.COM, ATTRACTSOFT GMBH, AUTOMATTIC/GRAVATAR, BEAM.TO, BESSEMER VENTURE PARTNERS, BOX/BOX, INC/OPEN BOX/MEDXT, COATUE MANAGEMENT, DFJ GROWTH, EZINECENTRE, FACEBOOK, FREEHOSTINGEU, GENERAL ATLANTIC, GOOGLE, ITOCHU TECHNOLOGY VENTURES, MACNICA NETWORKS USA, INC., MITSUI & CO, MY SOCIAL HUB XP, NEW ENTERPRISE ASSOCIATES, SAP VENTURES, SCALE VENTURE PARTNERS, SOCIAL + CAPITAL PARTNERSHIP, TELEFONICA DIGITAL, TELSTRA, AND TELSTRA VENTURES, TPG CAPITAL and TUCOWS INC.
Bring on the “defendants shielded by aliases!”
ALA KID, LONG DONG, JIMBO KING, CINDY LOU, BRIANNA NATFIALY, LONG JOHN, NUKE DUKEM, PETER WILL HARDEN, CAPTAIN SPRAWLING, CAPTAIN SPAULDING, THEREAL MIKESMITH, THEREAL MIKESMITH1ER.
Smith has filed this case under multiple causes. PACER lists it under both “Copyright Infringement” and “Assault, Libel and Slander.”.
That’s not enough, though. Smith alleges a host of wrongs.
LAWSUIT FOR THE THEFT AND DISSEMINATION OF MY INTELECTUAL PROPERTY, FOR CYBER BULLYING, CYBER STALKING, CYBER HARASSMENT, LIABLE, SLANDER AND DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER, THE USE OF HATE LANGUAGE IN THE PURSUIT OF THESE ACTIONS and/or FOR PROVIDING A SAFE HAVEN THE DEFENDNATS CONDUCTING OF THESE ACTIVITIES and/or FOR FAILING TO PROTECT MY WORKS FROM THESE ACTIVITIES
Following this is the meat of the complaint, most of which is composed of allegations copy-pasted under each defendant’s name. Amazon receives a little more personal attention because that’s where Smith’s saga begins.
Smith self-published his book (“The Waco Biker Massacre“) using Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. “Within weeks,” his book was available elsewhere on the web and he was allegedly being subjected to personal attacks from a variety of internet ruffians. I’ve lapsed into archaic slang as a gentle segue into Smith’s depiction of his fortunes, post-Amazon upload.
As of today,it is my estimation that some 100,000 copies of my work have been distributed without my receiving a single Sioux in compensation.
As a nation, we’ve long since moved to paper currency. The backing of our currency by government stores of precious metals/Native Americans is but a dim memory. Smith is demanding well over 100 million dollars/Sioux, but only the former is actually possible to obtain here in the US. Smith notes the lack of Sioux has pushed back Volume 2’s release date indefinitely.
From there, the allegations against each tech defendant are remarkably similar… and remarkably unhinged. Every defendant has allegedly encouraged the proliferation of child pornography, earning “hundereds of millions of dollars” in the process — all the while refusing to hand over personal details on their users to Smith. In Smith’s view, the Internet is all mobbed up.
One of those industries is the theft and distribution of my intellectual properties. Some of the others are the aforementioned sites that solicit children for exploitation and the distribution of child pornography. This defendant makes hundreds of millions of dollars hosting criminal enterprlses; every year.
In my endeavors to stop the proliferation of the illegal distribution of my works and the personal attacks on me personally, I have contacted these various entities and their sub-entities to obtain the identities of the criminals behind the theft and distribution of my works and to petition these hosting services to stop distributing my works. This defendant and its sub-entities and aliases has refused. They invoke the Internet Omerta.
And so on for most of the defendants: theft, child porn, hundreds of millions of dollars, Internet Omerta, etc. A few defendants receive their own special accusations, though. Like Facebook:
Facebook is a corporation and online social networking service. It also harbors criminals and cyber predators.
Smith seems most upset at the fact that Facebook — like many of the other defendants — won’t just hand over user info without a court order. Somehow, this is viewed as wrong.
Just as all of the other defendants, similarly situated, it refuses to take definitive action; or reveal the identities of the other cyber criminals; unless I bring it into court and then that they receive a court order to disclose the identities of these other criminals.
With this added detail, it is now apparent that “Internet Omerta” actually means “will only comply with a lawful requests like a court orders, not the angry, ranting email/messages of some random dude on the internet.”
In the end, it all comes down to money. Lots of it. The child porn pandering. The cyberbullying. The copyright infringement. It all adds up.
The minimum retail value of a copy of my short story is $3.99. The maximum retail value of a copy of my short story is $9.99. None of that includes the bonuses and awards for selling 100,000 copies of my work. None of that includes the notoriety for the work that could have garnered it recognition from a movie/television company that would have led to even more income. The personal stress and anxiety and physical injuries that I have suffered as a result of this continuous onslaught of cyber bullying, cyber stalking, liable, slander and defamation of character, and being subjected to hate speech is nearly unquantifiable.
For all of the foregoing I am requesting that this Honorable Court direct this action to a trial before a jury. That upon the finding of the jury in my favor that this Honorable Court direct the defendants to pay me $1,000,000.00 each for my losses, damages, pun, suffering, emotional distress and harms to my life. That is with the exception of the defendants BEAM.TO and MY SOCIAL HUP XP. That these vagabond defendants be held liable to me for the amount of $100,000,000.00.
As a majority of these parties are protected by Section 230, it looks like this case is going nowhere — even if Smith had managed to state a coherent claim, which he has not. I can understand Smith’s concern about copyright infringement and the harassment he’s apparently experienced. (The exhibits contain two screenshots of accounts attacking him. They also contain two screenshots supposedly showing Beam.To’s participation in child pornography distribution, but only actually show normal Google search results and a splash ad for a [legal] porn site. The abuse seems to have been a reaction to Smith’s habit of showing up anywhere the Waco shootout is discussed and plugging his book/calling other people liars.) But making outlandish claims and demands won’t put any more cash in your pocket. From the looks of it, it may not even put anymore filings on this docket… at least not from Michael Smith.
A one-page order added to the docket suggests the judge is either going to ask for a full rewrite of the complaint or try to talk Smith out of pursuing this woefully misguided lawsuit.
This cause shall come before the undersigned on March 21, 2016, at 10:00 a.m., for a pretrial conference in Courtroom 3A, United States Courthouse, Mobile, Alabama. Plaintiff is ORDERED to appear for the pretrial conference for the purpose of inquiring about Plaintiff’s complaint filed on February 26, 2016.
I may be reading too much into a two-sentence order, but it seems unlikely Judge William Cassady is formally inviting ordering Smith to his courtroom to congratulate him on the gutsiness of his opening salvo on Google, Amazon, et al.