Nov 7, 2012

STOP Copyright Trolls.


Another Judge Blasts Copyright Trolls

from the swarms dept

We've been seeing more and more judges reacting negatively to copyright trolls. What's interesting is that they seem to be getting more aggressive in their statements against the trolls, and it seems clear that fewer judges are falling for their antics. The latest is from Judge Harold Baer in the Southern District of New York, who you could say is not impressed by some copyright trolling cases that have ended up in his court, coming from Media Products and Patrick Collins. He had allowed for expedited discovery, which is what copyright trolls want, but it seems quite clear that Baer regrets that decision and now seeks to reverse it. Expedited discovery basically gives the trolls what they want: it lets them subpoena ISPs to find out contact info of users based on the IP addresses they've collected. From that point on, they have no intention of ever proceeding with the actual lawsuit. They just want to start pressuring people into "settling."

Judge Baer clearly understands what's going on here. He notes early on the very serious potential problem of IP addresses not being particularly good identifiers of who has done the actual infringement:
Particularly troubling for courts is the high probability of misidentified Doe defendants (who may be the bill-payer for the IP address but not the actual infringer) settling a case for fear of the disclosure of the allegations against them or of the high costs of litigation.
He notes that he's not ready to "wade into" the question of whether or not joinder is appropriate, especially in cases where all of the IP addresses are part of the same BitTorrent swarm, but he is clearly worried about a different kind of "swarm":
Ironically, there are swarms on both sides, for copyright locusts have descended on the federal courts, exacting low-cost settlements from embarrassed John Does and then moving on to the next District
Yes, Judge Baer seems familiar with the M.O. of these trolls, and how they've effectively been "run out of" other districts after judges realized what they were up to. In fact, he quotes a ruling in the Central District of California approvingly:
... the federal courts are not flexible enough to be shaped into "cogs in a plaintiffs copyright-enforcement business model. The Court will not idly watch what is essentially an extortion scheme, for a case that [Plaintiffs have] no intention of bringing to trial."
He also worries that the plaintiffs have already pressured defendants into settling, noting "that some Doe defendants have already been voluntarily dismissed at this early stage in the litigation." For that reason, he's decided that joining all the cases together at this stage is inappropriate, and has (like many other courts) severed and dismissed all but one Doe. "

Source and Full Article

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