Rapidshare Countersues Perfect 10 For Being A 'Copyright Troll' Who Only 'Shakes Down' Others

from the strong-words dept

Over the years, we've covered Perfect 10's various lawsuits against all sorts of companies it accuses of copyright infringement for having some connection to images from old Perfect 10 magazines. For example, it's sued pretty much every search engine for hosting thumbnails of images that others scanned. It's also sued payment processors of paywall sites. To date, Perfect 10 has lost nearly all of these lawsuits. Its latest loss was against Rapidshare, where it failed to get an injunction against the site, after the court pointed out that Rapidshare is just a locker and doesn't even provide a search engine for people to find stuff. Also, quite damaging to Perfect 10's case was its failure to actually inform Rapidshare where the infringing content existed, or use the established process for asking content to be taken down.

Now it looks like Rapidshare has struck back. Eric Goldman points out that Rapidshare has countersued Perfect 10, directly claiming that the company is a "copyright troll." They don't mince words:
Perfect 10 Is A Copyright Troll that Does Not Operate A Real Business

Perfect 10 is a copyright troll that does not operate a real business and instead seeks to foster the spread of infringing copies of works that it owns over the Internet in order to entrap and shakedown websites and services where copies of its images may randomly end up.

Perfect 10 does not have the employees or attributes of a legitimate business. Today, Perfect 10 is essentially a paralegal service masquerading as a porn company. It is run by its founder, Norm Zada, out of his Beverly Hills home with the help of full and part time employees who are paid primarily to troll the Internet looking for (but not removing) allegedly infringing copies of Perfect 10 images for use in existing or potential future litigation and to draft declarations and other papers.

Perfect 10 is so litigious that Judge Matz of the Central District of California, before whom a number of Perfect 10 cases had been consolidated, has made it clear to Perfect 10 that it should not file any more lawsuits, which is why it filed this suit in the Southern District of California even though this district has no connection to the parties or the underlying claims.
From there, the filing goes on to make fun of Zada and his plans for Perfect 10 and his inability to copy Hugh Hefner's path to success in the porn publishing world -- suggesting that Perfect 10's problems in business had a lot more to do with the way the company was set up and run, rather than any online infringement:
From the start, Perfect 10's business model did not make business sense. Its Perfect 10 magazine (now defunct) was never competitively priced and therefore never garnered a large circulation. It featured less content at higher prices than competitive magazines. Similarly, Perfect 10 had little or no display advertising, which is a major source of revenue for magazines. Ultimately, perfect 10 could not compete with better run, better known publications that had ample advertisements.
The filing then goes on to suggest that Zada jumped on copyright infringement lawsuits as a business model, rather than as a method for protecting content:
Zada came to see litigation as a profit center, where the more Perfect 10 images were infringed online, the more money he and Perfect 10 could earn in settlements extracted through litigation or merely the threat of litigation. Accordingly, Perfect 10 does little or nothing to deter infringement, including exercising self-help or implementing other measure that legitimate copyright owners use to minimize online infringement, preferring instead to tacitly encourage the spread of its images as widely as possible over the internet.
There's a lot more along those lines, as the filing details how Perfect 10 seemed to go out of its way to make it more difficult for Rapidshare (and others) to remove the content it claimed was infringing -- points made by the judge in the original ruling rejecting the injunction request.

All of this is somewhat entertaining, but what is the actual legal claim? Rapidshare claims that these activities have caused harm to Rapidshare by forcing it into expensive litigation while also harming its reputation. So it's accusing the company of violating a California "unfair business practices" law -- which seems worryingly vague. Then there's a common law "unfair competition" claim, which also seems a bit vague. Unfortunately, as ridiculous as Perfect 10's lawsuits have been, I'm not convinced Rapidshare really has a legal leg to stand on in the countersuit. Either way, you can see the full filing below:


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 7:49am

    i have to shake my head. why would you give this sort of legal stupidity the time of day? why dont you ream rapid share out the same way you would ream out a copyright lawyer you think it playing stupid legal games? this is an absolute vengeful waste of court time, without any legal base. it is proof that rapidshare, like the guys (not) running pirate bay are way to arrogant for their own good.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 7:50am

    Hey now, Perfect 10 is just trying to promote the progress of the sciences and useful arts here! For a limited time!

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 8:07am

    Re:

    Web storage.

     

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  4.  
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    Sweet Vengeance Pie!, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 8:11am

    Re:

    Recouping costs of being friviously sued? Setting precedent? Having documentation [innoculation?] defending your position if this happens again? Fighting back?

    Not so sure of arrogance here, seems more like defensive offense, though your point is taken.

     

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  5.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 8:12am

    Re:

    Last time I checked, arrogance isn't illegal. This is also a legitimate follow-up story to an ongoing series of legal challenges initiated by Perfect 10 against numerous sites involving baseless accusations of copyright infringement.

    If anyone's wasting court time, it's them, and not this single countersuit from their latest target.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 8:22am

    Exactly!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Michael, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 8:31am

    Re:

    Mike did say that he thought that this suit had arguments "as ridiculous as Perfect 10's lawsuits have been". And doesn't he highlight enough of the ridiculous lawsuits going the other direction?

    Even if you think you can justify any of the lawsuits against third party providers like RapidShare, you have to admit that Perfect 10's business practices are shady and a misuse of the system. They foster a bad name for companies that are trying to legitimately protect their IP.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 8:46am

    Re:

    Exactly!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 9:21am

    And therein lies the problem. What legal recourse does Rapidshare (or any other victim of copyright/patent trolling) really have? Any lawyers in the house?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 9:39am

    May not have any legal recourse, may just need to buy some Vaseline and socks with handles. ;)

     

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  11.  
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    Ccomp5950 (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 10:14am

    Actual business? I've seen their magazines.

    Back when I was in the Army the PX carried their magazines, for all I know they've been out of business since 2006 but I do know they put out publications from 2003 to 2006, many a lonely soldier purchased them and I'm not ashamed to say I was one of them.

    Not exactly fitting of the definition of copyright troll but I'd accept "Overly Litigious".

     

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  12.  
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    Kevin, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 10:30am

    Not a lawyer, but I think their case is stronger than they're being credit for. While copyright trolling wasn't the intention of things like Rule 11, Perfect 10 is the definition of "frivolous filings"... it seems to be it would come down to a surprisingly subjective decision on the part of the judge, and after their actions I doubt they have a friend on the bench. All it would probably take is one or two successful countersuits to put a hurt on Zada's income and establish a precedent, and we'll probably hear a lot less of this scumbag enterprise.

     

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  13.  
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    Michael, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 11:12am

    Blackmail?

    Perhaps they should claim blackmail. Essentially, Perfect 10 is threatening a court case, even though it's quite clear they have no real case, without first giving the company a chance to comply. If Perfect 10 has asked for an out of court settlement, it seems like blackmail to me.

     

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  14.  
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    Andrew F (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 11:15am

    Deterrence

    This is an exercise in deterrence against other potential plaintiffs interested in suing RapidShare -- i.e. if you waste my time and money with a stupid lawsuit, I'll waste your time and money with a stupid lawsuit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Rich, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 11:33am

    Barratry

    I'm definitely not a lawyer, but I don't understand how all these "pay us a little or we'll sue you for a lot" copyright cases can be legal. Isn't barratry still illegal?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Any Mouse, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 6:29pm

    Re: Actual business? I've seen their magazines.

    If Perfect 10 doesn't fit the definition of 'copyright troll,' then who, pray tell, does? Have you followed this series of suits at all?

    I'd suggest reading back a few and then responding.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    zevera, Jun 15th, 2010 @ 9:12pm

    rapidshare download

    Hi now i am very happy to see that here for a limited time Perfect 10 is just trying to promote the progress of the sciences and useful arts here!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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