Judge: Using The Copyright System To Force People To Pay Up Is Unconstitutional
from the well-that'll-be-effective dept
In yet another case of odd legal choices by copyright troll lawyers, apparently a lawyer named Ira Siegel has been avoiding complying with a court order that he reveal how much money he’s been making from demanding settlement fees based on accusations (and the threat of court) of copyright infringement. It’s no surprise that he would avoid doing so, but there are two interesting points related to this. First, he filed the response two days after the judge’s deadline. That’s not a way to win points with a judge. Second, he spent much of the filing complaining about an anonymous blogger who has nothing to do with the case. I’m not quite sure what the strategy is here other than to look foolish and lose the case. Of course, there’s been conspiracy theories that perhaps he wants this case dismissed to avoid having to reveal how much money he’s raking in.
Thankfully, rather than dismiss the entire case, the judge has followed the precedent of many other courts dealing with such copyright trolls, and dismissed all but one defendant, effectively ruining the legal strategy of the trolling operation. The judge goes through in great detail why joining so many different people in one lawsuit makes no sense. And you sense that the judge is annoyed that Siegel wasted his time with such a bad case. The judge clearly saw through the whole scheme, and flat out says that abusing the court system to force people to pay up is unconstitutional. It’s too bad this part is hidden in a footnote, but the judge clearly states:
The Court?s concerns are heightened by plaintiff?s refusal to file under seal a copy of its settlement letter and related information about its settlement practices. The film sells for $19.95 on plaintiff?s website. According to public reports, plaintiffs in other BitTorrent cases, rather than prosecuting their lawsuits after learning the identities of Does, are demanding thousands of dollars from each Doe defendant in settlement. If all this is correct, it raises questions of whether this film was produced for commercial purposes or for purposes of generating litigation and settlements. Put another way, Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution authorizes Congress to enact copyright laws ?to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts?. If all the concerns about these mass Doe lawsuits are true, it appears that the copyright laws are being used as part of a massive collection scheme and not to promote useful arts.
That’s quite a statement. It’s so rare to see a court look at the actual purpose of copyright law to see if it’s being met by a plaintiff…