Company Behind Adam & Eve Discovers Quickly That Courts Are Now Hip To Copyright Trolling
from the sex-toys-and-copyright-trolling dept
Adam & Eve is a well known purveyor of sex toys, and the company is generally considered somewhat mainstream — as I hear them advertise on all sorts of mainstream-ish podcasts. I had no idea that the company was actually founded back in 1970 as a way to help family planning by selling mail order contraceptives. Amazingly, if Wikipedia is to be believed, the company was actually helped along with a Ford Foundation fellowship. Somewhere along the way, it clearly expanded beyond just selling contraceptives, and eventually got into producing porn itself as well (complementary business lines, apparently). That’s under its corporate parent name, PHE Inc. And, now, it appears that PHE has decided to try expanding its business in the same manner as some other porn providers: by going copyright troll. Except, the company (or its lawyers) apparently didn’t do their homework.
The Torrent Lawyer blog alerts us to the news that PHE Inc. jumped into the copyright trolling game right after Christmas, filing a lawsuit against 105 John Does in Colorado, using lawyer Sanjin Mutic of the “Mile High Law Office.” And… even with New Years, it took just over a week for the court to dump 104 of those John Does from the lawsuit, and to suggest to PHE that the court is no fan of abusing the judicial system as a part of a business model. After noting some cases where judges had found joinder appropriate and many others where it was not, the judge made it clear he agreed with those that said it was not. He then provided a number of other reasons to dismiss all but one John Doe, including the fact that there was little to no benefit to anyone to having them all joined in a single case, especially since each defendant may have very different and very fact specific defenses that would require separate processes. And, then, towards the end, the court made it clear that it knew what these cases are really about:
Finally, the Court is troubled by many aspects of this “swarm joinder” model for copyright litigation. Courts across the country have observed that the companies involved in this type of litigation do not seem interested in actually litigating their copyright claims. Rather, they appear to be using the federal courts only to obtain identifying information for the ISP owners and then attempting to negotiate a quick settlement…. In finding joinder improper in a similar action, one court observed:
The federal courts are not cogs in plaintiff’s copyright enforcement business model. The Court will not idly watch what is essentially an extortion scheme, for a case that plaintiff has no intention of bringing to trial. By requiring Malibu to file separate lawsuits for each of the Doe Defendants, Malibu will have to expend additional resources to obtain a nuisance-value settlement—making this type of litigation less profitable. If Malibu desires to vindicate its copyright rights, it must do it the old-fashioned way and earn it….
…. The Court fully agrees with the concerns expressed by these other judges and finds that this is yet another basis for requiring that Plaintiff litigate its copyright claim against each John Doe Defendant individually.
Oh, and the ultimate bit of irony? The movie in question was “Buffy the Vampire Slayer XXX: A Parody.” Now, we’re all for parodies being protected from being considered infringement, but it really seems to be pushing the irony meter when the movie itself was created by relying on fair use rules to get around being copyright infringement, to then use it go on a copyright trolling binge.