Lawsuit Against First US Copyright Trolls For Extortion Ends In Victory

from the nicely-done dept

A few years ago, we wrote about how a guy named Dimitry Shirokov, with help from the law firm of Booth Sweet had taken on the “fathers” of copyright trolling in the US, Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver, who had formed an organization called US Copyright Group, which initiated the first round of mass copyright trolling in the US (before the likes of Prenda and others entered the space). Shirokov had tried to make his lawsuit a class action against the lawyers, claiming fraud and extortion. And while the class action part was unfortunately rejected, the case has ended with a victory for Shirokov, with the judge ordering DGW to pay $39,909.95 ($3,179.52 to Shirokov and the rest in attorneys’ fees to Booth Sweet).

The money to Shirokov was a result of DGW basically caving (it has long since dropped its copyright trolling efforts), and offering to pay up to settle the case and close it out. The latest ruling was just about the attorneys’ fees to pile on top. While Booth Sweet notes that the victory is bittersweet because they’d hoped for the class action to fly and because they’d sought a lot more in attorneys’ fees, it is still a victory on the books against trolling, which hopefully will come in handy in other such cases.

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Companies: booth sweet, dunlap grubb and weaver, us copyright group

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Comments on “Lawsuit Against First US Copyright Trolls For Extortion Ends In Victory”

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13 Comments
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Because the name needs to sound impressive on the letterhead of the “settlement” (read extortion) letter they send out.
Remind me to tell you about the single troll who invented a hot name for his operation and even gave it a coat of arms… he lifted from the East India Company.

Also it was supposed to keep anything from splashing onto their primary firm… and well THAT worked out.

zip says:

shallow victory

Victory perhaps, but as usual when dealing with dirty lawyers, a shallow victory. Although virtually all these “piracy = profit” copyright trolling schemes have ultimately lost, the lawyers behind them have not done too badly for themselves.

Davenport Lyons and ACS:Law in the UK, Prenda (et al.) and Dunlap/Grubb/Weaver in the US — all these law firms have come and gone in the copyright extortion business. But it’s not that they truly lost; they just saw bigger pockets to be picked elsewhere.

Anonymous Coward says:

with the judge ordering DGW to pay $39,909.95 ($3,179.52 to Shirokov and the rest in attorneys’ fees to Booth Sweet

And here we have illustrated the basic reason that trolling works, it costs so much more to fight the cases than settle, as most times the business has to pay their own legal fees whether they win or lose.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Settlement

Ah but much of what was investigated during this case remains on the record.
DGW did not get out of this unscathed, and I am sure there is useful information in the docket.

Part of the problem in many of the copyright trolling cases is no court has opened the door for a full accounting of what is going on. A piece here, a piece there, and much work assembling the larger picture from the puzzle pieces.

copyrightextortion (profile) says:

Copyright Trolls

Abuse of Copyrright Law by Copyright Trolls & Bullies

There are two types of people in this world.

1. Those who want to make money by protecting their work legally via copyrights

2. Those who want to share everything freely, openly and without any type of restrictions

I, myself belong to the latter type who loves to get educated (and educate others) via free research in libraries or web. If there’s any copyright which I’d want to display on anything I produce or work, it will go something like this;

(0) PUBLIC DOMAIN. TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE UNDER LAW, MR.ABC HAS WAIVED ALL COPYRIGHT AND RELATED OR NEIGHBORING RIGHTS TO THIS WORK.

My reasoning is simple; For every free input, there should be a free output. However, not everyone will agree as they will come up with a gazillion reasons and logics to make money off of someone’s FREE and public domain information. These money-hogs actually use (or abuse) the copyright law to extort money out of an innocent and a totally naïve researcher via threats to sue in the court of law for the lack of licensing, a modern term of paying to use their information or media. This reminds me of a James Bond movie slogan “License to Kill”. Sometimes, too much law prohibits free spirit of innovation, research or movement of information across different mediums.

To avoid such copyright trolls, you can always include the following information at the appropriate section of a web-page or a book;

1. Title of the media or publication
2. Author’s or Owner’s name
3. Online Link Where found

If you have modified their work in any way (provided their license allows you to do that or you got their permission via mail), you can add the word “DERIVATIVE” or “BASED UPON”.

For example, you need an image of a squirrel in your website or a book. If you use online research tools, you’d see hundreds of images related to squirrel which are licensed by greedy individuals or organizations ready to sue you in the court of law unless you pay their license fee. To filter out such money-hogs, there’s a very useful online tool;

http://search.creativecommons.org/

Checkmark the “use for commercial purposes” and the “modify, adapt, or build upon” boxes. Select the appropriate website where you want to research (Be ware to avoid the ones mentioned below). And enter your search term “Squirrel”. Select the image to extract the reference information as mentioned above before using it.

In the worst-case scenario, if you mistakenly (or innocently) used someone’s licensed work and they request you to take it down, you can request further information to prove they are the actual owners of that particular item. If they cooperate with you nicely and professionally by providing you with the maximum information possible (which is verifiable), you should honor their request to remove their copyrighted work immediately. Otherwise, there’s almost a quarter million dollars fine for using someone’s copyrighted or licensed work without their consent. However, If that individual or organization starts off by threatening to sue you instead of a nice request, you got a copyright troll on your hands.

Unless they provide you all of the information (they may provide you part of it, but not all), simply ignore such threats. If such a troll happens to be an attorney, research about their respective bar association license number and file the complaint with the bar’s administration. You can also file the complaint in the respective State’s Attorney General’s office and FTC as well. Trollish attorneys are usually relentless and use all kinds of legal jargon to prove you as some sort of a criminal in their letters by assuming you are guilty of a deliberate and a willful violation of their client’s copyright or license.

I used to hate the “IGNORE” word. But today, I love it. It pisses the hell out of copyright trolls who are so desperate for our money and attention. There should be a provision to “criminalize” such an abuse of copyright law by trollish organizations, individuals and attorneys. Let’s rally our own Congressmen and Congresswomen to introduce such “Anti-Bullying” and “Anti-Trollish” provisions to the copyright law.

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