Accused Pirate Tries For Attorney's Fees After Copyright Troll Attempts To Run Away From Discovery

from the more-of-this-please dept

When we talk about the scourge that is copyright troll operations, and the wide path of legal destruction they’ve caused throughout the world, it can be easy to lose sight of just how precarious a business model it can be for the trolls. Loathe as any writer should be to engage in cliche, it is simply true that the best response to shut down this kind of non-litigious bullying is to simply punch back. After all, it is quite clear at this point that the last thing these trolling operations want as a response to their lawsuit-threat letters is for any actual lawsuit to be conducted. More specific to this story is how Guardaley, the shady German company that appears to setup shell operations throughout the world and cultivate law firms to enforce its operations, all too often forgets to bring any actual evidence to the courtroom when it does show up there and which otherwise does everything it can to stay out of the courtroom altogether.

Again, bullies will tend to back down when you fight back against them. But backing down doesn’t have to be the end of the story, as demonstrated by one Utah man that received a copyright trolling threat letter from an outfit called Criminal Productions (super on the nose, there, guys…), immediately lawyered up, and demanded that discovery begin.

This was the case when Darren Brinkley was sued in a Utah federal court last year. In a complaint filed by Criminal Productions, he and 31 others were accused of illegally sharing a copy of the movie Criminal. Brinkley denied these claims and rejected the settlement offer but the film company still didn’t back off.

While Criminal Productions initially refused to let the case go, recently it voluntarily dismissed the case. According to Brinkley’s lawyers, the film company dropped the case like a hot potato when it discovered that the defendant was attempting to look into its business.

“As expected, when Plaintiff realized a Motion to Compel discovery was in draft, Criminal sought voluntary dismissal of both its affirmative claims and Brinkley’s counterclaims, which this Court granted, with prejudice, on July 6, 2018.”

Such a move should make it very obvious just what type of ethics Criminal Productions engages in to so plainly scramble to avoid any type of discovery process into its practices or techniques. There must be quite a treasure trove of information to be discovered to cause the bully to run away so completely. As the post notes, Criminal Productions is a special purpose entity (SPE), which is basically used to shield the fact that this is all being done by a known copyright troll. Guardaley appears to be the main suspect in this case.

But, if these trolls are allowed to simply run away from any individual who chooses to fight back, that doesn’t serve as much of a deterrent for their behavior. Brinkley’s demand that Criminal Productions pay his attorney’s fees, on the other hand, serves that function nicely.

Brinkley’s attorneys see this as a typical example of “cut and run” litigation, and argue that Criminal Productions must pay their client’s legal bill.

“These tactics should at minimum require that Defendant Brinkley be made whole for Plaintiff’s filing of litigation it clearly had no intention of pursuing and that may have had no basis in the first instance. This is the very definition of ‘cut and run’ litigation,” the motion reads.

The defendant requests compensation for the attorneys’ fees and costs to the tune of $62,818.35, providing a detailed accounting of the costs it made.

We need more of this. Much more, in fact. If, suddenly, the risk calculus for anyone engaging in copyright trolling practices had to include the potential of handing five figures over to the wrongly accused it attempted to bilk money from, perhaps we’d finally see this monstrous practice go away.

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Companies: criminal productions

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Comments on “Accused Pirate Tries For Attorney's Fees After Copyright Troll Attempts To Run Away From Discovery”

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18 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

"Would you look at that, seems I need to leave RIGHT NOW."

While Criminal Productions initially refused to let the case go, recently it voluntarily dismissed the case. According to Brinkley’s lawyers, the film company dropped the case like a hot potato when it discovered that the defendant was attempting to look into its business.

Dropping a case as soon as the target made clear that they were willing to fight back and dig into who exactly had tried to shake them down? Yeah, they couldn’t have been more clear that they were abusing the court system for copyright extortion if they’d gone into court holding signs declaring that.

Hopefully the judge is annoyed enough at being used in someone else’s scheme to make a quick profit to grant legal fees(or more ideally), because only once the scam is no longer profitable will parasites like that drop it.

TKnarr (profile) says:

Re: "Would you look at that, seems I need to leave RIGHT NOW."

I think judges should start enforcing the rule that once the defendant files anything in the case, even just a response, the plaintiff can’t voluntarily dismiss the case anymore without the defendant agreeing to the dismissal. Along with an explicit rule that says the fact that the defendant refused to agree to a dismissal may not be used to the defendant’s detriment at any later point in the case (ie. no more saying that if the plaintiff offers to settle and dismiss the case and the defendant rejects it and ends up winning less than the settlement offer the defendant’s treated as having lost).

John Smith says:

Re: Re: "Would you look at that, seems I need to leave RIGHT NOW."

I think Rule 41 applies only if an answer has been filed.

As for Rule 68, it should be reciprocal in that a Plaintiff should be able to demand money and collect attorney fees if it wins more than the demand. Also Rule 68 was found not to apply in certain public-interest cases (like civil rights).

Another good rule would be to bar collecting attorney fees in cases involving a pro se because the pro se cannot seek those fees, or the pro se should be able to collect the average hourly wage for his or her work on a case where fees would otherwise apply.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What is missing from this is the stunts the troll were pulling in making everything take longer & demanding insane things.
They honestly wanted a court to allow them, from just an alleged IP address (IIRC they never produced the PCAP in this case), to depose the whole family & making claims that it wasn’t the account holder but maybe his son, who was a PROLIFIC infringer (according to their super secret never tested hidden software hidden outside of the country), downloaded the movie & father might have encouraged and allowed it.

These cases are designed to make it cheaper to settle than fight back, the second you mount a serious defense that might expose the men behind the curtain or how much cash they’ve taken in (which most likely is in excess of the statutory damages) they flee in terror. Its been the constant pattern, but magically they get to keep filing.

John Smith says:

Re: Re:

Well that “outdated” legal monopoly enjoyed by the Bar Assocation should give way to “innovative” business models like Nolo.com that would have paralegals doing the same work for a few hundred.

Let the MARKET decide if law degrees are so valuable. You could even let Bar Association membership guarantee the right to practice law, with nonattorneys admitted on a pro hac vice basis, with strong presumption in their favor for cases where attorneys did not take the case due to lack of funds.

If a lawyer can hire a paralegal then so should a pro se be allowed to as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Very simple part II

(Don’t rely on hitting enter key to move the cursor focus)

All trolls must lodge a real liquid currency amount with the court, equal to the amount they are claiming against the defendant, in case the litigation doesn’t go their way. This must be done WHEN FILING the case.

That would put an IMMEDIATE and PERMANENT end to ALL trolling.

Paul Brinker (profile) says:

Re: Very simple part II

This just sets a floor for how much you need to make the other party rack up in expenses. Set this value to high and you cant sue anymore, to low and Ill drag out discovery till your broke anyway.

Trolls would still file cases, they would just try to make the case so toxic that the other side will go broke before they can ask for a settlement. Which if I might add, is what they do today.

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