Copyright Trolls Go Mostly Silent In US Federal Courts
from the anyone-out-there? dept
Readers here will be familiar with the practice of copyright trolling and the toll this extortion by threatened litigation has had on the public and the court system. You will also be aware that a huge chunk of copyright trolling efforts in America have been undertaken by two companies: Malibu Media and Strike 3 Holdings. Both companies have had setbacks as of late, between ownership and investor issues, and a series of both losses in court and judges who are finally starting to catch on to the shady way these trolls attempt to extort money from people with scant evidence.
It is perhaps in part due to those struggles that both companies have essentially gone dark in federal courts as of late.
In recent years, the vast majority of the U.S. lawsuits were filed by two adult entertainment companies; Strike 3 Holdings and Malibu Media. Together, they filed over 3,300 new cases last year, which was an all-time record. Initially, it appeared that they would continue on the same course this year. During the summer we reported that Strike 3 alone had already filed over a thousand new complaints. However, in recent months that changed drastically.
Looking through the federal court records we noticed that there was a notable absence of new cases from both Strike 3 Holdings and Malibu Media. Instead of filing hundreds of new cases, both companies haven’t been active for weeks. Strike 3 filed its latest complaint in early August, more than four months ago. Malibu Media had its latest filing spree in August as well and only submitted seven new complaints after that, most recently in October.
This appears to be the full story with Malibu Media. Strike 3 is a different matter, however, as it looks as though the company has made a strategic decision to file its cases in Florida State court rather than federal court. This may have to do with an attempt to avoid precedence in rulings as to the evidence it uses, chiefly the practice of pretending that IP addresses identify people. If that isn’t it, it could also be some version of the trick Prenda Law attempted to pull in moving copyright-cases-in-disguise to Florida courts. Essentially, they sue instead with a nod toward the CFAA as a way to enter into discovery, while also naming a bunch of co-conspirators — rather than defendants — to the case. All of this as a way to get at IP address and account information for a whole bunch of people in state court, only to turn around and sue those same co-conspirators in federal court. If that is what Strike 3 is doing, it’s really dumb because it got Prenda in a bunch of trouble.
Either way, the total number of cases filed by these two companies combined, and thereby the number of copyright trolling cases in federal court writ large, have tumbled significantly. This should highlight that speaking out and pushing back on the tactics of these companies can indeed work. Or, at the very least, have an effect.