Anti-Piracy Copyright Lawyer Decides To Abuse Trademarks To Shut Down Pirates
from the ip-is-ip-is-ip dept
Update: This article was updated to remove a paragraph regarding events of a few years ago that was not central to the story here, and for which we have since learned there were additional details that have only now been shared with us.
One of the most consistent aspects of lawyers who crusade against copyright infringement is just how inconsistent their views on “the law” are. Copyright trolls regularly skirt the law while claiming to fight for justice for copyright holders. Hell, some trolls, that would have you believe they are bullwarks against piracy, have been found out to have essentially committed and encouraged the very piracy they sued over themselves.
The point is that it’s all a panoply of monied interests and shifting levels of ethics perfectly calibrated to let the copyright lawyer do as he or she pleases on any given day. You can see this in practice yet again, with Kerry Culpepper, Hawaiian IP attorney, deciding to register a bunch of trademarks for piracy related terms and then going around and shutting down accounts for “pirate” services on social media sites.
Through the recently incorporate Hawaiian company 42 Ventures, he helped to register several piracy-related trademarks. The current trademark portfolio of the company includes the popular brands “YTS,” “Popcorn Time,” and “Terrarium.” In addition, 42 Ventures also claimed the trademark for the Showbox arrow logo. All trademarks are registered under the same description, “downloadable computer software for downloading and streaming multimedia content images, videos and audio.” The same description also applies to the pirate sites and apps.
The trademarks were only recently registered which brings up the issue of prior use. Popcorn Time, Terrarium, and YTS have been using their brands for years, and could technically object to any enforcement efforts. 42 Ventures, however, stresses that it has its own legal “Popcorn Time” website at Popcorntime4u.com, which links to content from the YouTube channel Popcorned Planet.
And from there, we find that 42 Ventures has partnered with Andy Signore, who is behind Honest Trailers, among other things. The idea I suppose is to try to claim that 42 Ventures is suddenly and recently using these marks in commerce, the only way it would have a valid trademark. That, however, is bullshit. The terms and actual content creators were already long using those marks, as were the holders of the social media accounts 42 Ventures is busy taking down. In other words, Culpepper appears to be perfectly willing to abuse trademark law in his efforts to enforce copyright law. That isn’t exactly a consistent respect for intellectual property now, is it?
Because consistent and ethical application of the law is entirely besides the point. There’s no respect for intellectual property in any of this. Only a way to milk dollars in the name of the law.