Rapidshare Countersues Perfect 10 For Being A 'Copyright Troll' Who Only 'Shakes Down' Others

from the strong-words dept

Over the years, we've covered Perfect 10's various lawsuits against all sorts of companies it accuses of copyright infringement for having some connection to images from old Perfect 10 magazines. For example, it's sued pretty much every search engine for hosting thumbnails of images that others scanned. It's also sued payment processors of paywall sites. To date, Perfect 10 has lost nearly all of these lawsuits. Its latest loss was against Rapidshare, where it failed to get an injunction against the site, after the court pointed out that Rapidshare is just a locker and doesn't even provide a search engine for people to find stuff. Also, quite damaging to Perfect 10's case was its failure to actually inform Rapidshare where the infringing content existed, or use the established process for asking content to be taken down.

Now it looks like Rapidshare has struck back. Eric Goldman points out that Rapidshare has countersued Perfect 10, directly claiming that the company is a "copyright troll." They don't mince words:
Perfect 10 Is A Copyright Troll that Does Not Operate A Real Business

Perfect 10 is a copyright troll that does not operate a real business and instead seeks to foster the spread of infringing copies of works that it owns over the Internet in order to entrap and shakedown websites and services where copies of its images may randomly end up.

Perfect 10 does not have the employees or attributes of a legitimate business. Today, Perfect 10 is essentially a paralegal service masquerading as a porn company. It is run by its founder, Norm Zada, out of his Beverly Hills home with the help of full and part time employees who are paid primarily to troll the Internet looking for (but not removing) allegedly infringing copies of Perfect 10 images for use in existing or potential future litigation and to draft declarations and other papers.

Perfect 10 is so litigious that Judge Matz of the Central District of California, before whom a number of Perfect 10 cases had been consolidated, has made it clear to Perfect 10 that it should not file any more lawsuits, which is why it filed this suit in the Southern District of California even though this district has no connection to the parties or the underlying claims.
From there, the filing goes on to make fun of Zada and his plans for Perfect 10 and his inability to copy Hugh Hefner's path to success in the porn publishing world -- suggesting that Perfect 10's problems in business had a lot more to do with the way the company was set up and run, rather than any online infringement:
From the start, Perfect 10's business model did not make business sense. Its Perfect 10 magazine (now defunct) was never competitively priced and therefore never garnered a large circulation. It featured less content at higher prices than competitive magazines. Similarly, Perfect 10 had little or no display advertising, which is a major source of revenue for magazines. Ultimately, perfect 10 could not compete with better run, better known publications that had ample advertisements.
The filing then goes on to suggest that Zada jumped on copyright infringement lawsuits as a business model, rather than as a method for protecting content:
Zada came to see litigation as a profit center, where the more Perfect 10 images were infringed online, the more money he and Perfect 10 could earn in settlements extracted through litigation or merely the threat of litigation. Accordingly, Perfect 10 does little or nothing to deter infringement, including exercising self-help or implementing other measure that legitimate copyright owners use to minimize online infringement, preferring instead to tacitly encourage the spread of its images as widely as possible over the internet.
There's a lot more along those lines, as the filing details how Perfect 10 seemed to go out of its way to make it more difficult for Rapidshare (and others) to remove the content it claimed was infringing -- points made by the judge in the original ruling rejecting the injunction request.

All of this is somewhat entertaining, but what is the actual legal claim? Rapidshare claims that these activities have caused harm to Rapidshare by forcing it into expensive litigation while also harming its reputation. So it's accusing the company of violating a California "unfair business practices" law -- which seems worryingly vague. Then there's a common law "unfair competition" claim, which also seems a bit vague. Unfortunately, as ridiculous as Perfect 10's lawsuits have been, I'm not convinced Rapidshare really has a legal leg to stand on in the countersuit. Either way, you can see the full filing below:
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Filed Under: copyright, copyright troll, lawsuits
Companies: perfect 10, rapidshare


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  1. identicon
    Rich, 14 Jun 2010 @ 11:33am

    Barratry

    I'm definitely not a lawyer, but I don't understand how all these "pay us a little or we'll sue you for a lot" copyright cases can be legal. Isn't barratry still illegal?

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