by Zac Shaw

Zac Shaw's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the life-of-a-troll dept

What's it like to be in the crosshairs of a troll?

Surely it's a familiar feeling for many in the Techdirt community. I know I spent my week (as I often do) fighting back disgruntled defenders of dying business models in the music industry. Wherever I voiced my support for the inspiring message of crowd funding champion Amanda Palmer's TED talk, the wave of troll comments was tidal.

When the trolls mob, I remember what Upton Sinclair said: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

Troll battles are no big deal for those of us who fight daily to expose the truth about doctrines and dogmas that stifle progress in society. We will always be enemies of those whose salaries depend on exploitation. But this week, über-troll Prenda Law took the fight to a new and "rather incredible" level, issuing a subpoena for IP addresses of every visitor to troll-critic blogs for the past two years. The copyright-trolling legal maneuvers that Prenda Law is widely hated for are unmatched in their allegedly exploitative, ethically bankrupt extortion of innocent Internet users.

You and I may have thick skin for these bastards. We often wear the troll-hate as a badge of honor, an indication we are on the righteous path. But the poor average internet user is not similarly steeled to the abuse. The sad truth is that we are increasingly living in a world where everyone is being trolled.

For example, software consumers are being trolled by companies like Electronic Arts, whose insistence on the most draconian, always-connected DRM possible renders their much-anticipated $60 Sim City revamp worthless. Lest I suggest we are becoming a world full of victims, the outpouring of negative customer reviews shows an encouraging unwillingness to be silently victimized, and at least some developers get it. Treating your customers as criminals is the essence of corporate copyright trolling.

But even our troll-fighting heroes are not immune to becoming trolls themselves, given enough time and money. When Teller sued a fellow magician for copyright infringement, one had to wonder if the purveyors of the fine troll-busting TV show Bullshit! would now have to do an episode about themselves. No wonder the defendant thinks it's a joke.

All of these examples are mere skirmishes compared to the all-out pre-emptive nuclear war being planned by global copyright troll elite. Anyone familiar with copyright knows that multinational treaties form the basis of the law. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the next big revision to international IP agreements, is now in its 16th round of secret negotiations. We are finally starting to see a serious push-back from a large, diverse group of organizations. But is it too late?

Meanwhile, copyright maximalists continue to dominate the US legislative branch, drowning out the few reasonable voices calling for Internet freedom to be protected.

I'm not talking about waging a War on Trolls here. We're merely defending ourselves and our society from those in power who seek to undermine any challenge to that power. That doesn't mean just taking down trolls, it also means building new bridges. We must endeavor to spread the word beyond our Techdirt inner circle and to the victims at large. Video games and magic tricks are mere slivers of a widely splintering culture. The thicker our skin grows against these troll attacks, the greater our responsibility to lead the fight for all.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2013 @ 12:37pm

    'We are finally starting to see a serious push-back from a large, diverse group of organizations against The Trans-Pacific Partnership. But is it too late?'

    i hope not but an even bigger concern could be that the 'push back' we are starting to see could all be a smoke screen by companies that agree with TPP but want to appear to fight it, in case the back lash ends badly for those that do support it. wont be the first time and wont be the last!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, 9 Mar 2013 @ 2:38pm

    The problem with building new bridges, though, is that it creates more troll habitat for them to breed in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      AB, 10 Mar 2013 @ 11:02am


      True, but our ability to build bridges is improving rapidly while trolls are notoriously slow to establish themselves. If we can survive the current troll onslaught there is hope our bridge building speed will outpace the trolls ability to establish themselves. Thus ensuring there are always troll-free routes available for new travelers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 Mar 2013 @ 4:26am

    "But the poor average internet user is not similarly steeled to the abuse."

    Which is why SJD and DTD do the work they do.
    Both of them started as targets who learned the ropes of these cases and were pissed off what they discovered.
    They started telling the world their stories and found more people who were under attack.
    Once targeted "Does" learn what really is happening, they tend to get very angry and many of them have joined the cause.
    I've seen targets evolve from terrified of the claims, to actively searching dockets for new filings to make sure no one else falls prey.
    They worked tirelessly, reading, reporting, dissecting.
    Now a much wider audience is aware of the lengths these trolls are willing to go to for a few bucks, and the "questionable" actions they take.

    I'm glad the hard work SJD and DTD have put in is paying off in Judge Wrights courtroom, but the battle is not yet over and there are still more trolls using other tactics waiting for the bright light to shine on them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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