Court Refuses To Allow Defendant In Copyright Trolling Case To Proceed, But Hints At Reform

from the losing-but-winning dept

Over the course of the last year or so, coverage of copyright trolling stories turned up a common movie multiple times. That film was The Hitman's Bodyguard, and the outfits contracted to push for fees via settlement letters were both prolific and devious in trying to manipulate the settlement offer amounts to achieve the highest conversion rates. Whatever the level of intelligence that goes into these operations, however, there will almost always be a misfire, with a wrong target picked in the wrong court in such a way that makes the troll look like, well, a troll.

Such appears to be the case when Bodyguard Productions went after Ernesto Mendoza in court, claiming that he downloaded the film via bittorrent. The problem with the case is that Mendoza is both very, very insistent on his innocence and also manages to cast about as sympathetic a figure as one might be able to find. Mendoza is in his 70s and has end-stage cancer. When Bodyguard Productions attempted to voluntarily dismiss the case when it became clear that Mendoza wasn't going to settle, he tried to push the court to force the case to go forward so that he could recover his legal expenses. Sadly, the court refused.

After hearing both sides, Illinois District Court Judge Robert Dow decided to dismiss the case, ordering both parties to pay their own fees. This was a huge disappointment for the alleged file-sharer, who now has to bear the costs for a case that he isn't allowed to fight. According to his attorney Lisa Clay, the Court should ensure that plaintiffs are ready and willing to prove their case.

“Unfortunately, the Court’s recent order does not,” Clay tells TorrentFreak. “Granting the Plaintiff’s disingenuous motion to dismiss without penalty has the real consequence of strengthening the troll business model."

That's exactly correct. The fact that copyright trolls can simply back out of a case they aren't going to have settled -- the entire point of the troll's business model -- acts as an insurance policy against its efforts. By not forcing trolls to face the potential penalty of paying legal fees, there is essentially no consequence to firing off lawsuits with no regard to the facts. That's a truck-sized loophole in the legal system that clearly does an injustice to the accused party in copyright lawsuits.

It seems that even the court in this case recognizes the problem.

On a broader scale, there’s a positive note for future defendants. In the order, Judge Dow notes that the Court should re-evaluate how it handles these cases. In addition, the potential for abuse may also deserve the attention of the Rules Committee.

“[T]he points advanced by Defendant about the potential for abuse across the universe of peer-to-peer copyright infringement cases convince the Court that it should re-evaluate its own overall treatment of these cases and consider whether to suggest that the Rules Committee in this district look into the matter as well,” Judge Dow writes.

Which is great, except we still have a 70-year-old cancer patient out legal fees after a copyright troll cut and run from its own lawsuit simply because the troll was careless in filing its lawsuits. It's quite obvious that whatever that is, it sure isn't justice.

Filed Under: copyright, copyright trolling, ernesto mendoza, illinois, the bodyguard
Companies: bodyguard productions


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  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Feb 2019 @ 3:43am

    Re:

    No the problem is the law is screwed up.
    No one in washington will dare even THINK about touching the law to deal with just this issue because that cow is much to sacred to be touched.
    The law is screwed up & while we can see all that is going on in every district, they don't get to until someone find a legal way to add that information to the record.

    If they said the $150K was only available to commercial infringement (like it should be & probably higher) and set a penalty of 2x retail (or 3 or 4) as the top limit prize... these trolls would have no interest in these shakedowns.

    They scare people with the $150K (that they would NEVER be awarded even in a month of sundays, and that would screw them b/c they would have the max award allowed for the title & can seek no more.) well the cost of defending this would be at least $5K... pay me $3.5K and we'll call that a day. And these do this hundreds of thousands of times for each film, raking in well above the limit described in the law.

    But OMG if we touch copyright the mouse might die!!!!!!!!!
    So what if several hundred thousand people have been shaken down... a cartoon mouse matters more than you.


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