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), 27 Feb 2019 @ 9:23pm

    Re: How much does it cost to write: "False. See you in court."

    Well the attorney fee's double, you then have to deal with "experts" going through your entire digital life, your neighbors being deposed, & levels of stress.

    See if the "experts" actually get around to looking at the forensically sound images (why yes there are cases where drives were returned with out ever being looked at & then a motion demanding they be sent back for review), then if you forgot someone plugged a usb device in in the past 3 years that's 'proof' you are hiding things, your passwords to various online accounts are in the hands of 'professionals' who have a history of 'accidentally' violating court orders to protect your identity, and somewhere down the line they flat out will claim that a lack of evidence is evidence of guilt.

    For the low low cost of a $400 filing fee, they impose costs on the accused into the thousands (because being innocent is awesome, but going forward without a lawyer is crazy), the costs of depositions and imaging, and even then... they can still cut and run to avoid being on the hook for costs.

    The lawyer only has to go to court a couple times... I guess you don't understand hourly fees & all of the work that happens outside of the courtroom.

    A 70 yr old (cancer not withstanding) is not exactly a prime candidate to be an evil evil 'pirate' who cost them kajillions of dollars because their shit film was downloaded. But bonus points for trying to pretend the accused is the aggressive scumbag and not the lawyers who have raked in millions based on a millisecond of 'evidence' that they never actually manage to produce for review.

    This isn't like contesting a speeding ticket you ignorant hack.
    Perhaps you are unaware of how much damage can be done to the accused before the trial date & how motions for depositions & evidence collections and the like work. You can't say not it & make everything wait until the trial, .

    Once again I suggest you seek professional help & spend half as much time learning how the law works as you do screaming how we're all pirates & piracy is evil.

    In closing...
    Fuck right off, the grownups are talking.

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