We've been quite critical of some of porn company Liberty Media's copyright trolling efforts
, in which the company is using what we believe to be questionable legal theories to pressure people into paying up. We still find it interesting that the lawyer for Liberty Media, Marc Randazza, is also the main lawyer who has been putting so much pressure on Righthaven in many of its cases. Marc continues to see the two situations as quite different, but to us they still seem to be the same basic situation: using broad copyright claims, with sometimes questionable evidence, against individuals -- for whom the threat of statutory damages could be crippling. In some ways, Liberty Media's efforts could be seen as worse than Righthaven's, because as a gay porn producer, anyone they threaten who is not publicly "out," may feel a much, much stronger threat, as being named in such a lawsuit may effectively out what they considered to be private information about their sexual interests.
Either way, it appears that Randazza and Liberty have been getting enough info on IP addresses to file lawsuits against named defendants rather than just John Does, but one of the big issues in these lawsuits has been the jurisdictional question. Suing someone far away from their home makes a lawsuit even more challenging, and potentially makes them more willing to just settle up, even if they're innocent. Many previous court rulings have suggested that, for activities online, plaintiffs can't just assume that their home turf is the proper jurisdiction, because they have to show actual harm in that jurisdiction. In fact, we were a bit surprised and disappointed earlier this year, when a ruling in NY seemed to go against that precedent
and suggest that a copyright holder could sue anyone on its home turf. Of course, that ruling only applies to NY.
In one of Liberty Media's filings -- which was done on Liberty's home field in California -- a defendant asked for dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, which the court has granted
, dismissing the case. Liberty argued that because it was in California, and the defendant knew that the company was in California, any file sharing was enough to show harm in California. The court didn't buy it. In part, some of the problems were specific. Liberty pointed to the terms and conditions on its website (of which the defendant had been a member), but the court points out that nothing in this case seemed to involve the website. The content was claimed to have come from a DVD, rather than the website. The court also notes that there doesn't appear to be any conduct by the defendant expressly aimed at California, and points out that "mere web presence is insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction."
Thus the case was dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. Of course, the court left room to amend the complaint, and Randazza has indicated that he intends to do just that, with enough info to establish the personal jurisdiction in California.