from the questions-to-ponder dept
Now, as Raul points out, it appears that at least one judge is willing to allow discovery on this point in one of the cases, involving Malibu Media against Matt Guastaferro in a Virginia court, and to examine if Malibu Media has "unclean hands" as a result of this:
In this case, Defendant has alleged that Plaintiff's claims are barred by the [unclean hands] doctrine "as Plaintiff's use of its copyrights violates public policy." ... Such an allegation does not appear to trigger the doctrine because it says nothing of how Malibu Media "encouraged, invited, aided, compounded, or fraudulently induced" Defendant's allegedly wrongful conduct.... Defendant's response to this motion, however, sets forth factual averments that do appear to support his invocation of the doctrine. For instance, he assets that "IPP or another agent of Malibu Media is responsible for initially seeding some of Malibu's content onto BitTorrent in the first place and for facilitating infringing downloads by BitTorrent users" in an attempt "to extract exorbitant sums from individuals for alleged copyright infringement."...This may not lead to anything, but it's fairly amazing that courts haven't been digging that deeply into Malibu Media's practices in similar cases.
Malibu Media has moved to strike this defense on the basis that he has "not sufficiently alleged copyright misuse." ... In support thereof, he relies upon a recent decision of this Court, in which it granted Malibu Media's motion to strike "because Plaintiff cannot have unclean hands if Defendant did not sufficiently plead copyright misuse." .... The Court respectfully disagrees with this conclusion and considers the defense one that is better suited for resolution following discovery. Indeed, the Fourth Circuit did not premise its decision barring the copyright infringement claim pursuant to the doctrine of unclean hands on an associated defense of copyright misuse.... Thus, the pleading requirement that Plaintiff urges here does not appear to exist.
Accordingly, because Plaintiff is on notice of Defendant's allegations that it "seeded" some of its content onto BitTorrent for the purpose of extracting settlements in the numerous copyright infringement suits that it has filed, the Court will decline to strike this defense as well.