Porn Copyright Trolls Argue That Verizon Should Be Held In Contempt Of Court For Trying To Protect Its Users
from the privacy-schmivacy,-we're-trolling dept
Three of the bigger porn copyright trolls out there, Patrick Collins, Malibu Media and Third Degree Films, have teamed up to make a court filing arguing that Verizon should be held in contempt of court for failing to cough up the names of account holders based on the trolls’ list of IP addresses. As you’re probably aware by now, hundreds of thousands of people have been “sued” by copyright trolls, but not actually taken to court. The strategy is just to file a lawsuit and force ISPs to identify account holders, then bombard those account holders with threatening letters (and calls and emails) saying that they will be sued if they don’t pay up (often a few thousand dollars). Verizon, like many other ISPs, has fought back against these demands for info on a variety of grounds — including improper joinder (i.e., that the cases improperly lump together multiple people who had nothing to do with one another in an attempt to keep costs to the trolls down). These claims of improper joinder have been somewhat effective in getting a lot of these cases thrown out — but usually those claims are raised by the account holders themselves, rather than the ISPs.
These three trolls have teamed up to argue that Verizon should shut up and hand over the names, claiming that it has no standing to object, given that it’s not a party in the case. They also claim that even if Verizon can argue misjoinder, the argument is not valid (which is laughable considering how many courts have agreed that it’s perfectly valid). Then they try to chop down every other argument from Verizon — who actually has a really strong history of protecting subscribers against copyright threats. In fact, the trolls use this history against Verizon — claiming that their victory nearly a decade ago, against the RIAA’s attempt to use subpoenas to identify users without filing a lawsuit, shows that as long as they’ve filed lawsuits, they should have a free pass to identify the account holders named.
The really amusing part is the trolls’ response to Verizon’s point that the trolls have failed to show that the discovery would be used for the “proper purpose” of litigation. That’s because it won’t be. Everyone knows that the information will be used to try to force people into settling, and not to file lawsuits. But the trolls claim this is just dandy:
To the contrary, and as argued above, the “purpose” of the discovery is entirely proper: to obtain information identifying unknown Doe Defendants infringing Plaintiffs’ copyrights “in order to consider whether to name and serve them as defendants.”
Note the careful choice of words. They don’t say that they’re asking for discovery in order to actually sue, but to “consider” whether or not to sue. Meaning, of course, that they’re extremely unlikely to file an actual lawsuit and are more likely to threaten account holders to demand a settlement. Hopefully the court sees through these attempts by these trolls to force discovery where it’s clearly not appropriate.