Copyright trolls will not go quietly

Copyright trolling is the act of threatening legal action against alleged copyright infringers. The target is the IP address holder, regardless of whether any actual infringement was performed by a visitor or a neighbor or a passer-by piggy-backing on open WiFi. In reality, few cases get to court, and the ‘trollers’ are accused of ‘extorting’ money from the target who will pay up rather than face bad publicity and potential court costs.

But the public is increasingly taking a stand against the trollers, supported by websites such as FightCopyrightTrolls and DieTrollDie which offer free help and advice. Prenda Law would deny that it is a copyright troll. Nevertheless it has been engaged in what the ‘activists’ call copyright trolling. It is currently embroiled in a court case in California where things are not going too well. “The TL;DR [too long – didn’t read],” reported TorrentFreak today, “is that there is going to be an unprecedented showdown in a Los Angeles court on Monday that could lead to someone associated with Prenda going to prison.

“Based on the evidence presented at the March 11, 2013 hearing, the Court will consider whether sanctions [for Prenda Law] are appropriate, and if so, determine the proper punishment. This may include a monetary fine, incarceration, or other sanctions sufficient to deter future misconduct,” Judge Wright explained.

But Prenda Law is fighting back. Fight Copyright Trolls announced Monday that “this ‘law firm’ has commenced three libel lawsuits designed to chill free speech by burying its critics in massive legal fees.” These law suits are claiming defamation by the sites and their commenters. One of the suits has already been dismissed by the court without prejudice, but at the time of writing the other two still stand. 

On the surface, a case against defamation is reasonable. If a company or individual has been defamed on line, that company or individual should have the right to defend itself. But this issue goes deeper. The DieTrollDie site yesterday published a copy of an associated subpoena sent to Wordpress, which hosts both DieTrollDie and Fight Copyright Trolls. It says, “Our client is requesting all Internet Protocol addresses (including the date and time of that access in Universal Coordinated Time) that accessed the blogs located at and between January 1, 2011 through the present.”

To put this in context, Prenda Law is demanding the IP address of this Infosecurity journalist and any other journalist who has visited the two sites in question in order to report on the events. And that will also include any reader who clicks on the links of FightCopyrightTrolls and DieTrollDie. “This attack against all readers of those sites will only add fuel to the fire and serve to make the possibility of a terrible outcome for Prenda on Monday an even more delicious prospect,” concludes TorrentFreak.

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