When I told my story a year ago, I wrote that “the judicial system is not inherently wrong, but it is very slow.” It took a while before judges around the country started to understand both the goals and the anatomy of mass bittorent lawsuits, and when they did, they liked it not. This is especially true for one of the first districts that suffered heavily from lawsuit abuse by copyright trolls — Northern District of California.
These days orders denying “fishing expeditions” are not rare events anymore in this and other districts, but the order denying Prenda Law’s application for leave to take expedited discovery (case 5:11-cv-03825-HRL) issued by a magistrate judge Howard R. Lloyd goes an extra mile: it not only lists the usual suspects, jurisdiction and joinder, but describes the very core of the scam. Judge Lloyd writes in the conclusion (emphasis is mine):
…the court will not assist a plaintiff who seems to have no desire to actually litigate but instead seems to be using the courts to pursue an extrajudicial business plan against possible infringers (and innocent others caught up in the ISP net). Plaintiff seeks to enlist the aid of the court to obtain information through the litigation discovery process so that it can pursue a non-judicial remedy that focuses on extracting “settlement” payments from persons who may or may not be infringers. This the court is not willing to do.
This order contributes to the case law getting mature as we speak. I don’t own a crystal ball, yet I can guarantee that this order will be widely quoted in motions, both pro se and written by attorneys, as well as in other judges’ orders and opinions.
Taking the occasion, I want to reiterate once more: we do make a difference. Publicity works. When I received a predatory blow in a form of a letter from my ISP a year ago, it took almost a week before I had a clear understanding of the matter and resolved to fight, and I must admit that during that week I seriously considered settling despite being innocent. Today a new victim finds a wealth of information in this, DieTrollDie’s, Rob Cashman’s and other blogs¹ after searching the Web for mere five minutes, and before fear and uncertainty take over him, knowledge kicks in and prevents irrational actions.
I browse many dockets daily, and I noticed that a year ago, notices of dismissal with prejudice that listed dozens of Does at once, were filed pretty often (these types of notices indicate settlement payments), while today I hardly see similar notices, and they usually list just a couple of defendants. This speaks for itself. Trolls constantly change tactics and shop for friendly forums, but these actions yield lesser and lesser results. Everyone knows that the only way to get rid of trolls for good is to stop feeding them, and we are obviously doing a good job starving them.
TorrentFreak: Court Kicks Out Copyright Troll Who Has “No Desire To Litigate” by enigmax.
Arstechnica: Copyright-trolls: mind your own extra-judicial business, court says by Megan Geuss.
A Glimmer of Hope : CA Court Slaps Down Copyright Troll by The Alyona Show (video).
¹Although we, who maintain these sites, deserve some credit, the community is the main contributor to this wealth of knowledge. For example, this news was spotted by a reader earlier today.