EFF to represent bloggers against copyright troll

Posted: March 12, 2013 by SJD in Defamation Lawsuit, Digital freedom, Prenda
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Yesterday Electronic Frontier Foundation issued a press release (the original is located here) regarding their generous offer to represent this blog as well as DieTrollDie’s one in the “defamation” lawsuits filed by Paul Duffy and Prenda Law. Just wanted to keep a copy of this press release here and collect links to media coverage.

March 11, 2013

EFF To Represent Bloggers Against Copyright Troll
Prenda Law Firm attempts to silence critics DieTrollDie and FightCopyrightTrolls

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is joining with attorney Charles Lee Mudd Jr. to represent two blogs caught up in a bizarre lawsuit filed by Paul Duffy and Prenda Law LLC, Duffy’s copyright troll law firm.

Copyright trolls try to make money by suing Internet users under various copyright laws. Their tactics include targeting large groups of anonymous “John Doe” defendants for downloading files on BitTorrent, seeking their identities, and exploiting the massive damages in copyright law in order to pressure defendants into settling quickly.

Duffy and his firm’s tactics are frequent subjects of criticism on FightCopyrightTrolls (fightcopyrighttrolls.com) and DieTrollDie (dietrolldie.com), two watchdog blogs maintained by anonymous authors.

Late last month, Duffy and Prenda Law filed two separate defamation lawsuits in Illinois state court, which have since been removed to federal courts in the Northern and Southern districts of Illinois. The complaints claim the bloggers and their commenters defamed Duffy and his firm, despite the free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.

“These lawsuits are a blatant attempt to abuse the legal process to punish critics,” said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz.

Immediately after filing the suits, Duffy served a subpoena on Automattic Inc., the company that owns the WordPress blogging platform. The subpoena seeks the IP addresses of everyone who ever visited the two websites, threatening the privacy of the bloggers and their readers. On Friday, Automattic rejected the subpoena in a letter to Duffy, calling it “legally deficient and objectionable” and a violation of the First Amendment right to speak anonymously.

“Not only is the subpoena improper under the First Amendment, it fails to comply with the simple rules for pre-trial discovery,” EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo added.

Automattic has stated unequivocally that it will not turn over any information until the bloggers’ challenge to the lawsuit has played out in court. In order to protect this right to anonymity, EFF and the Mudd Law Office will not publicly release the names of their clients in this suit.

“Critics of the copyright troll business model have the right to speak anonymously without their identities being exposed to the trolls,” said Kurt Opsahl, EFF Senior Staff Attorney. “These sweeping subpoenas create a chilling effect among those who have spoken out against Prenda.”

Notorious copyright troll John Steele previously filed a similar lawsuit against the two blogs but dropped the suit last week without explanation.

Contacts:

  • Kurt Opsahl
        Senior Staff Attorney
        Electronic Frontier Foundation
        kurt@eff.org
  • Mitch Stoltz
        Staff Attorney
        Electronic Frontier Foundation
        mitch@eff.org

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Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation just received my DONATION!!
    Rave On.

  2. DieTrollDie says:

    Reblogged this on DieTrollDie and commented:

    Thanks SJD, EFF, and other supporters.
    DTD :)

  3. Anonymous says:

    If I had money to spare EFF would get a donation from me, they are doing good work protecting people against those who wish to exploit the holes in the law regarding the recently new era of the internet.

  4. pissed Off Doe says:

    So, how many lawsuits did Steele dropped?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I gave $250 to the EFF for their efforts. I’m thankful such an organization exists, and I happily donate to them. I hope some of you other Does with disposable income will match me.

    -Anonymous

  6. thatbalddude says:

    So when Steele falls flat of his face, would this be a pimpSLAPP? Does anyone else think he’s just trying to cloud the waters with all his shenanigans?

  7. Mr. Anonymous says:

    Count another donation to the EFF. Fuck all free-speech hating bitches.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I got a question that I know that no one really knows the answer to, but I do find it curious.

    Why do you think they didn’t try to subpoena twitter feeds? Is twitter more protective of that type of stuff than wordpress?

  9. [...] NOTE: In all fairness it is worth mentioning that the anti-copyright troll site fightcopyrighttrolls.com had also reported on this issue. This may have indeed helped bring attention to the story as they were just recently featured in a Techdirt story, and also have the EFF behind them in a separate legal battle. [...]

  10. Anonymous says:

    Paul Hansmeier just did an interview with ARS about his Class Action law suits, it makes for an interesting read and bolsters the fact that Prenda and its associates are public (not private) figures:

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/04/ars-qs-paul-hansmeier-speaks-just-not-about-copyright/

    Just thought I’d post this here so the EFF knows to file that one away.

  11. Anonymous says:

    RECAP isn’t working (InternetArchive is down for maintenance), but there appears to be two new docket entries for the Prenda v the Internets:

    04/17/2013 19 Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams: Scheduling and Discovery Hearing not held on 4/17/2013. Plaintiff fails to appear. Erin Russell for Defendants Godfread & Cooper. Charles Mudd for two John Does. Parties have not met and conferred re: proposed scheduling order. Court notifies the parties that any request for a stay in discovery must be done by formal motion. Case reset for telephone scheduling conference on 4/25/13 at 11:00 a.m. (Court Reporter n/a.) (amv) THIS TEXT ENTRY IS AN ORDER OF THE COURT. NO FURTHER DOCUMENTATION WILL BE MAILED. (Entered: 04/17/2013)

    04/17/2013 20 NOTICE of Scheduling and Discovery Conference: Scheduling/Discovery Conference set for 4/25/2013 11:00 AM via Telephone Conference before Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams. The parties shall submit a joint report as soon as possible. Instructions for placing the conference call are as follows: Call toll free 888-684-8852; when prompted enter Access Code 6049846; and when prompted enter Security Code 9467. (amv) THIS TEXT ENTRY IS AN ORDER OF THE COURT. NO FURTHER DOCUMENTATION WILL BE MAILED. (Entered: 04/17/2013)

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