Guardaley | X-Art
Default judgment may threaten trolls’ “business” (troll Ryan Stevens gets whooping $1500 from both defaulted defendants)
Although the copyright law’s maximum statutory awards are unconstitutionally high when considered against individuals — $30,000 or even $150,000 (if infringement is willful) — judges have the power to lower the amount to $750 (or even to $200 for innocent infringement).
Using this power, judges can easily damage trolls’ “business” by simply awarding the minimum $750 in each case that manages to make it all the way to a judgment (and the only such cases are those in which defendants ignored court summons). If other judges adopt this practice, suddenly it will be obvious to anyone how hollow trolls’ threats are. It’s a no brainer that if the worst-case scenario is parting with $750 (and the probability of such an event is extremely low), settling is outright stupid.
Trolls claim that their cases are as strong as brick houses, but a reasonably curious person discovers in an hour of research that instead of mortar, those seemingly solid buildings use fear. Once no one is scared anymore, a spectacular collapse of trolls’ creations is inevitable.
It is fair to note that other judges across the country ruled differently in similar cases, thus there is no established case law, so maybe my optimistic speculations look like wishful thinking. Well… I call it “hope”.
¹ K-Beech, a porn company run by a convicted criminal’s goon Kevin Beechum, who organized vandalizing of adult bookstores in the past.
² Both the request and the answer have been later stricken by the judge.
24 responses to ‘Default judgment may threaten trolls’ “business” (troll Ryan Stevens gets whooping $1500 from both defaulted defendants)’
Maybe a dumb question, were the two default judgements against Arizona residents?
I don’t know: after the last quarter Pacer bill I’m reluctant to download documents. Documents 23 and 27 should have addresses, but they are not in Recap yet.
I know the PACER feeling. 😦 This good news in a sense as new potential trolls may see that it isn’t as lucrative as they are told. Can’t wait to see what the three remaining Does do. Thanks
in another development Judge Williams in the District of Maryland (11-cv-01776) on 2-8-12 denied an award of damages against two defaulting defendants because, at this juncture, the plaintiff, Patrick Collins, had not posited proof that it holds a valid copyright registration for its movie “Anal Fanatic 2”. Likewise the Judge denied an award of attorneys fees, at this juncture, because plaintiff’s counsel failed to explain the amount requested in any detail. Plaintiff and its counsel have 10 days to cure the defects.
Wow, these guys really aren’t prepared to follow through with these cases. As long as they’re winning one would expect them to be ready with this stuff.
At least in this case, the work in question appears in the Copyright Office’s database, which is bad for the defendants as it does open them up to statutory damages. Unlike many cases these guys at least bothered to register, that might be something to look for in cases where Trolls go after individuals, I would assume cases they follow through with have the highest chances of actually being registered works. FYI you can always check if a work is registered at the Copyright Office’s site, if everyone does this for the case or cases they are watching, we can keep an eye on where the Trolls are committing fraud:
However,most courts will not allow statutory damages where, as in the above Patrick Collins case, the alleged copyright infringement occurred PRIOR TO the copyright registration. I think Judge Williams is a little off the mark and should only allow actual damages which IMHO would be the lost sale of the DVD ($19.99).
See for example, http://www.loeb.com/files/Publication/53b6a05b-fa96-4897-a434-23681e51db60/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/47a63104-4dcd-4b43-a886-ab89aa532640/Arista%20Records%20v%20Lime%20Wire%20SDNY%20March%2018%202011.pdf
There’s a bit of additional complexity, I believe the exception is that statutory damages can still apply to infringements that occurred prior to registration if the application was submitted within 90 days of publication.
In any case it’s good to keep a close eye on these guys. The Wong case against HDP is an instance where the work has been registered, but the alleged infringement by Ms. Wong occurred before registration. In many other HDP cases, and probably for other plaintiffs, they apparently haven’t bothered to register the works, ever.
Shrieber – Mesa, AZ, Valdez – Glendale, AZ
Thanks, am I correct in assuming this means that the trolls should not be able to get default judgments against defendants, that are not residents of that state?
No. In the case I was involved with (California), there were 2 default judgements against Illinois and Wisconsin residents. There was even a case when a California judge awarded $60K to be paid by a Canadian resident.
Thanks SJD for clarifying, I thought I had read that, but could not recollect.
I really hope the judges see the scam and shake down this whole issue is. I counted 5649 cases filed since Jan 1. If these trolls were really interested in stopping piracy they would be working with ISP to warn and block the thieves.
With reasonable judgements, I think even 750 is high for a $1 rental porn – but is is ok to detter the real culprit, the trolls will soon realize it is not worth their time, especially if they are asked to file individual cases.
If their real intent is piracy, they will work with a different and more acceptable approach. I am not for piracy, and have been names as a John Doe. I have never downloaded any movie and this whole thing as messed up my life for the last week. I don’t know how many times these trolls will keep coming after me just because they say my IP address showed up on some list. I have taken down my wireless router and soon will have to disconnect my internet connection if I have pay the extortion. I just don’t have the money or means to feed the greedy pigs.
I mean 5649 defendents (John Does) since Jan1.
Deciding to take a default judgment is like driving down the wrong side of the street. These cases are good news as far as they go. They imply that you would be doing it at 2am rather than rush hour, but it is not a good idea in either case.
Great article. Would you describe those other judges’ judgements you mentioned. I’m one of those scared ones who settled: hurt locker.
Does anyone know or have any idea what will happen to Hasmi’s cases if he is not allowed to practice law in Florida?
Will they all just be thrown out?
Not necessarily. While everybody talks about the lawyers these cases are on behalf of the clients. The clients might not actually know the lawyer is practicing law illegally (and its a pretty decent bet they don’t). They could substitute counsel and press onward.
So they (Third Degree Films) would not have to start all over say from the subpoena process with another attorney?
If Hasmi is not permitted wouldnt all his paperwork filings be tossed?
He can still dump them to another lawyer, so long as he doesn’t receive some sort of compensation for the referral.
Looked back at the 4 cases that RS filed on 8/15/11. Of the 2 cases he got default judgements. Each default judgement was for the minimum $750. There were 3 defendants ensnared. In the one case he was awarded $60.XX in attorney’s fees. So that is like 1/2 hr. of work. Got to love it. In actuality using the templates he probably only invested that much time. Google mapping the drive time from Flagstaff to Phoenix shows it to be about 2 1/2 hrs each way. So for his appearances in the Phoenix courtroom he really put in a lot of time on the road and was not compensated for it. I’m sure he spent most of the default judgements on gas and food. Silly troll, tricks are for kids.
Now I did not add up the total number of settlements in all these cases, but I imagine it would put him in the $40K / year salary range. Probably not to lucrative so he went back to chases ambulances and defending DUI cases from where he came.
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