Fortunately, more and more judges have grown skeptical and started to deny “fishing expeditions” (orders to ISPs to hand out customers’ information to the predators). Some rulings were subtle, with just a hint of annoyance, some more up to the point. Three weeks ago Judge Howard Lloyd issued a groundbreaking order that was widely covered in the Internet press (TorrentFreak, Arstechnica, Techdirt). In his order Judge Lloyd told Prenda’s Brett Gibbs to mind his own extrajudicial business and to not use (abuse) his court for name-fishing while having absolutely no desire to litigate.
After this unambiguous lashing by Judge Lloyd, Brett Gibbs had an audacity to move for reconsideration (on the same date voluntarily dismissing a similar trolling lawsuit assigned to Howard Lloyd to avoid further embarrassment).
Another interesting document followed this motion shortly. Seemingly, it was filed with the sole reason to move judge to pity. It appears that Gibbs (as well as other trolls) receives anonymous nasty emails from time to time. This is sad, counterproductive, and sometimes very disturbing, yet not surprising: when a troll threatens livelihoods of anonymous defendants in huge numbers (tens of thousands), he is destined to occasionally stumble upon putative defendants who are ethically challenged to an even greater extent than the troll himself is.
Clearly, the person who wrote these emails is a cruel, miserable jerk: wishing death to a person who recovered from a serious health problem is… I cannot find proper words. Such cruelty is beyond my understanding. Still, using such emails to soften judge’s heart in order to sway his decision is not much higher on the moral scale in my opinion.
As TAC noticed, Hushmail has zero tolerance policy for harassment. Meanwhile, there is a week-long gap between those two harassing emails. What does it say? Any reasonable person (especially a lawyer) would complain to Hushmail immediately, and the offending account would be suspended at once. Gibbs did not do it as if he hoped for more threats/nastinesses from that jerk in order to use them to advance Prenda’s agenda. Disgusting.
Looking at Gibbs’s sleazy opportunism, I’m absolutely sure that if he had more serious stuff sent his way (it’s a huge stretch to call the mentioned emails “threats”, although arguably they are nauseous), he wouldn’t miss the opportunity to use them to his advantage. So, if these childish rants are the most serious offenses, Gibbs/Steele most likely simply lie about actual “death threats”.
Thank you both, “John Johnson” and Brett Gibbs, for dunking my head into a virtual toilet: I am going to take a shower ASAP.
Seemingly Judge Lloyd was not touched by the little boy’s whining: the motion for reconsideration is denied (emphasis is original):
The papers submitted by plaintiff and the statements by plaintiff’s counsel at the hearing on plaintiff’s application for early discovery make it clear that granting the sought-after discovery would not uncover the identities of the infringers.
In what must be a misreading of the March 30 Order, plaintiff in effect seems to chastise this court for sympathizing with, and, plaintiff would argue, insulating infringers from plaintiff’s reach. The court had no such purpose or intent. Instead, it expressly sympathized with the plaintiff and other victims of infringement. It said nothing sympathetic about infringers. It was deeply concerned about non-infringers who, based on plaintiff’s prior use of early discovery in other cases, would almost certainly be caught up in plaintiff’s dragnet aimed at achieving an extrajudicial remedy.
¹ My educated guess: 10-15% of targeted Internet users are innocent. Inherent flaws of the IP detection software tools, open wireless networks, human error — a few factors that contribute to this unacceptably high false positive rate.
² To wrestle settlements, trolls threaten their victims with insanely huge punishments — up to $150,000. This statutory maximum was clearly targeted at large-scale commercial infringers, and was written into the law before consumer-level file-sharing became widespread. No sane person would agree that the amount equal to an average American family’s lifetime savings is a fair and balanced punishment for sharing a single smut movie.