This is a story of a John Doe from Pennsylvania, who was an extortion target in a mass trolling lawsuit K-Beech v. Does 1-78 (5:11-cv-05060) filed by a pornotroll Christopher Fiore. As it happens with any such lawsuit, it was dismissed without prejudice after trolls extorted enough money from those who succumbed to fear, those who did not realize that they were duped by a con artist and virtually nothing would go differently if they decided not to pay. To create a smokescreen of legitimacy and in a hope to wrestle more payments, trolls sometimes file individual lawsuits. So, Fiore filed 9 such lawsuits against IP addresses that were dismissed earlier. Our Doe was targeted in one of those.
Armed with the fact that the truth is on his side, John Doe picked up the fight and filed motions in both lawsuits (mass and individual), and, although the judge sided with K-Beech and denied the motions, finally the troll dismissed this lawsuit with prejudice and moved forward to shakedown fresh meat.
I don’t want to go into too many details, you will hear them. In addition, DieTrollDie wrote a post about this case around the time of its filing: reading the comments to this post, you will get the details of this story unfolding.
Hacker Public Radio is a podcast radio that runs community-contributed shows every weekday, and our Doe recorded a very articulate story about his ordeal. I like it in its entirety, but one particular analogy is hilarious in its precision:
Picture yourself driving in the city at night and you stop at a traffic light and there is a prostitute standing on a corner; and she just turns her head and looks in your car. Just as she does, there is a guy across the block who takes a picture of the two of you, and then later on he gets a hold on you and threatens you: that if you don’t pay him, he’s going to tell everyone that you are soliciting a prostitute, and that may be embarrassing. So, whether you were or weren’t, it does not matter: since he says he has a picture of the whole thing. So, you just give him the finger and say “you don’t have a proof, you just have a picture, that does not prove anything.” But what would your family think if they heard about you involved with a prostitute, or what would your neighbors think, what would your boss think? Or, you just may pay him to go away. And enough people pay: that’s the business model of the copyright trolls.
I hope that those victims who are still confused will find comfort and encouragement to stand against bullies. For a curious passerby who wants to understand the anatomy of the legal plague, which we call copyright trolling, this is a very good introduction. Enjoy!