Dear Oregon troll victims, my apologies for being a source of premature hopes. Weeks passed, but the actual orders never materialized. Joe Mullin of ArsTechnica tried to get some solid evidence that something was in the works, but no one could corroborate:
— Joe Mullin (@joemullin) January 21, 2016
I won’t speculate about who wrote those, admittedly professionally written and convincing documents.
So I experience a mix of mea culpa and a faint hope (yet still a hope: time will tell). I will be more skeptical and investigate more thoroughly in situations like this the future.
Oregon has been suffering from the copyright trolling abuse for a couple of years. It is actually a single attorney — Carl Crowell — who has been terrorizing his fellow citizens on behalf of the German piracy monetizing outfit. Mr. Crowell is a crafty attorney and he is known for constantly inventing new ways of harassing hapless file-sharers (and innocents alike).
Out of his recent sleazes the most disturbing is the practice of deposing putative defendants prior to amending the complaint (replacing “John Doe” with an actual name). Since the majority of the targeted are laypeople of modest means, they tend not to spend money on attorneys, so they make a grave mistake of agreeing to be deposed without a lawyer. I don’t think it makes sense to explain why it is a real problem. Copyright trolls are known to be machos when dealing with laypeople (in contrast, when confronted by experienced attorneys, the trolls usually run away).
Apparently, the judges are not deaf and blind, and they are increasingly concerned with both the sheer volume of docket-clogging lawsuits, and the troll lawyers’ overreach. Federal Judge Michael Mosman recently drafted a standing order urging putative defendants to seek legal help.
For that, The Court has established a panel of lawyers who are willing to provide assistance and advice to subscribers in these lawsuits at no charge for up to 3 hours.
The judge also created a case management order template, where he outlined certain safeguards aimed at curbing the rampant law abuse. No more mass cases, no more unsupervised out-of-court communications, and the troll must notify Does about the pro bono panel option:
I hope that these orders will be signed sooner rather than later. In the mean time, keep in mind that these are drafts only, i.e. not official rulings yet.
It’s a small step in the direction of curbing the trolling epidemic, but certainly a welcomed one.