Anti-Piracy Lawyer Wants Domain Registrars to Silence Critics

A lawyer who described piracy settlement demands as "extortion" changed his mind in 2011 and began suing BitTorrent users. In an attempt to erase the past he's just sent DMCA notices to the domain registrars of two anti-troll websites. Sadly for him, they remain online and history remains intact.

Several years ago when suing BitTorrent users was gaining in popularity, lawyers on both sides of the copyright fence saw there was good money to be made by getting involved.

On the one hand some lawyers teamed up with piracy monitoring firms to track and then file lawsuits against file-sharers in the hope of grabbing some quick and easy settlement cash. On the other were the “good guys”, lawyers who helped Joe Public defend against the corporate might of those who by now were being openly described as “trolls”.

One such “good guy” was Mike Meier, a DC attorney who previously placed on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s list of file-sharing defense lawyers.

“In my opinion, [settlement outfits] are bill collectors for the movie industry,” Meier said at the time. “They’re basically extorting money”.

Then in November 2011, SJD over at the FightCopyrightTrolls website noticed something interesting. A redesign of Meier’s website revealed that the lawyer had switched sides. No longer was he championing those wrongly accused by “trolls”, but instead the site was acting as an information portal for people Meier himself had sued.

The FightCopyrightTrolls (FCT) article on the topic has remained intact for almost three years but last Friday Meier tried to have it taken down. He went about that in a quite unusual way too, by bypassing the FCT website operators, bypassing their webhost, and going straight for their domain registrar.

Writing directly to registrar Internet.bs, Meier said that various pages on FCT were not only defamatory and libelous, but also infringed upon his copyrights.

“You are hosting a website with information that infringes on my copyrights and defames me. I am requesting that you take that information down immediately,” his letter to Internet.bs reads.

While Meier’s other allegations are focused here, his copyright complaint appears to be directed at screenshots of his website posted by FCT which provide commentary and criticism of Meier’s transformation from one side of the settlement fence to the other.


Meier’s website before the transformation


Meier’s website after the transformation

In his communication with Internet.bs, Meier goes on to warn the registrar that as a service provider the law requires it “to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice” or risk losing its immunity from having a lawsuit brought against itself.

Despite Internet.bs not “hosting a website” as Meier claims, it didn’t stop him from doubling up on his takedown efforts. The domain registrar of another site, ExtortionLetterInfo.com, also received a DMCA notice from Meier after it partially reproduced the article originally published by FCT in 2011 and commented on the same.

To date Meier’s actions appear to have had very little effect, the effect he was hoping for at least. Neither FightCopyrightTrolls nor ExtortionLetter have been taken down in whole or in part by their domain registrars, and the articles in question have now become renewed topics of discussion after being forgotten for several years.

Add to that the method of complaint – what appear to be a pair of flawed DMCA notices sent by an apparent copyright expert – and the information that Meier hoped to suppress will now be more visible than ever before.

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