Copyright Trolls to Judge: Nope! We’re Not Coming to Scary Hearing

The copyright trolls of Prenda Law have kicked back against a judge who ordered them to appear before a Los Angeles court this coming Monday. The hearing has the potential to lead to prison for some of those involved but not if Prenda have their way. In a letter sent to the court, Prenda argues several points for canceling the hearing including that the judge lacks jurisdiction, they haven't been given enough notice, and arrangements haven't been made for them to get paid. The hole is getting bigger but they keep on digging.

trollAs reported yesterday the copyright trolls of Prenda Law been attempting to bully the owners and users of anti-troll sites FightCopyrightTrolls (FCT) and DieTrollDie (DTD).

They ordered WordPress to hand over the IP addresses of everyone who has used both sites for the last two years. But, after a little panic, WordPress stepped in to calm the nerves.

“No cause for concern. As a matter of policy, we closely review all subpoenas, don’t respond to overly broad requests, and push back on fishing expeditions,” WordPress’s Paul Sieminski told DTD.

“Here – dietrolldie has already let us know that the subpoena will be challenged. In cases like this, we don’t turn over any information until the user’s legal challenge has played out.”

What is becoming apparent is that for every heavy-handed and/or suspect action taken by Prenda, even more adversaries come on board. Lawyer John Whitaker from the Whitaker Law Group deliberately ‘outed‘ himself as a DTD and FCT user yesterday, and BitTorrent defense lawyer Robert Cashman is more critical than ever before.

As yesterday’s article outlined, Monday will see Prenda hauled before a Los Angeles court on the orders of Judge Wright after he appeared to become somewhat tired of the firm’s apparent shenanigans.

Well, that was the plan. Unsurprisingly, Prenda have other ideas.

In an ex parte application for relief filed by John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, Paul Duffy and Angela Van Den Hemel, Prenda argue that they shouldn’t have to come to court on Monday. In their application, Prenda roll out a variety of excuses for not attending.

First, in a move that’s likely to further inflame an already irritated Judge Wright, Prenda claim that the Judge has no jurisdiction.

“Even where the court seeks to adjudicate issues between parties, it must have personal jurisdiction over them. Here, Steele, Hansmeier, Duffy, and Van Den Hemel are not parties and have not otherwise participated in this litigation. As such, the public policy behind the need to determine personal jurisdiction is arguably at an elevated level because, as individuals, they effectively have ‘no dog in this fight’,” the application reads.

Prenda go on to argue that since they’re not parties in the action they can only be witnesses. And since witnesses can only be required to appear if they are “resident within the state at the time of service” (and Prenda aren’t, apparently), then “the court lacks jurisdiction to order them to appear.”

Second, Prenda say that attending would be particularly inconvenient. They write that the court is being “fundamentally unreasonable” in giving short notice and that attending court could upset their clients.

Prenda go on to argue that they haven’t been told why they have to attend so cannot adequately prepare, a situation which deprives them of due process. They also complain that they are entitled to get paid for attending but the court order makes no mention of who will foot the bill.

“For these reasons, even if the court had jurisdiction over the parties, the notice would be unreasonable to them and the court would, at a minimum, have to withdraw the order and issue a new one for a future date that would afford Steele, Hansmeier, Duffy, and Van Den Hemel reasonable notice of the hearing, their rights, and the purpose for their appearance,” Prenda conclude.

Ken, a writer over at the respected legal blog Popehat, is not impressed.

“Considering they have had several days to put a brief together, I find this motion rather half-hearted and meager, particularly given the gravity of the situation and what they are trying to accomplish. If this is all they could pull together, I am surprised they didn’t file it sooner, like Wednesday,” he writes.

Ken adds that the record shows that jurisdiction is not an issue and Prenda are only making matters worse.

“The evidence clearly shows that Steele, Hansmeier, and Duffy have directed Prenda Law litigation activities in California. A federal judge has ordered them to appear here and explain those activities.

“By responding with a jurisdictional argument now, they have utterly eviscerated their credibility and the credibility of their enterprise permanently in every court in the United States of America,” he concludes.

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