The continuing Prenda Law debacle has just resulted in another defeat for the world’s most famous copyright trolls, this time to the tune of $22,000.
The ongoing fall of Prenda Law is even more drawn out than that of it’s ancestor in the scheme, the now-defunct ACS:law. Andrew Crossley lost one case, and was quickly disbarred, ending the practice for now.
It doesn’t quite work that way for Prenda.
While there may be some comparison, there are also some notable differences between the two. ACS actually did partner with an outside content company, while Prenda appears to have the rights to the work itself, and was actively seeding it on the Pirate Bay.
Also, while ACS kept things going in a fairly straight line and mostly in the open, Prenda has a multitude of shell companies and cases spread across the entire US. Clearly Steele’s plan was to go big, and go bold.
Nevertheless, while it’s taken a while, things are starting to look bad for Prenda. We’ve mentioned already about how one California judge unloaded on them via a Star Trek laden order, which required Team Prenda to put up a bond of some $100,000.
Now over in Northern California another judge has followed suit, this time for $22,531.93.
In the case of Navasca, the judge has decided that Prenda’s case has no merit. Despite mud-slinging about evidence (notably ‘exhibit K’ that’s much talked about in the community), claims of inflationary billing and other complaints, Judge Edward Chen has denied most of Prenda’s objections and awarded Mr Navasca his attorney’s fees.
The case was, according to the court, ‘frivolous or objectively unreasonable’ in a number of ways. From the concerns over the signature on the copyright assignments (which may or may not have come from Prenda principle Steele’s ex housekeeper without his knowledge), the decision on who to name as the defendant rankled the court. There have also been concerns over the manner in which the case was litigated, with emergency motions made when not needed, claims of evidence spoliation (destruction) made with nothing to back them up, and motions to disrupt evidence-gathering discovery.
Finaly the court had significant concerns over the motivation behind the suit. In short, evidence provided by Mr Delvan Neville (the aforementioned Exhibit K), along with information provided by ThePirateBay via TorrentFreak, shows that the torrent uploader may be Prenda itself. This indicates that Prenda is not looking to protect the work, but to use the courts as the sole revenue source for the work. (As a side note, TorrentFreak’s research team has reviewed the raw evidence and the program and concurs with Mr Neville’s conclusions)
All in all, this has led Judge Chen to come down heavily on Team Prenda, and award almost all the fees requested by Mr Navasca’s attorneys, $19,420.38 and $3,111.55 in costs to Mr Navasca, for a total of $22,531.93.
Will Team Prenda appeal? It’s likely, if only to delay paying out. Yet it’s another nail in the coffin of this predatory business model, and for that we can all be grateful.