So-called Copyright trolls attempt to turn piracy into profit by setting their expensive lawyers loose on the man (or woman) in the street claimed to have downloaded or shared their works without permission. In many cases the strategies employed amount to classic bullying, with the victims either unable or too scared to defend themselves.
As a result, small groups of individuals have sprung up around the globe to assist the targets of trolls by keeping them informed and offering forums to share experiences. One of the most famous operations is FightCopyrightTrolls.com (FCT), a husband and wife team that have worked extremely hard to counter troll-like companies in the United States. One such company is now fighting back.
Due to its relentless pursuing of alleged BitTorrent users, Malibu Media is the most prolific filer of copyright lawsuits in the whole of the United States. The video company has already filed a couple of thousands lawsuits in the hope of extracting a few thousand dollars in settlements from each of its targets. This week came yet more evidence that FCT gets under the skin of this litigious company.
In an 18-page motion revealed this week in a case against another alleged file-sharer, Malibu Media described FCT’s ‘Sophisticated Jane Doe” as not only a “self-admitted BitTorrent copyright infringer”, but one at the center of a campaign against the adult video company.
“[Malibu Media] is the target of a fanatical Internet hate group. The hate group is comprised of BitTorrent users, anti-copyright extremists, former BitTorrent copyright defendants and a few attorneys,” Malibu wrote in their motion.
“By administering and using the defamatory blog www.fightcopyrighttrolls.com,
‘Sophisticated Jane Doe’ (‘SJD’) leads the hate group.”
One of the key problems, the porn company explains, is that Jonathan Phillips, the lawyer for the defendant in the case, is part of that group.
“Opposing counsel communicates regularly with the hate group’s leader. Members of the hate group physically threaten, defame and cyber-stalk Plaintiff as well everyone associated with Plaintiff. Their psychopathy is criminal and scary,” Malibu explain.
So what is Phillips’ alleged contribution? Apparently he shares information about ongoing cases with FCT and its members and makes life difficult for Malibu – on Twitter.
“Opposing counsel regularly Tweets with the other members of the hate group. Further, his Tweets are often part of a series of Tweets intended to harass
Plaintiff and its counsel,” Malibu writes.
“Opposing counsel also Tweets about on-going litigation including this case and disparages Plaintiff. He even called Plaintiff a liar.”
The motion, which was originally filed under seal in February, calls on the court to gag both Phillips and the defendant in the case.
“To prevent the spoliation of evidence, Plaintiff respectfully requests that
the Court enter a sealed order preventing opposing counsel and Defendant from talking about the contents of this Motion or [REDACTED] with anyone. If Plaintiff’s intentions are revealed, there is a high probability of spoliation of evidence,” the motion reads.
While some information will remain under wraps, as far as the motion was concerned attempts at secrecy clearly failed.
“This filing was a result of an order from the Northern District of Illinois, which refused to allow Malibu Media to litigate this particular case in the shadows,” Philips told Ars.
“I am happy to practice in United States District Courts where the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has made it clear that litigation is to be open, accessible, and able to be reviewed and commented by the news media, the blogosphere, and the public at large.”
The big issue for Malibu going forward is that they appear to have learned little from the demise of other outfits conducting similar litigation in both the United States and Europe. Once opponents get motivated they can have extremely long memories and no amount of threats will make them stop. Hunting trolls effectively becomes a sport, and it rarely ends well.