The lawyers in question track alleged BitTorrent pirates and threaten to take them to court. But, as is common with these schemes, all people have to do is pay up a settlement fee and the whole thing simply goes away.
Critics of these practices have described the people involved as ‘copyright trolls,’ and some of the defendants are fighting back. DGW, for example, is currently involved in a class action lawsuit where the law firm is accused of fraud, abuse and extortion.
Considering the above, it came as a surprise when we learned this morning that the DGW law firm is presenting an educational webinar under the umbrella of the American Bar Association. Titled “Finding Anonymous Copyright Infringers,” the course promises to teach fellow lawyers all the tricks they need to catch those pesky pirates.
According to the announcement, part of the webinar will “focus on the hot topic in copyright litigation involving federal litigation against the backdrop of torrent and live web-streaming.” During the webinar participating lawyers will learn more about “utilizing pre-discovery subpoenas […] and a variety of other legal tools to pursue infringement claims against anonymous infringers.”
Basically it reads like a crash course on how to become a copyright troll by the very people who pioneered the scheme in the US. Lawyers who participate in the webinar are eligible for mandatory CLE credit, and we expect that the ‘teachers’ will be compensated for their insights as well.
DGW lawyers Thomas Dunlap and Nick Kurtz will be accompanied by the EFF friendly defense lawyer Paul Ticen. He is expected to address how BitTorrent users have put up a successful defense in court, which is a dangerous exercise considering the negative framing of the course.
This vision is shared by Robert Cashman, a Texas lawyer defending dozens of individuals in mass BitTorrent lawsuits.
“It seems awfully dangerous and stupid to get on a panel with the plaintiff attorney copyright trolls and tell them all of the defense’s strategies,” he told TorrentFreak.
“The way this whole thing is set up, I am afraid it will be the plaintiff attorneys versus the lone defense attorney. I expect to see bloodshed,” he added.
Whatever the outcome, we encourage participants in the course to fill us in on the details. Heck, we might even buy the CD-Rom, which will obviously be pirated by an anonymous Doe in the near future.