Judge Slams Copyright Troll’s “Harassment” Tactics in Piracy Case

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Adult movie studio Malibu Media has received a slap on the wrist from New York federal judge Katherine Forrest. The company asked permission to interrogate the neighbors and spouse of an accused downloader, a tactic the court equates to harassment.

trollsignMalibu Media, the Los Angeles based company behind the ‘X-Art’ adult movies, is one of the most active copyright trolls.

This year alone they have filed more than 1,400 individual cases against alleged BitTorrent pirates in the United States.

The main goal of the company is to demand settlements of a few thousand dollars without going to trial. Many accused downloaders do indeed take the easy way out, but some are putting up a fight.

A case currently before the Southern District of New York provides one such example. The Doe defendant is maintaining his innocence but Malibu isn’t letting the case go and recently went as far as requesting a deposition of the defendant’s spouse and neighbors.

The defendant’s lawyer protested the demand noting that a request to interrogate third-parties about the client’s alleged downloading of pornographic content is a form of harassment, or a fishing expedition at best.

In an order signed yesterday federal judge Katherine Forrest agrees with the accused file-sharer. Using rather strong language, she denies Malibu’s request to depose the spouse and/or neighbors.

“Plaintiff may not subpoena neighbors or Defendant’s significant other based on the current record. As to the neighbors, Plaintiff would be engaged in a fishing expedition and/or harassment of defendant (by way of causing embarrassment/humiliation).”

According to the Judge any testimony from these third parties is irrelevant to the present case. Instead of solving the matter at hand it may only serve to embarrass and humiliate the defendant.

The order adds that there were no copyrighted files found on the defendant’s computer, so absent any new evidence that implicates the girlfriend, there’s no need to interrogate her at this juncture.

“At this point, this deposition appears to be harassment and at least outweighed by such considerations,” Judge Forrest writes. Despite the hints of harassment, the case is far from over.

FightCopyrightTrolls notes that the adult studio is keeping the pressure up with a new motion suggesting that the defendant used “military grade” software to “wipe” the computer shortly before it was brought in for investigation.

In addition, the Judge granted Malibu a subpoena to depose Verizon and request additional information on the defendant’s Internet use.

Among other things, Malibu plans to ask for DMCA notices and copyright alerts that were addressed to the subscriber. It’s unclear whether Verizon plans to protest these requests.

Fishing expeditions and harassment claims aside, this case once again shows that outfits such as Malibu Media will go to extremes to corner accused file-sharers.

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