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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Judge tells copyright troll: put up or shut up

Trolls, lawsuits, abusive legal process--

Judge tells copyright troll to put up or shut up on porn lawsuits | Ars Technica: "Pennsylvania federal Judge Michael Baylson shares others' skepticism about Malibu's tactics. "While Plaintiff’s strategy may sound rational on a superficial level, the joinder of multiple John Doe defendants could very well lead to litigation abuses," he wrote in an order last week. "The purpose of the joinder rules is to promote efficiency, not to use federal district courts as small claims collection agencies, by putting economic pressure on individuals who do not have substantive liability." And Judge Baylson has come up with a clever way to put Malibu's arguments to the test. Out of the dozens of John Does sued by Malibu in Eastern Pennsylvania, five have filed objections to Malibu's subpoenas seeking their contact information. One of them filed a declaration specifically denying he had been trading files on BitTorrent. Another raised a number of legal objections to the subpoenas. Judge Baylson has decided to move forward with a "bellwether trial" against these five defendants to determine how credible Malibu Media's accusations actually are. If Malibu can prove that the five Does really did infringe its copyrights, the judge is likely to let the lawsuits proceed against the other defendants. If, on the other hand, Malibu's evidence proves flimsy, the judge will view the lawsuits against the other defendants with skepticism. Copyright trolls often drop their lawsuits when faced with defendants with the resources and inclination to fight back. But Judge Baylson strongly hinted that Malibu shouldn't try to back out this time. "The Court assumes that Plaintiff will welcome this opportunity to prove its claims promptly," Judge Baylson wrote in last week's order. But, he warned, "if Plaintiff decides instead to continue to 'pick off' individual John Does, for confidential settlements, the Court may draw an inference that Plaintiff is not serious about proving its claims, or is unable to do so."

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