The VA Copyright Troll depositions are starting and depending on the results, Prenda Law, Inc., may try to expand this to other locations.
To put the deposition in the proper context, you have to start out with what the Troll knows. This part is really easy.
- On a certain date/time the technical monitoring crew recorded the public IP address (associated to you – the ISP subscriber) downloading/sharing Plaintiff’s copyright protected movie via BitTorrent.
This is not a surprise and it is exactly why the Trolls are trying the deposition route. You can see that this evidence is weak and can easily be countered/defeated. So to try and get more evidence, the Trolls have asked the court to allow them to depose the ISP subscriber associated with the public IP address they recorded.
Here is an example of a deposition subpoena. Dep_Subpeona_Ex For this subpoena, Troll Anderson tells the defendant they need to report to the deposition location at a set time and date. In addition, he directs the defendant to provide “Router logs with detailed MAC addresses” for the public IP address that ties back to you as the ISP subscriber. The Router logs are for the immediate period before and after the alleged copyright infringement.
Depending on how far back the alleged infringement took place, it is extremely unlikely that there will be any relevant logs. For many WiFi Firewall/Routers (WFR), logging of Internet traffic and hosts using the network is minimal at best. For the old standby, Linksys WRT 54G (WRT54G-v5_ug,0 Manual), logging is “OFF” by default (page 18 in the manual). Even if enabled, the logs are minimal, overwritten quickly, and are completely lost if the WFR is reset. The various other home/small office routers are similar in settings and logging ability.
If the Troll knows anything about these devices, they don’t expect to get much. The only thing the router logs could provide is a list of internal IP addresses that communicated with external public IP address over various ports and on date/times. The external public IP addresses and ports could be correlated to other BitTorrent clients. The client table in the router could also show what systems were currently connected to the WFR – system name, MAC address, Internal IP address issued.
So What Questions Can You Expect From A Copyright Troll Deposition?
- Background information – Name, address, people living in the house
- Details on your neighborhood and neighbors? How close are other houses or residents to you? Do you know your neighbors?
- How is your WFR set-up? Run Open? Secured with a password?
- Has you network ever been compromised or infected with malware? If so, dates of the compromise or infection.
- Have you ever observed any unknown systems using your network/Internet connection?
- Do you know what BitTorrent is? Do you use it?
- Do you know about the movie you are alleged to have downloaded/shared?
- What is your knowledge and experience with computers?
- What computers do you have in the residence? Desktops, laptops, Operating systems (Windows, MAC, Linux, etc.)
- Do you watch pornography?
- If you do watch pornography, where and how? Online? DVD purchase?
- Do you stream or download porn?
- Is there are programs on your computers that are used to clean or wipe a hard drive?
- Have you or others in the residence ever downloaded (legal or illegal) from the Internet any music, movies, games, programs, ebooks, etc.?
*** Please note that the Troll may not ask all these questions. If he doesn’t ask you about your WiFi setting, make sure you tell him. “Hey Mr. Troll, I ran my WiFi Internet connection open during the time period of alleged infringement.” If you EVER noticed unknown systems using your Internet connection, tell them. ***
Now based on the answers provided, the Troll may further expand the questions. If you say I use BitTorrent, I bet he will ask you what client you use and what you download/share with it.
Admit to watching some porn online and he is bound to ask about what sites you view it from.
So what is next?
Based on your answers, the Troll will do an analysis to gauge if they think YOU did it or another resident did it, and the likelihood of forcing you to settle if they name and serve you in the case. The Troll already has an idea of who the most likely person to do this is – Male, age 13-40s, knowledgeable about computers, watches porn, uses BitTorrent, download/shares other form of media online.
Following their analysis, the will have to name and serve a person (eventually) or close the case. Based on your answers, they could ask for additional deposition subpoenas for personnel related to the information you provided. They very well could ask the court to allow them to depose your 17-year-old son because you stated he is computer literate and you caught him watching porn online one time. They actually don’t have to have a deposition subpoena if you or other personnel freely consent to being interviewed. Just remember the old saying, “The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife.”
As I have stated before, these depositions WOULD be a fair way for the Plaintiff to start to try to find the actual infringer. As we have a well documented sordid history of unethical behavior from the Trolls, it is still just a sham in my opinion. The Trolls don’t really care if you did, only if they can get you to pay up. The fact Troll Anderson has the “Negligence” allegation on these complaints is proof enough. All Prenda attorneys (as well as the subcontracted ones) know (or should do the research to learn) the negligence claim is not going to work in a trial. It is a lost claim because – 1) Copyright Law preempts the negligence claim; 2) There is NO legal or contractual duty with Plaintiff to secure the Internet connection to protect their works; 3) The Communication Decency Act (DCA) protects ISPs and ISP subscribers for responsibility for actions of third-parties on their network.
The only reason they keep the negligence claim on the complaint is because it is bound to scare some unknowing person into paying their settlement demands.
For those of you who find yourself having to be deposed, please consider getting an attorney to assist you and maybe even having the deposition taken over the telephone. Remember you do have the right to invoke your 5th Amendment protection against possible incrimination – Your Rights Article.