One new Doe made a great suggestion that some of us “seasoned” Does share our Copyright Troll experiences from start to current/finish. This will help the newbies see how the situation unfolded for the rest of us. I will make the first post and welcome all others to tell their story. Be mindful not to give too much away and make it easy for the Troll to identify you. For a majority of you that will not be an issue. For others who have pissed off the Trolls by our actions (like myself), be safe.
In 2010, I received a package in the mail from my Internet Service Provider (ISP). What is this? Upon opening it, I found a bunch of papers, some appearing to be court documents, stating my public IP address downloaded/shared a copyright protected porn movie. The owner of the porn movie was suing a bunch of the people who downloaded/shared the movie in Federal Court (located in another State). I didn’t do this, but as I have others in the residence who use my Internet connection. I go around and check the devices to see if the file in question can be found. I questioned everyone in the residence, but everyone denied doing it. I don’t find the file and as I know (as the registered public IP owner) I didn’t do anything wrong, I put it to the side. I thought there is no evidence to support the allegation, so this will go nowhere. Some serious family issues soon arose and I never went further with it.
Sometime later, I got another letter in the mail from a Copyright Troll. This is when I started to get worried. The letter stated in very clear terms that I was a defendant in a Copyright Infringement case (filed in another State) and I had downloaded/shared a porn movie via BitTorrent on a certain date/time. The letter stated that “I” was responsible for this illegal activity and that the copyright owner was prepared to sue me for as much money as they could get ($150K + attorney fees). I freaked! The letter also explained that there was no excuse or defense to these allegations. Bottom line – I was guilty (In their opinion) and if I chose to, they would be kind enough to accept $3K to make the threat of losing everything go away.
I started to search the Internet for any information on this case, and soon found the term “Copyright Trolls.” After that the information started to follow. I found the EFF and contacted one of the attorney on their Copyright Defense page. This attorney explained to me that this was a legal scam to extract as much money from Doe defendants as possible. He also explained the statute of limitation was three-years and since the case was filed in another State, the Troll would have to get someone authorized to practice law in my State to file a case against me. He said I could get a local attorney to represent me and send the Troll a letter stating 1) I didn’t do it, 2) No evidence on my systems, 3) I will fight you in court if need be, 4) If by some odd chance you win, I will file bankruptcy. If I didn’t want to pay an attorney to do this, I could ignore the Troll and it would likely pass. As I didn’t have the money to spend on an attorney, I opted to ignore the Troll.
I again went around to all the systems in the house and verified that the movie was not on any of them. I also checked on my Wireless Fire Wall/Router and determined that unknown systems/users had been connecting to it. I took screenshots of the connected systems and then blocked them. I keep these records and all the other paperwork on my case in a safe place, in case it is ever needed (Highly doubtful).
Soon after talking to the attorney, I had a voicemail from the Troll agent. Same BS line as the initial letter, “My client is prepared to go forward…… If you want to settle and avoid an expensive trial…. Possible finding of $150K+ against you….. Please call me at …..” I got a couple more voicemails and even another letter. All during this time I’m learning more and more about this racket and what a bunch of sleazy bottom-feeders me and the multitude of Does were having to deal with.
The calls and letters stopped and I never heard from the Troll again. Also during this time I found Fightcopyrighttrolls.com (Hi Jane!). After getting better educated on this situation, I decided to start my own blog and try to help some of the Does.
I kept an eye on my case in PACER and soon found out that the Troll had dismissed it. It stayed open for more than a year. The troll claiming that “The ISPs are slow,” “negotiations were taking a long time,” etc. I would come to find out this was the standard procedure for a Troll. Milk a case for all that it is worth and then shut it down and move to another. GREED! Plain and simple. Recent court filing also confirmed that one of the Trolls has not named/served a single Doe. The other trolls are doing the same thing.
So I haven’t paid a Troll or defense attorney a dime and I’m still around! The worse thing I have lost is some time I spend trying to get the word out. The return I get in good Karma is worth it. I’m still under threat, as the statute of limitation has yet to pass – but it will. As I have pissed off the Trolls and some copyright owners, I don’t think it is a good idea to come out once the three-years has passed. Not the most difficult thing for a Troll to find out a public IP address and add it to a list of “offenders.” Proof or “Stopping Piracy,” has nothing to do with these legal actions. Money drives it all.
15 June 2012 Update – Take a listen to this Doe talk about “his story.” Thank you SJD for finding this.
8 Jan 2013 Update – Since my last update, some Trolls decided to name or name/serve a limited number of Does with a summons/complaint or a deposition subpoena. These cases are usually the result of a previous mass-Doe case that the Troll uses to obtain ISP subscriber information on the Does. The numbers are still very small overall, but you should be aware of this. STILL, we have had ZERO cases judged on their merits in a trial. This new tactic is designed to either get the named Doe to settle or test the water for a possible default judgement motion if the Doe does not respond at all. If this happens, I’m of the opinion to hire an attorney knowledgeable on these cases. The problem the Troll has with this tactic is what to do if a defendant answers a complaint with a denial or denial/counterclaims, the Troll/Plaintiff can’t easily drop the case. The Troll doesn’t want to have the case judged on its merits – there is none. The Troll then has to either wait for the court to dismiss it for some reason or settle with the defendant – paying off the Doe. Even if a court dismisses such a case, the Troll knows the defendant is most likely going to motion the court for an award of reasonable attorney fees and costs.
18 June 2013 Update – At this point we have seen the start of the destruction of Prenda Law and the PA Bellwether trial took place. I expect Lipscomb and Malibu Media will claim the trial validated all their claims and that are only attempting to stop pirates from taking their content for free. The Bellwether trial was disappointing in that it failed to make Lipscomb/Malibu Media answer any hard questions about their operation. It was a “show trial” agreed upon after all three defendants settled with Plaintiff. The possible long-term effects of this trial are debatable, but Copyright Trolling in its various forms will continue. Lipscomb/Malibu Media have tailored their efforts to minimize the risks, but if they play it long enough, they will crap out.