EFF, By Mitch Stoltz, May 27
As we announced this morning, a federal appeals court handed copyright trolls a major defeat today by taking away one of their most powerful tactics: the ability to sue large groups of John Doe defendants together with minimal evidence. Now that the dust is clearing, we’re filling in the details.
This case, AF Holdings v. Does 1-1058, is one of the few mass copyright cases to reach an appellate court, and the first to look into fundamental procedural problems that have tilted the playing field firmly against the Doe Defendants. With this decision on the books, we suspect that even more federal trial courts will say “No” to the sordid business of cookie-cutter lawsuits seeking seeking cash payouts from dozens or even hundreds of Internet subscribers.
This appeal was brought by several internet service providers (Verizon, Comcast, AT&T and affiliates) with amicus support from EFF, the ACLU, the ACLU of the Nation’s Capitol, Public Citizen, and Public Knowledge.
On the other side was notorious copyright troll Prenda Law. Prenda, and other groups like it, wanted to use the courts’ subpoena power to identify Internet subscribers, then shake them down for $2,000-$4,000 “settlements.” They assuredly didn’t want to invest the time and expense needed to actually figure out who, if anyone, likely infringed a copyright. Trolls use court processes not to enforce their rights or to protect a legitimate business, but to make a profitable business out of groundless threats and intimidation.
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