Copyright trolls are a nasty phenomenon of the internet age. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation EFF):
Copyright trolls try to make money by suing Internet users under various copyright laws. Their tactics include targeting large groups of anonymous “John Doe” defendants for downloading files on BitTorrent, seeking their identities, and exploiting the massive damages in copyright law in order to pressure defendants into settling quickly.
Copyright trolls are currently targeting two blogs caught up in a bizarre lawsuit filed by Paul Duffy and Prenda Law LLC, Duffy’s copyright troll law firm. The complaints claim the bloggers and their commenters defamed Duffy and his firm, despite the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech. At the same time, they Duffy served a subpoena on Automattic Inc., the company that owns the WordPress blogging platform. The subpoena seeks the IP addresses of everyone who ever visited the two websites, threatening the privacy of the bloggers and their readers. On Friday, Automattic rejected the subpoena in a letter to Duffy, calling it “legally deficient and objectionable” and a violation of the First Amendment right to speak anonymously. In other words, WordPress aren’t folding at the first sight of an aggressive subpoena from Duffy, they are saying NO!!! to Duffy’s scare tactics.
“Not only is the subpoena improper under the First Amendment, it fails to comply with the simple rules for pre-trial discovery,” EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo added.
A lot of blog and website hosting companies back off as soon as letters from lawyers are unleashed. But not WordPress/Automattic.inc. They recognize the first amendment rights to freedom of expression, and are prepared to take this before a judge.
Automattic has stated unequivocally that it will not turn over any information until the bloggers’ challenge to the lawsuit has played out in court. In order to protect this right to anonymity, EFF and the Mudd Law Office will not publicly release the names of their clients in this suit.
“Critics of the copyright troll business model have the right to speak anonymously without their identities being exposed to the trolls,” said Kurt Opsahl, EFF Senior Staff Attorney. “These sweeping subpoenas create a chilling effect among those who have spoken out against Prenda.”
Infamous copyright troll John Steele previously filed a similar lawsuit against the two blogs but dropped the suit last week without giving any reason why. I suspect it’s because he knows he doesn’t stand a chance in court. So I urge all bloggers to say NO!!! to the trolls. They won’t take their frivolous cases before a judge as they know they’ll just be handed back their asses. Don’t let the copyright trolls take your hard-earned bucks. Screw ’em. They’ve got nothing.