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Many of you are quite familiar with the “world’s most famous porn pirate hunters,” but if you need a refresher, check out Parker Hancock’s post from earlier this year before reading on. Since that post, the law firm that tried to shame those pornography consumers has had a tough time in court.
First, internet service providers (ISPs) including Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner, and Cox are appealing a district court decision that stated they were not doing enough to curb piracy. In that proceeding, these ISPs filed a compelling brief that stated, among other things, that “[the] primary purpose [that AF Holdings, Prenda's main client, sought] the personal information for hundreds or thousands of Internet subscribers per lawsuit is to extract payments without conducting any investigation into whether the subscriber — rather than another person using the subscriber’s Internet connection — is indeed responsible for accessing [AF Holdings's] film without paying for it. (citing Ingenuity 13, LLC v. Doe, 2013 U.S. Dist LEXIS 16951, at *8-11 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 7, 2013)). If successful in their appeal, these ISPs could effectively crush Prenda’s ability to spur new revenue by halting the information-gathering mechanism the law firm has used to extort settlements from its victims.
Second, and more directly aimed at punishing to Prenda: after a year of adverse judgments totaling over $300,000, a Minnesota district court is forcing AF Holdings to repay settlements it received from five alleged copyright infringers because “AF Holdings used fraudulent copyright-assignment agreements, attached to each complaint in all five of the instant cases, in order to expedite discovery and leverage settlement agreements.”
In short, this has not been a great year for Prenda Law, AF Holdings, or attorney Michael K. Dugas of Prenda. While our law protects the exclusive rights of copyright owners, it should not, and courts are making clear that it cannot, be done through the shameless behavior of trolls like Prenda, who preyed on privacy to preserve property. Alliteration aside, good for ‘em.
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