Porno-Trolling Collective Called Out by D.C. Circuit

As a business model, Prenda Law, a law firm, formed AF Holdings.  AF Holdings acquired the copyrights to pornographic movies and filed massive copyright infringement lawsuits against anonymous copyright infringers, John Does, for unauthorized downloading.  AF Holdings would next seek discovery.  Through discovery, it would obtain contact information for account subscribers of the IP addresses from which the porno films were downloaded.  It would then contact and negotiate settlements with the subscribers.  Lawsuits against defendant subscribers who decided to litigate were dismissed by AF Holdings.  According to an article on Prenda Law’s practices, it made about $15 million from the John Doe copyright infringement lawsuits in less than three years.

After the district court judge granted discovery from Internet service providers in one such case, Cox Communications and other Internet service providers appealed, arguing that responding to the subpoenas would be unduly burdensome and that the district court lacked venue and personal jurisdiction over most subscribers.  Most of the subscribers resided outside of the district court’s jurisdiction.  Obtaining information about Internet subscribers residing outside of the district would allow AF Holdings to pressure those subscribers into settlements without requiring AF Holdings to comply with applicable statutes and court rules.

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No Expedited Discovery of Torrent Peers in Internet Copyright Infringement Cases

Third Degree Films filed a complaint against 110 John Doe defendants, alleging copyright infringement arising out the unauthorized distribution of its copyrighted pornographic movie through BitTorrent.  BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol in which each peer acts as a server, storing and distributing small pieces of the work. 

Third Degree filed a motion to conduct expedited discovery to obtain names, addresses, telephone numbers and other information on the defendants from their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) using the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses collected by Third Degree’s investigator.  The district court denied the motion without prejudice, ruling that Third Degree’s need for expedited discovery did not outweigh the prejudice to the John Doe defendants. 

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