Internet Law

Copyright King's Business Model at Risk: Judge Requires Separate Filing Fees in 1,000s of P2P Claims


In less than three months, attorney Kenneth Ford has pursued some 22,000 copyright claims alleging peer-to-peer file-sharing violations, backing his Adult Copyright Company’s offer of “hardcore protection for hardcore content.”

But a federal judge in West Virginia has put a spoke in the copyright king’s wheels by requiring Ford to bring the claims individually and pay a standard $350 filing fee for each one, reports the Law & Disorder blog of Ars Technica.

Although Chief District Judge John Preston Bailey’s ruling applies to only some of Ford’s mass filings, he would have to pay about $1.8 million in filing fees to bring the same claims made in just those cases against the defendants individually, the blog notes.

Simply because defendants use the same P2P file-sharing software and download the same copyrighted material doesn’t mean that they can be joined together in the same lawsuit, the judge ruled, because the facts and circumstances of each case may be different.

Opponents of such mass “John Doe” enforcement efforts, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, say they unfairly pressure individual defendants to settle.

“This is the next nail in the coffin of the copyright trolls,” says Cindy Cohn, the group’s legal director, in an EFF press release. “Now that judges are starting to reject the shoddy and unfair tactics being used by the attorneys filing these cases and force plaintiffs to play by the rules, this type of mass litigation will no longer be a good business model.”

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Porn Industry Lawyer Is New Copyright King with 16,700 Lawsuits Filed”

ABAJournal.com: “Class Action Accuses Anti-Piracy Law Firm of ‘Settlement Fraud and Extortion’”

Am Law Daily: “Judge Drops Thousands of Anonymous Alleged Porn Downloaders From Suits”

PC Magazine: “Another Judge Bars Mass Litigation in Copyright Cases”

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