Law Firms

BigLaw firm takes on porn infringement, says Prenda Law was a different, 'malicious' animal

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Fox Rothschild has taken on copyright infringement suits, filing 870 such suits for porn studio Strike 3 Holdings in the first six months of this year.

Strike 3 and another porn studio, Malibu Media, are mostly responsible for an uptick in copyright suits filed through the end of June, the American Lawyer reports. More than 2,800 copyright infringement suits were filed during that time period, about twice as many as last year.

Fox Rothschild is the first law firm among the nation’s top 100 to represent a porn company in a nationwide copyright enforcement campaign, according to the American Lawyer.

Most of the Strike 3 suits this year have been overseen by Fox Rothschild partner Lincoln Bandlow, a First Amendment advocate and a visiting professor at the University of Southern California’s journalism school.

Bandlow told the American Lawyer that it’s “wrong and offensive” to use the term “copyright troll” to refer to Strike 3’s campaign against illegal downloaders. The lawsuits are “mostly a break-even” and are designed to send a message that the company is addressing piracy, he said.

Fox Rothschild says its methods are different than those of Prenda Law, the firm that made more than $6 million in copyright settlements against people who illegally downloaded porn films. Prenda’s lawyers filmed some of the movies themselves, uploaded them to the websites where others illegally downloaded them, and created fake businesses that owned the copyrights, according to federal prosecutors. One Prenda’s lawyers, John Steele, pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges of money laundering, mail fraud and wire fraud last year.

Fox Rothschild successfully fought off sanctions in a federal case in Seattle after a judge questioned whether the firm had violated an order not to communicate directly with any defendant. In court papers, Fox Rothschild said Strike 3’s enforcement of its patents has been “wholly proper” and it communicated only with the downloaders’ lawyers, not the downloaders themselves. Fox Rothschild explained how Strike 3 was different than Prenda Law.

Strike 3 is an actual producer of the films, owns valid copyrights and makes nearly all of its revenue from sales of subscriptions, DVDs and licenses, not litigation, Fox Rothschild said.

“To be clear to the court, plaintiff must address the elephant in the room, and that elephant’s name is Prenda,” Fox Rothschild said. “That was a big, dumb, malicious animal from years ago that unfortunately now poses the risk of trampling the rights of all the legitimate content creators, such as plaintiff, who have been forced to seek court intervention to address the tidal wave of internet infringement that puts content creators at risk of drowning in a sea of theft. The court should rest assured: plaintiff and its counsel are the anti-Prenda.”

U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly found no violation of his directive in a June 14 order.

Related articles: “How two California solos helped take down ‘porn troll’ Prenda Law” “Prenda Law principal pleads guilty to federal charges in porn copyright case” “Prenda Law attorney who had switched to ADA suits is suspended for earlier ‘copyright trolling’ work” “Judge boldly uses ‘Star Trek’ references in opinion blasting lawyers who sued porn downloaders”

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