In a turning of the tables that is sure to warm the cockles of heart of anyone who dislikes the aggressive bullying tactics employed by copyright holders, a law firm that pioneered the kind of copyright trolling so often seen in the US today has had to hand over $40 thousand (or $39,909.95 including lawyers’ fees to be exact) to a person they accused of copyright piracy.
In 2010 the law firm Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver, together with movie studio Achte/Neunte and German tracking company GuardaLey, formed an organization known as US Copyright Group, which then proceeded to bring mass action lawsuits against alleged pirates of the movie ‘Far Cry’.
Initially 20,000 of these lucrative lawsuits were filed, but many more followed, giving Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver the dubious distinction of being the first organization to bring European style mass copyright trolling to the United States.
Despite making a shed-load of money from scared victims who were intimidated into paying-up to avoid a lawsuit when presented with ‘pre-settlement’ threat letters, a group of victims got together and sued US Copyright Group on 25 counts, including extortion, fraudulent omissions, mail fraud, wire fraud, computer fraud and abuse, racketeering, fraud upon the court, fraud on the Copyright Office, copyright misuse and unjust enrichment.
The victim group was led by Dmitriy Shirokov, but unfortunately in 2013 the Massachusetts District Court denied the class action, so Shirokov was forced to continue as sole plaintiff, which severely limited the scope of the verdict.
Nevertheless, after a three year battle US Copyright Group has had to concede defeat after it could not present vital evidence following a (claimed) computer crash.
Thanks to the class action being denied, damages are much less than originally hoped, but as Shirokov’s legal team told TorrentFreak,
‘The case did accomplish what we wanted it to. That is, to deter others from starting similar cases in Massachusetts. It served its purpose.’
We certainly hope so, and would love to see this as the first shot across the bows of other copyright trolls, demonstrating that ordinary people are ready, willing, and can be successful at fighting back against such legal abuses.