Probably not. But it is likely that two high profile trolls (Prenda and Righthaven) are dead.
Urban Dictionary defines a troll as someone "who posts deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument." The term copyright troll is now common amongst legal circles, and generally refers to someone who abuses copyright law for profit. Several high profile trolls and repeated bench slaps have helped bring attention to the copyright troll.
Although a variety of copyright trolls exist, two recent cases likely spell the end for the Prenda and Righthaven business model. For starters, Prenda may be headed to criminal and/or tax court courtesy of United States District Court Judge Otis Wright. Prenda, one of the first trolls to the game, used the social stigma attached to pornography and the high statutory damages associated with copyright infringement—up to $150,000—to force individuals into settlement. Prenda filed suits against "John Does," claiming that the persons downloaded online porn illegally, in order to subpoena the names of the owners of the IP address. Once armed with a person's name, Prenda contacted the person and offered to make it all go away if the person would settle. At first, all seemed well: the guys behind Prenda were making millions. But things quickly disintegrated once people stopped and asked questions. On May 6th, Judge Wright gave an impressive(ly nerdy) bench slap, complete with Star Trek references, that ordered Prenda to pay monetary sanctions and referred the case to the United States Attorney's Office and the Criminal Investigative Division of the IRS.
Then, three days later, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion concluding that Righthaven lacks standing to enforce copyright claims under the Copyright Act, making it the first court of appeals to decide the issue. The court's opinion is in line with almost every other district court that has looked at it. Righthaven's exploits have also been the subject of much online criticism. Righthaven's sole purpose was to acquire revocable rights to copyrights in order to sue copyright infringers. In theory, Righthaven's goal sounds almost noble. But in reality, it used the high statutory damages to scare unsuspecting bloggers into quick settlement, even if the bloggers would be entitled to fair use. But after more than three years of Righthaven's online reign of terror, the 9th Circuit decision makes it clear that Righthaven's business model does not work.
But even if these particular business models are dead, it doesn't mean that the copyright troll is dead. Copyright law, with the high statutory damages and little oversight, is still ripe for abuse.
About this Blog
I was once a licensed attorney (in Washington), but my license is now inactive. I like to geek out about entertainment,
internet, and privacy law. This blog is a place for me to do that. All of the views expressed are my own and should not be considered legal advice.
My personal blog is located under the tab Pax's Page.
Rachel is a typer of words.