Our firm has been working in a bubble for over two years now, focusing exclusively on copyright infringement lawsuits as they relate to accusations of piracy through the use of bittorrent (“torrent”) peer-to-peer programs over the internet.
However, it has been brought to my attention that our “copyright troll” problem is bigger than just bittorrent. People even today are receiving DMCA threat letters for the so-called infringement of other things, such as the unauthorized use of pictures, articles, poems, you name it — even works that are not copyrighted at all. However, unlike our federal copyright infringement lawsuits, these settlement extortion “scare” letter campaigns take place on a larger scale, outside of the courtroom, and there is no federal judge overseeing an actual lawsuit. The Copyright Enforcement Group appears to now be doing it, Getty Pictures has been doing it for years, and most recently, non-attorney John Jolin is doing it on behalf of Linda Ellis and her poems.
These new kinds of threat letters are obviously less “sexy” than the six-figure [and sometimes seven-figure] lawsuits in the federal district courts across the U.S. that our law firm has been dealing with, but these smaller copyright trolls need to be dealt with, and they need to be handled with the same harshness as the larger copyright trolls we have been fighting for years now. Maybe it is time for a few of us attorneys to explain to these smaller trolls the definition of a declaratory judgement. If they want to throw around threats of “we might sue you unless you settle,” well, maybe we should bring a few of these threat letters in front of a federal judge and see what they think about this.
On a personal note, I am not sure whether approaching this topic in our “Torrent Lawyer” blog will muddy the waters since our blog has been focused on copyright trolls of the bittorrent kind, but whether we discuss “photo trolls,” “literary trolls,” or “music trolls,” they are still all copyright trolls.