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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
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EFF Defends Anti-Troll Bloggers Sued by Lawyer

(CN) - The Electronic Frontier Foundation stepped in to defend bloggers in two defamation lawsuits filed by an attorney whose firm they blasted online as a copyright troll.

Bloggers on DieTrollDie.com and FightCopyrightTrolls.com accuse Paul Duffy and his copyright law firm, Prenda Law, of "trolling" for copyright infringement by targeting large groups of internet users for downloading files, then discovering their identities and forcing a settlement under the threat of massive copyright damages.

Anonymous bloggers frequently discuss Prenda Law's filings, and the complaint quotes contributors using derogatory terms for the firm's attorneys such as "brain-damaged," "local goon[s] and swindler[s]," "cockroaches," "rats," "fraudsters," "bandits," "idiots," "scumbags," "crooks" and "assclowns."

One blogger wrote: "Since I used [the] words farce, fraud [and] frivolous describing much less brazen abuses of the court system by copyright trolls, I ran out of epithets. I cannot find proper words that describe this garbage. And it will get even worse: we will for sure witness more fraud if Prenda criminals are not deterred ASAP."

Days after filing suit, Prenda Law subpoenaed Automattic Inc., the company that owns the WordPress blogging platform, seeking the IP addresses of everyone who accessed either blog in the last two years.

"Our client is requesting all Internet Protocol addresses (including the date and time of that access in Universal Coordinated Time) that accessed the blogs located at dietrolldie.com and fightcopyrighttrolls.com between January 1, 2011 through the present," the subpoena states. "Please provide this information in an Excel spreadsheet." (Parentheses in original.)

Automattic refused Prenda's discovery request on Friday, calling it a violation of the First Amendment right to speak anonymously.

"Critics of the copyright troll business model have the right to speak anonymously without their identities being exposed to the trolls," said EFF senior staff attorney Kurt Opsahl. "These sweeping subpoenas create a chilling effect among those who have spoken out against Prenda."

Automattic has said that it will not turn over any user information unless it is court ordered to do so.

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