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Hospital Says Troll Tried to Extort It

HOUSTON (CN) - A "copyright troll" tried to extort $7,500 from St. Luke's hospital by claiming that a link on a website infringes its copyright, the hospital claims in court.

St. Luke's Episcopal Health System sued 3Lions Publishing in Federal Court.

It seeks declaratory judgment that it did not violate copyright, that it has a license to repost the link-which it removed-on it website, and damages for breach of contract.

St. Luke's says that on Sept. 25 it got a letter titled "First Notice of Copyright Infringement" from Carlos Leyva, managing shareholder of the Digital Business Law Group, P.A., which is 3Lions' registered agent.

"In the First Demand Letter, 3Lions claimed to be the owner, by assignment, of copyright registration number TX 7-194-459 titled HITECH Survival Guide Website' ('the Work')," the complaint states.

"3Lions also claimed that the registration covers a document titled 'HIPAA Survival Guide' (the 'Guide').

"In the First Demand Letter, 3Lions also alleged that St. Luke's has 'copied, published, and distributed' the Guide in violation of United States copyright laws. The basis of 3Lions' allegations was that by St. Luke's providing a web link to the Guide on St. Luke's website that it had committed copyright infringement. 3Lions then threatened to 'pursue all remedies allowed by applicable law' to enforce its copyright." (Citations to exhibits omitted.)

St. Luke's says it immediately took down the link on its website, upon receipt of the letter.

The complaint adds: "St. Luke's later learned that, unbeknownst to St. Luke's, a third-party contractor that had worked on its website had posted the link believing it was legal to do so. St. Luke's then retained counsel in an attempt to resolve the dispute. In a call that occurred on October 18, 2012, St. Luke's counsel noted that the Guide had been legally distributed via a Creative Commons License and that St. Luke's had done nothing wrong and would not succumb to 3Lions' outrageous demands to settle the matter for $7,500."

Whereupon, St. Luke's says, 3Lions sent it a "FINAL Notice of Copyright Infringement," stating that if it did not get the $7,500 by Oct. 25, it would sue the hospital in Tampa Federal Court.

But St. Luke's claims: "To the extent the HIPAA Survival Guide is copyrighted and registered, St. Luke's has complied with all of the terms of the CC License. Therefore, St. Luke's has not infringed on any of 3Lions' valid copyright rights. After receiving the First Demand Letter, St. Luke's communicated its position to 3Lions and its counsel. They summarily rejected St. Luke's position and then sent the Second Demand Letter threatening suit unless an extortion payment of $7,500 was made by October 25, 2012. 3Lions' counsel refused to explain how St. Luke's had not complied with the CC License other than claiming that St. Luke's failed to comply with the terms of the CC License.

"Upon information and belief, 3Lions is a copyright troll that has improperly threatened to sue numerous entities for copyright infringement related to the Guide despite knowing that these entities were complying with the CC License and counting on these targets' willingness to pay a sum of money to avoid the costs of litigation," the complaint states.

"St. Luke's refuses to meet these extortionist demands and instead files this lawsuit to end 3Lions' improper and fraudulent scheme."

St. Luke's is represented by Charles Baker with Fulbright & Jaworski in Houston.

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