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Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts

Abstract

Copyright trolling has become a popular, but widely criticized tactic used by copyright holders to defend their intellectual property rights. One method involves rights holders selling their rights to infringed works to holding companies, as those companies may more easily file hundreds of suits against potential infringers at once. Another method involves rights holders themselves filing mass lawsuits against hundreds of BitTorrent users at once using their anonymous IP addresses, threatening to name the alleged infringers in a lawsuit if a settlement is not paid. However, in many recent cases, courts have shut down such tactics by invoking procedural deficiencies and severing multiple defendants from cases, as well as issuing sanctions against abusive litigators. In Mick Haig Productions E.K. v. Does 1-670, the Court of Appeals upheld sanctions against an attorney for his use of such trolling tactics. Yet many argue that courts’ current disfavor for trolling may leave copyright holders with fewer options for enforcing their copyrights in good faith against BitTorrent abusers. This Article examines how courts have discouraged trolling tactics by dismissing suits filed by copyright trolls acting in bad faith.

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