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EFF To Represent Bloggers Against Copyright Troll

PRESS RELEASE
March 11, 2013
Prenda Law Firm attempts to silence critics DieTrollDie and FightCopyrightTrolls

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is joining with attorney Charles Lee Mudd Jr. to represent two blogs caught up in a bizarre lawsuit filed by Paul Duffy and Prenda Law LLC, Duffy's copyright troll law firm.

Copyright trolls try to make money by suing Internet users under various copyright laws. Their tactics include targeting large groups of anonymous "John Doe" defendants for downloading files on BitTorrent, seeking their identities, and exploiting the massive damages in copyright law in order to pressure defendants into settling quickly.

Duffy and his firm's tactics are frequent subjects of criticism on FightCopyrightTrolls (fightcopyrighttrolls.com) and DieTrollDie (dietrolldie.com), two watchdog blogs maintained by anonymous authors.

Late last month, Duffy and Prenda Law filed two separate defamation lawsuits in Illinois state court, which have since been removed to federal courts in the Northern and Southern districts of Illinois. The complaints claim the bloggers and their commenters defamed Duffy and his firm, despite the free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.

"These lawsuits are a blatant attempt to abuse the legal process to punish critics," said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz.

Immediately after filing the suits, Duffy served a subpoena on Automattic Inc., the company that owns the Wordpress blogging platform. The subpoena seeks the IP addresses of everyone who ever visited the two websites, threatening the privacy of the bloggers and their readers. On Friday, Automattic rejected the subpoena in a letter to Duffy, calling it "legally deficient and objectionable" and a violation of the First Amendment right to speak anonymously.

"Not only is the subpoena improper under the First Amendment, it fails to comply with the simple rules for pre-trial discovery," EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo added.

Automattic has stated unequivocally that it will not turn over any information until the bloggers' challenge to the lawsuit has played out in court. In order to protect this right to anonymity, EFF and the Mudd Law Office will not publicly release the names of their clients in this suit.

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

Notorious copyright troll John Steele previously filed a similar lawsuit against the two blogs but dropped the suit last week without explanation.

Contacts:

Kurt Opsahl
   Senior Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   kurt@eff.org

Mitch Stoltz
   Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   mitch@eff.org

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