Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Courts Stand Up To Trolls

The last few weeks have seen a huge change in the trajectory of copyright trolling cases in Massachusetts.  First, Judge Sorkin issued an order quashing the subpoenas issued in a Discount Videos case filed by Marvin Cable.  Then, Judge Young seemingly reversed his support for copyright trolling cases, and issued an order exercising the discretion of the court to sever and dismiss the charges against all the John Does except the first one in one of the earliest copyright trolling cases filed in this jurisdiction.

In the following weeks, three more cases have been effectively dismissed after motions to quash were allowed.  It now appears that there are at least three judges and/or magistrates who appear prepared to exercise the discretion of the court to shut down these cases.

The best news by far, however, is that Judge Sorkin has now denied a motion for early discovery.  In doing so, Judge Sorkin was unrestrained in his opinion of the merits of these lawsuits:

The discovery they seek cannot provide the Plaintiffs with sufficient information to identify the Doe Defendants. Nor have the Plaintiffs requested leave in their submissions to take depositions, either orally or upon written questions – the only discovery mechanism available to Plaintiff under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when seeking information from third parties, as is the case here. In light of the Plaintiffs’ counsel’s assertion at the July 30, 2012 hearing that it was prepared to take depositions (see, 12- cv-10805-NMG, Docket # 23 at 48) and in light of his concession that depositions were the only available discovery mechanism (id. at 47), the omission of any written request for depositions in the Plaintiffs’ renewed motions for discovery speaks volumes about the Plaintiffs’ lack of interest in actually litigating these cases.

Judge Sorkin went on to state that the Plaintiffs' assertions "smack of bad faith" and its conduct "suggests an improper effort to engage in judge shopping and evidences a disregard for the Court’s limited public resources."

The message is clear - copyright trolling in Massachusetts is living on borrowed time.