Earlier this week, Giganews secured a significant legal victory. And with it, an important validation of Usenet as one of the essential protocols of the Internet and recognition for the users who rely on it everyday.
The United States District Court for the Central District of California has ordered Perfect 10 to pay more than $5.6 million in attorneys fees and costs to Giganews. In granting Giganews' motion for legal fees, the court recognized that:
"The Usenet services the defendants offer serve to foster an exchange of information or opinion on a particular topic from, say, the music of Wagner to Balkan politics to AIDS prevention to the Chicago Bulls," and the Court took the position that Perfect 10's "unmeritorious claims against the leading Usenet service provider in the country posed a serious threat to the public's access to free and competitive expression."
Giganews is obviously pleased with today's ruling and hopes it will put an end to the tactics of a serial litigator whose primary business model appears to be filing unmeritorious suits and then unnecessarily driving up litigation costs in order to drive a settlement. Though we are pleased, this legal battle has been going on for four years. Any system where it takes that long, and millions of dollars to defend yourself from frivolous lawsuits is flawed. Part of our motivation for continuing the legal fight with Perfect 10 is standing up for the online service providers and Internet companies that are under constant attack from copyright trolls. We have followed the DMCA since its inception and call for copyright law reform to make it harder for baseless litigation to proceed
The entire judgment is embedded below. You can also download it at this link:
Here are a few of our favorite excerpts:
"All of the evidence before the Court demonstrates that Perfect 10 is in the business of litigation, not protecting its copyrights or "stimulat[ing] artistic creativity for the general public good."
"Perfect 10 has a long,documented history of sending service providers inadequate takedown notices under the DMCA that fail to identify specific infringing material, and then bringing suit for the service providers' failure to respond to deficient DMCA takedown notices."
"Despite numerous admonitions that its inadequate notices unduly burden service providers" and reminders that "the burden of policing copyright infringement falls squarely on" Perfect 10, Perfect 10 never attempted to submit a takedown notice in this action that Giganews could actually use. Indeed, even after Perfect 10 admittedly learned of a method to produce a takedown notice in "15 minutes" that would result in almost immediate removal of 90 percent of the Perfect 10 content on Giganews's servers, Perfect 10 refused to do so."
"Perfect 10's lack of interest in helping … actually remove the material from Giganews' servers is all the more salient in light of Perfect 10's admission that it has never taken any substantial steps to avoid copyright piracy from its own website. Perfect 10 has never taken any steps to prevent the images it presents on its website from unauthorized use or instituted any security measures (such as a digital watermark) to identify or track individuals who download images from Perfect 10's website and subsequently upload those photos onto the internet."
"Perfect 10 is not a "starving artist" in need of protection from an award of attorneys' fees – it is a serial plaintiff operating on a self-proclaimed business model of litigation. In light of Perfect 10's well-documented improper motive in bringing suit the Court has little concern that an award of attorneys' fees in this action will discourage "starving artists" from protecting their copyrights. If anything, it will discourage serial litigants from bringing unmeritorious suits and then unnecessarily driving up litigation costs in order to drive a settlement. Such a result is entirely consistent with the purpose of the Copyright Act, and this factor weighs in favor of an award of attorneys' fees."
"Because copyright law ultimately serves the purpose enriching the general public through access to creative works, is peculiarly important that the boundaries of copyright law demarcated as clearly as possible. To that end, defendants who seek to advance a variety of meritorious copyright defense should be encouraged to litigate them to the same extent that plaintiffs are encouraged to litigate meritorious claims of infringement... Thus a successful defense of a copyright infringement action may further the policies of the Copyright Act every bit as much as a successful prosecution of an infringement claim by the holder of a copyright."