Copyright troll abuses DMCA in bid to censor his previous life as a troll-fighter

DC attorney Mike Meier once worked with EFF to fight copyright trolls, whom he called "bill collectors for the movie industry…extorting money" — now he's joined the trolls as a professional "bill collector," and now he wants evidence of his past life censored and is prepared to send outrageously bogus copyright threats to get his way.

Two anti-troll websites, FightCopyrightTrolls and ExtortionLetter, both put up posts documenting Meier's road-to-Damascus conversion. In response, Meier sent letters to the sites' domain registrars, claiming that they had a duty to confiscate his critics' domains under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act — the DMCA requires that such letters be signed under penalty of perjury. He claimed that the excerpts that his critics had posted from his old and new practices' websites, along with their commentary, infringed his copyright. He also claimed that they were defamatory and libelous.

Meier's earlier, anti-troll website

Meier's current troll-for-hire website

The DMCA allows people who believe their copyrights have been infringed to demand that web-hosts remove the offending material, but imposes no duty on registrars. And copyright law has a broad fair use exemption for criticism, into which the screenshots in question unequivocally fall. What's more, the DMCA does not offer any special privileges to people who believe that they have been libeled, and another law, the Communications Decency Act, immunizes webhosts and other intermediaries for libelous speech by their users.

All of which Meier should know, if he is practicing Internet law. In my opinion, an Internet lawyer who claims not to know this is like a taxi driver who claims she doesn't know what a traffic-light means. I believe it's far more damning than merely being a money-seeking, amoral opportunist who changes sides to chase a buck — I believe it is prima facie evidence of legal incompetence.

Allow me to offer Mr Meier a quick refresher in Internet Law 101:

* The DMCA only applies to copyright, not defamatory speech

* The DMCA only applies to web-hosts, not registrars

* Courts have found that parties who cynically use the DMCA to remove non-infringing material (including material that has a strong fair use defense) are liable for damages

* The CDA immunizes all intermediaries, including web-hosts and registrars, from liability for bad speech by their users, and imposes no takedown duty on them

* Your spurious DMCA notices are sworn "under penalty of perjury" and are likely to come to the notice of your Bar Association

* The Streisand Effect is real

Also, allow me to remind Mr Meier that he practices in DC, which has a strong anti-SLAPP statute, and also that Boing Boing has a history of not backing down on attempts to intimidate us with frivolous legal threats; and we have a well-deserved reputation for publicizing these threats to a global audience of millions. Also, our fearless Canadian host, Priority Colo, is not subject to the DMCA, and only gives credence complaints under its Canadian equivalent if they pass the giggle test.

The FightCopyrightTrolls (FCT) article on the topic has remained intact for almost three years but last Friday Meier tried to have it taken down. He went about that in a quite unusual way too, by bypassing the FCT website operators, bypassing their webhost, and going straight for their domain registrar.

Writing directly to registrar, Meier said that various pages on FCT were not only defamatory and libelous, but also infringed upon his copyrights.

"You are hosting a website with information that infringes on my copyrights and defames me. I am requesting that you take that information down immediately," his letter to reads.

Anti-Piracy Lawyer Wants Domain Registrars to Silence Critics [Andy/Torrentfreak]