Greetings from San Francisco: A UNC Student’s Summer Internship at EFF

I’m very excited that one of our students is spending her summer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, funded in part by the Center’s Public Interest Grant Program.  Natasha Duarte has graciously volunteered to blog about her summer experience at EFF. Here is her first missive:

On May 24, I witnessed a small victory in the fight against copyright trolls. I attended a hearing in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in the case AF Holdings, LLC v. Trinh. The judge ordered the plaintiff, AF Holdings, to pay the defendant $9,425 for attorneys’ fees.

Copyright trolls are companies that buy the rights to content online and then sue unsuspecting Internet users who allegedly use the copyrighted content without a license. AF Holdings is a “porn troll”—it buys the copyrights to pornographic films and then searches for IP addresses that download the films. It sues Internet users, often in large groups, for massive amounts of damages in order to pressure defendants into settling quickly and to avoid going to court altogether.

AF Holdings was represented by Prenda Law, which has been linked to other similar copyright troll cases and was recently sanctioned by a federal judge for abusing the copyright system.

Like many other copyright troll cases, no decision on the merits was reached because the case was dismissed after AF Holdings decided not to pay the costs of continuing with the case. However, the judge’s order granting the motion to dismiss acknowledged that the there was a “reasonable probability” that AF Holdings would lose because its evidence of infringement was “weak.”

On a more fun note, I experienced Bay to Breakers, an annual race followed by a massive outdoor party in San Francisco’s Panhandle where everyone wears crazy costumes (or nothing at all) in a display of free expression.


Look for additional posts by Natasha next week.

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