What Is a "Copyright Troll"?

It's a pejorative term for a party (for example, a company that buys or owns copyrights) who aggressively enforces its owned copyrights through threat of/and conducting litigation.  These companies use frivolous litigation (lawsuits brought to harass defendants) to make extraordinary profits.

When we talk about copyright trolling, we don't mean a company or individual who happens to learn their intellectual property (such as a picture) is being illegally distributed or copied so they ask their lawyer to contact the copyright violator with a request to stop the undesired activity.  For example, my wife is a published author.  Recently she

Recently my wife learned one of her stories was being illegally distributed

learned one of her stories, which she sold to a publication years ago, was being illegally distributed through an online site.  My wife owns the copyright to this story, so she wrote a request to the site owner to remove the story.  The site removed it.  She wasn't interested in further action, such as initiating a lawsuit or requesting financial damages.

Copyright trolls, on the other hand, always seek financial damages.  In fact, copyright trolls' sole reason to exist is to initiate copyright violation lawsuits, which is how the trolls make money.  For example, purchased copyrights for old news articles from the publisher of the .  Righthaven's sole purpose and business was to then seek out anyone who copied, distributed, posted or otherwise used these articles without Righthaven's permission. Upon finding these violators, Righthaven lawsuits demanded damages of $75,000 per instance from each copyright infringer.  Obviously, not everyone, if anyone!, can pay $75,000 for illegally using a copyrighted item.  Righthaven knew this.  They would then agree to settlements of several thousand dollars per defendant.

How Can You Not Be a Victim?

Do not reproduce or redistribute such items as:

  • Music
  • Images
  • Blogs
  • Stories
  • News articles
  • Movies

Also ask anyone who might use, or have access to, your computer to not reproduce/redistribute items.

How to Identify a Copyright Troll

Simply put, you can identify a copyright troll because the entity requesting extraordinary financial damages for an innocent copyright infringement is not the holder of the original copyright.

Shaun Law specializes in civil and criminal litigation. Call 24/7: 303-720-7275

Compassionate lawyer, tough litigator

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