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Notorious "copyright troll" law firm due in court Monday

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A notorious law firm whose business model is allegedly based on shaking down innocent people with mass copyright infringement lawsuits might get its comeuppance Monday.

Prenda Law, which touts itself as an "anti-piracy law group," is likely the most-cited example of a copyright troll. The phrase refers to lawyers or firms that represent owners of intellectual property—music, movies, or porn—and send out mass threats of lawsuits against people who have allegedly pirated their content. Of course, copyright trolls will let people settle out of court: even if you're innocent, you might pay to make the problem go away. Who wants to go to court to deny they've been downloading porn?

Prenda is particularly infamous for sending out mass lawsuits, often to hundreds of people at a time. They accuse people of downloading videos with titles like “Sexual Obsession,” “18 Year Old Girls Play With Toys,” and “Shemale Pornstars - Vaniity.” Anyone who chooses to fight the suit risks being named on Prenda's website.

But U.S. District Court Judge Otis Wright II has had enough. On Thursday, he ordered all eight Prenda affiliates to show up in his courtroom on Monday. However, as Ars Technica notes, that's an interesting request, considering Prenda's had a hard time saying who works for them. A Minnesota resident named Alan Cooper is listed as CEO of AF Holdings, a copyright enforcement firm related to Prenda. But Cooper insists he's never held any such position, and has intervened in the lawsuit to accuse Prenda of identity theft.

Fight Copyright Trolls, a blog that's steadily chronicled and criticized Prenda since late 2011, noted that the idea that most of Prenda would be forced to testify seemed "too good to be true. Today it has turned out both good and true."

On Friday, Prenda filed a defamation suit against Fight Copyright Trolls, along with similar blog, DieTrollDie, and, for good measure, Alan Cooper.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons