An Illinois man in his 70s, sued for pirating "The Hitman's Bodyguard," has been hitting back at his accusers. The man turned the tables, accusing the movie company of "intimidating" people through "sham litigation." While the court didn't let the case continue, it promises to re-evaluate its own overall treatment of these piracy cases.
For more than a decade, alleged file-sharers around the world have been pressured to pay significant settlement fees. These so-called ‘copyright-trolling’ efforts are pretty straightforward. Copyright holders obtain a list of ‘pirating’ IP-addresses and then request a subpoena from the court, compelling ISPs to hand over the associated customer data. This scheme can be rather lucrative. With minimal effort, rightsholders can obtain hundreds or thousands of dollars per defendant. These cases generally don’t go to trial. On the contrary, the copyright holders often drop cases when a defendant pushes back. This was also the case when Bodyguard Productions, known for The Hitman’s Bodyguard, sued Ernesto Mendoza. The defendant, who is in his 70s and suffering from end-stage renal disease, denied that he downloaded the film and fought back. The alleged pirate turned the tables with a list of counterclaims, accusing the rightsholder of running a “business model that cannot and should not be authorized by the courts.” These type of lawsuits equate to a “sue then settle” or “cut and run,” scheme that is meant to “intimidate defendants into paying them money out of fear,” the defense argued. In response, Bodyguard Productions appeared to “run,” as it swiftly filed for voluntary dismissal. However, Mendoza and his lawyer didn’t want to let the case go without being compensated for the legal fees they had already incurred.