‘Copyright Troll’ Accuses Defense of Extortion and Unjust Enrichment *TorrentFreak
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Adult entertainment company Malibu Media was once considered a prolific copyright litigator that targeted thousands of suspected pirates. After a rebuffed defendant, the tables have now turned. The court ordered Malibu to pay more than $100,000 to a former defendant but, according to the company’s boss, the defense is guilty of “extortion” and “unjust enrichment”.
Adult entertainment company Malibu Media has often been described as a copyright control operation.
The Los Angeles company, known for its popular “X-Art” trademark, has sued thousands of alleged file sharers in US courts, collecting millions of dollars in settlements.
Not too long ago, Malibu was one of the most active anti-piracy litigators in the United States, but in recent years that activity has stalled. However, there is at least one case that hasn’t been fully resolved, and Malibu is on the losing side.
The case in question began in 2018, when Malibu Media accused Mr Mullins of uploading 11 pirated videos. The defendant fired back and disputed the evidence to the point where Malibu Media agreed to dismiss his claims. However, that was not enough.
The defense wanted to see the company’s hacking evidence, but it never happened despite a court order. This frustrated the court, the accused subscriber and even Malibu’s own attorney, who backed out of the case because his client failed to comply.
$108,271 in costs and fees
In the months that followed, little progress was made and last year US District Court Judge Thomas Durkin awarded Mr Mullins a victory. The court ordered Malibu to pay $48,656.73 in costs and attorneys’ fees. After Malibu initially failed to pay, the total amount owed more than doubled to $108,271.
This is one of the most important judgments we have seen in favor of a wrongfully accused file sharer.
To ensure that the unpaid money is paid, Mullins’ legal team obtained an asset freeze order. This forces Malibu Media and its payment processor Epoch.com to set aside subscription revenue from “X-Art.com” members until everything is paid for.
Adding to the pressure, Malibu Media boss Collette Pelissier was also held personally liable for the unpaid payments, and the same goes for ZO Digital, a company run by Pelissier’s husband, Mr. Brigham Field.
In recent months, a substantial sum has been paid, but not all. A few weeks ago, collection attorney Joseph Stewart urged the Malibu couple to pay the remaining $17,635.04. Paying that would end the deal, but instead Pelissier and Field went on the offensive.
In an email added to the court docket this week, Pelissier accuses the defense of extortion and unjust enrichment. The letter contains grammatical and stylistic errors, which we left intact, but it’s clear the Malibu boss is upset about the restraining order.
“A federal judge should never be the cause of unjust enrichment. The most recent (I don’t know what to call it)…the scam to charge The Peacock $58,000, when we offered to pay the attorney’s fees (which never had to be paid in the first place ).
“This case is a perfect example of abuse of process, denial of due process, violation of civil and constitutional rights,” adds Pelissier.
The Malibu Media boss notes that she has compiled court filings and transcripts that would be reviewed by multiple attorneys who specialize in this type of “fraud and extortion.”
Instead of paying the outstanding amount, she is now asking for a refund and hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
“This is your last chance to repay the stolen $110,000 and emotional damage we suffered ($50,000/month since August 2021 for 7 months). That would be $360,000 (less than Epoch has remitted during the same period in most cases). In addition, intentionally inflicting emotional distress and substantial defamation.”
As well as abuse of process, unjust enrichment and extortion, Mr Mullins’ legal team are also accused of defamation. Pelissier writes that she is considering disbarring the responsible attorney and also intends to sue U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin.
“We will sue to have you disbarred and Judge Durkin under surveillance, based on his work and how we were denied a lawyer or violated a draconian TRO (which violated our constitutional rights, even the right to a lawyer). I hope this will be the last time I have to interact with you personally,” she wrote.
Although we do not know if any of the threats contained in this letter will be followed up, it is clear that Ms. Pelissier has been affected by the events that are unfolding. That the case has an emotional impact also emerged from a hearing late last year, where it completely fell apart.
During this hearing, the Malibu boss interrupted the hearing several times, much to the frustration of the court, including Judge Durkin.
“I deal with more appropriate prisoners, I have mentally ill people who can conduct themselves with more decency,” Judge Durkin said at the time, before cutting the appeal.
Without passing judgment or drawing conclusions, it is ironic to see accusations of “extortion” and “unjust enrichment” from people who were previously branded “copyright trolls”. Also, it would probably be wise for Malibu representatives to hire an attorney to represent them and handle future communications.
A copy of the email, signed by Ms. Pelissier and Mr. Field, is available here (pdf)
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