After being falsely accused of pirating one of Adam Sandler’s many flops, The Cobbler, Thomas Gonzales is set to receive at least $17,000 to pay for his legal fees.
Gonzales runs an “adult foster care” home, which frequently sees many people coming in and out. He himself does not live in the home, but when someone there pirated a copy of The Cobbler, filmmakers decided Gonzales was to blame and they took him to court.
The case was dismissed, but Gonzales asked that he be compensated for the fees. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman agreed, concluding that the filmmakers went too far. “The Court finds that once Plaintiff learned that the alleged infringement was taking place at an adult group care home at which Gonzales did not reside, Plaintiff’s continued pursuit of Gonzales for copyright infringement was objectively unreasonable,” Judge Beckerman writes. “The Court shares Gonzales’ concern that Plaintiff is motivated, at least in large part, by extracting large settlements from individual consumers prior to any meaningful litigation.
Judge Beckerman went on to state that the overaggressiveness of the filmmakers not only led her to recommend the fees be paid, it also sets a precedent for future situations where overaggressive copyright enforcement could come into play.
“Compensating Gonzales will encourage future defendants with valid defenses to litigate those defenses, even if the litigation is expensive,” Judge Beckerman writes. “Conversely, and perhaps more importantly, awarding fees to Gonzales should deter Plaintiff in the future from continuing its overaggressive pursuit of alleged infringers without a reasonable factual basis.”
Judge Beckerman recommends $17,222 in attorney fees, as well as $255 in other expenses, and the filmmakers have two weeks to object.
The one person left unpunished, however, is the poor idiot who thought The Cobbler was a movie worth pirating.