Game of Trolls: Who Wins and Who Dies?
The Troll, a time-honored Internet archetype, has enjoyed a renaissance. "Troll" denotes a variety of online offenders: mercenaries who buy patents and copyrights so they can sue, hackers who gum up the workings of the Internet, commenters who derail and debase the discourse with nasty attacks. Trolls can also be seen as providing valuable services to IP owners, essential animators of online conversations, and even cute, cuddly memes. Websites, protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, have been the chief arbiters of troll speech, implementing de facto, functional systems of justice according to their needs. However, the Game of Trolls is about to change. US Courts have lashed out at IP trolls and their lawyers. Legislation is pending in New York and the United Kingdom to unmask or ban comment trolls. Will these efforts succeed? Is it fair to say that "Winter Is Coming" for the House of Troll? . . . And should it?
- What, exactly, are the defining characteristics of a "troll"? What do patent trolls, porn trolls, comment trolls, and anonymous pranksters have in common? Why is the "troll" label applied to such different forms of conduct?
- What are the most sublime forms of trolling? Should they be stopped or fostered?
- How close are we to having legislation banning or unmasking trolls?
- What functional approaches such as "karma," "auditions," stacking, voting and filtering have the most popular sites used to control troll populations?
- Who win win in the courts' recent war on trolls?
Lisa Borodkin Lisa Borodkin, Attorney