"Plaintiffs do have a right to assert their intellectual property rights, so long as they do it right," the Los Angeles Times quoted U.S. District Judge Otis Wright II as saying.
"But plaintiffs' filing of cases using the same boilerplate complaint against dozens of defendants raised the court's alert," he said.
The judge said that Prenda Law Inc. had purchased copyrights to pornographic movies for the opportunity of taking viewers who didn't pay to court.
The law firm was counting on defendants being too embarrassed to show up in court. They exploited that predicament by offering to settle out of court for less than what it would cost a defendant in attorney fees, the newspaper said.
That would amount to a quick cash settlement of about $4,000.
"Copyright laws originally designed to compensate starving artists allow starving attorneys in this electronic media era to plunder the citizenry," Wright said.
The judge ruled against the law firm, its attorneys and its owners and ordered payment of $81,320 to be paid to one of the defendants they had sued, the newspaper said.