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Judge Hints At Jail Time For Porn Copyright Troll Prenda Law 63

Posted by timothy
from the your-room-without-supper-forever dept.
In December, we mentioned the attention that Prenda law bigwig John Steele has drawn for some questionable business practices; now reader rudy_wayne writes with news (excerpted from Ars Technica) of more scrutiny of Prenda from a California district court: "A federal judge in Los Angeles has suggested serious penalties for Brett Gibbs, an attorney at porn copyright trolling firm Prenda Law. Facing allegations of fraud and identity theft, Gibbs will be required to explain himself at a March 11 hearing. And if Judge Otis Wright isn't satisfied with his answers, he may face fines and even jail time. The identity theft allegations emerged late last year, when a Minnesota man named Alan Cooper told a Minnesota court he suspected Prenda Law named him as the CEO of two litigious offshore holding companies without his permission. Worried about exposing himself to potential liability for the firms' misconduct, Cooper asked the court to investigate the situation. Cooper's letter was spotted by Morgan Pietz, an attorney who represents 'John Doe' defendants in California. He notified Judge Wright of the allegations."
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Judge Hints At Jail Time For Porn Copyright Troll Prenda Law

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  • Or not - this is small potatoes. I want to see banksters hung - they stole a lot more.
    • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:30PM (#42872299)
      John Steele. He's pretty much the mastermind behind Prenda, the torrent scanning company, the litigation tactics, the shell companies, and all the underhanded pseudo-legal tactics inbetween. He's managed to use patsies like Gibbs to file briefs, but many indications point to Steele actually authoring many of the motions that make it to the judge and simply using Gibbs' electronic signature. The buck seems to stop at Steele in this operation, and with the heat on Gibbs, everyone is hoping he will roll over like a dog on Steele, implicating him in this whole mess.
      • John Steele. He's pretty much the mastermind

        Taha! With a mastermind like John Steele behind this caper, we'd better fire up the bat signal. With a name like that he should be to Bruce Wayne what Lex Luthor is to Superman. I was getting tired of everyone running around wearing Joker makeup anyway.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        John Steele

        Jesus, with a name like that, can you BLAME him for wanting to stop the world from watching porn by any means necessary? Think of the psychological torment he went through as a kid!

      • These people need to go to jail hard and long. When the gardener's lawyer inquired if they could show evidence the mystery CEO was someone else, they ignored him and turned around and claimed the gardener was trying to impersonate the CEO!

  • by Firethorn (177587) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:24PM (#42872201) Homepage Journal

    Well, I think that we've identified a more serious issue than 'mere' patent trolling - identity theft is a rather serious crime.

    Though I like the idea that if it's found that they lied about the identity of their CEO, they lose standing in their other court cases - making them fraudulent as well, compounding the issue.

    In the end, I'd say it's 'Scum is Scum'. If they're not too worried about one aspect of the law, they're unlikely to worry about others, to the point that when one aspect fails, it all tumbles down like a house of cards.

    Personally, I'd say 'hard labor until he's worked off all the court expenses'. That's regardless of the aspect they pick - people might find porn icky, I don't really care.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:38PM (#42872381) Homepage

      There is no patent trolling here since these are Copyright suits.

      They're not the same thing, and there's no mention of patents anywhere.

    • Well, I think that we've identified a more serious issue than 'mere' patent trolling

      Who said anything about Patent Trolling?

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      Oops - I'm so used to seeing 'patent troll' that I fixed this case of COPYRIGHT trolling. Please substitute 'copyright' for 'patent' in the parent post.

    • by pswPhD (1528411)

      IANAL but...

      Actually it is worse than that (for John Steel and Brett Gibbs). Reading the court order, they are guilty (at least accused) of 1) failing to comply with a court order and 2) fraud on the court (and therefore perjury). If they fail to show up to the March 11th hearing then you can add contempt of court to that list.

      It will be interesting to see how this ends.

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        Actually it is worse than that (for John Steel and Brett Gibbs).

        Thus the "House of cards" comment. I'm also not a lawyer, yet could see potential crimes by the dozen. They've done screwed up good.

  • by rossdee (243626) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:31PM (#42872305)

    So someone has a copyright on pron involving trolls? I guess theres all types of fetishes around.

    And can some lawyer explain what a 'prenda law'is?

  • About time ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:35PM (#42872345) Homepage

    In addition to the Alan Cooper issue, Judge Wright is concerned about the slipshod way Prenda identifies defendants. When a household has multiple members, Prenda evidently decides who to sue based on statistical guesswork. "For example," Prenda wrote in one court filing, "if the subscriber is 75 years old, or the subscriber is female, it is statistically quite unlikely that the subscriber was the infringer."

    These shotgun approach lawsuits are just attempts at extortion when they have no real evidence.

    I really hope this guy gets some pretty serious sanctions -- making some poor schmuck the CEO of an offshore company is some pretty serious stuff, the kind that should get you into jail and disbarred.

    And if I read this right, he doesn't even have legal standing to be suing, and might stand to make money from this.

    • I don't see how who you sue matters... The company is just being "sensitive" to the media coverage when somebody was P2P off a single mom or Grandma's wireless...

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        I don't see how who you sue matters

        Oh? So you come up with a subscriber based on questionable data, that subscriber is a little old lady and unlikely to have downloaded porn, so you select the nearest candidate and assume they did it.

        Sorry, but from TFA it's pretty clear that this guy is filing suits with zero evidence other than some vague stuff which can't identify anybody, and making assumptions about who it likely is.

        If your methodology is crap, your lawsuits are crap ... and if you're just suing rando

      • by sjames (1099)

        His lack of legal standing to sue comes directly from the company not actually having a CEO since the named CEO never agreed to hold the position. No CEO = not actually a corporation = not actually a legal entity = no standing to sue.

        Being a lawyer who knows all of that and files the suit anyway = criminal.

    • by Kalriath (849904)

      Substitute "Prenda Law" for "Recording Industry Association of America".... and the story remains just as accurate. Yet which is facing sanctions?

    • "For example," Prenda wrote in one court filing, "if the subscriber is 75 years old, or the subscriber is female, it is statistically quite unlikely that the subscriber was the infringer."

      Lies. Damn Lies. Statistics.

  • by concealment (2447304) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:38PM (#42872383) Homepage Journal

    Good for this judge. If someone is systematically benefiting from unethical behavior, we don't want them in our legal, political, medical or other professional systems. Lawyers, doctors, etc. get paid the big bucks for good work, and also for behaving at a level above the norm. When they don't, it's a clear sign they need "another career."

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      If this is what they say this is ... this is far enough beyond an 'ethical' breach as to be obscene.

      This guy really needs to be jailed, fined, flogged, disbarred, and everything else available to the courts. TFA seems pretty clear this is wide-scale fraud on the courts. And judges don't like it when lawyers lie to them.

      • Disbarring should be a given. If I remember it right, lawyers in the USA take an oath when they enter the carreer, don't they? I think I saw that in The Firm.
      • by concealment (2447304) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:15PM (#42874297) Homepage Journal

        If this is what they say this is ... this is far enough beyond an 'ethical' breach as to be obscene.

        True. I sympathize with your statement. At the same time, I think that we should view ethics not as subject to violations, but as something we keep in good standing to be able to practice any number of professions linked to personal responsibility. It's a threshold measurement. A person stays in good standing so long as they are below that threshold, but as soon as they transgress and go beyond it, it doesn't matter whether it's a small or huge violation; they lose the right to have the power conveyed by that profession.

        • by dkf (304284)

          It's a threshold measurement. A person stays in good standing so long as they are below that threshold, but as soon as they transgress and go beyond it, it doesn't matter whether it's a small or huge violation; they lose the right to have the power conveyed by that profession.

          But going sufficiently far beyond the threshold tends to attract additional penalties. Like fines and jail time. There's never just one threshold, but many layers of them. (Go far enough, and you'd better hope to get arrested and tried instead of just being ripped to shreds by an angry mob. Thankfully that's incredibly rare.)

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:58PM (#42872607) Journal

      Good for this judge. If someone is systematically benefiting from unethical behavior, we don't want them in our legal, political, medical or other professional systems.

      I dunno, there's a lot of risky medical testing that we are currently forced to do on imperfect animal models... Might be the only way that these people could make a positive contribution.

      • I dunno, there's a lot of risky medical testing that we are currently forced to do on imperfect animal models... Might be the only way that these people could make a positive contribution.

        There's a lot of truth in that. I am always tempted because I like bunnies, cats, and other fluffy beings and would prefer they did not suffer testing when we have too many humans, and so few of them worth knowing, that we could easily lose a few to sadistic and disturbing chemical testing.

        However, we'd have to follow due

    • Lawyers, doctors, etc. get paid the big bucks for good work

      Lawyers are paid to be as devious, cruel, and inhuman as possible without getting disbarred, period. From telling the jury she was 'asking for it' as she was dressed like a slut, to refusing to release someone when the DNA evidence doesn't match, but stating it is merely from an 'unidicted co-conspirator'. If your shark wins, I suppose it is 'good work', in an expediently sociopathic sense.

      Attorney: from the Latin attorni: to twist (both the trut

      • Lawyers are paid to be as devious, cruel, and inhuman as possible without getting disbarred, period.

        Do you think all lawyers are this way?

        It seems to me that some are not, just like some humans are not cruel, narcissistic and vain.

        That there are very few shouldn't bother us, since most people can't code either but we still let them all use computers.

  • Obligitory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:18PM (#42872811)

    Since its extremely rare to post porn pics on here and be relevant to the article:

    Sunny Leone, who runs the company that supposedly hired Prenda Law for these cases: http://www.freeones.com/html/s_links/Sunny_Leone/

  • Do I get my money back? It was not me downloading all that stuff. Seriously...

  • by DickBreath (207180) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:35PM (#42874513) Homepage
    Please notice that the judge laid down two rules [wordpress.com]:

    RULE 1. IN ORDER TO SUE A DEFENDANT FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, YOU MUST PROVE THAT THE DEFENDANT DOWNLOADED THE ENTIRE COPYRIGHTED VIDEO.

    RULE 2. A “SNAPSHOT OBSERVATION” OF AN IP ADDRESS ENGAGED IN DOWNLOADING AT THAT MOMENT IS INSUFFICIENT PROOF OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

    So looking at RULE 1 for a moment, suppose someone had an incomplete download that was missing important parts such as:
    1. the unskippable commercials
    2. skippable commercials
    3. previews of craptacular upcoming attractions
    4. the FIB warnings
    5. the "Macrovision Quality Protection" notice at the very end
    Etc.

    Does that download count as an incomplete copy?

    I am not a lawyer, so I wouldn't know.

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