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Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Jumps In To Defend Bloggers Being Sued By Prenda 87

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you're-going-down dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation has entered the fray to defend the bloggers sued by Prenda Law Firm. Prenda, oblivious to such well known legal niceties as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the affirmative defense of truth, the difference between a defamatory statement of fact and the expression of a negative opinion, and the First Amendment, has immediately — and illegally — sought to subpoena information leading to the identities of the bloggers. I would not be surprised to see these "lawyers" get into even more hot water than they're already in. And I take my hat off to the EFF for stepping in here."
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EFF Jumps In To Defend Bloggers Being Sued By Prenda

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 11, 2013 @08:15PM (#43144385)

    I'm not a coward, I just haven't registered yet. :p

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 11, 2013 @08:17PM (#43144391)

    EFF only helps with the most high-profile cases. They aren't around to help with more low-profile, but just as scary attempts to stifle free speech such as the Scuba Board [glassbox-design.com] lawsuit. As I recall, about a decade ago, when approached to help with a similar libel lawsuit brought on by one John Novak against people critical with his company, the EFF said they don't help with "routine libel cases".

    Sheesh.

    Much more helpful is the lawyer at Pope Hat [popehat.com], who helps bloggers and other being attached with frivolous libel suits, whether the suits are high-profile or low-profile.

    • EFF has limited resources, money, man power.

      As much as they may want to, they simply cannot take on every case that crops up. They have to go for higher profile ones, at least in part because it helps get them donations that they obviously use to take on other cases; plus they no doubt vet a case before agreeing to take it on, just because someone is decrying the end of free speech does not mean that there are not other facts in play that they simply aren't telling people in the news articles.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 11, 2013 @10:39PM (#43145335)

      Ken from Popehat is awesome, but he does not personally provide representation to all the defendants he covers in his blog; nor does his law firm. (He has represented defendants in important first-amendment cases, but he writes about far more cases on his blog than he personally handles.)

      What Ken does is send out the "Popehat Signal" -- basically, writing up the cases on his blog and asking for help -- in hopes of finding local lawyers who are willing to represent those defendants pro bono.

      While this is certainly good, it is different from what the EFF does, which is actually provide counsel at their own expense. Ken doesn't have to pay a penny (well, hosting charges...) to send out the Popehat Signal. You shouldn't judge the two activities by the same standards.

      Further, the EFF has newsletters, a website, and so on, in which they also engage in similar publicity activities to Ken.

    • by Chryana (708485) on Monday March 11, 2013 @11:41PM (#43145679)

      Moreover, they're late to the party. There's been stories running at Arstechnica for months on how people associated with Prenda have been making asses of themselves in court, and downplaying their ties to the firm (By the way, if you have ten minutes to spare and enjoy reading these lawyer stories, you could do worst than to read this one [arstechnica.com].). Funny how nobody appears to ever have been in Prenda's payroll, doing charity work for them or something. So yes, I'm not sure how much help these bloggers really need from the EFF as Prenda will probably have ran itself into the ground on its own pretty soon anyways.

    • by KGIII (973947)

      I ran into Pope Hat just the other day when I first came across this story. I'm not sure if I should be suing anyone but I spent the next couple of days pretty much glued to his site and the links that I found on his site. I added some overly large number of new bookmarks and have been perusing since. While Pope Hat is great and there may be some overlap between PH and EFF the reality is that they're not the same and that EFF has an entirely different goal.

  • by chromaexcursion (2047080) on Monday March 11, 2013 @08:17PM (#43144403)
    Deliberate negligence, All costs x 3. When will they actually start enforcing the false claim rules in DMCA. The fines can be Very high.
    • by LordLucless (582312) on Monday March 11, 2013 @09:11PM (#43144789)

      Because the false claims section is toothless crap [cornell.edu] (c-3-A-v and vi). The only bit that is enforced by penalty of perjury is the declaration that the declarant represents who they say they do. The claim that the material is infringing isn't covered by perjury at all, just a "good faith belief".

      • by micheas (231635) on Monday March 11, 2013 @10:51PM (#43145417) Homepage Journal

        Because the false claims section is toothless crap [cornell.edu] (c-3-A-v and vi). The only bit that is enforced by penalty of perjury is the declaration that the declarant represents who they say they do. The claim that the material is infringing isn't covered by perjury at all, just a "good faith belief".

        However it appears that Prenda Law was not representing who they said they were representing. So this could be one of those rare times that the false claims section comes into play.

        One thing that is not clear from the reports is whether or not the head of litigation at Morrison Foerster's LA office made a personal appearance on behalf of Verizon or not (He is listed as one of Verizon's attorney's on the declaration submitted by Verizon).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This isn't a copyright case. It's a libel case. Yes, Prenda are copyright trolls, but the particular case the EFF is getting involved in -- the one that involves bloggers -- is not a copyright case at all.

      As such, the DMCA has nothing to do with it.

      IANAL.

  • Prenda found someone to represent them. Orly Taitz.

    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Monday March 11, 2013 @08:29PM (#43144499)

      > Orly Taitz

      You can't make this shit up.

      Well, this will definitely provide considerable ongoing entertainment. I feel sorry for the judge(s) though.

      • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Monday March 11, 2013 @08:42PM (#43144613)

        > Orly Taitz

        You can't make this shit up.

        Well, this will definitely provide considerable ongoing entertainment. I feel sorry for the judge(s) though.

        I get what you mean, hoo boy! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orly_Taitz [wikipedia.org]

        • by jeremyp (130771)

          OMG. The Wikipedia lists 17 court actions that she was involved in and none of which she won. Of particular interest is the one she lost in spite of the fact that the defendant (Barak Obama) failed to show up.

          Who would hire her as a lawyer.

          • Well, as stated below, right now it is an unsubstantiated rumour that Orly Taitz is a lawyer for Prenda. Though who knows, since it seems Prenda's lawyers don't appear in court anyway.
            • by idontgno (624372)

              Well, as stated below, right now it is an unsubstantiated rumour that Orly Taitz is a lawyer for Prenda.

              It's an interesting rumor. It has the fascinating effect of lowering the credibility and reputation of both the clients and the legal team at the same time.

              Lowering the reputation of either party should be impossible. Doing both simultaneously? Pure genius. Maybe they're hoping for some kind of numeric underflow where sufficient negative reputation rolls over into maximum positive reputation.

        • That's kinda scary. Take a look at her. She has two eyes, a nose, a mouth, two arms, two breasts - I presume there are two legs supporting her. She looks rather normal, if aging and weatherbeaten. Why don't nutcases look - well - NUTS? Hell, she looks almost attractive in this pic: http://api.ning.com/files/aOwvTWeocChEvVtCkbqfW6Uo45XBuD57L8oP1qFoQ1VghmM*TDK5dv3uBytUBnjlWB6IQzYzZMP2zaS4kGkSZib6LNzoUSzA/Taitz2.jpg [ning.com]

          Alright, I scrolled through Google's images of Orly, and the above is the only image of he

        • by yurtinus (1590157)
          ...simply stunning. Thanks for the entertaining read!
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 11, 2013 @10:46PM (#43145387)

        It appears that you can make this shit up, because I can find no evidence to suggest that Prenda Law has any connection whatsoever with Orly Taitz.

        • by pitchpipe (708843)

          It appears that you can make this shit up, because I can find no evidence to suggest that Prenda Law has any connection whatsoever with Orly Taitz.

          Agreed. I googled the shit out of it, and the only reference to it was leftie's comment. MOD GP DOWN!

    • by _merlin (160982)

      Seriously? The same Orly Taitz who's the queen of the "birther" movement?

    • I parsed that as "Oily Tits" until I went to her Wikipedia entry. Birthers, Truthers, the idiots that think the military-industrial complex had JFK killed, now even people who think the Newtown shooting was contrived by Obama; the list of crackpots goes on and on. If I were this judge I'd laugh her out of my courtroom.
      • by moeinvt (851793)

        Who do you think killed JFK? A lone guy with a P.O.S. bolt action Italian rifle that wasn't even sighted in properly, firing from a bad angle, who managed to fire 3 shots in 5 seconds and score 2 hits on a moving target? Not only is that impossible, any idiot that watches the film of the assassination can clearly see that at least one shot was fired from the front.

        I don't know who killed JFK or why, I don't know where Barack Obama was born and I don't know the story behind 9-11.
        I DO know that the official

        • A lone guy with a P.O.S. bolt action Italian rifle that wasn't even sighted in properly, firing from a bad angle, who managed to fire 3 shots in 5 seconds and score 2 hits on a moving target? Not only is that impossible

          Difficult, but not impossible. Any well-trained marksman would be able to make those shots.

          • "Any well-trained marksman would be able to make those shots."

            I have my doubts. You might have to define "marksman". Long, long ago, in another century, when you could still find mastodons roaming - - - Well, maybe I'm overdoing it there.

            Anyway, as a kid, I met some soldiers down at the creek where I routinely hunted. They wanted to see how good a shot I was, so they called off some targets for me to hit. Easy shots, but they all seemed amazed that I could make the shots. One of them asked to borrow

            • By 'marksman', I was thinking of professionally trained marksmen, but then Olympic athletes could also count. Of course, if you train with a specific rifle, doesn't necessarily make you a marksman with other rifles. Ultimately though, I don't think this is enough to erode the point I was trying to make, which is that the shots were not impossible.
              • Certainly not impossible. Basically, I was just checking - not everyone who has carried a weapon in the line of duty could have made those shots. They were tough shots. I ain't real sure that I could ever have made them. But, I've met a number of men who could. ;^)

        • by jeremyp (130771)

          The film JFK was factually incorrect.

          Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy.

        • Define 'sighted in properly'. It only takes a few shots to know how far off the sight is, and then you can easily compensate for that.

        • by niado (1650369)
          Since 1989, the "officially sanctioned government version" of the JFK assassination has been that it was likely carried out by some kind of conspiracy [wikipedia.org]. Unfortunately the original investigation was badly botched and so much time has passed that we will never know the real story. This is a shame, as even wild speculation cannot be ruled out.

          There is basically no valid evidence [wikipedia.org] indicating that President Obama is not a "natural born citizen". I am sympathetic with the principle here, and I think that US Pres
        • Four words: Gerald Posner, Case Closed.
    • by pitchpipe (708843)
      Orly? [imgur.com]
    • -1 Not True.
  • In other news.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 11, 2013 @08:31PM (#43144511)

    The hearing scheduled for today to decide the fate of Copyright Troll Brett Gibbs has concluded, and it was apparently very bad for Prenda et al.

    Adam Steinbaugh was in attendance and has a quick run through on his twitter account [twitter.com]. Wen White was also there and is currently writing a detailed recap to be posted on popehat.com later tonight.

    While I am amazed and pleased at the attention this saga has been getting, I think it's important to remember that while the wide audience is merely entertained or amused by these proceedings, for the innocents like me who have had their lives turned upside down by Prenda this is more than simple entertainment-- it's justice.

    • Re:In other news.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by akboss (823334) <akboss@@@suddenlink...net> on Monday March 11, 2013 @08:37PM (#43144563)
      Still waiting on the judge to find those "lawyers" in contempt and order them arrested and extradited back to face him. I want to see Marshals breaking down doors.
      • Oh. Yeah. That's a FEDERAL COURT! The judge can do that, can't he? I'm more accustomed to Podunk Hicktown court rooms. Extradition is only considered in murder cases and the like. Hmmmm - yes, that is very interesting!

    • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @03:14AM (#43146503)
      It's so confusing that you can't even tell the players apart, even with a scorecard.
      ;>)
      Here's an interesting tidbit about the trial that shows how much of a clusterfuck this all is: one set of lawyers couldn't even figure out if they themselves belonged on the plaintiff's side or the defendant's side for picking their seating/table at the trial (bride's side?, groom's side?, wtf?):
      The strange hearing produced such a mix-up of roles that even the lawyers had lawyers -- and people didn't know where to sit. Prenda's erstwhile attorney Brett Gibbs cut ties with Prenda Law after the firm found itself in a messy bind regarding the practices it used to serve lawsuits to hundreds of Does suspected of illegally downloading porn; he hired his own attorneys to represent him at the hearing. "I'm not sure what side we're supposed to be on," said one of them as he tried to decide whether he belonged at the defense or plaintiff table.

      --- from the 3rd paragraph of arstechnica article [arstechnica.com] from March 12th, 2013.

      • by idontgno (624372)

        The strange hearing produced such a mix-up of roles that even the lawyers had lawyers

        Yo Dawg, I heard you like billable hours...

  • by russotto (537200) on Monday March 11, 2013 @08:32PM (#43144527) Journal

    Unfortunately, such optimism is not justified. The copyright absolutists have friends in all three branches of government, and their harsh and punitive stance plays well with harsh and punitive judges, especially when the defendants aren't all that sympathetic. The rules of procedure will be bent well past the breaking point for them, while ridiculously narrow interpretations of the same rules will be applied to the defense.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 11, 2013 @08:58PM (#43144713)

      They're having a bad day in court [arstechnica.com] while the judge questions them as to why a witness they offered to testify about the company apparently knows absolutely nothing about who owns it or calls the shots. When two people have accused the firm of identity theft (both of whom actually managed to show up in the courtroom, unlike the Prenda folks, who complained it was too hard), things are NOT looking good for them.

      Also they may have failed to notify someone of a stay in discovery. At this point, I can only hope that the judge elects to use some Federal Marshals to put a stop to their shenanigans. Right now, my First-Amendment-protected opinion is that they resemble Orly Taitz in all the wrong ways. But they're free to sue me for saying that if they want to provide me with a free front row seat to their Waterloo.

      • They may have problems suing AC's

        • by ShaunC (203807)

          Their entire "business model" revolves around suing John Does. They wouldn't hesitate to sue an AC.

        • Nahhh, they'll just subpeona Slashdot for the IP address, then decide who was most likely to be using that computer. Of course, when I posted, I proxied in through North Korea, Australia, Canada, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Mexico, and finally the UK. So, they'll be knocking on the door at Scotland Yard soon, trying to find me.

    • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @01:07PM (#43150417)

      You and the people who modded you up have no idea what this story is about. Try reading it next time.

      This isn't about copyright holders suing people for infringement. This is about lawyers partaking in fraud and/or extortion by representing fictitious copyright holders.

      It's a scam. One could argue that the big media copyright holders are also engaged in a scam, but their scam is (perhaps unfortunately) legal. What these lawyers are doing isn't legal -- they create shell companies and to act as clients they can sue on behalf of to scare people into coughing up money.

      What big media copyright holders do is legal, however unfortunate that may be. This isn't about the validity of our copyright system, this is about a criminal organization that has just been caught red-handed. The copyright absolutists have as much reason to detest these guys as the anti-copyrightists. These guys are making judges re-examine the process and how easy it is to manipulate, which in the long run will be very bad for the copyright absolutists you complain about.

      You would have every reason to be optimistic if you read the fucking story!

  • by pswPhD (1528411) on Monday March 11, 2013 @08:42PM (#43144611) Homepage

    Prenda have much bigger things to worry about than the EFF. They have really annoyed a federal judge, and may be guilty of perjury, contempt of court, fraud on the court and identity theft. Probably a couple of other offences as well.

    Prenda isn't finished yet, but given the recent hearing [techdirt.com] they probably won't be around much longer

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Lincoln Sternn [Prenda], you stand here accused of 12 counts of murder in the first degree, 14 counts of armed theft of Federation property, 22 counts of piracy in high space, 18 counts of fraud, 37 counts of rape...
      [pauses to check rap sheet] ... and one moving violation. How do you plead?

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday March 11, 2013 @09:08PM (#43144777)
    That's what I read due to the tiny font on my phone. Durn letigigious pandas.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Pandas are Neither Dumb or Leggy you insensitive cod.

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