Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Crime

Judge Refers Prenda Copyright Trolls To Criminal Investigators 134

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the don't-mess-with-the-court dept.
SternisheFan tipped us to news that the infamous copyright trolls Prenda Law are in a bit of trouble with the law. Today, U.S. District Court judge Otis Wright issued sanctions against Prenda. He recommends that the lawyers involved be disbarred and fined, granted court and lawyer fees to the defendants (doubled for punishment), and has referred them for criminal prosecution. Among the findings of fact are that they set up dozens of shell companies to disguise the true owners, actually committed identity theft, dodged taxes on settlement money, lied to the court, and abused the court by setting settlements on flimsy charges just below the cost of a defense.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Judge Refers Prenda Copyright Trolls To Criminal Investigators

Comments Filter:
  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @05:16AM (#43651323)

    Everywhere needs more judges like this. All too often people involved with the legal process or shielded by large beaurocracies feel they can act with impunity and are somehow above the law. Criminal prosecutions are just the thing to remedy that attitude.

    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bloodhawk (813939) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @05:25AM (#43651359)
      like most professions it is the few bad eggs you hear about that really do tarnish everyone. There really are quite a lot of good judges that really are only interested in doing what's right (within the confines of the law) and though it feels untasteful for me to say even most lawyers are for the most part honest.
      • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @08:20AM (#43652005) Journal

        Arguably, (at least in cases analogous to this one), it isn't so much about bad judges; but about not enough good ones.

        Prenda's undoing came about, in no small part, because a Serious Judge(Federal District Judge, lifetime-appointment-by-the-president-confirmed-by-the-senate, etc.) became very, very, very displeased with how they were messing with the court and refused to either rubber-stamp them or let them drop the case and quietly run away to a safer venue.

        Wright appears to have put nontrivial time and effort into familiarizing himself with the case, asking the requisite hard questions, calling parties in for serious beatdowns, and so on. Given the (relatively) small scale of Prenda's scamming business, compared to some of the other shenanigans that end up in federal court, they probably got substantially more attention than they could have expected going in, or that most of their slimy little peers get(though hopefully this case will serve to raise the profile of such piracy-extortion operations).

        The trouble isn't that other judges are cackling evilly and conspiring with Prenda types, it's just that Prenda's "push hard against the weak, quietly drop the case and walk away if resistance is met" strategy merely requires a judge with a full docket to not follow up on them too closely. In this case, they were screwed because the judge didn't accept their surrender, and chose to take a significant personal role in chasing them down.

        • The ruling is also quite hilarious, peppered with ridicule, Star Trek references, and such. Not what one would expect from the typical judge.
          • Based on the descriptions of the in-court hearings, the judge is completely and utterly ripshit with Prenda, so I can only imagine that he had one hell of a good time writing that ruling, once it became clear just how much hanging-yourself rope Prenda had voluntarily allocated themselves.

            • by OldPappy (53227)
              For some reason, as I read another article on the judge's comments, all I could think of was that court room scene in Ghostbuster's II.
          • by Gription (1006467)

            The ruling is also quite hilarious, peppered with ridicule, Star Trek references, and such. Not what one would expect from the typical judge.

            The best one is from Page 2, Line 16: "As evidence materialized, it turned out that Gibbs was just a redshirt."
            Someone needs to buy the judge a beer or bake him a cake. Outstanding!

        • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Rich0 (548339) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @10:22AM (#43653359) Homepage

          I think this points to there needing to be a LOT more money spent on the courts.

          Courts should have the time/money to give real attention to each case, and lawyers should almost be unnecessary. If your lawyer doesn't bring up a defense it should be the duty of the court to do so for you, and so on. Courts should also have a duty to obtain all the evidence they can, even if not brought forward by either party. By all means dump those costs on the loser in the end. Trails should be about finding the truth and dispensing justice and equity. They should not be a debate club where you reward the person with the best argument and data presentation.

          Sure, it would cost more money to run the courts, but it can't be more expensive than bombers. And every trial would get down to root cause. If the root cause is that some sociopath has a job in some industry then the solution is to bar them from working in that industry, or putting them in jail, even if the only matter brought to the court was a lawsuit over some file sharing or whatever. When you go to the court, you'll get justice, and not necessarily the justice you're looking for. That will make people think twice about wasting the court's time.

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mikkeles (698461) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @08:50AM (#43652179)

        If it were just a few bad eggs, you might be right. However, it always seems that when they are discovered, (most of) the rest of the group closes ranks and attempts to shield them from facing the music. This applies to lawyers, doctors, police, military, the church, government bureaucracy, corporations, etc.

        In my view, this makes (most of) them all equally culpable.

        • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

          by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @10:33AM (#43653495)
          I agree, it applies to pretty much everyone who identifies with a profession. They see the rules they have in place, or at least a process to regulate whatever problem arose, and see no need for other oversight, as that's just (in their opinion) going to make life difficult for them, the innocent ones, and do nothing to stop the ones who are guilty who already avoided the process.

          For example, me, scientist. When I hear about scientific misconduct, I grit my teeth when I see suggestions for changes in oversight. We have peer review which is experts reviewing their peers. It's not 100% effective. Obviously. Obviously no system is going to be 100% effective at catching greed or misconduct. From my perspective, peer review is the best way to catch misconduct though. And we already do it. I can't think of a better system, so any change is probably going to be for the worse, both for science and for me. Witness Lamar Smith and the terrible cabal of assholes (I'm guessing the Koch bros) who are attempting to control scientific funding to attempt to silence studies they don't like. If there were a big scientific misconduct case in the news right now, that would be the best shot at such people getting control of science: they'd argue changes needed to be made to scientific oversight, that the system wasn't working and they could do it better.

          Even if there weren't a conspiracy to neuter science, changes imposed on us from non-scientists are unlikely to be any good from my perspective (and probably from any perspective.) I'm biased of course, but I don't think I'm wrong. Other professions obviously feel the same way, and they might not be wrong either. The financial sector, for example, we have good reason to distrust everything they say, but they might be accurate that ending too-big-to-fail in the ways that are being discussed could cause major economic problems. I certainly know less about the economy than most of them do.

          Bottom line, it's not simple to make positive changes to fix professional misconduct. There are good reasons to not trust insiders: they are biased in favor of nothing changing. And there are good reasons to not trust outsiders: they are generally less informed than insiders and might mess things up.
          • by mjr167 (2477430)

            However, if the community wishes to regulate itself, it needs to be willing to hand over it's own. If a police office shoots and unarmed civilian, his fellow officers should hand him over for criminal proceedings. If a lawyer commits fraud, his fellow lawyers need to disbar him... The problem is when in the desire to avoid outside interference you allow misconduct to continue through a sense of comradeship.

            It is not self regulation per say that people object to, but the fact that self regulation often le

            • by ultranova (717540)

              However, if the community wishes to regulate itself, it needs to be willing to hand over it's own.

              If a community hands over its own for outside judgement it's not regulating itself, now is it?

              • The professional community has standards above those for the general public.

                When in the course of their work a standards group finds evidence of crimes they hand the evidence over and cooperate with prosecution.

                Police don't pass that test. Lawyers usually do, just barely, by the less then the thickness of their scales. Engineers, usually, eventually. Accountants, again eventually.

      • like most professions it is the few bad eggs you hear about that really do tarnish everyone. There really are quite a lot of good judges that really are only interested in doing what's right

        Sadly, this is not true. If it was, there would be many more cases like this one. When you see the rulings by the judge in this case, it makes you realize just how corrupt and incompetent most other judges are.

        To bad Judge Wright wasn't in charge of the SCO vs IBM case. The whole thing could have been wrapped up in a fraction of the time.

      • by Scutter (18425)

        >it is the few bad eggs you hear about that really do tarnish everyone

        I don't think you know what the phrase "a few bad eggs" means. The actual phrase is "One bad apple spoils the bushel". It doesn't mean that if you remove the bad apple, the rest of the apples will be fine. It means corruption, left unchecked, will spread throughout all of the apples until the whole basket has to be discarded.

        Prenda is a corrupt organization because the lawyers who make it up learned the behavior from somewhere else,

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      Criminal prosecutions are just the thing to remedy that attitude.

      That works really well until there is a political body in power which passes legislation to enable large bureaucracies to legally be above the law [youtube.com].

    • It sounds like he's simply enforcing the numerous laws these guys broke. Good on him, but it sounds like he's doing the full extent of his job. I can't see the use in having a judge that wouldn't do this. So "Everywhere needs more judges like this," seems wrong, I'd suggest "Everywhere needs ONLY judges like this."
    • I agree, but the way in which he did it could be better. Head over to the Popehat article [popehat.com] and read about the judge littering his order with Star Trek puns. Nerd joy? Yes. Appropriate in the courtroom? Hell no. Dude needs to take his job seriously.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MrNiceguy_KS (800771)

        I'd say he took the case more seriously then Prenda. Their entire business model stemmed from filing cases hoping they wouldn't go to trial, and dropping them if it looked like they might. I see the Star Trek references as the Judge saying, "If you're going to make a mockery of the Judicial system, then the system retains the right to mock you back."

        • by hawk (1151)

          It was as if millions of cases suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced . . .

          Oh, wait.

          Just 400. :)

          hawk, esq.

      • Look at his career. He is good at what he does. And when you are, you could afford jokes - nobody at prenda law is laughing now or not taking him seriously. I am from Germany. But i'll rather be at the north pole than pissing off the IRS and being inside of the USA.

        He did a hell of a job. Looked into every f...ing detail. And sent them the IRS to go look up their asses. And made shure those pranks will not sue anyone anymore on every court they are now entitled to represent themselves as a lawyer. He did no

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      Sorry, no, everyone doesn't.

      Not every case is it good that a judge zeroes in on it, or they can also come to the *wrong* conclusion very quickly:

      bad examples - see: grokster/napster cases, the ITC, the judge in MS vs google in washington, east texas, etc.
      better examples: the lawsuits/investigations as a result of the mortgage collapse, Samba vs MS, this case, SCO vs Novell.

      There's no general answer to when this is good or bad. Absolutely never. It's specific to every case whether it's good or bad it gets pi

  • by Aaron B Lingwood (1288412) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @05:25AM (#43651355)

    From TFA:

    "... they offer to settle—for a sum calculated to be just below the cost of a bare-bones defense."

    Judge Wright then awards costs plus punitive damages totalling $81,319.72 to the victims, saying that the sum

    "is calculated to be just below the cost of an effective appeal"

    • by gagol (583737)
      Are you sure the dot is not a comma?
    • A judge with an awesome sense of humor!

      • by Psyborgue (699890)
        No kidding. The ruling is also peppered with lots and lots of Star Trek references. He actually begins it with a quote from the Wrath of Khan.
        • by v.dog (1093949) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @06:37AM (#43651589)
          Popehat's write up on this [popehat.com] is even better:

          Referring to the U.S. Attorney's Office and the IRS's CID is like siccing both the Klingons and the Romulans on Prenda, except that the Romulans have a somewhat better grasp of due process than IRS CID.

          Prenda Law certainly won't live long and prosper

          • by idontgno (624372)
            Kobayashi Maru scenario, and this time the people running the scenario know exactly how the cadets cheated the system, so expect the lossage to be epic and memorable.
        • by mrbester (200927)

          Could be worse:

          Now, them Prenda boys was in a whole heap o' trouble...

          Justice Wright: "Well, boys, there's several kinds of shit in the world; bullshit, horseshit and pigshit, to name but three. You've given me fine examples of all of those, but now, I gotta tell you, there's a whole other type of shit. This kind don't wash off, and you're in a real big steaming pile of it."

      • by Angeret (1134311) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @06:14AM (#43651513)
        Yeah, really! An honest judge with a liking for sci-fi and a sense of humour. America is done for, done for I tell you!!!
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Well done, you found one. *pats head*

          Now go and find enough to actually run a civilisation.

          • by Angeret (1134311)

            Hahahahahahaha - I got modded "5, funny" (my first ever that high) but yours was better than mine. Seriously though, the USA needs more people like him - and much of the rest of the world could do with similar.

            But run a civilisation? I doubt we'll EVER do that, just look at our bloody history coupled with the increasing greed/litigation culture we live in. Civilisation... (snort)

          • I need mod points and a time machine to undo the comment i made. someone else rate this AC up

  • They simply didn't matter enough, like a big corporation does. Not enough lobbying means you'll be judged as hard as any other citizen would be!
  • "Wriiiiiiighhht!" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Namarrgon (105036) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @05:52AM (#43651445) Homepage

    For even more geek appeal, Judge Wright also peppered his order with Star Trek references, beginning with this quote:

    “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
      —Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

    and hammering it home towards the end:

    Third, though Plaintiffs boldly probe the outskirts of law, the only enterprise they resemble is RICO. The federal agency eleven decks up is familiar with their prime directive and will gladly refit them for their next voyage.

    I strongly suspect he deliberately designed this order to get maximum publicity with the tech media.

    • “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

      Interesting quote to open with, because in court they don't.

    • by fredrated (639554)

      The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

      I always wonder why that quote doesn't make conservative SciFi readers heads assplode, it is so socialist/communist.

      • by Nyder (754090)

        The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

        I always wonder why that quote doesn't make conservative SciFi readers heads assplode, it is so socialist/communist.

        The socialism you think you know isn't the real socialism.

        • by hawk (1151)

          These are not the socialists you are looking for . . .

          hawk, esq.

    • Is a Statue geek appeal enough for you?

      If yes, check this journal entry: The Death of Prenda as a Statue [slashdot.org]

      (Disclosure: I am the author of it)

      :-)

      - Jesper

  • by Big Hairy Ian (1155547) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @06:09AM (#43651503)
    Do you think we can get him involved with some other cases like Apple/Google/Samsung etal it would be nice if someone stopped them from behaving like juvenile pricks.
    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      Do you think we can get him involved with some other cases like Apple/Google/Samsung etal it would be nice if someone stopped them from behaving like juvenile pricks.

      That's what happen when you have an economic/political system that rewards people for behaving like juvenile pricks. One judge won't change that. It'll take about 75million voters.

      • by Thud457 (234763)
        Judge Otis Wright needs to write a book. And start a thinktank. And appear on the View. And the Daily Show. And 60 Minutes.
  • Here is the official filing:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/139843902/Prenda-Sanctions-Order [scribd.com]

    First lines:

    “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” —Spock,
    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
    (1982).

    Somebody should make a status of this judge. Preferably 3D printed and with references to popular SciFi universes. He deserves no less. :-)

    - Jesper

    • by newmind (775000)
      this was the best thing i've read in ages! The fact that this is non-fiction just makes it soooo much better...
  • by SplatMan_DK (1035528) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @07:19AM (#43651691) Homepage Journal

    In sutiations like these, everybody always talk about how cool it would be to "do something". Several people have already mentioned a statue.

    Well here goes: The unofficial Otis D. Wright Statue Fundraiser

    http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-unofficial-otis-d-wright-ii-statue-fundraiser [indiegogo.com]

    Go throw a buck or five at Judge Wright. Show the world that your respect for this man reaches further that a simple forum-post :-)

    - Jesper

    • by Muad'Dave (255648)

      Awesome. You know it would probably sell if you put a Star Trek TOS insignia on the statue's judicial robe.

    • by Dekker3D (989692)

      I'm tempted to make a 3D model of him, like a bust, and upload it to Thingiverse. Thousands of statues of the guy, all over the world :D

      If I link from there to the IndieGogo campaign, that'd be some extra exposure too. I hope I do get to it in time!

      • If you have access to a 3D printer, or are a 3D artist able to make the modelling involved, please get in touch with me through the IndieGoGo campaign.

        If you feel you are in a position to make busts like the ones you describe, we could easily make them a Perk in the campaign and compensate you for making them.
        :-)

        - Jesper

        • by Dekker3D (989692)

          I tried sending you a message, but it seems I can only send messages to people that I'm connected to via a project. Will just donating $5 count as "being connected to you via a project"?

          • I don't know. I actually expected IndieGoGo to have a proper procedure for contacting the owner of a campaign.

            Since that does not seem to be the case, please write to: wrightfundraiser@conceptfactory.dk

            I have updated the campaign description to include this email for contact information.

            :-)

          • Thanks for reaching out through the campaign; but IndieGoGo does not share any other information with your message so I am unable to get in touch with you. Please mail me on the contact address now listed in the campaign description. :-)

            - Jesper

    • I made a /. journal entry on it. Let us see how far we can make this thing go... :-)

      The Death of Prenda as a Statue [slashdot.org]

      (Disclosure: I am the author of it)

      :-)

      - Jesper

  • With a good coffee , reading this is good to the last drop , i mean line. Reading this judgment is a treat.
    If you havent done so yet , make yourself a favor , read the judgment. I never enjoyed reading one as much as this one.
    Better than the SCO court papers and bankruptcy filing that's for sure. Hopefully they will end up disbarred.

    What a treat , thanks for posting !

     

    • I think the difference in the SCO judges is that they knew the nature of SCO lawyers and didn't want to give them any room for appeal. Also they were probably more frustrated than amused by SCO as all their tactics were legal but didn't cross lines. In this case, the judge has enough evidence of the lawyer's misconduct and prior behavior that even if they appeal, the appeals court will turn away any appeal. When one court can show that you outright lied to them, other courts are not likely to find you cred

  • Quote:
    Third, though Plaintiffs boldly probe the outskirts of law, the only enterprisethey resemble is RICO.The federal agency eleven decks up is familiar with their prime directive and will gladly refit them for their next voyage. The Court will refer this matter to the United States Attorney for the Central District of California.

  • The sane judge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxrubyNO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @07:50AM (#43651837)

    The system needs a judge like this who can plainly see what the public at large has been complaining about for well over a decade. Astronomical awards are used as nothing more than a hammer to force people to pay thousands of dollars per infraction and avoid going to court. The entire thing is a sham on the public and the court system and never intended to represent anything resembling justice.

    Unfortunately the Supreme Court refused to take up the absurd statutory award that was put forward in the Jamie Thomas case despite overturning the much (smaller proportionally speaking) Exxon Valdez award. We're going to need a series of court cases like this one to bring some sanity back in the system.

    • by cpghost (719344)

      Unfortunately the Supreme Court refused to take up the absurd statutory award that was put forward in the Jamie Thomas case despite overturning the much (smaller proportionally speaking) Exxon Valdez award.

      If the SCOTUS thinks that those absurd statutory awards are okay, what's the use of lower courts deciding otherwise, even if it is a whole string of cases? Couldn't the rights holders simply refer to the SCOTUS decision as overriding any kind of lower jurisprudence to enforce their claims and claim cart

  • It's all fun and games until you piss off a judge. Too bad you can't sentence someone to be beaten with a baseball bat in this country. Not that he should let THAT stop him...
  • Prenda; giving patent trolls a bad name. Man, that's saying something..

Are we running light with overbyte?

Working...