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Piracy The Courts

New Prenda Law Shell Corp Threatening to Tell Your Neighbors You Pirated Porn 258

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the barely-legal dept.
It appears that Prenda Law, freshly defeated, has formed a new shell company named the "Anti-Piracy Law Group," and has resumed sending threatening letters to supposed porn pirates. But this time, they've expanded their threats (from a letter (PDF) sent to Fight Copyright Trolls): "The list of possible suspects includes you, members of your household, your neighbors (if you maintain an open wi-fi connection) and anyone who might have visited your house. In the coming days we will contact these individuals to investigate whether they have any knowledge of the acts described in my client’s prior letter" Naturally, the letter also notes that the recipient can avoid having the list of videos they supposedly copied sent to their neighbors and family if they settle for a few thousand bucks...
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New Prenda Law Shell Corp Threatening to Tell Your Neighbors You Pirated Porn

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:09AM (#43718559)

    1. I am not ashamed to admit I watch porn.

    2. Watching porn is something I do with the windows open so my asshole shithead neighbor across the street's wife can watch.

    3. Yeah you asshole. Your wife likes to watch me stroke.

    4. I am not ashamed to admit I watch porn.

    -- Posted anonymously for obvious reasons.

    • Re:Haha, let them. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MiKM (752717) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:10AM (#43718563)

      Posted anonymously for obvious reasons.

      I thought you said you weren't ashamed to admit that you watched porn.

      • haha
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        I'm not ashamed to admit it*, but I also wouldn't like a list of exactly what I enjoy watching posted to my friends and family, or my employer for that matter.

        * Yesterday I saw Star Trek, one part of which I'd say was soft porn.

      • Re:Haha, let them. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by realityimpaired (1668397) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:23AM (#43718651)

        I'm not ashamed of my sexuality. I don't pirate porn, largely because the majority of it is fake and really poor quality (I'm not in the target audience), but let them tell my neighbours. They'll get hit with a defamation lawsuit pretty quickly.

        And my neighbours have been able to wrap their heads around the fact that I'm a tree-hugging dirt-worshipping lesbian hippie who goes to festivals where witchcraft is practiced from time to time, I think they won't have any problem understanding that I may look at porn occasionally too.

        • by cdrudge (68377) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:44AM (#43718791) Homepage

          majority of it is fake

          Wait, what!?!? It's fake? Crap. I guess I probably should go back to pirating movies and TV shows since those are real then.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:56AM (#43718857)

          I dont pirate porn because watching it more than once feels too much like a relationship.

        • by argStyopa (232550) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @09:56AM (#43719327) Journal

          "....lesbian...."

          "...not ashamed to rub one out to porn with the shades up..."

          Where do you live, again?

          We may have solved some of the porn-piracy problem right there.

        • IANAL, but in a legal action I took a few years ago, in which the defendant accused me of heinous acts, I learned that statements contained within a lawsuit which would be considered defamation if published elsewhere, are not considered defamatory.

          Note, however, that if those statements are proven false they will have legal consequences within that context.
          • Yes... but TFA (and TFS) says that they're threatening to tell the neighbours. Marquess of Queensberry rules. Literally.... (look up Oscar Wilde, if you don't get the reference)

        • I'm not ashamed of my sexuality. I don't pirate porn, largely because the majority of it is fake and really poor quality (I'm not in the target audience), but let them tell my neighbours. They'll get hit with a defamation lawsuit pretty quickly.

          On what grounds? They're going to contact your neighbors to say that they detected a download of midget goat porn from your cable modem, and ask if they were the ones downloading midget goat porn as opposed to another person accessing your WiFi, such as you. If they actually did detect the download (which even the scummiest sleazebag lawyer in the world is still going to do so as to have the barest excuse for threatening litigation), then there's nothing that they'll say that is untrue or defamatory.

        • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:42AM (#43719845) Journal

          I don't pirate porn, largely because the majority of it is fake

          You mean he wasn't a real plumber?

          Though that explains why he did such a poor job fixing things I suppose.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          So porn is fake, but you practice witchcraft. Okay.

      • I think he meant that in a tongue in cheek fashion, though what that tongue is doing, we can only guess...
      • Woooooosh

      • "3. Yeah you asshole. Your wife likes to watch me stroke."
        you haven't seen his neighbor's wife

      • I'm pretty sure you and the mods just wooshed...
  • They can know I watch it, just as long as they aren't telling everyone I watch the wrong type.

  • Black mail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:10AM (#43718569)

    This is black mail, and illegal.

    =]

    • Re:Black mail (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak.eircom@net> on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:18AM (#43718625) Homepage Journal

      It really is blackmail. This is a threat with menances in order to get someone to comply with the sender, and it is not a reasonable way of enforcing the request. If they simply send out the letters, while questionable in other ways it is not blackmail. These threats however are genuine straight up blackmail. I'm not sure whether this is criminal or civil offence in the US, but in the UK you'd be in a lot of trouble for this.

      • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @09:40AM (#43719179) Homepage

        It is in fact illegal in the US as well.

        Although "blackmail" is such an ugly word. I prefer "extortion" - the X makes it sound cool.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Perhaps XXXtortion?

      • Re:Black mail (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Creepy (93888) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @09:53AM (#43719297) Journal

        Blackmail is criminal in the US, as is slander and defamation of character (and heck, I'm probably missing 100 similar charges for the country where using the internet is a felony by some interpretations of law). Even in the best case, this will scare people that don't know better than to pirate by proxy (anonymous proxies, coffee shops, etc), and even then, being nearly impossible to prove (without a search warrant and raid) will result in every single person involved suing them. This is going to backfire on them like a backward facing shotgun.

        • Re:Black mail (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Laxori666 (748529) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @12:47PM (#43721515) Homepage
          If a backward facing shotgun backfires, wouldn't you hit your target?
        • by rijrunner (263757)

          The real kicker is that this was sent *after* Duffy was referred to the US Attorney's Office on possible RICO violations.

          Blackmail is often the tactic used in racketeering operations to acquire money. I really don't like these guys and they have made zero effort to establish the identity of the downloader.. which is the issue here..

          The real question here is whether this falls into line of reasonable conduct and due diligence. I can see Duffy's defense to blackmail claims. If

      • Re:Black mail (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mabhatter654 (561290) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:03AM (#43719417)

        I suppose they are counting on the recipient not going to the police over these letters. Part of Blackmail is that if youvwent to the police to defend yourself, you might get in trouble you don't want. As police don't enforce copyright law (like they don't enforce cheating on your wife) I don't think they would actually have to INVESTIGATE that you committed or didn't commit the act to enforce the attempt to extort money.

        As these were certainly sent through the USPS it becomes a POSTAL crime as well. I guess the rest of the Prenda's team wanted to visit jail too. The problem with Blackmail is that you eventually send one of these to another, richer person in the middle of a messy divorce having a worse day than you... And they hire somebody to "deliver your payment". In a non-refundable manner. Makes a good episode of Castle.

      • It's not blackmail because they are basicaly saying ,"Your neghbor's IP address was illiegally filesharing the following copyrighted porn titles, were you doing it through his unsecured WiFi router?" and therfore conducting an investigation. If the resident Adult male excepts their terms then there is no reason to conduct the above investigation. I'm not defending, just explaining.

        I hope these dirtbags are smart enough to only target people from out of town and use a Post Office box for the checks because s

        • Re:Black mail (Score:4, Insightful)

          by squiggleslash (241428) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @12:10PM (#43721029) Homepage Journal
          Wonder if the right response is "Dear Sir, I can confirm it was nobody in my household who downloaded the content in question. Feel free to investigate my neighbors. Be careful how you word your accusations when making your investigation as we will sue for libel if, as a result of your investigation, any of our neighbors are under the impression we were responsible for the download."
          • Re:Black mail (Score:4, Interesting)

            by stanlyb (1839382) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @01:42PM (#43722213)
            I have to correct you: NEVER ever make written statements like this, confessing your guilt or innocence. It may sound strange, but after this letter you could go in jail for false claims (and no, there is no need to prove that you actually pirated the "movie").
            In other words, i would rewrite the letter to something like this:
            "Dear Sir, Feel free to investigate my neighbors. Be careful how you word your accusations when making your investigation as we will sue for libel if, as a result of your investigation, any of our neighbors are under the impression we were responsible for the download."
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:19AM (#43718627)

      Yeah, but your porn is black male.

    • by smash (1351)
      I think you missed the part where it was a corporation bribing an individual.
  • by Fear the Clam (230933) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:11AM (#43718573)

    Because when these guys fail to prove that the defendant's computer is the one they claim, any lawyer worth his or her degree will slap them with a defamation lawsuit.

    • by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:26AM (#43718675)

      Just read the letter in the linked article. Reeks of troll. Typical Nigerian-type content: they refer to material stolen from their client, without naming either. Not who that client (presumably copyright holder) might be; nor what content was allegedly stolen. I'm seeing similar vaguely worded e-mails time and again - and most of them are Nigerian scams. They are also intentionally vague, trying to have the reader fill in the gaps (which people automatically do), and make the reader feel as if it's targeting them while it's really a standard letter sent to hundreds if not thousands of people.

      If I'd receive such a letter, I'd probably just toss it in the trash, like I do with similar e-mails. They'd at least have to identify the alleged stolen content, and with that, who their client would be.

      Or would it be possible to file a complaint with police, and have them initiate a criminal investigation? May be hard in practice for a single letter but if more people are targeted they may act on it.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Because when these guys fail to prove that the defendant's computer is the one they claim, any lawyer worth his or her degree will slap them with a defamation lawsuit.

      Fail.

      They aren't out to prove anything. They're sending out random letters in the hope that there's a few people out there that are stupid enough to pay up.

    • Because when these guys fail to prove that the defendant's computer is the one they claim, any lawyer worth his or her degree will slap them with a defamation lawsuit.

      I think that this is their 'clever' twist on exactly that problem. In their prior iteration, one of the things that they were slapped down for was their utterly crap 'computer forensics' procedure, which wasn't even close to adequate for identifying the actual party behind the alleged piracy.

      So, making a virtue of that incompetence, their letter now says that, just to be extra sure and stuff, they'll be doing a more thorough investigation that just so happens to involve asking everyone you know "We think th

  • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
    This is a new low
    • This may very likely get them shot. Someone who's life they've ruined may very well become completely unbalanced and do what we all would secretly love to see happen...

  • If you can't explain it with a straight face to a judge it shouldn't go in writing. This is a simple rule of conducting business that applies to many, many things. Perhaps Prenda never heard of this basic rule of courtroom survival?

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:15AM (#43718607)

    "The list of possible suspects includes you, members of your household, your neighbors (if you maintain an open wi-fi connection) and anyone who might have visited your house

    So you just say it must have been a neighbour or visitor, ask them to add all the visitors to neighbours' houses, the post man, delivery men, etc. and let them get on with it. If they go to court quote their own words - it could have been any of these!

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      "The list of possible suspects includes you, members of your household, your neighbors (if you maintain an open wi-fi connection) and anyone who might have visited your house

      So you just say it must have been a neighbour or visitor, ask them to add all the visitors to neighbours' houses, the post man, delivery men, etc. and let them get on with it. If they go to court quote their own words - it could have been any of these!

      besides, they claim to represent the people who produced the porno in the first place! so are they suggesting watching their material is something to be ashamed of or not..

      • by Yebyen (59663)

        No, I believe you inferred that. They are suggesting that "piracy" or copyright theft or whatever you want to call it is illegal, and that they found one that just happened near you, and now they want to bring the perpetrators to justice.

        They just want to be paid! I'm trying to imagine the content that you could produce, and see pirated, i order to sue over it that would make this case more defensible, but I can't. We should just do away with copyright already. From now on, the only way to get paid for

        • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @09:53AM (#43719295) Journal

          We should just do away with copyright already. From now on, the only way to get paid for porno is by the cameraman who offers you 500 euro while he's giving you a ride to your friend's house. He'll have no way to recoup, other than taking money from investors who convinced him to release the footage on Bittorrent.

          Hot Legal Teens Fucking on a BMW. Brought to you by BMW.
           
          Product placement would be an easy way to fund free porn. And really, how much more Pavlovian can you get than to have someone masturbate while looking at your product?

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      You have to look at it from Prenda's perspective. They think you are guilty and just holding out on them, so this threat is a cheap way to make you pay up and avoid going to court. They have had some bad experiences in court before so generally want to avoid going back there.

      • They have had some bad experiences in court before so generally want to avoid going back there.

        BUT.. on this one, I gotta funny feeling that the court (or the uniformed parts of it, the parts with guns/handcuffs/mace/tasers) may be coming TO THEM... If so, it couldn't happen to a more appropriate bunch of "people".....

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      You assume they want to go to court.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        You assume they want to go to court.

        No I assume that when I give them a long list of people who I have seen in the neighbourhood and insist that I want to assist in the crusade for justice, and how I expect it was that google camera car they will drop it.

  • well (Score:2, Informative)

    Who cares unless you live in Utah or in a monastery?

    However the Utah thing is relevant as they watch more porn per capita than anywhere else in the U.S....

  • Wow ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:19AM (#43718631) Homepage

    These guys might find themselves getting some pretty major smackdown from a court beyond what has already happened.

    This is straight up extortion, and at this rate, I wouldn't be surprised to see someone slap them with RICO charges or something.

    They don't have any evidence which can stand up in court, so they're resorting to smearing you in front of your family on the assertion that you must have violated a copyright they don't own.

    If ever lawyers needed some sanctions from the court, it's these guys. Epic douchebags.

    • by Yebyen (59663)

      They didn't say they were going to give your name out. They just told you they'd be contacting your friends, family, and neighbors. Some percent of those people will have pirated porn, and some percent of those people will confess. I get form letters all the time. Most of them are offering pre-approved low interest, high limit credit cards. I'm sure they put about as much research into both forms of letter before mailing.

      • Re:Wow ... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @09:53AM (#43719293) Homepage

        They didn't say they were going to give your name out.

        They certainly implied it since they're saying they will contact your friends and family and neighbors to see if they have any knowledge of this "alleged activity" (which they don't actually state anything about what is alleged).

        So the threat certainly reads to me like they're suggesting they might be naming you in the process of saying "hey, do you know anything about this porn this guy is alleged to have downloaded".

        From what I can see of that letter, it's thinly veiled threats, an extortion attempt, and no details at all on what is alleged to have been downloaded. I don't see how this is anything other than the same old illegal tactics which got them into so much trouble in the first place.

        • by Yebyen (59663)

          Yes. I could see how you'd read it that way. I think that is the part that makes it the difference between extortion and blackmail or simply fishing.

          You would likely have to find yourself in the courtroom first before arguing that they threatened you or defamed your character to others by name, and that would only work if they actually named you personally, which is totally moot since they will obviously avoid going to court at all costs just like the last Prenda Law. They would most likely argue in that

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Only way to stop them is to lock them up or disbar them.
      After the last defeat, it was pretty obvious nothing would change so long as they were allowed to practice law. They just made a new firm and voila, same old tricks.

  • by some old guy (674482) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:21AM (#43718643)

    I'm sure they are perfectly aware that their claims are groundless and probably illegal. They're also aware that their lifespan is shrinking rapidly.

    I think what they're doing is seeing how many poor schmucks they can scare into settling for a few quick bucks before the whole scheme implodes.

    Clearly, SCO's "Linux Licensing" was a model modus operandi for trolls everywhere.

    • They're going to do this to the wrong guy and end up with a hit squad coming after them. At least I hope so.

  • I run a computer repair shop out of my house with open wifi and am also in an area with no DSL or Cable modem options. I'm bringing a cable connection in from a mile away with 900Mhz equipment and then re-share that over wifi to my cluster of neighbors. Everyone that comes to my place has a device that connects and I get PC's to work on that have bittorrent downloads in mid-download. They can kiss it.

    • My thought was malicious prosecution
  • If private companies and groups can threaten stuff this heavy-handed, what is the point of extortion and creditor laws then? My creditors can't threaten to call my neighbors, but this group can?

  • The best way to create customers is to tell them that they are dirty, disgusting perverts and that if their family and friends knew what they where doing they'd be disowned.

    Wait, if this is the world they want to pretend we live in, why would I ever buy a physical copy when it can be easily discovered. A password protected file of all my torrents is so much safer.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      The best way to create customers is to tell them that they are dirty, disgusting perverts and that if their family and friends knew what they where doing they'd be disowned.

      They're not trying to create customers, they're trying to find people who are willing to cough up the extortion money instead of being named and shamed.

      Do you think these guys have a product they're trying to sell? Their business model is shaking down people for settlement money.

  • by EvilXenu (706326) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:37AM (#43718739)
    Monty Python beat these guys by several decades: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrRZVCg31fE [youtube.com]
  • by fudgefactor7 (581449) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:39AM (#43718759)
    How can this tactic not qualify as defamation? With the huge number of screwed up lawsuits over bittorrent piracy going on, it would only be a short while before they "outed" the wrong person...and then they would be liable. What then? They apologize and hope that they don't get sued? Screw that. They start this mess, they mess with the wrong person, the first thing would be "lawyer up!" and counter file against them--and make them eat their words.
    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Seems like defamation and extortion to me, but I'm not a lawyer. If they keep this up, they won't be either.
      • by zyzko (6739)

        Unfortunately these people are experts in hiding their tracks - more skilled than the ones they are suing.

        Sure - eventually they will be barred but until that they can just make up new shell companies and name a hobo as a CEO for the price of a wine bottle - or better yet, just use someones name without their knowledge instead. One the judges get pissed, deny everything and refuse to testify, repeat and get a fee hundred thousand each round - keeps a few people employed.

        I would not be surprised at all even

  • by slim (1652) <{john} {at} {hartnup.net}> on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:48AM (#43718813) Homepage

    From TFA:

    infamous scumbag Steve “Lightspeed” Jones, a pornographer who specializes in “barely legal” genre (i.e. he recruits and films very young girls)

    (emphasis theirs)

    Now, by all means call him a scumbag on the basis of his extortion and blackmail. By all means find actual ways in which the way he produces porn is scummy.

    But the "barely" in "barely legal" means they're above the age of consent, and hence not "very young". Indeed, since he's in the US, and they're (barely) legal, they must be 18 (2 years older than the age of consent in many countries), and capable of making their own decisions.

  • Now my neighbors won't have to tell me which good new porn they have found!

    It's a time saver, really.

  • by goodmanj (234846) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:59AM (#43718885)

    Hey, cut the Prenda guys some slack. They really need to earn some spending money, what with their upcoming dismissal from the bar and possible RICO prosecution...

  • RICO (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @09:05AM (#43718913) Homepage Journal

    Straight from copyright troll to racketeering? Impressive!

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      For those across the pond who may not be familiar with this important bit of case law, here's the reply in question:

      We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr J. Arkell.

      We note that Mr Arkell's attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off.

  • Most juries take a dim view of porn and porn makers, their eyes glaze over and fall asleep if you try to explain the intricacies of copyright laws, but they do understand slander. They might get sued for slander and get into very hot water.
  • Best of Slashdot, rolled into one line of text!

  • If we can get them to target politicians then laws against monitoring user traffic(*) will be created in no time at all.

    (*) without due authority, like a warrant, suspicion of terrorist activity, or membership in the tea party.

  • ...why in HELL would anyone "pirate" porn?

    My goodness, I have a hard time understanding how stroke mags can even stay in business, much less the paywall sites. I truly can't comprehend anyone willing to break a law over something available ubiquitously for free, in fact it's hard to AVOID porn on the net.

    For those who don't know what I'm talking about, google redtube, youporn. There is not enough time in the world to exhaust their current library of free porn, much less even catch up with the volume added

  • Why would I care if my neighbors knew I pirate episodes of Animal Planet?
  • by MitchDev (2526834)

    Going right for Blackmail via libel now, eh?

  • I thought Duffy was the one who was telling the judge "Hey, I don't know anything about what these other guys have been up to. I'm clean Your Honor, really."

    Then he signs something like this? This guy is dumber than a bag of hammers. If any of these guys had any brains, they'd be on their way to some place that has banana trees in the yard and no extradition treaty with the U.S.

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