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Piracy The Courts Crime DRM

A Prenda Copyright Troll Finally Pleaded Guilty ( 46

"One of the attorneys behind the Prenda Law 'copyright trolling' scheme has pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering," reports Ars Technica. Long-time Slashdot reader Freshly Exhumed shares this article from the law blog Popehat: The factual basis section -- which Steele admits is true (as to facts he knows) or that the government can prove (as to facts he doesn't know directly) -- is a startling 16 pages long [PDF] and lavishly documents the entire scheme, complete with many details that accusers have been pointing out for years. In short, Steele admits that he and Hansmeier used sham entities to obtain the copyright to (or in some cases film) porn, uploaded it to file-sharing websites, and then filed "false and deceptive" copyright suits against downloaders designed to conceal their role in distributing the films and their stake in the outcomes. They lied to courts themselves, sent others to court to lie, lied at depositions, lied in sworn affidavits, created sham entities as plaintiffs, created fraudulent hacking allegations to try to obtain discovery into the identity of downloaders, used "ruse defendants" (strawmen, in effect) to get courts to approve broad discovery into IP addresses.
Facing a maximum of 40 years in prison, Steele could get his sentence reduced if he testifies against Hansmeier, according to the article, and "Steele appears to have pinned all of his hopes on that option... I've seen a lot of plea agreements in a lot of federal cases, and I don't recall another one that so clearly conveyed the defendant utterly surrendering and accepting everything the government demanded, all in hopes of talking his sentence down later."
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A Prenda Copyright Troll Finally Pleaded Guilty

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  • by Mikkeles ( 698461 ) on Saturday March 11, 2017 @06:37PM (#54019965)

    So, pretty much like most DMCA filers and copyright trolls.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 11, 2017 @06:41PM (#54019973)

    many, many times

  • Enjoy your reduced sentence Mr. Steele.
  • by Whatsisname ( 891214 ) on Saturday March 11, 2017 @11:21PM (#54020915) Homepage

    In addition to the copyright stuff, Hansmeier also had a penchant for suing businesses for ADA violations. []

  • I recommend that his sentence be reduced from 40 years to 39 years in exchange for his complete cooperation.

    • Can you imagine being in prison for forty years? What would that do to you?

      Let's not ruin people's lives past the point of strict necessity. You were speaking in hyperbole, and he does deserve prison, but the sentiment is objectionable.

      • by Jiro ( 131519 )

        Think about how many lives he ruined.

        It's easy to gloss it over because he just took a little piece here and there. Just a few thousand dollars. But he made up for it in volume.

        Let's estimate how much he ruined people's lives. The agreement describes 6 million dollars of fraudulent copyright charges. Just as an estimate, assume that the average person makes $20 after taxes (you have to pay the charges with after-tax money)--maybe I'm off by 50% but it'll at least be good as an estimate. That means tha

      • by Anonymous Coward

        On one hand, I see your point. On the other hand, these guy's business model was to threaten to ruin other people's lives in order to get them to pay up, they wasted an enormous amount of court time in order to do it, and they profusely lied about it even though they were lawyers sworn to obey the law and to honestly represent their case. That should total up to a pretty harsh sentence. I'm no judge, but 40 years does seem like a bit much. I don't see anything wrong with 5 or 10.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @02:04AM (#54021353)
    If you have been watching this case, you know that Steele and Hansmeier made four pornos available on the Pirate Bay. With this guilty plea, it is now 100% legal to down load the movies because the court has declared that any copyright claim on the content is unenforcable.

    So has anyone seen these things? Considering that the lawyers/crooks scammed over $6 million using them, what did the victims end up with that caused so much trouble? This stuff is out there somewhere and it is probably easy to find.

    Maybe they should have just become porn producers in the first place. They might have been able to make similar money for the same amount of effort and not ended up having to go to jail. They did produced two of the movies themselves.

    This represents a case of epic stupidity. How dumb do you have to be to make some smut and then end up doing time in a federal pen because of it?

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein