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Judge Grants Defendant's Motion To Explore Alleged Fraud By Prenda Law

timothy posted about a year ago | from the it's-always-the-gardener dept.

Crime 81

An anonymous reader writes "Prenda Law — one of the most notorious copyright trolls — has sued hundreds of thousands of John Doe defendants, often receiving settlements of thousands of dollars from each. Prenda Law principal John Steele has reportedly made a few million dollars suing BitTorrent file-sharers. Prenda Law has been accused in federal court of creating sham offshore corporations using the identity of his gardener. In other words, it is alleged that the law firm and their client are the same entity, and that Prenda law has committed identity theft and fraud. Now, a judge in California has granted a John Doe defendant's motion to further explore the connection between the offshore entity and the law firm."

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Bad Day (0)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about a year ago | (#42419353)

For John Steele. LOL.

Capitalism. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42419373)

If you promote the quality of selfishness, you'll end up with a world of selfish people.

Time to promote long-term altruism, the natural and uniquely human quality, and the reason we're not still living in caves.

Re:Capitalism. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42419399)

That won't maximize shareholder returns, so good luck lobbying for that.

Re:Capitalism. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42419539)

The whole concept of shares should have been removed a few decades ago. The fact that somebody can buy a few thousand shares at 1 cent and sell them back for hundreds of dollars years later is insane. All that person did was buy something and sell it back and he's now rich. There was nothing added to society to get that money. Most people would need to work for dozens of lifetimes if not hundreds to be able to get one million dollars.

Remove shares, remove bankers, remove money. It's the root of all the problems in the world, from poor vs riches all the way up to drug wars.

Re:Capitalism. (3, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | about a year ago | (#42419667)

The person that originally bought the shares helped the company do something, eg raise capital to start producing.

Re:Capitalism. (2)

systemeng (998953) | about a year ago | (#42422101)

In a Venture Capital funded startup, the VC puts up the original money. Taking the company public swaps the capital provided by the VC for capital provided by the public in the IPO. Publicly traded stock does little once the company is started unless new shares are issued after the company goes public.

Re:Capitalism. (3, Insightful)

scotts13 (1371443) | about a year ago | (#42419675)

I dislike the whole mechanism of the stock market as much as the next guy; but theoretically, at least, it DOES serve a social purpose: The shareholder invests in a company, giving it the capital to expand its business. This is presumably good for the economy, and society as a whole.

In practice, of course, the "day trader phenomenon" does make the whole thing look like money for nothing. I've been told I'm completely insane by people active in the stock market, but I think it would be worth experimenting with a minimum holding time for stocks you "invest in". If you had to hold your shares for six months, you'd be more interested in the usefulness of the company and its products, and less in how some stupid statement on the morning news made them dip 2%.

Re:Capitalism. (5, Insightful)

dnaumov (453672) | about a year ago | (#42419893)

I dislike the whole mechanism of the stock market as much as the next guy; but theoretically, at least, it DOES serve a social purpose: The shareholder invests in a company, giving it the capital to expand its business. This is presumably good for the economy, and society as a whole.

In practice, of course, the "day trader phenomenon" does make the whole thing look like money for nothing. I've been told I'm completely insane by people active in the stock market, but I think it would be worth experimenting with a minimum holding time for stocks you "invest in". If you had to hold your shares for six months, you'd be more interested in the usefulness of the company and its products, and less in how some stupid statement on the morning news made them dip 2%.

It wouldn't even need to be a 6 month period. If everybody was forced to hold shares for a single day, that would outright kill High-Frequency and Algo-based Trading. Hell, a mandatory holding period of 1 hour would probably do that.

Re:Capitalism. (1, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#42420189)

It wouldn't even need to be a 6 month period. If everybody was forced to hold shares for a single day, that would outright kill High-Frequency and Algo-based Trading. Hell, a mandatory holding period of 1 hour would probably do that.

It certainly would do what you claim, but you havent justified why you would want to kill algorithmic trading.

The effects of algorithmic trading [berkeley.edu] have been studied, and its shown that the practice reduces the spreads between bids and asks, which translated directly into you getting better prices both when buying and selling than you would have gotten otherwise.

Please explain why you want to pay higher prices when buying and get less money when selling.

I realize that you probably didnt know that this was true, and if thats the case then you should step back and have a real long think about why you developed the opinion that you have and what you can do in the future to prevent mob irrationality from dominating your beliefs.

Re:Capitalism. (5, Informative)

shipofgold (911683) | about a year ago | (#42420541)

While it may increase the liquidity of the market, it doesn't necessarily promote good ideas.

Society benefits when good ideas are promoted through shareholder investments. The stock market did just great for 100 years without algorithmic trading, and the intro to algorithmic trading has caused several large instabilities in just the past two years:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Flash_Crash [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_capital [wikipedia.org]

This amazing graphic illustrates the effect of this type of trading on the volumes, and ...I believe that instabilities will only get worse with this type of activity.

http://www.nanex.net/aqck/2804.HTML [nanex.net]

As the underlying article states the growth of "Quote SPAM" is really the problem. Most of this is "testing the waters" where a quote is tossed out to see the response and immediately cancelled with no resulting trade.

Fundamentally, it is simply gambling.

Re:Capitalism. (1, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#42420655)

Re: Flash crashes

These only effect people who ARE algorithmic trading. The prices bounce back to their real market valuation again and again...

Re: Knight Capital

A company lost money with flawed algorithmic trading... which means someone else gained. Whats the problem?

Re: "amazing graphic"

Is this supposed to be evidence of bad things? Perhaps you could enlighten us on the assumptions that you are using to declare them bad, so that maybe we can agree with them or refute them.

Re: "Quote SPAM"

You seem to be making another assumption here, but again failing to detail what that assumption is that makes the thing that you are talking about bad.

What I am seeing is that you arent actually justifying your theory, that you are instead just declaring it correct with lots of factoids that dont actually justify your theory without the underlying assumption already in place that they are bad.

I'll accept the research over your hand waving, because thats how science works.

Re:Capitalism. (3, Interesting)

ortholattice (175065) | about a year ago | (#42420903)

Re: Flash crashes These only effect people who ARE algorithmic trading. The prices bounce back to their real market valuation again and again...

Unless you happen to have an open stop-loss order. Then you can be badly burned, as I have been personally.

In another flash crash, I made a lot of money due to a very low open bid, but then the SEC decided to nullify all trades during that particular flash crash. You can't win.

Re:Capitalism. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42428499)

Unless you happen to have an open stop-loss order.

Translation: Unless you are algorithmic trading.

You do know that stop losses are an algorithm, right?

if(price < threshhold) sell();

Then you can be badly burned, as I have been personally.

So you were personally burned trying to take advantage of algorithmic trading, so fuck everyone that wants to take advantage of algorithmic trading? Doesntg that make you a hypocrite?

In another flash crash, I made a lot of money due to a very low open bid, but then the SEC decided to nullify all trades during that particular flash crash.

Not an argument against algorithmic trading. An argument against the SEC nullifying trades.

Re:Capitalism. (3, Interesting)

Stiletto (12066) | about a year ago | (#42420845)

I dislike the whole mechanism of the stock market as much as the next guy; but theoretically, at least, it DOES serve a social purpose: The shareholder invests in a company, giving it the capital to expand its business. This is presumably good for the economy, and society as a whole.

Fine, but only the initial sale of stock to the very first investors actually delivers capital to the company (company itself is selling to the investors). No trade from investor to investor results in more capital to the company--at that point it's just gambling, and the existence of the shares no longer serves any social purpose.

Require an investor to purchase shares directly from the company and hold them forever, and you'd have a different stock market.

Re:Capitalism. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#42421093)

Not quite. Companies routinely issue stock after the initial offering.

Also as you sort of get at, why should I be prohibited from selling my shares? I can sell everything else I own. Markets create liquidity.

I'm currently holding a cherry 1960 Chrysler Saratoga survivor. How much is it worth? No idea. Last trade I'm aware of was a (incorrectly) restored one (the one on youtube), so not really comparable. Current value: What I can get someone to pay for it. No, I don't want to sell it.

It would suck if trading stock was like trading old, rare, niche cars. See over the counter stocks.

Re:Capitalism. (1)

Stiletto (12066) | about a year ago | (#42421467)

Oh, I agree.. Not saying it wouldn't suck. Just disputing the claim that the stock market (in general) serves a "societal good". Certainly the initial stock sale (and subsequent stock issues) benefit society by allowing companies to be financed, and if you really stretch you can say that the ability for someone to invest and receive interest and dividends is good for society. But taken as a whole, including high-frequency trading, derivatives, futures, securitization of all sorts of crazy assets etc. the stock market serves no more of a societal good than a giant roulette wheel.

Re:Capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421235)

I've been told I'm completely insane by people active in the stock market, but I think it would be worth experimenting with a minimum holding time for stocks you "invest in".

I think a better way to discourage day trading would be to apply a transaction fee, just like every other stock exchange in the world does. You don't outlaw it, you tax it and make it unprofitable. Oh, and it would help if those greedy few that try to manipulate the market were caught and imprisoned as well.

Re:Capitalism. (2)

uniquename72 (1169497) | about a year ago | (#42422561)

The problem isn't the day trader; it's that a handful of institutional investors are doing the bulk of the buying, making it trivial to manipulate prices and make oodles of money off people who *aren't* big enough to manipulate markets.

A nice example of this right now are solar stocks. The fundamentals haven't changed at all over the past few months, yet some of the stocks are up 75% or more over the past few weeks. There's nothing going on anywhere in the world to make that happen, yet volume is suspiciously heavy all of the sudden.

Day traders can try to come along for the ride, but they don't have the vast resources to be part of the problem.

Re:Capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42424177)

are fundamental reasons why energy stocks are increasing?

Re:Capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42427305)

It should not be treated as thought an investor takes more risk than a worker they dont.

Re:Capitalism. (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42419907)

Actually - shares aren't as bad as you paint them to be. Startups need capital, so you induce people to gamble that your startup will work. No one wants to invest millions in an unheard of company, so you offer shares. A lot of people are willing to invest a dollar, ten dollars, maybe a hundred dollars. Fewer people are willing to invest thousands. So, they invest, you get started, working on their money.

They gambled, you won, so they win. The guy who "loaned" you a dollar gets his winnings, whether it's a ten, a hundred dollar bill, or possibly even millions. It all depends on how much you grow.

The stock markets have serious problems, for sure. But, the basic concept seems sound to me.

Re:Capitalism. (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year ago | (#42420843)

But the scenario you described only happens when there is an IPO, or when a company subsequently releases shares. If you invest in a company before it's IPO you'd better have a damn good lawyer to make sure your investment isn't diluted to nothing.

And nearly all trades that happen on the stock market are just people trading the lottery tickets they'd bought. The company they are supposedly investing in doesn't see a cent of it.

Re:Capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42425817)

It's difficult to get investors if there's no market for the shares they buy. What if you were told you could buy a house but you couldn't sell it? That only new houses could be bought?

Re:Capitalism. (1)

Pepebuho (167300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42430903)

Let's take a page from the RIAA book.

Let's introduce a fee for each transaction and part of the fee goes to the company whose stock is changing hands.
After all, if the company did not have any stock, the person seling it would not be making any money. By making its stock available, the company is allowing the stockholder to profit, therefore the company should be able to profit as well.
The fee would add to the company capital.

Re:Capitalism. (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42431545)

Good idea. And since the fee goes to the company, the traders can't complain as much about the 'tax', since it should increase the value of the stocks.

Re:Capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42419605)

That won't maximize shareholder returns, so good luck lobbying for that.

How about we roast a few Wall Street bankers over an open fire pit to send a message to shareholders...greed leads to death - theirs.

Re:Capitalism. (1)

Stiletto (12066) | about a year ago | (#42420801)

That would make as much sense as roasting realtors over an open fire to send a message to homeowners...owning real estate leads to death - thears.

Re:Capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42419657)

See, here is the problem. "Shareholder Returns" is a totally anonymous concept used to ride roughshod over the people. Dial back a few centuries and skip to Europe, and the big business (and quite a bit of the medium-size) was run by jews. Even at the turn of the century, warehouses and stuff typically belonged to jews. Personally. They had more than a "corporate" identity, they were versed in keeping in business for centuries, and they had to be smart about doing fair deals and treading lightly. Quite a bit of profession lock-in and traditional training due to antisemitistic laws and restrictions. Also, the necessity of restraint and projecting a nice image. A fucked-up setting if any, but it put a human face to large corporations, and moral accountability (which also ended fucked-up because of not-to-be-pleased attitudes like "the jews are our misfortune" where it was impossible to do right). It worked for quite a number of centuries, with pogroms and persecution (often motivated primarily by greed) as intermissions.

Nowadays, there is no longer the "jewish conspiracy" but rather capitalism, pure money, running loose. Sure, one can still try conspiracy theories, but this has grown much more ridiculous than it ever was. Like it always has been, the responsibility for the money madness lies with the general populace. Except that corporations have nothing to fear. The sharks are wearing business suits, not a Yarmulke, and they don't go down with their corporations but rather move to the next.

And there is no scapegoat we get to hate for that but ourselves.

Re:Capitalism. (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#42420329)

For some reason this reminds me of a particularly amusing speech by some pacific island muslim leader a few years back. He went on a tear about all the things jews have done...but not "Oh those horrible jews", it was "Look how smart those jews are, we should be smart like them", but... came off totally badly.

I believe he even credited Jews with inventing the concept of human rights, because they have suffered so much. It was pretty funny actually.

Re:Capitalism. (1)

pclminion (145572) | about a year ago | (#42420873)

Shareholder returns? What are those? I bought some shares and never received a check in the mail...

Re:Capitalism. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42419461)

Pffft, wanting to better yourself and your family has always been and will always be a stronger motivator for progress than any hippie-ass bullshit.

Re:Capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42419525)

Time to promote long-term altruism, the natural and uniquely human quality, and the reason we're not still living in caves.

Wrong. Most animal life isn't born precocial, which subsequently means most animals are altruistic to ensure their genetics proliferate.

I suffer from depression, and other people's altruistic behaviors (eg, trying to 'help' me) actually make me feel worse. I prefer to not even be asked if I need help, as I will seek help from others only when I feel I need it. Not that I'm an Ayn Rand objectivismist, I only help others when they ask for help so in the case they are like me I don't make them feel bad.

Re:Capitalism. (4, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#42419615)

People are selfish by nature. Capitalism exploits that fact, and makes the "Selfish thing to do" something that's good for the public as a whole. But Capitalism doesn't work without transparency. Secrets allow you to game the system. If you look at any particular situation, like this one for example, and you see lots of secrecy, you can be sure someones trying to cheat.

Re:Capitalism. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42420485)

"People are selfish by nature"

People are also altruistic by nature.
It's just that selfishness is easier.

Re:Capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421081)

"People are selfish by nature"

People are also altruistic by nature.
It's just that selfishness is easier.

Especially if one knows what they are doing is in secret...

Re:Capitalism. (2)

HiThere (15173) | about a year ago | (#42421555)

People are complex. One of their features is selfishness. Environmental factors can either encourage or discourage this.

Also, people are not uniform. Different people will react differently (mainly in degree of change, but not entirely) to the same stimulus. And the reaction is non-linear WRT the stimulus. (There are complex feedback and feedforwards loops.)

You can be sure that any simple model is wrong. But people won't understand any model that isn't simple. And many people won't trust any model that they don't understand. Others are differently selective about which models they don't trust.

P.S.: The only simple model political system that's ever even been tried (that I know of) is despotism. But people pretend that they are using some simple economic or political system, because it make other people (and often themselves) feel good.

Re:Capitalism. (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about a year and a half ago | (#42426751)

"People are selfish by nature " is not a quantifiable statement of causality; it's cop out when people want to short circuit investigating why people act as they do.

People can be either very or somewhat or not very much at all selfish. All these states are "by nature" since nothing we do is outside of nature.

But the known facts are that people are more or less altruistic / selfish / egalitarian / violent depending on the environment they find themselves in that either rewards or prepares them for one set of responses or another, and by environment I include everything from in utereo onwards since we have lots of evidence that events starting then and at all time points forward can have a critical effect on which genes get expressed and how.

If you read the excellent The Selfish Gene, you'll see what a full exposition of the idea that "people are selfish by nature" actually amounts to, and it's NOT genetics is destiny for any given personality or behavior, excepting very extreme birth defects. Neither does it mean there's just no way to raise people who are not generally selfish tending towards criminality or still-legal but clearly anti-social behavior.

Yes people are selfish, and from this necessarily follows little with respect to the kind of very specific behaviour and actions that are the source of trouble for society.

We have to become responsible for the environment we raise people in and to do that we need knowledge and then we need to act on that knowledge.. To paraphrase Neo in the Matrix- knowledge. we needs lots of knowledge.

Re:Capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42419629)

Unrestrained capitalism doesn't do that, because people being sued would just throw the mail in the garbage and nothing would come of it other than no more loans or ability to buy stuff from people that trust Prenda Law's opinions of others (I imagine that's absolutely nobody).

Capitalism at the end of a gun (ie: Capitalism through government), however, changes this up for the negative.

Re:Capitalism. (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year ago | (#42420187)

And what exactly is the difference between unrestrained capitalism and anarchy? Can you have an economic system when the only law that matters is the one you can enforce yourself?
In such a system Prenda wouldn't try to sue you. They'd hire a few mercs and have them kill you and take your stuff.

Re:Capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42419673)

Yes, let's force everyone to be altruistic. If they don't comply, we'll quietly put them in prison or execute them. Problem solved!

Re:Capitalism. (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#42419767)

My friend, this is the exact opposite of capitalism. You are thinking of crony capitalism, or corruption, or rent-seeking (look it up).

The solution wasn't vox populi vox dei, a meme that allows massive powers to be wielded through government by the powerful. It was simply disallowing government many powers that connected or powerful or wealthy people could use to swing to their favor.

If this seems like working hand-in-hand with capitalism, you haven't learned much from history,

Liar (1, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#42419785)

. Who gives billions in aid to the world? Capitalist countries. Meanwhile, the communist and extreme socialist governments are comprised of the most selfish bastards on the planet.

Re:Liar (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | about a year ago | (#42422589)

. Who gives billions in aid to the world? Capitalist countries. Meanwhile, the communist and extreme socialist governments are comprised of the most selfish bastards on the planet.

Cuba offered to give the U.S. money after Katrina, and we declined. China gives out an enormous amount of money to aid other Asian countries.

You could even argue that the more socialist a Western, industrialized country is, the more they give out in foreign aid (as a percentage of their GDP.) [gatesfoundation.org]

But don't let crazy facts get in the way of your uninformed rants.

Re:Liar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42423001)

If you use the word "comprised" correctly, people might not think you're an idiot trying to look smart. Of course, the content of your post didn't help either, since it is a blatant lie which you are using to spread your propaganda.

Hint: If you can replace "comprised" with "composed" you're using it wrong.

Re:Liar (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | about a year and a half ago | (#42423389)

Who gives billions in aid to the world? Capitalist countries.

And which countries, do you think, make many times that much by exploiting the inequalities of cheap foreign labor?

Altruistic Animals (4, Insightful)

CanadianRealist (1258974) | about a year ago | (#42419817)

While I generally agree with your your comment, I disagree with the following part:

altruism, the natural and uniquely human quality

Animals show altruistic behaviours. [wikipedia.org] Even more interesting, I've read about examples like the vampire bats that share blood who will remember and punish other bats that don't share in return.

Re:Altruistic Animals (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about a year ago | (#42420365)

Even more interesting, I've read about examples like the vampire bats that share blood who will remember and punish other bats that don't share in return.

That would make the bats better at enforcing basic civility than we are. We've regressed to championing those who can maximize what they get out of the system while minimizing (or eliminating) what they put back in.

Re:Altruistic Animals (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42425727)

That's because the bats can't hide herds of cattle in their larder, while sharing the blood of the starved mouse they found on their way back to the cave.

Re:Capitalism... dot dot dot (1)

retroworks (652802) | about a year ago | (#42419821)

True. And yet if you promote short term consumption, and deny compound interest from investments, you'll end up with a world of poor people. Time to balance the discussion and see where it's working, balance abuses, without one-word-sentence conclusions. The only people still living in caves, ironically, are in communist countries.

Re:Capitalism. (2)

ffflala (793437) | about a year ago | (#42420715)

If you promote the quality of selfishness, you'll end up with a world of selfish people. Time to promote long-term altruism...

The problem is that selfishness promotes itself in the form of amassing wealth, luxury, and power, and conspicuous demonstrations of these things seem to appeal to base parts of human nature.

Maybe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42419391)

If a defendant agrees to a settlement that might rule out fraud. And if a court has found in favor of a suit the notion of fraud becomes a bit shaky as well.
                        I also have to wonder that when we see lawyers walk a way from a conflict with huge sums while the client receives very little is the client is not normally an inconvenient stooge that lawyers use on their way to pay day.

It's still fraud (3, Informative)

sirwired (27582) | about a year ago | (#42419557)

Law firms aren't allowed to invent fictitious plaintiffs (or commit identity theft) in order to initiate lawsuits. (And there are very strict rules on recruiting named plaintiffs for class actions.) It may not be a fraud against the defendants (though probably is), but it can still be a fraud against the courts; that's completely separate from the actual merits (or lack thereof) of the case. Fraud against the court is something a lawyer does; normal fraud is something defendants get accused of doing.

The penalty for fraud against the court starts with monetary sanctions (in addition to getting your case dismissed), and can end with a recommendation for disbarment. (I don't know if a judge can impose jail time without a DA involved (like with contempt of court)... I doubt it.)

Re:It's still fraud (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#42420293)

Law firms aren't allowed to invent fictitious plaintiffs (or commit identity theft) in order to initiate lawsuits. (And there are very strict rules on recruiting named plaintiffs for class actions.) It may not be a fraud against the defendants (though probably is), but it can still be a fraud against the courts; that's completely separate from the actual merits (or lack thereof) of the case. Fraud against the court is something a lawyer does; normal fraud is something defendants get accused of doing.

The penalty for fraud against the court starts with monetary sanctions (in addition to getting your case dismissed), and can end with a recommendation for disbarment. (I don't know if a judge can impose jail time without a DA involved (like with contempt of court)... I doubt it.)

I would think Fraud against the court would be one of the highest contempt of court you could do.

Re:It's still fraud (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#42421109)

(I don't know if a judge can impose jail time without a DA involved (like with contempt of court)... I doubt it.)

The prosecutor does not have to be a DA. If the DA is not interested, the judge appoints a lawyer to prosecute.

Usually criminal contempt sentences are short, but judges can issue jail sentences with terms like "until the defendant complies with the court's order," which makes for an indeterminate sentence, until (another) judge decides that you really really aren't going to comply with the court's order and sets you free.

Re:It's still fraud (1)

xhawkx (977284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42426857)

Law firms are not to steal money from clients either,but they do. That's why they created STRICT rules, because of them (Law Firms) that got away with or tried to get away with. Large amounts of money bring the greed and corruption out of people that you never would think of and therefore they try to do things ( blinded by the coinage) that they think has not yet been done before..Lawyers do not give a shit about clients they just want the largest amount they can get so their 35% cut won't fit in their pockets......once that is accomplished they will never stop on adding to it anyway they can, just because they are..........uhh.......lawyers.

Hmmm...What would Barbosa do? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#42419415)

I decline to acquiesce to your request. My Schwager received one of these extortion notices, and now, thanks to this timely submission by the prolific Herr Anonymous, I'll have a conversation starter for the family New Year celebration that should get me through until the whiskey kicks in.

This will go nowhere (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year ago | (#42419479)

The strategies Steele is using are the same as those used by all large corporations. Only if his lawyers were stupid in setting it up will there be a problem.

Re:This will go nowhere (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about a year ago | (#42419717)

I think using the identity of his gardener proves they are pretty damn stupid.

changes ahead (2)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#42419541)

maybe they're getting ready to change names from "Prenda Law" to "Pretenda Law"?

Re:changes ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42419887)

Hey I coined that phrase...
and actually they are working on launching a new firm, Prenda is not in good standing in IL just like the last 2 versions of the scam.
More coverage on fightcopyrighttrolls.com

I remain...
TAC

Re:changes ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42420321)

Prenda.. Pretenda... Predatorenda.

Re:changes ahead (1)

Calydor (739835) | about a year and a half ago | (#42425475)

Predator Agenda.

Seen him in full preacher mode (5, Informative)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about a year ago | (#42419659)

I have worked for the porn industry and seen this guy preaching at industry conventions, once supposedly on a forum that was to discuss how to approach copyright infringement as a porn company/copyright holder. (there are other approaches the best working focusing on having your customers become loyal fans of your brand, so they want to pay, beg you to pay)

It wasn't a discussion really, as I sat by as 3rd party (I do servers for whatever reason you might have and I make the same amount whether those servers are payed for by copyright owners, commercial pirates, amateurs or cat pictures) and was amazed to see him preach to the converted... well... up until the point you start asking for numbers. There are a LOT of porn producers, a shit load more content and a near infinite amount of downloaders. The internet may consist of cat pictures but torrents are for porn. Yet he has done at the time only a few thousand cases. That is NOTHING! It ain't even a drop in the bucket. The RIAA was doing fastly more cases.

While the audience was agreeing with him, you could see most didn't have a clue as to the real issues and the developments with regards to copyrights and enforcing them. The porn industry likes to pride itself on being cutting edge, VHS, online payments but really that is just a tiny segment, the rest are slobs who figured out sex sells. The moment the forum was over, I talked to some porn producers and asked what they though considering judgements like the then current claim of movie copyright infringenment costing several times more then the entire world economy.

Or the cases of sueing children, veterans and other people who might get the sympathy of the public. If the public chooses the side of dirty pirates against wholesome music executives... what chance does a porn peddler stand? Most porn producers are well aware that they are skirting the edge of public acceptance, they know they can only accept credit cards if they meet the decency requirements of the processing company, can only host with parties that accept adult content. They didn't like it one bit when I linked them on my tablet to some John Steele publicity stunts, no porn company wants attention from Fox News about harrasing some grandma who left her wifi open as it was installed by her grandson who died in Afghanistan. No thank you sirree, that is NOT worth gathering a few bucks, especially when all the lawyer fees have been payed you end up owing the lawyer for bad publicity.

That I wasn't the only doom spreader for dealing with John Steele is proven by the fact only a handful of companies deal with him. When you talk to him, he does his name justice google his picture, say his name and what you think he will be like is how he is. A boisterous overconfidant man who speaks so loud that he doesn't hear anyone asking him to explain some details about cases thrown out of court and how does not QUITE work on a contingency basis (he gets more if he wins but he ALWAYS get payed), how a settlement doesn't include paying lawyer fees. If you lose in court and are ordered to pay 5000 in damages you often ALSO have to pay lawyer fees. If you settle for 1000, that is it, the lawyer still wants paying. John Steele certainly does.

It is no secret that copyright infringement happens, on a MASSIVE scale. And porn has an issue the mainstream media does not have. I once came up with a nice way to put but we are all males here so here it is "You can cum on a trailer".

Some Hollywood movies have trailers that tell you the entire movie and a few where the trailer is better then the movie but on the whole, the trailer make you hungry for more.

In porn, the trailer is enough for most and just makes you sleepy. Watching a full movie on youtube is a hassle (well it was until they removed the ten minute limit) but for porn tubes... how many minutes do you need? Oh wait, I forgot my audience. Seconds?

Sharing the entire movie on a torrent is far less of an issue to the industry then all those porn tube sites that contain MORE then enough to satisfy the audience. A teaser site can be enough.

But despite all this and free amateur (real not paid for) content, the industry is doing just fine. John Steele isn't needed. He tries to sell himself strongly to the industry but once the producers have left the hall and are outside the reach of his preaching, common sense sets in. And John is angry about that, he is trying to SAVE the industry, all this money out there you can get from people downloading your movie.

He ain't a happy bunny at all. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/10/15/how-porn-copyright-lawyer-john-steele-justifies-his-pursuit-of-sometimes-innocent-porn-pirates/3/ [forbes.com] it is hardly the first look at his practices. When you talk to him directly or hear him speak (and he talks so fast and load he can drown out anyone else) he is recovering fortunes for poor abused porn producers. In reality, it is a few bucks most of which go to him and most of the industry refuses to deal with him. They might agree with him but even the most rabid "oh my god they are stealing" producer I talked to, much preffered NOT to be in the spotlight like this and the bigger producers preferred simpler approaches to fight copying by focusing on engaging users with fresh content and see their back catalog as advertising.

To most porn producers, the guy who only needs a few seconds of porn is NOT their customer, they want the fan, the enthusiasts, the one who refreshes his browser every 2 seconds when new content has been announced and writes reviews of the performers on the forum. These fans have no issue paying each month, it is their offering to their church. It was fun to see this lawyer and others like him try to sell copyright protection when all the business cases showed that the porn companies that do best are those who focus on their paying customers and ignore how much of their content is available on torrents. As long as the torrents are a week or more behind, they know their paying customers will keep paying.

John Steele is pursuing a business model that the industry does not support and it doesn't want the attention it is generating. I happen to have talked to some of the guys behind the content he is actually suing over and these are the most right wing nutcases you could every hope to avoid. The majority of porn producers stays well clear. They listened to their geeks and saw how what was not working for mainstream content also would not work for them.

Re:Seen him in full preacher mode (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#42419985)

Given that all men look at porn[*], and always have since Ugg and Ogg first carved a pair of boobs and a vulva, I think any "solution" will have to take into account that this is a natural thing, which shouldn't be punished.
If a company who produces it doesn't want it to be spread and looked at, they need to prevent it from being spread and looked at, not punish those who follow their natural instincts of looking at porn wherever it can be found. This is like dangling a piece of prime rib over a dog pen and then beat the shit out of the dogs that go for it. If you can't keep your "meat" out of tittorrent, don't go after those who snap at it.

[*]: 90% will look at porn if there's no chance of anyone finding out, 5% are hypocrites, and 5% didn't understand the question.

Re:Seen him in full preacher mode (2)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about a year and a half ago | (#42423073)

Thanks for being one of the good guys. Not that you had a very hard sell, as you so lucidly pointed out.

Still, it's amusing to see porn remains on the cutting edge, as always. First to VHS, first to online payments, first to understand that bittorrents are exposure and publicity. Literally free advertising. The fans are using their very own bandwidth and disk space, which they pay for and the producer doesn't have to pay a dime for, to spread the word about your content. They couldn't ask for a better deal. Their back catalogs are being kept alive and kept current and traded for free. They don't have to fork over their own money per gigabyte to keep their back catalog circulating. Hell, they should be exploiting it. They should make sure all of their filenames include some mention of their origin. Not even a full URL. Just some sort of branding.

For that matter, they should seed pieces of the back catalog themselves. All bittorrent search engines sort by swarm size, especially the number of seeds. Anybody who has already spent some effort on establishing a strong brand would benefit from spending some of their own money on gigabytes transmitted from seeds (and from faux leeches, to push the swarm size up) of torrents that include branding in the torrent and filenames. It's an advertising avenue, if you ask me, and it's practically free compared to most forms of advertising. All it costs is bandwidth, which they're paying for anyway. Take a couple of the most popular films of a particular actress, put really clear and concise labels of the actress and the site on the torrent, the filename, and embedded in the content, and seed it. Bet you it pays.

Re:Seen him in full preacher mode (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42427333)

Thank you for the insightful story. I cannot help making a separate blog post out of it, unless you object for some reason. Or, alternatively, you want to amend the text (write me at sophisticatedjanedoe@yahoo.com).

Basically I and the fightcopyrighttrolls community know most of the facts and agree with all your conclusions, yet you connected the dots nicely and bring some fresh semi-insider perspective.

Happy New Year!

SJD (fightcopyrighttrolls.com)

Here's a primer (5, Informative)

mbstone (457308) | about a year ago | (#42419763)

Prenda Law (aka Steele Hansmeier aka Anti-Piracy Law Group) is not really a law firm as such, but a sophisticated scam. For those of you who came in late, here's how it works: Prenda's stooges, who are ostensibly copyright holders, upload a porno clip to BitTorrent. They they record the IP addresses of everyone who downloads the torrent. Then Prenda Law sues all the IP address holders as John Does in a federal copyright lawsuit, for example Hard Drive Productions vs. John Does 1 through 1495. They aren't really interested in suing, just in issuing subpoenas to ISPs to get the names and addresses of the downloaders. They then send demand letters requesting thousands of dollars. People pay up, because the amount is just below what it would cost to hire a lawyer, because the porno downloaders are afraid their wives will find out, and because they are afraid of being on the receiving end of massive Jammie Thomas [wikipedia.org] -type civil judgments.

For the last couple of years, Prenda and its associates have made millions of dollars this way, as federal judges from coast to coast have (up to now) rubberstamped their extortionate business model.

Recently, however, the greed, stupidity, incompetence and unethical conduct of Prenda has finally caught up to it.

Read all about it at sites such as fightcopyrighttrolls.com [fightcopyrighttrolls.com] , dietrollsdie.com [dietrollsdie.com] , etc.

You've gotta read the transcript from November 27, 2012 in Sunlust Pictures v. Nguyen [fightcopyrighttrolls.com] . It is the funniest federal court hearing transcript, ever, as federal judge Mary S. Scriven puts one participant after another under oath... it is as funny as an Abbott and Costello routine....

Re:Here's a primer (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42420019)

http://dietrolldie.com/ no s

You left off Steele using a robodialer to harass does, sending scary letters, and generally making people miserable.
A post here in previous coverage lead to this story on FCT.
fightcopyrighttrolls.com/2012/08/03/a-disabled-victim-of-a-copyright-troll-threatens-to-kill-himself/

The methods are evil, but there is a growing community of Does and Former Does helping people fight off the fear... than and mocking Steele at every turn.
On the upside he's been real quiet as of late... he might be worried.

I remain...
TAC

Re:Here's a primer (5, Interesting)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about a year ago | (#42420963)

That's a pretty good summary. I'd like to add the following. Prenda law is now defunct, and according to the state of Illanois not in good standing with the state. The name was changed to the Anti Piracy Law Group shortly after the allegations about Allen Cooper came out. John Steele purports to have nothing to do with Prenda Law, which was formerly Steele Hansmeier. The name was changed after it was sold to Brett Gibbs, who is now supposedly a principal of Prenda. However, lawyers who have tried getting in touch with Gibbs and Prenda law are invariably directed to John Steele. The doormen at Prenda's address have never heard of a Brett Gibbs, but know of John Steele. And recently, PDF documents signed by Brett Gibbs contain metadata that indicates the document was created on a computer registered dot John Steele's ex wife.

So that's John Steele. Then there's this whole deal with Guava cases. The summary you provided was a tactic that worked well until judges started getting wise to the tactics. Now judges are mitigating the extent that Prenda can extort people by providing protections to defendants, such as the ability to remain anonymous while fighting subpoenas on their identifying information. Most recently one offshore client, AF Holdings, was required to post a $40,000 bond to proceed with a case. This severely hampers their ability to operate.

Now they are using a fake company named Guava LLC to bring hacking and conspiracy charges to state courts, instead of copyright infringement charges to federal courts where courts are wisening up. Problem is the hacking charges are all seeking relief as if they were copyright claims, using rights granted specifically by the copyright act. They have sued thousands of pele using this dirty trick.

So that's where we are now. With this latest ruling, hopefully good lawyers will start digging into Steele's history and uncover misdeeds grave enough to send him to prison and strip him of all his ill-gotten gains.

Here's a solution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42425305)

How about killing this john steele faggot to start making an example out of him?

And i mean serious murder, possibly taking out his family too, the way the mexican or italian mafia do.

Until we fight them only with lawsuit people will keep getting fucked, simply because the ones who can afford to defend and the ones who know the law are so few and far between that people like steele keeps making tons of money. Just kill them in a quick way, get in, few bullets in the head, and out. I guarantee that after you have done this to a couple of copyright trolls they will start slowing their actions down, since they know that filing anything like the bs that steele was doing means painting a target on your head and your family head.

People like steele need to start being killed for shit to change.

Oblig (5, Funny)

cvtan (752695) | about a year ago | (#42419889)

"Mr. Steele? He doesn't exist. I invented him. Follow. I always loved excitement, so I studied, and apprenticed, and put my name on an office. But absolutely nobody knocked down my door. A female private investigator seemed so... feminine. So I invented a superior. A decidedly MASCULINE superior. Suddenly there were cases around the block. It was working like a charm... until the day HE walked in, with his blue eyes and mysterious past. And before I knew it, he assumed Mr. Steele's identity. Now I do the work, and he takes the bows. It's a dangerous way to live, but as long as people buy it, I can get the job done. We never mix business with pleasure. Well, almost never. I don't even know his real name! "

Re:Oblig (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42422447)

Is it sad that I had to google the quote to find the reference? I've never heard of Remington Steele.

LOL (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about a year ago | (#42419955)

Can guarantee his punishment is gonna cost less than what me made.

article linked to really biased (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42420183)

" I suspect Prenda Law will fight tooth-and-nail to avoid answering any questions, which in my opinion, further suggests that their “ethically challenged” attorneys are guilty as alleged."

So the writer suspects Prenda Law might do something in the future, and therefore immediately assumes they are already guilty.

While the alleged facts would be damning if proven true, and I hold no love for copyright (or patent) trolls, let's not rush to judgement until the facts are on the table.

I would have prefered that Slashdot use some discretion before allowing this post.

Re:article linked to really biased (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#42420327)

" I suspect Prenda Law will fight tooth-and-nail to avoid answering any questions, which in my opinion, further suggests that their “ethically challenged” attorneys are guilty as alleged."

So the writer suspects Prenda Law might do something in the future, and therefore immediately assumes they are already guilty.

While the alleged facts would be damning if proven true, and I hold no love for copyright (or patent) trolls, let's not rush to judgement until the facts are on the table.

I would have prefered that Slashdot use some discretion before allowing this post.

Mr. Steele, is that you?

From experience, no (2)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about a year ago | (#42420951)

For a lawyer, John Steele both as a speaker in public and in normal conversation is more the bully coach/preacher type, he talks so loudly and without pause nobody gets a chance to say anything in return. He tries to win customers in the porn industry and knows that there are a LOT of geeks in the porn industry advising the porn producers who know his record, just see above. He has been losing cases for years but he doesn't tell you that and the porn peddlers don't know to ask. It is only when they come home to their IT guy they get the links to all his failed cases.

As I pointed out above, most in the industry leave him well alone. His clients are a handful in an industry where there are thousands in the US alone. His number of cases are tiny while finding large scale commercial copyright infringement for porn is trivial.

If he was a GOOD lawyer, he wouldn't bother with tiny settlements for a handful of clients, he would have gone after the porn tube business before the porn industry itself sorted it out (most are now hosting ad content) and gone after the hundreds of millions in that form of copyright infringement.

He hasn't. John Steele sells lawsuits at the bottom end to those who don't have someone to advice them not to deal with rats.

Re:article linked to really biased (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42427231)

Aww Steele you drunken little doughnut.
Would you care to comment on all of the cases where Pretenda withdrew and settled with those they attempted to extort rather than answer the charges raised when the victims fought back?

Oh and what is your answer to the problems with the recent affidavits filed in court by yourself and client where they lied?
http://fightcopyrighttrolls.com/2012/12/30/does-under-penalty-of-perjury-mean-anything-apparently-not-for-prenda-and-one-of-its-plaintiffs/

Something was clearly explained as opinion, and your faulting them for that.

Maybe spend an hour and look at the entire catalog of Steele's work, and you would discover the very real basis to forming that opinion.

Kill them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42425283)

Now he will have to spend lots of money to find out what we already know, they are a troll. How about killing this john steele faggot to start making an example out of him? And i mean serious murder, possibly taking out his family too, the way the mexican or italian mafia do. Until we fight them only with lawsuit people will keep getting fucked, simply because the ones who can afford to defend and the ones who know the law are so few and far between that people like steele keeps making tons of money. Just kill them in a quick way, get in, few bullets in the head, and out. I guarantee that after you dont this to a couple of copyright trolls they will start slowing their actions down, since they know that filing anything like the bs that steele was doing means painting a target on your head and your family head. People like steele need to start being killed for shit to change.

Re:Kill them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42428083)

Now, now. Dead alleged criminals can't pay Victim Restitution from their future burger-flip earnings.

Capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42448257)

I dislike the whole mechanism of the stock market as much as the next guy; but theoretically, at least, it DOES serve a social purpose: The shareholder invests in a company, giving it the capital to expand its business. This is presumably good for the economy, and society as a whole.
  double-sided tape [kenill-tape.com] , packing tape [kenill-tape.com] , masking tape [kenill-tape.com] ,

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