Lawyer Suggests That Prenda Law May Have Only 'Released' Movies It Sued Over As A Honeypot For Lawsuits

from the well,-look-at-that dept

Another day, another story having to with Prenda Law (the hits just keep on coming). Found via FightCopyrightTrolls, we discover some research done by lawyer Graham Syfert, who has taken on Prenda/John Steele in a number of cases, including the infamous Florida case that was tossed out for fraud on the court following an Abbott & Costello-worthy transcript involving John Steele, Mark Lutz, and a variety of guest appearances from others on Team Prenda (despite Prenda claiming to both have nothing to do with the case... and with hiring the lawyers for the case, who were all trying to get off the case).

Apparently getting curious about the whole shell within a shell within a shell setup of Livewire/AF Holdings/Ingenuity 13, Syfert began wondering about just what copyrighted works were actually at the center of those lawsuits. As you may recall, Prenda, used to represent actual porn studios, but at some point shifted to a variety of shell corporations, which it's now accused of running itself (a big no no). But then what copyright was it using? Well, Syfert looked at the details of the lawsuits, and then looked around, and basically found that the "movies" in question never appear to be distributed in any way, except via BitTorrent, all seeded by the same user. Hmmmm....
So, four out of the Five Fan Favorites that Ingenuity 13 wishes to protect are shared by sharkmp4. (Other hash values referenced in complaints do not result in any valid torrent). One wonders if the "Five Fan Favorites" copy registered with the copyright office includes all of these sharkmp4 videos. Would that be proof that Prenda Law is seeding its own works and then suing? The honeypot. The venus fly trap. The pitcher plant? Or is sharkmp4 just another pirate?
Syfert digs a bit deeper and digs up a bit more info on this "sharkmp4" character:
Now of course, this all begs the question: Who is sharkmp4? Well, the IP address associated with this user can be determined by a technically skilled individual who could load up all the torrents, join the torrent swarms and then find the common seed. However, there is no reason to do this, because it will come back with a Mullvad VPN on an IP in Germany owned by Leaseweb and get you nowhere.
Well, almost nowhere. Because back at FightCopyrightTrolls, they add a little piece to the puzzle.
I want to point out to one coincidence that Graham did not mention (probably he did not know): a person who we strongly believe was John Steele had been commenting on this blog via Mullvad VPN (links at the bottom). Although it does not prove anything per se — a single exit IP address is shared by many VPN users — the fact that Mullvad VPN was allegedly used to seed certain pornographic movies is interesting.
Obviously, not conclusive proof of anything, but enough to leave you scratching your head and wondering. It's not like Mullvad is one of the more popular VPNs either. And, of course if John Steele, or a representative of the copyright holder themselves is uploading and distributing the file in the first place (and that's the only place where it's released), there's a reasonable argument to be made that any downloads are not infringing, since it's clearly an authorized copy. At this point, Steele and Team Prenda are likely in enough hot water, but it seems like a court that wants to dig even deeper into the whole thing might uncover some more... interesting things during discovery.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    madasahatter (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 1:26pm

    Seeding

    Interesting, if they seeded a torrent in a honey pot operation but did not release it elsewhere does that mean it is released free of charge? If so, then there is copyright infringement possible.

     

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      rhizome (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 5:18pm

      Re: Seeding

      IANAL but I believe it would be a form of estoppel, since they authorized its distribution by doing it themselves.

       

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        G Thompson (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 9:10pm

        Re: Re: Seeding

        Equitable estoppel is the least of there problems if this allegation is proven correct.

        They would then go into a maze of Criminal law - Fraud, extortion, blackmail, false pretences, to name a few and then a whole heap of civil torts with champerty, barratry and coercion at the top of that list.

        In other words... screwed! And the pain... oh the pain would be excruciating.

         

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 7:44pm

      Re: Seeding

      Copyright trolls having unclean hands in these cases?!
      Say it isn't so... and I'll call you a fscking lair.

       

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      identicon
      ADF, Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 2:33am

      Re: Seeding

      If they themselves offered it for download by Torrent or arranged to have this done by some other party, then how is it possible for them to charge people who accepted the offer and tried to download it?

       

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    madasahatter (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 1:26pm

    Seeding

    Interesting, if they seeded a torrent in a honey pot operation but did not release it elsewhere does that mean it is released free of charge? If so, then there is copyright infringement possible.

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 1:30pm

    Comment all in the tag:

    Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up same place!
    http://techdirt.com/
    ZOMG! Yet another item on Prenda Law! A staple in the soporific "At The Bench" series. Mike sez (short version): "Wow. Wow. Wow. ... The story is gripping."
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130303/23353022182/prenda-law-sues-critics-defamation .shtml
    09:29:02[k-842-2]

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 1:38pm

      Re: Comment all in the tag:

      I really do think that out_of_my_shoe has to be some sort of Mike or Techdirt. Really, I do. Well, not really...maybe...

      Because I just can't find out what purpose s/he serves. Or what exactly it is s/he's trying to accomplish.

      Unless s/he just wants to waste time...I guess that's a purpose?

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 9:20am

        Re: Re: Comment all in the tag:

        "Because I just can't find out what purpose s/he (it) serves. Or what exactly it is s/he's trying to accomplish."

        It appears he's posting contrary (if not rational) statments to curry payment form his corporate masters.

         

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    •  
      identicon
      Digitari, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:09pm

      Re: Comment all in the tag:

      Whats the matter OOTB can't beat handcuffed suspects anymore???

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:17pm

      Re: Comment all in the tag:

      The only thing I can't yet figure out is if he's paid per post or paid per reply.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:21pm

        Re: Re: Comment all in the tag:

        Neither, he's just a lonely troll. Other sites wont even give him the time of day, but there are many here are willing to fuel him, so why wouldn't he come back? That's what a troll does.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      identicon
      out_of_the_blue, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 3:12pm

      Re: Comment all in the tag:

      Thats not me check the timestamp!

      09:35:11[P3-RV-3RT]

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
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        BearGriz72 (profile), Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 2:44am

        Re: Re: Comment all in the tag:

        Again, if you created a profile, this would not be a problem....

        Still not clear on why you refuse to do so. Techdirt/Floor64/Mike already has your email $ IP Address Etc. What are you afraid of?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      out_of_the_blue, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 8:00pm

      Re: Comment all in the tag:

      I love me. Can't you tell how much I love me? My love is overflowing of the me. The me encompasses all. I will continue to spam a site with irrelevant commentary! Can't you tell how awesome I am?

      Take a loopy tour of techdirt! You always end up with the same comments. http://techdirt.com/

      15/35/09

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      DeeP, Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 12:38pm

      Re: Comment all in the tag:

      Get a life, OOTB, for Pete's sake! None of your trollish comments are in the least bit interesting to the majority of sane, well-educated and non-troll readers. The sooner you realise this, the better. You only get reported time and time again. A-ha! Got it. This person must be some sort of masochist......Yes, that must be it.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 1:41pm

    Next Question

    Who stars in them, It wouldn't be a bunch of lawyers would it?

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 6:21pm

      Re: Next Question

      Its true, the only thing that could top this is if we find out they actually made the porn themselves.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    alanbleiweiss (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    and the rabbit hole that became a sink hole is now a black hole, from which one can only pray the Prendites never climb back out of...

     

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    fogbugzd (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:03pm

    To me there are two interesting points:

    1) It is going to be very hard to demonstrate any actual financial losses resulting from copying because apparently there was no commercial market for the products in the first place. Of course with the wonderful, wacky world of statutory damages no one has to prove damages.

    2) There may not be enough evidence to prove that Steel uploaded the videos, but there probably is enough evidence to justify asking him under oath whether he did upload it or knew who did. I sincerely hope that if that happens there is video in that court. Watching him squirm would be very entertaining.

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:21pm

      Re:

      #2 actually wouldn't pose too much of a problem for him unfortunately, as there really wouldn't be any reason for him not to lie, but a whole ton of reasons to do so.

       

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      Chosen Reject (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:22pm

      Re:

      I doubt he would squirm. I'm fairly certain he's the kind of person that doesn't get squirmy if it's his word against nobody else. Now, if you could get the logs from the VPN (if they keep that kind of thing) then you could probably get him to squirm a bit.

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 6:50pm

      Re:

      It's a civil lawsuit, so "proof" isn't needed, only "a preponderance of evidence" for one side or the other.

       

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    Crashoverride (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:31pm

    If the owner is the seeder and the seeder is the owner. Did a crime occur.

     

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    Nick (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:54pm

    Maybe he used it as a filelocker!

    Or... I know! He just wanted to send the file to his friend and bit-torrent was the only way! So he posted it on a site fully expecting that ONLY his friend who is the only other user authorized to download it would download it. It is NOT his fault that everyone else connected to his computer and accessed the movie stream pouring out of his house. In fact, they must have been guilty of the CFAA because they accessed the information on his computer without his permission! Expect them to be sued for a violation of the CFAA next.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 3:03pm

      Re: Maybe he used it as a filelocker!

      Clearly his best course of action is to hack them back and destroy their computers. That'll show those pesky hacker-pirates/network printers.

       

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        Nick (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 3:17pm

        Re: Re: Maybe he used it as a filelocker!

        But he is being stopped. See, he wants to get their real names based off their IPs so he can personalize the computer death screen message, but courts are refusing to allow the names to be released. If only he came clean about wanting to blow up their computers instead of take their names to shake down for cash, then this would all not have happened.

         

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 7:47pm

      Re: Maybe he used it as a filelocker!

      IIRC some early paperwork from what would become Prenda or LW claimed that their client had the exclusive right to distribute the file via BT.
      I always thought that wording was odd.... until now.

       

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 11:51pm

      Re: Maybe he used it as a filelocker!

      You might want to read up on some cases on FCT...
      hacking cases no less...

       

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      special-interesting (profile), Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 3:06pm

      Re: Maybe he used it as a filelocker!

      Thats great reasoning on how bad the CFAA was written.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:55pm

    I'm guessing this is totally the case.

     

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    LDoBe, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 3:31pm

    Entrapment

    If I may offer a pretty bad analogy:

    File sharing is not illegal, and a rights holder who posts a file to the network legally can't expect to have his distribution rights upheld.

    He chose to distribute the file, therefore he can't sue people for taking what was freely offered.

    It's like rigging a claymore to your front door, then inviting people to come in.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 4:29pm

    Oh this would be so beautiful if it could be proved. The dot over the "i", the banana in my milkshake, the nutella on my bread, the ice cream in my pancake... it would be complete and so so sweet. Not only to watch Prenda burn in court but could also maybe make more judges and politicians push harder against this kind of practice.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 4:36pm

    Gimme an "R"...
    Gimme an "I"...
    Gimme a "C"...
    Gimme an "O"...

    What does that spell?

    "PRISON!"
    "PRISON!"
    "PRISON!"

     

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    John Henry (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 6:04pm

    honeypot dream nightmares

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 7:44pm

    C'mon, Chicken Joe. This is the copyright that you so dearly love to defend. Bawkity bawk bawk bawk. Where's your merits of copyright now - movie making to sue people over them? And your buddies wonder why nobody respects copyright.

     

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    G Thompson (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 9:20pm

    For those wondering yes this whole thing is being looked into with a very fine tooth comb whilst wearing surgical gloves.

    Mullvad VPN is not in the USA (Sweden) so international considerations now come into it and a fair few people who have the technical skills (and no not anonymous... they might or might not be doing there own investigation... who knows they are capable though) are looking very closely at it all.

    If this allegation turns out to be correct and provable then Prenda, Steele, et.al who might think they have problems with just the US Federal courts now, will have more than those courts to deal with.. Then we get into the realm of not even Saint Kitts and Nevis being able to protect them just for starters.

    Oh and Discovery of there own electronic devices would then almost definitely commence. Though hey if they start deleting now (they could even use CCleaner *snorts*) it might take a bit longer to recover the data... and cause more criminal woes for them.

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 11:45pm

      Re:

      *sniffle*
      I don't count as Anonymous?!
      The recruiting poster said we all were Anonymous!
      THOSE LIARS! :D

      Its clear they were afraid of me, the sad thing for them is I'm not that talented. Now they have the attention of people who can do the things I only dream of being able to do...
      that's going to end well....

       

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        G Thompson (profile), Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 1:26am

        Re: Re:

        But I specifically asked who you were before (by suggesting batman) and you replied TAC.. so therefore you mustn't be Anonymous... though Legend??? maybe ;)


        Oh yes they have very much gotten on peoples attention radar that would not normally occur, and a lot of these people normally stay in the background, though some are upfront and in-your-face - playing the old psych game which Sun Tzu would be proud of - and these people sometimes make up Anonymous, sometimes don't, sometimes are against anonymous, but are always and specifically VERY socially conscious highly cynical and don't take kindly to idiotic, egotistic people and/or organisations who like to think, speciously, that they are in any way a part of the 'big leagues'.

         

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          That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 3:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I could be BloodNinja... aite? I put on my robe and wizards hat...

          I will not be happy until I get my footnote mention from a Federal Judge, its like the ultimate merit badge. :D I am so jealous of SJD and DTD over that...

          I've seen more new people leaving breadcrumbs around, and taking some of the bits and pieces we've had but couldn't find a puzzle to fit them into and they find the puzzle.

          I keep hoping we'll see an ACS:Law style epic event, where they just hand out the smoking gun to the world themselves.

          With luck other trolls will get noticed and suffer the same fates. While they might not be on the same level of Prenda the misery and tricks they are using are just as sleazy.

           

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    Violated (profile), Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 12:13am

    We can wish

    Unfortunately even if they had seeded these torrents then VPN use could well mean there is no actual proof. Logs are long gone and I doubt they did some seeding using a home IP address.

    Still it is sure worth checking into this as deep as you can when humans do make mistakes and they have never been that bright. Should proof of a honey-pot ever be discovered then they would sure be going to prison.

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 12:37am

      Re: We can wish

      Well if a file was never offered on the market and turned up being seeded one might need to look at the owners and their agents as the source.
      I mean if you were going to post screenshots you might want to remove where the file is identified as being the master.

       

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      identicon
      Clownius, Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 7:22am

      Re: We can wish

      The thing with most Swedish and other decent VPNs is they specifically dont keep logs.

      https://mullvad.net/en/prices_terms.php#privacy

      Mullvad is one of them. They dont keep logs and thus cant be forced to hand over information about who used what IP at any time.

      Unless you find the torrent still on their computer and/or a saved login to sharkmp4 on piratebay i think your out of luck here.

      Dont know who clued them onto VPN's. Maybe they learned something along the way posting on all the anti-troll blogs

       

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        That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 8:45am

        Re: Re: We can wish

        VPN's aren't as unknown as one would expect.
        There is a possibility that during one of their fishing trips they hit upon a series of IP addresses that lead them to VPNs and discovered they weren't able to get information about the users.
        For a low cost someone could anonymously seed a bunch of files and gather information.

         

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    identicon
    froggster, Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 12:48am

    "shark"

    It is also interesting to note that "shark" (in sharkmp4) is a term used to describe lawyers.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 6:42am

    When all this ends they'll be so deeply stuck into the mud that Rightraven and ACS:Law will feel the envy ;)

     

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    special-interesting (profile), Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 3:19pm

    It's the mother load.

    I might complain of the weakness of the evidence but similar analysis leading mostly to accusation by insinuation is used frequently and successfully against file sharers.

    Have suggested jokingly earlier the risk of flight was minimal but these people might be way down the rabbit hole. To early and evidence light to comment further but the bread crumb trail seems significant. Cant wait to get these guys on the stand.

    A great allegation that any copyright maximalist would slather over to smear some accused IP violator. No wait, that is an IP violation! Round and round.

    To early for an armed SWAT raid? (just a thought)

     

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    Wally (profile), Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 6:27pm

    "Lawyer Suggests That Prenda Law May Have Only 'Released' Movies It Sued Over As A Honeypot For Lawsuits"

    In other words...entrapment.

     

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    identicon
    ?nothing but questions?, Mar 30th, 2013 @ 9:57am

    Vexatious litigation

    Does this apply ?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vexatious_litigation

    "most of which require that the litigant be proceeding pro se"

    we think not since there are actually, "lawyers & firms" (term used loosely in these circumstances) making the complaints in behalf of the pornographers.

    Is this a correct understanding of the quoted statement?

     

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  •  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Apr 7th, 2013 @ 1:02pm

    I predicted something like this...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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