Mass Infringement Lawyer: Never Mind The Facts, Just Pay Up

from the it's-what-year-now? dept

John Steele, the former divorce lawyer who jumped into the mass copyright infringement game feet first, and who seems to keep running into problems with judges who actually understand the law, seems to be at it again. Chris sends in a report of how Steele has been sending out pre-settlement letters with totally screwed up dates, talking about a correspondence allegedly from 2007 and a lawsuit from 2006, neither of which appear to be accurate.

There are also other factually dubious statements in the letter:

The letter continues with a statement that claims that Mr. Steele’s office has been unable to get in touch with the recipient.

Odd thing is, the e-mail address that is listed under the mailing address on the letter is not the e-mail address associated with the recipient’s ISP. The only way Mr. Steele’s firm could obtain the address would be by asking for it during a phone call. One of the five calls which Mr. Steele’s firm would like to pretend never happened.

This is incredibly sloppy on the part of Steele, and with errors abounding in his letters that doesn’t bode well for his lawsuits:

Personally, I believe that the implications of this letter are extremely disturbing. For one, Mr. Steele’s firm appears to not bother proof-reading any of its letters. Mr. Steele is comfortable with asking for thousands of dollars from people, but he can’t take 10 seconds to at least review the first sentence of his settlement letters.

There’s a suggestion that some of the date errors may be due to whatever software Steele is using, but that also raises questions: if the software for creating these letters is so filled with errors, is the software he uses to track what IP addresses are sharing files also riddled with errors?

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Comments on “Mass Infringement Lawyer: Never Mind The Facts, Just Pay Up”

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44 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Mike,

I have seen other accounts of him voluntarily dismissing “does/IPS” after settlement, with one IP address being located in China. I am sure it is a typo. As you mentioned above, very disturbing.

Look at this thread. It is on a forum called “Go Fuck Yourself” for adult webmasters and porn industry people.

http://www.gfy.com/showthread.php?t=987547

Of special interest is post #8, from Steve Lightspeed one of Steele’s clients.

John Steele commented in post #37

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What’s funny is they all bitch at each other but mainly agree. It’s like 50 posts of useless crap by stupid people congratulating themselves for suing everyone because, as they even say in the posts, they’re using the same ideas they were 30 years ago, and trying to spin that into the fact they can’t compete at all…… epic fail.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The OP in that thread nailed it, calling them all idiots, for following the RIAA. A few even disagree with suing the end-user.

IIRC a lot of these guys submit their own work to tube sites, albeit only a few minutes, with the intention of the viewer wanting to see the rest of the film. The viewer clicks a link and pays for the film.

now that is ironic

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Interesting things to note from that thread.

“Lightspeed – Btw, all the work being done by our lawyers is on contingency, so I really have nothing to lose here.”

I would point out to Mr. Lightspeed that he is talking about a contract written by a man with the most tenuous grasp of the law. Seriously look at Steeles filings. And the whole the shit won’t splash on me ideal world… doesn’t exist. The lawyer represents your brand to the outside world, him being a moron lets consumers know your a moron as well. He might be a competitor but tell me what Lucas has done lately… other than saying me too to several of the LMH/CF propaganda messages his studio is in decline.

I might have pointed out elsewhere, this piece from xbiz. While they are often just the propaganda office this piece is actually well thought out.

http://www.xbiz.com/articles/educational/131701

Sadly they have had a big ole glass of the koolaid, served up by Steele, Stone, Randazza. What they did not tell you was that they didn’t use sugar, it was HFCS and the more you drink the worse its going to get. That it is not going to be easy money, that your brand is going to suffer, and the deeper down the rabbit hole the closer you get to being ignored.

Change is scary, and they all quote the mantra of its theft and compare it to physical objects. They do not understand that the scorched earth tactics being employed don’t just deter the “pirates”, people who would have paid you see the gloating about sticking it to people and look elsewhere.

Well but I am the only one doing pyro-trapeze upside down etc. Have you met the internet? Rule #34. If there is a demand, it will get filled by someone somewhere.

While your busy demonizing fans who share your work, somethings you haven’t considered –
They aren’t making the thousands of dollars you think sharing your work.
They are sharing it because they LIKE IT, they like it enough they want others to see it.
There is TONS of porn out there, and in the grand world of signal to noise they picked your production as something they liked and wanted to share it with others.
That some of the demons who might download a movie, might like your work or artists and want something more than the less that super rips available online… (that means they will BUY stuff from you).
And your answer is ZOMG I HAVE TO SUE THEM OUT OF EXISTENCE!

While your all busy listening to the lawyers and advisers have you once considered talking to the people on the otherside of the fence? Some will demand it all for free blah blah, but some of us are willing to talk. We get that your in business, but we can point out where your not meeting the consumers desires. If you work towards what the fans want the fans respond. The fans respond you make more money, and you get loyalty. And given all of the free sources of free porn (tube sites not torrents) if you can’t get them loyal, they will just find a replacement for you.

But then I may or may not be one of them evil pirates, who understands both sides of the equation and might have all kinds of good ideas to share… if you can stop trying to sue me long enough to listen.

Donnicton says:

if the software for creating these letters is so filled with errors, is the software he uses to track what IP addresses are sharing files also riddled with errors?

We wouldn’t know, because Steele hides behind the “trade secret/proprietary design” curtain whenever someone tries to call him on it. And since he hasn’t brought anyone into court yet using the evidence he has generated, he isn’t obligated to actually reveal the workings on it yet.

(Assuming it even gets to that point – seems to me if you’re suing people based on evidence you’ve generated with a program that you had a financial stake in creating for the purposes of suing people for large amounts of money, that’s a pretty big conflict of interest.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is what has always confused me.
The proprietary system could just be bingo calling balls lined up to look like IP addresses.

Why hasn’t any judge demanded proof from an outside source that the “system” is reliable before ordering ISPs to turn over potentially innocent peoples information?

One wonders if they might be the source of these seeds sometimes.

But they get a free pass to just be given a list of people to attempt to shake down outside of the court system.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

To be fair though, there are a lot of naive individuals who believe that lawyers are required to behave ethically. The second they see the words “law firm” they start to believe every word written or spoken by Mr. Steele and his lackeys. I know of one woman who barely speaks English and is therefore spending every day being scared and extremely confused about what is going on. I also know of a kid who is terrified at the thought of Mr. Steele’s firm calling up his grandma. If you are informed, Mr. Steele is a joke. If not, dealing with him can be extremely stressful for you

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This was a problem for many of the younger set targeted in Stones (Lucas Entertainment) and Randazzas (Liberty Media Holdings/Corbin Fisher) work in trying to terrorize the younger set who “might” (look I can create doubt to!) have been filesharing.

Stones letters and movement scared people, but many people are contributing on many boards breaking down the flaws in the case and getting people to take a breath and think about the real issue – he wants you so scared you settle guilty or not. Showing people his picture, and basically doxing him like Anon would helped people get over the fear. He was someone pretending to be something he wasn’t… competent. Stone is now facing a Judge for another case where he violated the courts directive and was shaking people down with fake subpoenas. It did not help his case when he insulted the Judge for making sure the Does had someone representing their rights.

Randazza for some reason managed to ramp up the fear factor with his we have 35K, er wait 40K, er wait a billion IP addresses. He leveraged coverage by xbiz, the advocate, and a few other places to add to the mystique that he is hiding in your closet and going to get you. His delusional denial that it could possibly have negative affects, an unnamed “therapist” told him it wouldn’t happen only helped to rally even more people to the defense of “kids” he has targeted. He is hoping that the fear of being outed to ones family, something that sometimes involves violence, would get more people to sign up for the silly amnesty he offered. Then he tried amnesty round 2 when they only got a couple of nibbles. There has been a flurry of paperwork filed, and a majority of it is NOT filesharing related. He makes suggestions of connections of P2P in them, but that seems to be an attempt to be able to enhance any award they might get.

Randazza went public and big, and this sent shockwaves. The result is I know myself and several other people are trying to calm the nerves of people considering “final” options to avoid what they think will happen. So the “therapist” obviously was incorrect. If you threaten a 17 yr old with being outed and sued, you kind of smash their world. Now you can make the argument that they deserve it, they are filesharing scum. I’d like to point out that if your precious IP is not worth more than a human life, and to think otherwise maybe you need to see a “therapist”.

Because 17yr olds grow up, move to college, get jobs and when they find a studio putting out stuff they like… they get a subscription. 17 yr olds who see their friends terrified of the studio… they avoid it like the plague.

Randazza drank the koolaid he mixed up, he wants money he thinks he can get for a small investment of IP owner reports. The downside is the negative perception of the studio as a whole is reaching its pinnacle. So you might manage to get a few bucks, ruin a few lives, and they deserved it. The fact people are dropping subscriptions and leaving the LMH/CF websites behind is a direct result. The studio even announced a whole new format, possibly because they finally noticed people were bored of the same wooden contrived scenes over and over. But it is not going to matter, people are actively and vocally against CF material now. So Randazza wins, they are going to stop sharing your content. They are going to stop caring to see your content. They are actively going to discourage people from doing business with LMH/CF. So for your pieces of silver today, your brand is going to fade away.
Good plan, well played.

If you know someone targeted in these things, do your best to help them get informed. There are articles here, ars, torrentfreak, and a few other places… all of them show the players behind the curtain and the scam they are running. It helps when you can show them the “win” rate of zero in court, that they want to “settle”(extort same thing) out of court because otherwise it will cost them money and put their whole operation under the microscope.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You are completely correct. The best way to fight those trolls is to inform anyone who’s being shaken down by those bottom feeders.

Steele after filing mass lawsuits in Illinois, now he’s doing the same thing in California, filing same cases with new IP addresses in California. The sad part is a new round of shakedowns will start with Mark Lutz at the helm. Now if those IP address owners are California residents, they most likely be scared and end up settling, without doing much research on the internet to learn about the scare tactics that Steele has been using since last year.

Paul Hansmeier says:

Mark Lutz is a criminal

Mark Lutz is a criminal. Ask him about it next time he calls you; or just call the police – you are being harassed by a violent criminal!

http://current.com/http://wcca.wicourts.gov/caseDetails.do;jsessionid=3878208A957A9EEB72C27049C9E738C1.render6?caseNo=1997CM705062&countyNo=40&cacheId=B8E43CE3747AECB130653509C290AC2D&recordCount=6&offset=4&mode=details&submit=View+Case+Details

Not Sure says:

Re: still in practice?

This guy deals with divorce and his “family law” cases in the same way he deals with his porn cases. I’m not a tech person so sorry if this is a stupid question – but what happens when someone uses a non secure wireless account? Wouldn’t the IP address be that of the account holder? And if the account wasn’t secure – couldn’t any one driving down the street or living in close range – pick up the IP address / signal and download the porn from that? What happens then? How does Steele prove that the IP address and the downloaded porn / freeloader match? Steele comes to family court and talks about how “Catholic” he is. Why is he dealing with porn and his baby out of wedlock? Dude is a creep! NICE!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Apparently jerking it makes you mean...at least in John's world

I, unlike Mr. Steele, believe that everyone has a right to defend themselves so I decided to ask him about this article. Apparently, I need to find a real job(he has no idea where I work, but I guess that is another irrelevant fact) and should spend less time fapping to pirated porn(he loves accusing people of being pirates despite not having any proof) so that I will be nicer to him. I slipped in a light jab against his opposition to the EFF Amicus brief for the Hard Drive Productions v Does 1-1000(supposed to happen Thursday morning). His motion in opposition hinders on the Call of the Wild decisions by Judge Howell. Apparently Mr. Steele chose not to read the well publicized stories about how Judge Howell backpedaled on her decisions days after it was revealed that she used to be an RIAA lobbyist. Mr. Steele said that if I think he is lying(truth is, I know and can easily prove he is lying) then I should go pirate his client’s porn just so he can make a very sad attempt at suing me. For all his talk about improving one’s demeanor, Mr. Steele is awfully whiny and has quite the temper. If anyone else decides to ask him about his firm, be warned that if your questions are too relevant Mr. Steele will add you to his spam filter

Anonymous Coward says:

Apparently jerking it makes you mean...at least in John's world

I, unlike Mr. Steele, believe that everyone has a right to defend themselves so I decided to ask him about this article. Apparently, I need to find a real job(he has no idea where I work, but I guess that is another irrelevant fact) and should spend less time fapping to pirated porn(he loves accusing people of being pirates despite not having any proof) so that I will be nicer to him. I slipped in a light jab against his opposition to the EFF Amicus brief for the Hard Drive Productions v Does 1-1000(supposed to happen Thursday morning). His motion in opposition hinders on the Call of the Wild decisions by Judge Howell. Apparently Mr. Steele chose not to read the well publicized stories about how Judge Howell backpedaled on her decisions days after it was revealed that she used to be an RIAA lobbyist. Mr. Steele said that if I think he is lying(truth is, I know and can easily prove he is lying) then I should go pirate his client’s porn just so he can make a very sad attempt at suing me. For all his talk about improving one’s demeanor, Mr. Steele is awfully whiny and has quite the temper. If anyone else decides to ask him about his firm, be warned that if your questions are too relevant Mr. Steele will add you to his spam filter

Not Sure says:

still in practice?

This guy deals with divorce and his “family law” cases in the same way he deals with his porn cases. I’m not a tech person so sorry if this is a stupid question – but what happens when someone uses a non secure wireless account? Wouldn’t the IP address be that of the account holder? And if the account wasn’t secure – couldn’t any one driving down the street or living in close range – pick up the IP address / signal and download the porn from that? What happens then? How does Steele prove that the IP address and the downloaded porn / freeloader match? Steele comes to family court and talks about how “Catholic” he is. Why is he dealing with porn and his baby out of wedlock? Dude is a creep! NICE!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: still in practice?

The IP address would be that of the account holder so John would threaten to sue the account holder. John would have to prove the account holder downloaded the file, however he would just try to scare them out of their money by doing everything he can to avoid going to court and having to face a jury

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: still in practice?

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/04/p2p-lawyer-more-settlements-since-former-lobbyist-judges-ruling.ars?comments=1&start=40#comments-bar

He made the following comment on page two.

Great article. I was too busy coming back from a hearing with the 4th judge this week to grant discovery to read this when it first came out. Yep, the thieves are averaging 1 judge out of 8. Keep up the great work!

John Steele

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: still in practice?

Congrats. You`ve not only managed to abuse people`s rights, but you have taken it a step further by attempting to exploit the rampant corruption in the legal system. Your only supporter is a former RIAA lobbyist and a former employee of a P2P tracking firm. Her decisions will probably make her former employees millions. Oh wait, she backpedaled after she realized you trolls are trying to stretch out the legal process so you can have extra time to harass people. Do us all a favor and read both sides of a story rather than the ones that make you look good. Kinda reminds me of those article in which you claimed geolocation tools don`t work. A couple days later you claimed in a different article that your personal use of geolocation tools made your choice of venue appropriate because you were able to pinpoint an IP address` location. Cherry pick facts much?

Superman says:

Re: Re: Re:2 still in practice?

Yes that’s what he’s been doing. I read the California cases that Brett Gibbs filed on his behalf, he’s saying that he used this geolocation tool to file those new cases in California because according to him, those IP addresses are located in California, Read this part from his new filings:

“Plaintiff used geolocation technology to trace the
IP addresses of each Doe Defendant to a point of origin within the State of California. This Court also has personal jurisdiction over non-resident Defendants under the California long-arm statute”

What people are not understanding is this: even if he files individual lawsuit, no court will grant him $2900, maximum he may get if he wins, will be a few hundred dollars which will not be enough to cover the filing fee of the case. That’s why he will never file individual cases.

Anyone who gets those letters, should first read those forums before making any settlement with him.

Gaylord Steele says:

Re: steele-law.com PORN

Yes, you are 100% correct. He haven’t filed a single lawsuit naming an individual, all he’s been doing is filing lawsuits against Does, getting their information from ISPs and mass calling and harassing them for money, that’s it. His degenerate employee Mark Lutz is doing the dirty work, calling non-stop and harassing people.

Now that the Illinois judges caught up with his scheme, he found another low life lawyer (supposedly a tax lawyer) in California, one named Brett L Gibbs, and started filing the same lawsuits in California. The same harassment will continue for a few months with those California lawsuits and then he will start again in another state.

Anonymous Coward says:

How man pissed federal judges does it take to lose your license to practice?

I would think that if you are repeatedly told by federal judges that your behavior is innappropriate and that your scam is bs then you would eventually be told to shut up and GTFO. Instead John and his manwhores get to forum hop from court to court searching for the most biased judge they can find. Would be nice if the Does were granted the same luxury and got to pick their jury

John Steele is a knob gobbler says:

An oldie but goodie

http://current.com/technology/93025282_big-biz-hates-you-article-criticizing-copyright-troll-john-steele-has-its-cached-version-removed-by-google-repost-hidden-within-minutes-because-they-dont-want-you-to-read-it.htm

“In his letter, he explains how he is willing to sue the parents of Bittorrent users, inexperienced computers users who do not know how to secure a wireless network, business owners who use free wi-fi as a means to draw crowds to their stores, and even individuals who download mislabeled internet files(try to download a PBS video and end up with porn? Mr. Steele will sue you in a heartbeat).”

He’s disgusting. A true low life.

Steele Bites says:

1-800-BAD-JOHN

I see this turd in his 3 piece suit a few times a week in family court. This guy is a poop stain on the underpants of society. He needs to be reported to the ARDC. It would be great if he could be tared and feathered or they could bring back public shaming. His antics aren’t reserved for IP law. Rest assured that he practices family law the same way as we see in the Does cases. FUD. Just file nonsense motions and threaten away! John Steele, defending his 2 greatest loves, porn and wife beaters. His parents must be so proud. (golf claps)

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