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.

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Companies: prenda, prenda law

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

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G Thompson (profile) says:

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.

out_of_the_blue says:

Comment all in the tag:

Take a loopy tour of! You always end up same place!
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.”

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

DeeP says:

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.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

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.

Nick (profile) says:

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.

Nick (profile) says:

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.

LDoBe says:


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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

G Thompson (profile) says:

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, 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.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t count as Anonymous?!
The recruiting poster said we all were Anonymous!

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….

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: 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’.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: 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. 😀 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.

Violated (profile) says:

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.

Clownius says:

Re: We can wish

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

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

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

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.

special-interesting (profile) says:

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)

?nothing but questions? says:

Vexatious litigation

Does this apply ?

“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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