Prenda, Prenda, Prenda, Prenda, Prenda

from the with-apologies-to-the-brady-bunch dept

A whole series of events have happened in various Prenda cases around the country, and Ken at Popehat, once again, has the best summary around. I’ll do this bullet-style, and suggest you go read his full post for the details.

  • Paul Duffy is trying to dismiss the counterclaims filed against him in his defamation lawsuit against Alan Cooper, arguing that the counterclaims make no reference to him personally, but rather John Steele and Paul Hansmeier. Of course, if they were all working together, as an awful lot of evidence seems to suggest, that may be a problem for Duffy. The more hilarious issue is that Duffy claims that Cooper’s lawsuit against Prenda (for allegedly falsifying his name on documents) is an “unrelated matter,” rather than the whole freaking reason that Duffy is suing. Ken breaks down how incredibly stupid this statement is:

    Yeah, sure, Cooper’s suit is “completely unrelated” — except that (1) it involves the same parties, (2) it concerns Prenda’s operations, (3) it accuses Prenda of stealing Cooper’s identity, which Prenda’s and Duffy’s complaints suggest is a defamatory statement, (4) John Steele used all three suits to threaten and intimidate Cooper as soon as Cooper filed his complaint, and (5) Prenda’s and Duffy’s complaints specifically identify the Cooper complaint as one of the forms of defamation they are suing over. This is not just a lie to a federal court. It’s not even a plausible lie. It’s a stupid, ineffectual, desperate lie.

  • Ken explains the reasons why Cooper and Godfread decided to file using Minnesota’s anti-SLAPP law, rather than Illinois’s. As we had mentioned earlier, the case is in Illinois, so it took many of us by surprise that they were relying on Minnesota’s anti-SLAPP law. However, Ken notes that since the key issue in an anti-SLAPP situation is that it forces the plaintiff to present their evidence early, this means that Duffy will be caught in a tough spot: responding with evidence would eviscerate the 5th Amendment protection he took in California.

    But here’s the beauty of this situation for Cooper and Godfread — the anti-SLAPP statute forces Duffy and Prenda to come forward with actual evidence establishing that they might win. To do that, they have to come forward with evidence that the statements that they are complaining about are false. But those statements are about exactly the things that Steele and Hansmeier and Duffy took the Fifth rather than address. Duffy and Prenda can’t carry their burden unless they reverse the decision to take the Fifth. Ultimately, Cooper’s and Godfread’s narrower argument is elegant and well-suited to the circumstances. It’s not always the right strategy to make every possible argument.

    That “narrower” argument he’s talking about is the (slightly surprising) decision by Cooper and Godfread not to point out that many of the statements that Duffy and Prenda are claiming defamatory are either insults or statements of opinion, rather than fact, and thus not subject to defamation. Instead of going down that road, they’re focused on forcing Duffy’s hand. We noted earlier that Cooper and Godfread had called Prenda’s bluff. That may have been premature. Now they’re really calling the bluff, and Duffy’s going to have to show his cards.

  • Back in the main showdown case in California, we had already pointed out that (over the objections of Team Prenda), Judge Otis Wright had allowed lawyer Morgan Pietz (representing some of those sued by Prenda) to file more evidence. And he’s done so. White summarizes the situation nicely.

    Pietz can be excused for sounding a bit triumphant after the attorneys opposing him took the Fifth rather than address the questions he raised. He leads by pointing out that although John Steele claims there is no evidence that he has any ownership interest in Prenda Law’s clients, Steele’s own attorneys previously told the Florida State Bar the opposite — and a Prenda law local counsel also said that Steele had an interest in AF Holdings. Pietz attacks the credibility of Brent Berry, the real estate agent who claimed that Alan Cooper was in on the scheme and is violent and mentally ill. Pietz points out that Berry is Steele’s agent and just sold a house for him in February. Pietz also points out that Berry signed the declaration in February, but Prenda law oddly withheld it until after the hearings before Judge Wright. Finally, Pietz echoes what everyone has been saying — Berry’s testimony might suggest that Cooper knew his name was being used, but if accepted it proves that Cooper was a mere shill for the Prenda Law attorneys who actually controlled the plaintiff entities. Pietz also offers rebuttals to the Prenda lawyers’ other arguments — he argues that Judge Wright’s powers allow him to award attorney fees as sanctions based on the record before him, and he offers the declaration of a technical expert to rebut Prenda’s arguments that its investigation of downloaders was reasonable and sufficient.

    Given Judge Wright’s clear questions about Prenda’s actions, I would imagine that this extra fodder isn’t going to be particularly helpful to John Steele, Paul Duffy and Paul Hansmeier.

  • And that’s not all. Ken also has updates on a few other Prenda cases around the nation where people are hitting back at all things Prenda. Go check out his post for all the details.

Ken also points out that Judge Wright’s response to all of this could come “any day,” so stay tuned.

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Companies: prenda, prenda law

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Comments on “Prenda, Prenda, Prenda, Prenda, Prenda”

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tomxp411 (profile) says:

Talk about drama....

this case has more twists and turns than that mountainside road where James Bond always gets attacked by bad guys whenever he’s showing off his new car to the Bond Girl of the week…

I was just talking to someone last night about the “nuisance suit” phenomenon, and he said that lawyers routinely get disbarred for exactly the kind of behavior Prenda is engaging in. If that’s true, I want to see it happen sooner, rather than later.

S. T. Stone says:

The Sword of Damocles hangs far above the metaphorical head of Prenda Law, as it hangs above the head of any person or group of people who commit acts of questionable morality (and legality).

It sways to and fro, never touching the heads of those it hangs above. It presents an ominous and ever-present threat: consequences, severe or otherwise, for those questionable actions.

When the sword falls, it will cleave the head in twain, punishing those who have failed to heed the warning of the sword’s very existence.

Prenda Law’s main players should’ve looked up before they decided to make a mockery of the legal system. Now they have only themselves to blame when the legal system lets the sword cleave their heads in twain.

?what a bunch of dumbasses.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

InfoGraphic Please

This is like following one of those convoluted soap operas (that I don’t watch). One needs several genealogical histories along with a relationship map and an interpreters guidebook to hidden meanings and ‘significant looks’.

Could someone who actually understands the players (and the rules) put things into a graphic so the hoi polloi might play along, better? I see color layers for federal and state, Icons for individuals and symbols for plaintiff/prosecutor, indicators for individual cases and local, lines all over the place, etc.

It shouldn’t take more than a couple of thousand person/hours and a few brain embolisms.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: InfoGraphic Please

In doing some more thinking about this, I guess it would be impractical as the length of legend might exceed the length of any reasonable piece of paper. While I understand that Internet pages can be any length (is there a limit) who would want to page down a hundred times.

Then I thought:
Outcome Pools (who holds the internets bet?)

Twitter Comment Trends for Expected Outcomes, factored by leanings as wells as up votes, and geographically mapped.

A home board game, that sort of begins right now and allows many possible outcomes.

An Internet based RPG that allows players to take on the roles of various characters and play some cloak and dagger.

The economic possibilities in this case are endless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“If they weren’t pro-copyright, you wouldn’t even care. Hilarious.”

And your point is? It cannot and may not be disputed that copyright extortionists have done very bad things to bring their targets to injustice.

Now, one has been caught out in their lies and terror tactics. It is a good thing that TechDirt is “obsessed” with this. These people and their unscrupulous supporters need to be exposed and punished harshly so that the next evil person thinks twice before joining in.

S. T. Stone says:

Re: Re:

?If they weren’t pro-copyright, you wouldn’t even care.?

Prenda Law hardly qualifies as pro-copyright.

The group?s entire scheme relied on the loosest understandings of copyright law and attempts to privately shame those who had downloaded pornography into buying their way out of a public shaming.

Prenda?s main players didn?t have the copyrights they used as the basis for their lawsuits properly assigned to them, and they sure as hell didn?t do their due diligence in investigating the infringement claims they used as the basis for their questionable legal tactics.

Nothing about Prenda Law gives off the impression of ?we respect copyright? because nothing about what they?ve done has shown even the slightest respect to copyright.

Prenda Law tried to use copyright as part of an extortion racket, not as a way to protect an artist?s right to distribute or profit from their works. The people behind Prenda don?t give a damn about copyright; they give a damn about making a boatload of money, and they used copyright as nothing more than a means to that end.

Regardless of what you believe about copyright, even you would have to agree that nobody should use it in this way?right?

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Send in those clowns...

“It’s amazing how obsessed you guys are with these clowns. Elaborate graphics and everything. If they weren’t pro-copyright, you wouldn’t even care. Hilarious.”

It’s all about the entertainment value of watching fools splatter their brains all over the various judicial systems in the country. Worth a few buckets of popcorn and plenty of candy.

Very cheap entertainment, indeed-and the show’s just starting!

Episode 201: Judge Wright delivers his “State of Prenda” address.

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