Prenda Continues Character Assassination Of Alan Cooper
from the do-they-think-this-helps-them? dept
You may recall that Prenda briefly tried a strategy of claiming that Alan Cooper was mentally unstable and off his meds in trying to explain to Judge Otis Wright why Cooper said he had absolutely nothing to do with AF Holdings, despite his purported signature being on court documents as the representative from the company that Judge Wright and many others have said is clearly a shell company owned and controlled by Prenda lawyers John Steele, Paul Hansmeier and Paul Duffy. The whole “off his meds” argument didn’t get much play in Wright’s courtroom, but apparently Prenda hasn’t given up on that strategy.
Last week, in yet another Prenda case, this time in Arizona, a local lawyer hired by Prenda, named Steven Goodhue, decided to double down with fanciful tales of Alan Cooper. In this case, the judge, G. Murray Snow, read Judge Wright’s order and rightfully pointed out that it raised serious questions about the case in his courtroom, and asked Prenda/AF Holding to explain why the whole case shouldn’t be dismissed. There will be hearing on this on Friday, but in the meantime, Goodhue decided to file a response that has to be read to be believed. In this case, another mysterious name showed up besides just Cooper’s: Raymond Rogers. Goodhue responds to questions about who signed the documents by insisting that it’s exactly who it said on the document:
The persons who signed Exhibit B to Plaintiff’s complaint are Raymond Rogers and Alan Cooper. Although Cooper has repudiated his corporate representative status, Cooper’s repudiation lacks credibility for the reasons set forth herein.
And then we dig into why Goodhue/Prenda insists Cooper is not credible, which goes deep into conspiracy theory territory, implying that EFF is somehow paying off Cooper to come out against Prenda:
Alan Cooper’s repudiation of his corporate representative status is not credible. To put Cooper’s repudiation in its proper context, the Court might consider the following questions: (1) why is an individual from Northern Minnesota testifying before courts across the United States in copyright infringement actions; (2) how is he paying for all of this; and (3) when did he get his start? Cooper’s testimony at a March 11, 2013, hearing before Judge Wright provided some clues.
Well, the answer to the first question is fairly easy: he was testifying in California (as far as I know the only court “across the United States” that Cooper has testified in) because Judge Wright ordered him to show up, along with Team Prenda, who chose not to show up. As for paying for that one trip, it’s already been stated that EFF paid for that trip, but I don’t see how that’s damning in any way. Cooper had to show up one way or the other, and EFF covered his travel budget.
At the hearing, Cooper revealed that he first became involved in this nationwide effort when he received an anonymous text message with contact information for EFF panel attorney, Paul Godfread. The text message informed Cooper that he needed to contact Godfread to avoid serious liability…. Shortly thereafter, Cooper, through attorney Godfread, filed a lawsuit against attorney John Steele and others seeking $4.6 million in damages for the misuse of his name…. Contemporaneously with those efforts, EFF panel attorneys from across the nation began using Cooper’s repudiation to launch collateral attacks on Plaintiff’s copyright infringement lawsuits…. These attacks met with limited success, with one notable exception—the sanctions order issued by Judge Wright. EFF panel attorneys paid for Cooper and Godfread to fly from Minnesota to the Los Angeles, California hearing before Judge Wright and Cooper was escorted around at the hearing by an EFF staff attorney who has spearheaded the EFF’s efforts to stymie copyright enforcement nationwide.
This is a bit of revisionist history, but it ignores the key point: which is that someone whom Prenda/AF Holding insisted he had signed a key document, explained that he never had, and presented quite detailed info suggesting that John Steele had been signing his name. And, let’s not forget evidence in other cases that John Steele clearly claimed to be Alan Cooper at times. All of that seems relevant. The fact that lots of courts were alerted to the same possible fraud on the court isn’t “collateral attacks,” it’s relevant information in multiple cases involving what appears to be pretty blatant and outright fraud.
The filing digs deeper into the conspiracy theory, arguing that Godfread is representing Cooper just to boost his own business, which is the type of claim you make when you’re completely desperate and have no real argument. From there it descends into a massive character attack on Alan Cooper. It lays out Cooper as being a close friend of Steele’s who “joined Steele’s family for dinner over 100 times” and “babysat Steele’s daughter,” but who ran into some financial difficulties and asked Steele for any job leads. He then claims that Steele explained the whole copyright trolling business to Cooper, and Cooper wanted to get in on it, with Steele’s help, though eventually he didn’t go that route:
Steele described the litigation and his business to Cooper. At some point in early 2011, Steele and Cooper discussed how a friend of Steele’s was exploring opportunities relating to purchasing and marketing adult content. Cooper expressed interest in learning more about these opportunities and Steele offered to help him learn more. Eventually, Steele and Cooper agreed that Steele would help Cooper form a business entity that would allow Cooper to pursue these opportunities. He spoke to Steele many times about this project. Cooper was overheard by his long time friend, Brent Berry, asking Steele, “How’s my porn company doing?” He further joked about never having to worry about having beer money again. Cooper’s then-wife was against Cooper’s participation in the adult industry. They regularly fought about this issue, and these fights were overheard by multiple people, including Steele and a mutual friend, Jason Flesher.
Those statements about “how’s my porn company doing?” came out in that earlier filing, but many people noted that if Cooper was actually running the company, that’s not the kind of question he would ask, so it only served to raise more questions about Prenda/Steele’s involvement. So, in this filing, they try to work around that by claiming that Cooper wasn’t talking about AF Holdings, but about a different company Steele was supposedly going to set up for him, but that never actually happened. Again, if that’s true, that doesn’t make any sense, because if he didn’t go forward with it, why would he ask how his “company” was doing?
Cooper ended up not moving forward with the ideas Steele proposed to him, but he continued to express interest in connecting with people in the industry to learn more about the business. Steele offered to introduce Cooper to Mark Lutz, who operated two companies, AF Holdings, LLC and Ingenuity13, LLC. Id. Specifically, Steele informed Cooper that he could volunteer as a corporate representative for these companies in order to gain exposure to the industry and people who could help him. Id. In this way, Cooper could identify opportunities for himself, and possibly develop partnerships with industry insiders. Cooper participated in a limited number of transactions in the latter half of 2011, including acknowledging two assignment agreements on behalf of AF Holdings, LLC.
Again, this doesn’t make any sense. Being the “corporate representative” does nothing to help him get more exposure in the industry, and of course this directly contradicts Cooper’s own testimony and claims. From there, we go deeper into the character assassination of Cooper. The filing makes some fairly serious allegation against Cooper including that he was “usually inebriated and acting aggressively,” threatening people staying in Steele’s cabins, that he was constantly asking Steele for money and coming up with “half-baked business ideas.” Then he accuses Cooper of outright theft and property destruction:
In September 2012, due to this worsening behavior, Steele asked Cooper to leave his property… Cooper was extremely upset and embarked on an extensive campaign of revenge…. Cooper used a chainsaw to remove large portions of load-bearing walls in Steele’s guest cabin, tore down nearly every interior wall in the guest cabin, stole 4 rifles, 1 shotgun and 5 pistols Steele stored on his property, threatened prospective buyers of Steele’s property, cut down significant acreage of wood and unlawfully removed it from Steele’s property, and stole hundreds of items, including tools, equipment, lumber, and virtually every item that was not bolted down in Steele’s kitchen. Id. Cooper even stole a large trailer of Steele’s that Cooper used to haul away entire rooms of furniture from Steele’s cabin.
Those are pretty serious charges, and I wonder if there’s a police report to support those claims filed at the time. Steele further claims that Cooper demanded “a lot of money” from Steele or that “he would be sorry for kicking him out,” and a couple months later, Cooper and Godfread carried through with their threats. They also claim that “Over time, Cooper’s accusations against Steele and Plaintiff have changed.” Having followed this case pretty closely, I’ve yet to see any changes to the accusations. I’ve seen Steele’s story change repeatedly, but not Cooper’s.
Also, given the character attacks on Cooper, it seems odd that Goodhue/Prenda/Steele appear to be arguing (1) Cooper is mentally unstable, unable to hold down a job, not very intelligent or capable and (2) that he’s masterminded a huge sneaky scam that involves first having Steele get him involved in copyright trolling, and then turning around and shaking down Steele for forging his name on various documents. The first doesn’t match very well with the second.
At this point, it’s clear that at least one person is clearly flat out lying in the various cases concerning Alan Cooper, and despite the character assassination attempts, I’d argue that Cooper has been significantly more credible from the outset.