Team Prenda Tries To Flip The Story Of John Steele's Mother-in-Law To Make Alan Cooper Look Bad
from the also:-eff-is-pure-evil dept
When we last left Team Prenda, they were dealing with the fallout from the Perry Mason-like moment in court in which Alan Cooper — who has accused Prenda’s John Steele of forging his name/identity on multiple occasions — revealed that he first found out about his signature on copyright assignment documents from John Steele’s mother-in-law, Kim Eckenrode. In response, the best that John Steele and Paul Hansmeier could say in response was (1) she’s “religious” and (2) she spends a lot of time reading the popular anti-troll websites DieTrollDie and FightCopyrightTrolls. Late last week, Hansmeier filed a declaration from Eckenrode along with a memorandum that tries to support Team Prenda’s position and to (once again) attack Alan Cooper’s credibility. Unfortunately, as with so many Prenda filings, once you get past the surface story, everything else falls apart. Quickly.
First off, they claim that Cooper has been trying to hide the involvement of Eckenrode, because this would somehow undermine Cooper’s argument:
There is a very simple reason why Mr. Cooper, his financial benefactors at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and his putative attorney, Paul Godfread, fought to avoid revealing Ms. Eckenrode’s identity. They knew that the moment Mr. Cooper revealed Ms. Eckenrode’s identity, Ms. Eckenrode would be contacted by Plaintiff to learn her side of the story.
Well, yes. But, uh, considering that Eckenrode is Steele’s mother-in-law and supposedly reads all those sites, um, then wouldn’t she have mentioned to Steele at some earlier point how she had texted Cooper about his signature? In all that time, she never brought it up? Really? That seems difficult to believe.
Either way, the filing suggests that Eckenrode’s affidavit undermines Cooper’s claims, but that doesn’t appear to be true. In it, she claims that she didn’t just text Cooper out of the blue, but rather she had seen a mention of Cooper on one of the sites (DTD or FCT, though she doesn’t specify which…) and had told her own husband about it. Sooner after, Cooper had called her husband to discuss having shot a deer (they apparently spoke a few times about hunting). The husband mentioned Ms. Eckenrode’s comments to Cooper, who asked to be sent the articles:
On or about November 15, 2012 Alan called and spoke to my husband about a deer he had shot on John’s property the week before. My husband told Alan that I read a recent article in one of the above-mentioned websites and noticed that the name Alan Cooper was used in conjunction with a company called AF Holdings. Alan asked me to send what I had seen on those websites to him, and I did.
That still doesn’t change the fact that this is how Cooper first found out about the documents where his signature appears to have been forged (and which courts have ruled were forged). And, in fact, later in the affidavit, Cooper appears to respond to Eckenrode to say that it’s “not my signature.”
On September 30, 2013, I learned that Alan had testified before the Honorable Judge Noel in Minnesota that I had sent Alan a text for the purpose of notifying Alan that his name was being used in connection with adult content companies. This is not accurate. I sent the text to notify Alan that I had discovered a document online signed ‘Alan Cooper’, and to ask if he thought it could possibly be the one he had discussed with my husband when we were in Minnesota. Alan indicated “That’s me” and “not my signature.”
That still doesn’t seem to contradict the story, so I’m not entirely clear why Hansmeier appears to be doing some sort of victory dance about how this changes everything. Again, it’s difficult to believe that nowhere in the past year since Cooper first went public with this that Eckenrode never bothered to mention this exchange to Steele if Cooper was supposedly completely misrepresenting things. Also, in the memorandum, Hansmeier claims that Cooper confirmed that the documents were the ones he had discussed in the past. But that’s not what Eckenrode’s affidavit says. It says he said “that’s me” and “not my signature.” By which he could certainly mean that it’s obviously “him” that is supposedly signing the documents, but it wasn’t his signature. In short: it would support his story. He recognizes that someone at Prenda is trying to use his identity (hence: “that’s me”) to forge his signature (“not my signature”). Yet in the filing, Hansmeier instead claims that “The purpose of the text message was to ask Mr. Cooper if the documents referenced on the blogs were the ones he had referenced in Minnesota. Mr. Cooper confirmed that they were.” Except it’s not clear he really did that.
There are some other oddities in the story as well. For example, last week in court, Steele apparently almost broke down on the stand claiming that he got out of the trolling business after seeing an image of his home, his child and a gun, with people asking what kind of bullets to use to kill Steele. That claim raised significant skepticism from multiple observers of Team Prenda’s actions, because no one can recall ever seeing anything even remotely like that on a site. Eckenrode, however, claims a similar thing — again without a single specific:
On one occasion, I saw an article on one of the above websites showing pictures of the home where John and his family lived. This was very disturbing to me. I asked the people running the website to please take that information off their website because I was afraid for my family’s safety. On another occasion, the websites had posted 3 picture of my daughter and had posts slandering her. I was disturbed and hurt by the disrespect shown my family and communicated such. I also asked that to be removed.
Why would she not name the sites in question? I’m not saying this didn’t happen, because it very well might have. But, it does seem odd that neither Steele nor his mother-in-law seem to state what site this actually happened on. And, if Eckenrode asked for the image to be removed, then there should be a record of that somewhere.
Also, as in the past, Team Prenda likes to claim that anti-troll blogs are “pro-piracy,” which is just silly. Oh yeah, and calling Cooper’s lawyer, Paul Godfread, his “putative” attorney is just really childish.
And then there’s the usual ridiculous attack on the EFF, again falsely claiming that they were Cooper’s “financial benefactors” merely because EFF paid for Cooper’s trip to court when Judge Wright ordered him to be there. And then going off on this little anti-EFF rant:
The overriding mission of the EFF has been to shield the Internet from effective regulation–“defending it from the intrusion of territorial government.” Jack L. Goldsmith & Tim Wu, Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World …. This mission is radical, quasi-anarchist, and intrinsically opposed to any effective enforcement of intellectual property rights. Purporting to speak on behalf of “Cyberspace,” a co-founder of the EFF (who presently serves on its Board of Directors) has warned the “Governments of the Industrial World” that “[y]our legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us.” John Perry Barlow, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace
Quoting John Perry Barlow out of context may seem like fun, but it really just makes you look confused and silly. Also, misrepresenting EFF and trying to smear them with claims like “quasi-anarchist” may win points in certain circles, but one expects judges to see through that kind of baseless confused rhetoric. If anything, it just highlights the lack of real arguments from Hansmeier and Team Prenda. EFF is pretty well respected on these issues — even among those who disagree with them. Launching an insult barrage against the organization only raises more questions about those raising such silly claims.