Another Big Loss For Team Prenda, As Their Bills Keep Adding Up

from the getting-expensive dept

Last week, Team Prenda took another big loss and got smacked around by another judge ordering them to pay even more in attorneys’ fees. The list is really starting to add up. This case, which involved Prenda representing porn producers Lightspeed (rather than one of their own shell operations), had been sitting out there for a while, but it was one of the cases that involved Prenda trying to route around the trouble they’d been having with copyright claims by arguing a computer hacking violation instead. And, on top of that, it involved Prenda going after AT&T and Comcast for refusing to just blindly hand over the names of people attached to the IP addresses listed. Back in April, Prenda had filed a ridiculous response to lawyers Booth Sweet asking for attorneys’ fees. Given everything that’s come out (and, honestly, much of which had already been public) the hubris of Prenda’s Paul Duffy is impressive. In the lawsuit he attacks Booth Sweet arguing that they “routinely file baseless motions for attorneys’ fees in hopes they will eventually get lucky.” Of course, Booth Sweet’s track record is pretty strong here, and while it took a few months, the judge in the case, Patrick Murphy, realized that it was Team Prenda who was really playing games:

The litigation smacked of bullying pretense.

Elsewhere, the judge notes that awarding attorneys’ fees is appropriate “when counsel acted recklessly, raised baseless claims despite notice of the frivolous nature of these claims, or otherwise showed indifference to statutes, rules, or court orders,” suggesting that he sees Team Prenda’s actions as fitting into those categories.

At this point, all of these attorneys’ fees wins are more or less meaningless. It’s doubtful that any of them will get paid (though, there does appear to be money somewhere…). The main event, a more thorough investigation and possible criminal charges against Team Prenda still await — but those things take time. Still, that isn’t stopping Team Prenda from pulling their standard response to these kinds of rulings against them, pulling the same failed tricks out of their increasingly frayed trick bag.

In this case, it involves Paul Hansmeier claiming “what? who, me?” in response. He notes that, while he was involved in the case at some point, briefly, this was really a Paul Duffy case all along, and he, Hansmeier, along with his partner in crime John Steele, simply had no idea this case was even still going on, let alone that they might be on the hook for potential attorneys’ fees. As unbelievable as that might be (and potentially a process violation — since Hansmeier is no longer a lawyer in this matter, he shouldn’t make filings in the case without first getting permission from the court), the bigger issue is that this is the first time I can recall where Hansmeier and Steele appear to pretty clearly be throwing Paul Duffy under the bus.

If you haven’t been paying attention, Team Prenda has been gradually dwindling as the main players have gradually thrown the redshirts under the bus one by one. Brett Gibbs went down first, but Mark Lutz was a recent addition to the under-the-bus crew. But, from the beginning, many have argued that Duffy was the patsy for Steele and Hansmeier, and here’s a case where Hansmeier appears to be leaving Duffy out to dry on yet another failed case. You’d think that Hansmeier would be more careful, because if there’s anyone who likely knows all the details of how Prenda is setup, it would be Paul Duffy. As they say, never throw anyone under the bus who might take you with them. Hansmeier and Steele seemed to miss that with Brett Gibbs, and now they’re repeating it with Duffy. As for Lutz, he still seems to be completely MIA, which seems increasingly suspicious… especially since Hansmeier insisted that Lutz would appear shortly to answer questions the court had asked.

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Companies: at&t, comcast, lightspeed, prenda, prenda law

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Comments on “Another Big Loss For Team Prenda, As Their Bills Keep Adding Up”

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horse with no name says:

What you pirates don’t seem to be getting is that there’s a national conspiracy to prevent money from reaching content creators. Steele might be a douchebag, but he’s doing it for the copyright, and every time sane people like average_joe and out_of_the_blue point it out, you censor their comments after holding them back for “moderation”.

This post will probably be censored too for “due process”, showing up weeks after this joke of an article has had any relevance. Obviously Masnick would rather have hateful trolls with no jobs or personal hygiene populate this sad site than critics offering intelligent discourse. You guys are so classy!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually I’d say it’s just another point in favor of a suspicion I’ve had for a while now, that Horse is AJ, just under another name, as he’d sullied his previous one too much.

I mean, they’re both arrogant, claiming that they know the law better than everyone else(including multiple judges), despite evidence to the contrary, both claim that copyright is sacred, and that ‘defending’ it trumps everything, even other laws, both very prone to personal attacks and insults when proven wrong, both constantly whine about being ‘censored’ when people report their posts, yet don’t hesitate to defend it when a company/government actually does censor someone…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Doubt it; he’s made those exact claims before.

By the way, Anonymous Coward, nice try attempting to bait me. I don’t hate “due process”. “Due process” was what wasn’t observed here. Prenda Law has not been given a chance to testify, period, and everyone is jumping on them like bullies. This is fact no matter how you want to spin it, and only brave souls like out_of_the_blue and average_joe have the courage to protest your social tyranny. Aside from you it’s always the censored posts that prove the most worthy of reading.

Original post.

There really is no limit to how low copyright trolls will stoop, even scraping the bottom of the barrel of intelligence.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What you pirates don’t seem to be getting is that there’s a national conspiracy to prevent money from reaching content creators.

Uh no, whether talking about those that admit to piracy, or those of us who have no need to do so for our entertainment, I think pretty much any regular reader is well aware of that ‘conspiracy’, and it’s called ‘RIAA/MPAA accounting’.

You know, that delightful(and well documented) way they mangle the crap out of numbers, and word contracts in such a way as to give actual content creators as little as they can legally get away with, and most times even less than that?

Now, as for your ‘Steele is just trying to defend copyright, but there’s a conspiracy against him’ theory, let’s take a razor to that idea shall we, in particular Occam’s Razor.

Which is more likely:

A) This brave defender of copyright, the valiant Steele, is truly and honestly trying to do nothing more than defend copyright, but multiple judges, in multiple states, at multiple levels of the judicial process all have it in for him, and are doing everything possible to crush this outstanding defender of the common man, up to and including falsifying evidence in said multiple federal cases, all to destroy his career.


B) The evidence presented against Prenda is exactly what it looks like, showing multiple cases of fraud, forgery, perjury, abuse of the system, extortion, setting up honeypot operations to sue over files he uploaded, attempting to rig cases by offering to ‘settle’ with one victim if they took a fall and let Prenda name hundred of ‘co-conspirators’ to shake down, and their lies and actions are finally catching up to them, causing the judges dealing with their cases to treat them as the parasitic scum that they are(though not nearly as much as they deserve).

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re: Response to: horse with no name on Nov 5th, 2013 @ 8:24pm

Prenda purposefully uploaded porn to the Internet to bust people…this is legally known as entrapment…

No, it really isn’t, at least not unless it is done by a government or official.

Entrapment: The act of government agents or officials that induces a person to commit a crime he or she is not previously disposed to commit.

This is extortion.

Extortion: The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Response to: horse with no name on Nov 5th, 2013 @ 8:24pm

Prenda set up an account to sting people…you can sue people for entrapment on a civil level…piracy is considered a crime..and if you had been following these articles concerning Prenda…you would realize that they would get discovery granted of thousands of doh’s in court and upload the porn themselves (check my submitted articles section under my user name to see who did grant them discovery)…just stop doing as you do.

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Response to: horse with no name on Nov 5th, 2013 @ 8:24pm

you can sue people for entrapment on a civil level.

Please cite one case where that is true. You can sue a government agency for entrapment, but you can’t sue Joe Civilian for entrapment as there is no way for them to meet the definition.

The definitions I gave are the legal definitions. As Joe Civilian I can not entrap you I can coerce you, extort you…

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Response to: horse with no name on Nov 5th, 2013 @ 8:24pm

I kind of think of extortion as making a threat and demanding compensation to prevent you from following through on the threat…Prenda merely threatened people who downloaded the videos that Prenda had uploaded itself…so it’s a honeypot civil legal action…Racketeering perhaps?

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Response to: horse with no name on Nov 5th, 2013 @ 8:24pm

I kind of think of extortion as making a threat and demanding compensation to prevent you from following through on the threat..

Isn’t that exactly what Prenda did? They sent a “Demand Letter” that basically said “Give us money or we will sue you and tell your spouse and neighbors that you download porn”

I believe Judge Wright recommended Prenda et al be investigated for racketeering (specifically RICO violations).

The even bigger issue: alerting the feds of possible racketeering violations:
though Plaintiffs boldly probe the outskirts of law, the only enterprise they resemble is RICO. The federal agency eleven decks up is familiar with their prime directive and will gladly refit them for their next voyage. The Court will refer this matter to the United States Attorney for the Central District of California. The will also refer this matter to the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service and will notify all judges before whom these attorneys have pending cases. For the sake of completeness, the Court requests Pietz to assist by filing a report, within 14 days, containing contact information for: (1) every bar (state and federal) where these attorneys are admitted to practice; and (2) every judge before whom these attorneys have pending cases.

Traditionally, obtaining or extorting money illegally or carrying on illegal business activities, usually by Organized Crime. A pattern of illegal activity carried out as part of an enterprise that is owned or controlled by those who are engaged in the illegal activity. The latter definition derives from the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act (RICO), a set of laws (18 U.S.C.A. ? 1961 et seq. [1970]) specifically designed to punish racketeering by business enterprises.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s telling that the one screaming he’s being censored is the one who makes the first mark on an article about Prenda. And to think, he repeatedly insists he’s not a Prenda fanboy.

I don’t even need to cite the long list of shit you’ve been regurgitating on the site, anyone with a search engine can do it. But for good measure:

horse with no name just hates it when due process is enforced.

horse with no name just hates it when due process is enforced.

horse with no name just hates it when due process is enforced.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re:

What you pirates don’t seem to be getting is that there’s a national conspiracy to prevent money from reaching content creators.

Ha ha ha ha ha!!! Oh, you meant the record labels and the studios under work-for-hire contracts, right? Okay, you can have that one.

Steele might be a douchebag, but he’s doing it for the copyright, and every time sane people like average_joe and out_of_the_blue point it out, you censor their comments after holding them back for “moderation”.

What about truth, justice, and the American way? You know, due process, which you appear to hate being enforced. I can actually imagine you with your oversize Depends on over a pair of colored tights, a tablecloth tied around your neck, jumping off your own roof crying, “For copyriiiiiight!”

This post will probably be censored too for “due process”, showing up weeks after this joke of an article has had any relevance.

No, it won’t. Your nutty posts usually show up a few minutes after you’ve posted them. Mike doesn’t ban you because you’re too funny and we all need a laugh in our lunch hours.

Obviously Masnick would rather have hateful trolls with no jobs or personal hygiene populate this sad site than critics offering intelligent discourse.

Says the troll whose comments are constantly reported for the ad-homs, the nonsense, and the constant stream of nonsense.

As for intelligent discourse, let’s have a post right here on the everyday good of copyright and the role of Prenda therein. As I said, we all need a laugh on our lunch breaks.

You guys are so classy!

Damn straight we are! High-fives the commenters regularly voted Insightful and Funny

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually Paul we are all for due process, the Problem is that Team Prenda doesn’t believe in it and obviously doesn’t practice it or they wouldn’t be getting dressed down in various courtrooms across the country and sanctioned by the very judges who have Prenda cases on their dockets.

You bang on about there being a conspiracy, but it has nothing to do with content creators getting their money. It’s more about the conspiracy to use the court system to engage in legal extortion with a fraudulent victim and various entities and shell companies and offshore LLC’s to hide an ongoing criminal enterprise in my opinion.

Once again Paul you make personal attacks, I would have thought someone with your education would have been able to put together a more eloquent remark rather than a high school comeback.

So Paul I have to ask, now that Duffy has learned how little he received of that 1.9 mil You and John have taken out of your trolling profits in 2012, how much has he been complaining about it?

I would gather Duffy was being kept in the dark about how much money was coming in to Prenda from your victims -er- infringers. Duffy must have been a tad upset to see you two were getting big check and he was getting almost next to nothing, must have him a little steamed doesn’t it.

Duffy must be wondering why he agreed to sign on as the Prenda principal for such a small taste out of a 1.9 mil haul.

Duffy must be worrying you and old John about whether he will flip like Gibbs did, after all he is a scapegoat here isn’t he. That’s why he is the principal in Prenda Law, he takes the brunt of the sanctions, he is taking the brunt for the bond, the sanctions, the appearances in various cases.

I am worried for you and John though Paul, I don’t know how much longer Duffy will be able to withstand the barrage of court rulings and sanctions and fee awards… never mind his name being dragged through the sewer and the various referrals to the Illinois state bar.

Then you have the possibility of a Grand Jury looking into RICO violations and the IRS Criminal Division investigation that is ongoing, I would have to think Duffy would love to get out from all that strain he is under, after all he is on the hook since his name is the principal of Prenda Law.

I bet when Duffy signed on he was thinking a few quick bucks for just his name on a few documents, easy money right? I bet now he cringes every time Prenda Law’s name comes up in the media or court filings because his reputation is just taking a beating in the public eye and never mind legal circles I would believe.

With that being said I am sure you and John must have upped the kitty a little for Duffy from the profits right? You did do that to help keep Duffy from pulling a Gibbs didn’t you Paul? I would have if I was in your shoes especially after Gibbs and the Dropbox financial information coming out.

John and you must have been a little sleepless after that bomb hit, I bet there was some frantic phone calls to Duffy telling him “not to believe what Gibbs said was made and that it was only a tenth of that” right?

I have to wonder how much more Duffy is willing to take in this, after all Duffy has judgments against him for monies owed I believe, and then all these sanction orders and fee awards and the cost of flying to these hearings, the bar investigations, the IRS Criminal Division investigations and the possibility of a RICO indictment could be wanting him to get out from all this, especially for that low 5 figure cut he was getting.

Steele I bet is worried that Duffy will pull a Gibbs and not want to be the only guy without a chair when the music stops, I am sure Duffy like Gibbs knows a lot of the inner working of this litigation nightmare.

Must be keeping Steele awake at night knowing his cleverly crafted litigation strategy after cutting the porn companies out of the loop to keep the profits all in house is crashing down, and now he has to worry about Duffy flipping.

Though I would have to believe Duffy was a loyal solider till that Dropbox Financial for 2012 came into the public eye, no maybe not so much…I am sure Duffy is thinking this isn’t worth all the strain and financial hits he is taking for so little of a return.

You and John must be calling Duffy two or three times a day to make sure he is still on board and hoping that no one from the IRS Criminal Division has visited him yet and offered him a deal to be a witness in exchange for a lighter penalty and maybe no jail time if there is a case put forward for tax evasion.

And of course if there was a RICO indictment well I am sure someone Paul’s age wouldn’t like the idea of rattling the bars in a cell for a few years while John is enjoying Florida and you are in Minnesota and working away making money from your ADA suits, probably wouldn’t sit well with Duffy.

You have to admit though Duffy would be a great witness in a RICO prosecution and what a sweet deal that would be for him to get out from underneath all of this mess and take all the stress off of him personally and with the wife and the strain his marriage must be under from all of this I would imagine.

But you know Paul I am worried for you, Steele has tried to insulate himself from this by not being an active lawyer, you however still are. I wonder how well your Law practice and your callas action objections are going to fair now that this is all in the light and your name being on all these sanction orders and fee awards, not to mention you ADA lawsuits your filing…. I could see your ability to make money dwindling.

John on the other hand isn’t practicing (wink wink) so hsi Bar number isn’t in jeopardy as much as your’s and Duffy is of course. But what if John starts feeling the pressure of RICO and the IRS Criminal Division investigations?

Think John would be tempted enough to turn witness to get out from under stiff penalties and possible jail time reduced by naming you as the main man, the genius behind all this?

I mean after all you still have some litigation scams -er- strategies in play here and Steele in theory could point to them and say ” see look at his litigation that is current , he’s the brains behind all of this. That could be bad for you Paul if you had no chair when the music stops.

But I guess it’s just my imagination running wild, I am sure Steele and Duffy wouldn’t do that to you right Paul.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I am very concerned for Mr. Lutz. His absence is disturbing, especially after he was ‘detained’ by some Feds, allegedly.

If your a Fed keeping an eye on this case, you might want to find Mr. Lutz before everyone is blaming it all on the corpse.

In other news…
Pretenda still seems to think the rules are only worthy following if they benefit them.
I await them trying to spin doctor this.

If there is a lawyer in the house, is it merely time before people can try and enforce judgements against Pretenda or is there a chance that the bill hits X and they can bypass waiting?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, at this point I think it would be fairly safe to assume Lutz has fled the country, probably shortly after a ‘bonus’ from Steele and co, and a ‘hint’ that some country other than the US would make a lovely vacation home.

If I had to guess, I’d say that they’re probably hoping that if they pin everything on Lutz, and go on and on about how only he is in the know, and they are just clueless about everything, that if Lutz is unable to be found for long enough the judges will just drop the whole thing.

Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for everyone else, at this point even without Lutz I’d say there is more than enough to bury the pack of them, especially given they seem to be doing their hardest to throw everyone else under the bus in desperation, thereby creating a number of people who have everything to gain in turning against them, and nothing to lose by doing so.

Starke (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Anyone else suspect the state Lutz fled to was someplace under the Florida Everglades?

I mean, yes, I’m being a smartass here. But, I’m actually not sure if anyone’s seen him in weeks. I would think there’d be an actual criminal investigation if he had actually vanished, but this is popcorn entertainment, for me, so it’s almost an honest question.

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I wouldn’t worry about Mark Lutz too much TAC, after all his good friend John Steele is always looking out for him. John scoured the streets of Florida to make sure Mark was okay and going to make a plane.

Besides John and Paul were big fans of “Where’s Waldo” in law school and this is the grown up version starring Mark Lutz.

I think they are more worried about the fact that one of these Federal Judges is going to get tired of the “Where’s Waldo” game starring Mark Lutz and send the U.S. Marshall Service to bring him before them in court.

Then Lutz will want to get out from under and cut a deal and that leaves old John and Paul on the hook

alanbleiweiss (profile) says:

Sent Email to Paul

Okay I couldn’t resist. Just sent an email to Paul at his address.

Dear Mr. Hansmeier,

I am writing to ask a simple question.

How many more sleazy lowlife lawsuits are you intending to file in your lifetime? I mean, isn?t the impending doom from the fallout of your shenanigans with John enough to get you to run for cover at this point? Do you believe you can continue to trash the American legal system for every penny you can squeeze out of unsuspecting American citizens who are tricked by your tactics?

Do you feel no remorse? Do you completely disregard human decency? Do you believe you and John are so bullet-proof to the long term legal process? Or do you have tickets out of the country sitting on your nightstand awaiting that fateful day in the near future when a warrant will be issued for your arrest?

I ask out of simple human fascination.

And of course, I state here, for the record, that my views are purely my personal opinion.

DB (profile) says:

Saying “Prenda purposefully uploaded porn to the Internet to bust people” is incorrect.

This wasn’t about busting pirates. It was about extorting money. It was irrelevant if the people they extorted actually did anything.

Their business was threatening lawsuits and extorting settlement money. The seeded downloads were just a pretense so that they could use the power of the courts to compel the ISPs to give them addresses. They used porn so that they would have the added threat of embarrassing the people they threatened.

They have admitted that they targeted a younger male in the household. That’s a demographic that has lots of disposable income and is especially vulnerable to a lawsuit destroying their credit rating. They are also a demographic that would be assumed guilty in court — “young guy, yup, he downloaded porn”.

I applaud those who stood up this extortion. Pretty much every lawyer will tell you “pay the $3K, or spend $100K on a very public uphill battle to prove you didn’t do it. And most people will still believe you did do it.”

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