Appeals Court Smacks Down Team Prenda... Again

from the still-waiting-for-the-truth-to-come-out,-huh? dept

Back in April it seemed fairly clear that the 7th Circuit Appeals Court panel set up to hear the Prenda appeal of the Lightspeed v. Anthony Smith case was not impressed by Team Prenda. I mean, when a judge directly states "there's a lot of shell games going on here" and also points out that it's "shocking" that the lawyer representing Prenda has no idea about the relationship between Prenda, Alpha Law and Steele Hansmeier (a central issue in the case), you expect that the eventual ruling is going to not go well for Team Prenda, but you never really know until the ruling comes out. It has come out. And it is not good news for Team Prenda. Any time a ruling starts off with the following, you know you're going to be in for a good ride:
The first rule of holes, according to an old saying, is to stop digging. The two appeals before us bring that to mind, for reasons that will become apparent.
Yes, a failure to "stop digging" has long been a major fault many of us have associated with Prenda "mastermind" John Steele, and the judges clearly see that as well. They go through the history of the case, highlighting a bunch of questionable moves by Steele and Paul Hansmeier in demanding names from ISPs and using a bunch of questionable legal claims in the original lawsuit, and pretty quickly get at the "shell games":
At the same time, Hansmeier submitted a motion for pro hac vice admission; he did not identify a law firm on the form. Steele entered an appearance in which he listed his firm as Prenda Law. The firm affiliations, however, turned out to be provisional, to put it kindly. At the emergency motion hearing, Steele identified his firm as Steele Hansmeier PLLC, Duffy said that he was with Prenda Law, and Hansmeier was with something called Alpha Law Firm. Steele Hansmeier and Prenda are listed at the same street address, 161 North Clark Street, in Chicago, in different suites.
Later, the court notes dryly that when Hansmeier submitted a motion to withdraw, he did so "without indicating which firm he was with." The court then notes how Team Prenda was engaged in similar shenanigans elsewhere, citing the famous smackdown from Judge Otis Wright in California.

Then we get to the meat of the appeal. First, the silly claims (tried repeatedly) from Steele and Hansmeier that they were never properly informed about Smith's motion for sanctions. The court doesn't buy it. At all:
The record, however, does not support them. First, as the district court concluded, even if we assume that they did not have notice originally, that defect was cured when the district court granted rehearing on the sanctions issue. Indeed, in their briefs before this court, Steele and Hansmeier seem to concede as much. Their complaint has shifted to one focusing on the adequacy of their opportunity to respond. It is too late to change theories, however, and in any event, the district court correctly ruled that whatever procedural flaw there may have been was fully corrected by affording a new opportunity for a hearing. Finally, they received adequate notice in the first place.
The court further notes that the attempts by Steele and Hansmeier to claim that even if Duffy was properly notified it doesn't mean they were ring pretty hollow, given how the three of them keep collaborating and using the ever-shifting names of each other's law firms:
Duffy received notice, he was in charge of Prenda Law, and there was evidence that both Steele and Hansmeier were working for Prenda as well. While appellants huff that the district court “wholly gloss[ed] over the fact that Hansmeier noticed his appearance in the case for Alpha Law Firm, not Prenda Law,” the district court had ample reason to find the Prenda/Alpha distinction illusory at best, fraudulent at worst. Two days after Steele moved to withdraw from this case, he declared in another action that he was “of counsel with the law firm, Prenda Law, Inc.” and that Hansmeier was “also of counsel to the firm.” ... And this is to say nothing of the fact that at least once Hansmeier indicated in this case that he was of counsel to Prenda.
And, that's not all. The court unpacks a bunch of the connections:
A quick look at publicly available documents supports the district court’s finding that service on Duffy also accomplished service on Steele and Hansmeier. In its application for authorization to transact business in Florida, Steele Hansmeier, a Minnesota corporation, listed its mailing ad‐ dress as 161 N. Clark St. No. 3200, Chicago, IL 60601. Paul Hansmeier is listed as Manager and his address is listed as 1111 Lincoln Rd., Suite 400, in Miami Beach, Florida....

Interestingly, 161 N. Clark St. Suite 3200 is also listed as the principal place of business for Prenda Law, Inc., in its 2011 application for authorization to transact business in Florida. Its registered agent, Mark Lutz, uses the same Miami Beach address as Hansmeier did in the Steele Hansmeier application.... Alpha’s connection to Steele Hansmeier and Prenda shows up in a search for Steele Hansmeier on Minnesota’s business filing site. There, Steele Hansmeier lists its registered address as 80 S. 8th St. #900 Alpha Law Firm, Minneapolis, MN 55402.
In conclusion, the court basically calls "bullshit" on Steele and Hansmeier:
Little more need be said. We are disappointed that the appellants’ own attorney, Daniel J. Voelker, was either unable or unwilling to tell us at oral argument about the precise relationship between Prenda and Alpha Law, despite its relevance for the issues on appeal. No matter: we have enough to conclude with confidence that notice to Duffy was reasonably calculated to apprise Steele and Hansmeier of the pendency of the motion. For the icing on the cake, we add that the district court also found that Steele received actual notice via email. Smith sent notice to the email address that Steele shared with Duffy. While Duffy argues that after he withdrew from the case he did not receive those emails, the district court did not find him to be credible. We have no reason to upset that assessment.
The ruling seems to be dripping with that kind of sarcastic understatement. The court then takes on the claim by Steele and Hansmeier that they were never given an opportunity "to be heard" in response to Smith's motion for sanctions. Again, the court says "yeah, right."
Once again, the record belies their assertion. As we have noted, they had adequate notice of the hearing. Duffy submitted a memorandum in opposition to Smith’s motion, but Steele and Hansmeier did not. Nonetheless, the court gave all three appellants another opportunity to be heard on the matter after they submitted motions to vacate or reconsider the order granting Smith’s request for attorneys’ fees. Before the rehearing, Steele and Hansmeier both submitted briefs in opposition to Comcast’s fees. They chose not to submit additional briefs (apart from what was presented in the motion to vacate or reconsider itself) on any other aspect of the order

At the hearing Hansmeier explained in detail why he thought that sanctions should not be imposed against him; Steele spoke as well. This more than sufficed as an opportunity to be heard.
The court then turns its attention to Duffy. Duffy whined that he wasn't given an opportunity to respond to the lower court's decision granting fees to ISPs. Remember, in this case Team Prenda made the incredibly stupid decision to drag Comcast and AT&T into this lawsuit, after those two companies refused to just cough up names of people. Both companies decided to go after fees from Team Prenda, which they got. Duffy claimed that he never had a chance to respond to the motion for fees. The court, once again, points out that this is hogwash (or, more specifically, "frivolous.")
While Steele and Hansmeier submitted timely memoranda in opposition to the ISPs’ motions, Duffy did not. He asserts that he was not given an opportunity to respond because the district court ruled on the motions before the time to respond expired under the court’s local rules. This argument is frivolous. Duffy does not cite any local rule for this point, and had he taken the time to look at the rules, he quickly would have realized that there was time to respond. The ISPs electronically filed their motions on November 8, 2013. The local rules allow 17 days for any response to electronically filed motions... The rules provide that “[f]ailure to file a timely response to a motion may, in the Court’s discretion, be considered an admission of the merits of the motion.”.... Duffy had until November 25, 2013, to submit his response, but he did not file anything. The district court granted the ISPs’ motion on November 27, 2013. Duffy had an opportunity to respond; he simply chose not to exercise it.
The court also rejects the claim from all three that they didn't have a chance to respond to the details of the fee itemization, noting that all three "had a full opportunity to respond to Smith’s itemization but chose to focus on other issues." The court does admit that they didn't really have a chance to respond to the ISPs' itemization, but says "we conclude that this error was harmless." It notes that no one has come close to suggesting that the ISPs' itemization was unreasonable. In fact, the court points out that one of Team Prenda's arguments is that Smith's itemization is much higher than Comcasts -- suggesting that they find Comcast's to be more reasonable.

From there, they move on to the main act: Team Prenda wants to overturn the main ruling against them. The court is, again, not impressed:
Appellants next throw a variety of arguments regarding the substantive ruling against the wall, with the hope that one might stick. None does.
The court notes that Team Prenda's use of the CFAA to try to route around copyright laws was clearly bogus. Even noting that the CFAA is ridiculously broad, the court notes that "this is a frivolous charge." The court also rejects Team Prenda's Hail Mary attempt to blame ISPs because people may have infringed on their service, an argument that is clearly blocked by the law (citing the DMCA's safe harbors, though probably could have used CDA 230 as well for the non-copyright claims).
To this day, the appellants have provided no support for the idea that every time an internet user does something unlawful online, the user’s ISP is unjustly enriched because it continues receiving subscriber fees from the malefactor. The law in fact is to the contrary. See 17 U.S.C. § 512(a) (a “service provider shall not be liable … for infringement of copyright by reason of the provider’s transmitting, routing, or providing connections for” material distributed by others on its network).
As for the claim that there was a conspiracy between all the defendants, including the ISPs because they refused to cough up info? Um, no.
These assertions are utterly without legal merit. The complaint lacks even the most rudimentary allegation of agreement that would satisfy federal pleading standards. In addition, a service provider does not risk becoming a co‐conspirator every time it challenges a subpoena. To argue that challenging a subpoena makes the ISPs co‐conspirators in a fictional copyright infringement ring is frivolous. Appellants’ theory is all the more outrageous given the fact that the Illinois Supreme Court quashed a functionally identical abusive subpoena.
The court basically agrees with everything the district court said about Team Prenda's scheming in deciding that they deserved to be sanctioned for their actions:
The district court similarly did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorneys’ fees to Smith from the inception of the suit. Lightspeed raised baseless claims and pressed for a meritless “emergency” discovery hearing. The district court found that the litigation “smacked of bully pretense.” At the November 13, 2013, hearing on fees, the court could not have been more clear: it stated that appellants were engaged in “abusive litigation … simply filing a lawsuit to do discovery to find out if you can sue somebody. That’s just utter nonsense.” We see no need to belabor the point. The record amply supports the district court’s conclusions, as our discussion of the case thus far demonstrates. There was no abuse of discretion in the court’s decision to grant either the ISPs or Smith fees for the entire case
So far, Team Prenda seems to be scoring a perfect zero, and their luck doesn't get any better as they move into challenging the fact that the court lumped all of them together in making them jointly and severally liable. Team Prenda didn't like it. The court says, deal with it:
Appellants begin by asserting that the district court misapplied section 1927 by holding them vicariously liable for each others’ actions. They are mistaken. While it is true that section 1927 liability is direct..., an order holding parties jointly and severally liable for costs after determining that each one is individually liable is a finding of direct liability.

Next, they contend that FM Industries, Inc. v. Citicorp Credit Services, Inc...., stands for the proposition that a lawyer cannot be held responsible for documents that bear another’s name but not his own. FMI, however, does not stand for such a broad proposition. There, we upheld sanctions against an attorney, but we found that they could not be levied against the copyright specialist retained by plaintiff’s principal counsel....


The relevant question thus relates to the scope of responsibility undertaken by each individual attorney. In our case, the district court found that while Steele and Hansmeier were not listed on every court document, the evidence showed that they were “in cahoots” with Duffy and worked with him to use the judicial system for a legally meritless claim. Their efforts seem to have continued in this court. While both Steele and Hansmeier now contend that they showed up in this case only after the federal proceedings were underway, the record shows that both were also involved in the shadows of the state court proceedings. Steele called AT&T’s counsel about the subpoenas, and he appeared and argued against the ISPs’ motion to quash and motion to stay. Hansmeier appeared at a conference before a magistrate judge and was the sole signatory of the 10‐page opposition to the ISPs’ motion for the stay of discovery. While Steele and Hansmeier insist that they had only minimal activity with this case, the district court did not abuse its discretion when it found otherwise.
And finally, the court takes on Team Prenda's appeal for their being found in contempt by the district court. As you may recall, after the original district court ruling that told them to pay $261,025.11, Team Prenda simply ignored it. They didn't pay. When hit with the contempt claim, Team Prenda tried to pretend that the sanctions were ineligible for contempt (by twisting the law and pretending it was a "money judgment" and not "sanctions") and then claiming they couldn't pay. This was when the court ordered financial statements from all of them, receiving documents where the CPA who prepared them flat out admitted that they "elected to omit substantially all of the disclosures required by generally accepted accounting principles." And thus, they were found in contempt, and Team Prenda appealed that too. Guess what the appeals court thinks of that? You're right.
Appellants try to evade it by arguing that they thought the order was for a money judgment. But this was neither private nor public litigation against the attorneys. What was at stake was the court’s power to govern its bar. As section 1927 (and for that matter 28 U.S.C. § 1651) reflect, courts have the authority, through contempt proceedings, to sanction attorneys and to enforce their orders.... The money‐judgment defense gets appellants nowhere.
Oh yeah, almost forgot. Team Prenda claimed there was no evidence that they didn't comply with the sanctions. The court laughs:
Appellants next argue that there is no evidence that they did not substantially comply with the order, or at least take reasonable and diligent steps to do so. This position ignores the record. At the show‐cause hearing appellants made clear that they had not paid anything and, when questioned about payment, they never pointed to any step in that direction. They elected instead to defend on the ground that they were unable to pay. Inability to pay is indeed a valid defense in contempt proceedings..., but the question whether the sanctions were paid is different from the question why payment was not made. The district court was entitled to answer the first one in the negative, given appellants’ admission on the record that they had neither paid the required amount to defendants nor posted a supersedeas bond.
What about the whole "inability to pay" thing? Yeah, guess what the court thinks of that. It simply notes that the burden of an inability to pay is a high one and it's totally on Team Prenda to prove -- and they totally failed to do that.

End result: appeals court basically calls bullshit on every single Prenda claim and upholds the original ruling and the contempt finding. It also notes that while it may have skipped over some of the many arguments Team Prenda threw against the wall "any arguments we have not discussed do not merit separate attention." Oh yeah, and the costs of the appeal are now to be added to the amount that Team Prenda has to pay up.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 7:02pm

    Oh sweet, sweet schadenfreude...

    Their ears have to go be ringing like crazy after such a brutally direct and no-nonsense benchslap like that. 'All those lies, trickery, and attempted misdirections? Yeah, we're not buying any of it.'

    I imagine the looks on their faces while they read the latest judgement against them are likely quite good, filled with complete and utter shock that yet another court isn't as stupid as they thought, and that yet again Steele and co aren't nearly as smart as they think they are.

    Now, if some of those sanctions were actually enforced, or, almost as good, if the various state Bar organizations got off their butts and yanked the ability for these parasites to practice, that would just be the icing on the cake.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Pixelation, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 8:49pm

    New tagline

    Team Prenda...we're big holes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    DannyB (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 8:55pm

    Rule of Holes

    Dear Prenda,

    When you're an A-hole, STOP digging!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    S. T. Stone, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 9:05pm

    I am still legitimately surprised that none of the major Prenda-side players in the Prendapocalypse Saga have either turned on their partners in (attempted) crime for some sort of immunity from prosecution or committed suicide.

    None of this promises to end well for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Whatever, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 9:08pm

    Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is enforced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    AC Unknown (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 9:19pm


    In this case, the law is being slammed down on your heroes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 9:21pm

    DMCA and CDA

    The Court likely erred in assumptively agreeing to the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, as there are a lot of rather stifling requirements that must be met to gain said harbor. The CDA is more clear on providing these as a given without any required act on the part of the service provider.

    There's a begged question in the United States that service providers have a safe harbor IF ONLY they do some magical things. This is why youtube and other bend over as required to let copyright maximalists remove content from their stores. It is, however, not challenged anywhere that secondary infringement exists sans explicitly creating an infringement mechanism (napster), nor that the supposed safe harbor exists.

    Anti-SLAPP laws exist so that SLAPP suits can be quickly and judiciously excised from existence. None exist for DMCA Safe Harbor, and watching e.g. Viacom v Youtube we can see Youtube spent YEARS and TENS OF MILLIONS defending the alleged safe harbor.

    So to sum -
    safe harbor under DMCA is a weak trout slap to the back of the knee.
    Sec 230 protections under CDA provide the presumption of innocence to the provider.



    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 9:21pm


    "Prenda Law just hates it when multiple laws are enforced against them."


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 9:24pm

    Steele, Hansmeier & Duffy strategy has always been to score settlements from alleged copyrighted movies. This was their whole agenda.

    John Steele, Paul Hansmeier & Paul Duffy whole strategy in every case where Prenda and it's lawyers were called on the carpet to answer to the court has always employed the same strategy: Deny, Deflect, Delay

    Deny: We weren't involved
    Deflect: We knew nothing about it
    Delay: We never got served thus we deserve a do over

    These guys deserve what they get. They made millions doing this and their plea's of poverty are laughable.

    So these guys have shown an ability for a long while to play fast and loose with the facts and it's about time they have to pay.

    I wonder how many poor ISP subscribers had to take a mortgage out on their house so these ass clowns could score a quick 5K.

    Karma is a bitch fellas, suck it up!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 9:33pm

    these guys make the stooges look reasonable.

    spread out!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 9:38pm

    Remember this is the case where John Steele was whining how he didn't have the ability to pay any Judgement when the Judge order them to pay costs which is what this appeal was about.

    Then SJD discovered that John had started renovations to build a Pool, Spa & Deck to his Miami home and the document used for the permit we're filed with the court in Miami's Dade County Court: pdf

    True to form John seems to have not paid all of the bill for the work that it took to build that Pool, Spa & Deck to his home.

    Seem's the contractor has filed a lien against Johns Miami home :

    I feel bad for the contractor. Apparently he never Googled the name John Steele or he would have got a glimpse of what John is like when it comes to paying things, like court judgements and stuff

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 10:02pm

    Whatever happened to Lutz and his non-sensical non-appearance/s?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    DOlz (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 10:15pm

    Whoope damn do

    They get rapped on the knockles again, so what. That these clowns aren’t doing time or at the very least been disbarred is why people are losing faith in the courts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 10:21pm

    Re: Whoope damn do

    I am hoping that time will soon come where they one day are in a cell rattling the bars while giving their fellow inmates the story of how they have been so wronged by the courts

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 10:22pm

    Prenda = Incompetent boobs. I like boobies. I do not like Prenda...

    What? Well, someone has to. Get a grip!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 10:27pm


    If I had to guess what happened, Steele probably assumed that the court wouldn't look any further if he simply told them that he couldn't pay, and then when someone posted the documentations on the renovations, he suddenly realized that if he paid that off, he'd be showing that yes in fact he does have money he could be using to pay the fines, so he tried to just drop the matter, hoping it would be forgotten.

    Unfortunately for him, sounds like the contractor who did the work is, quite understandably, not quite so willing to ignore what is owed him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    mrtraver (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 11:20pm

    Prenda vs. ISPs

    These guys demonstrate just how bad you have to be to make Comcast look like the good guys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 12:09am


    Criminal proceedings have yet to begin, give them time to flip.
    The larger problem for them is the army of locals who will find their licenses in limbo as this all goes down.
    See cause they liked to get the locals to give them access to email accounts and ECF logins... simply rubber stamping names on filings the named party never saw.

    There is plenty out there to sink the ship, and and major players will be hard pressed to offer up anything to get themselves out of the way of the storm.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 12:33am

    Re: DMCA and CDA

    Perhaps you were unaware that Prenda never availed themselves of any of their duties under DMCA.

    While being a copyright holder does convey a series of rights, and we can debate those points at a later time, it also gives them requirements they must meet before others are bound to serve them.

    It is not a magical wand that throws open the doors at a rights holders whim, they must follow the process. While this does confound them and their plans for world domination where everyone else bears the burden to protect their monopoly, if they do not take even the minimal required steps they should never be allowed to steamroll safe harbor.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 12:38am


    My vote was to look under the new pool that was added to Steele's home.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 12:42am

    Re: Whoope damn do

    I still have faith that once many of the open cases are FINALLY decided, SCOTUS denies them centori, that then we will finally see the USAG start to do something.

    It would give the wrong 'appearance' to start a criminal proceeding while the civil matters are still in play. While I think Pretenda deserves everything coming to them, I want to make sure we don't have another 'the fraud upon the court was moot' moment.

    Wheels of justice are slow against those who work the system, because they know all of the secrets.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 12:47am


    Look back in time Pretenda, and cry your hearts out.
    Your actions lead to your downfall.
    You took on the internet, you took on those who knew your secrets and got people curious why you'd go after a handful of nyms.
    People took a look at all of the bad acts we documented and discussed and it was you who made them stop thinking we were tinfoil hat wearing crazies.

    Thanks for that.
    You boosted and amplified our reputations, successfully sealing your own fates.

    Choke on your pride, and know it was your downfall.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    G Thompson (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:01am

    Re: Oh sweet, sweet schadenfreude...

    Ive only gotten up to page 7 of that ruling and all I'm thinking is


    and then the laughter starts...

    and then I have to start from the beginning again about the holes.. OMG OMG OMG

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 3:18am


    Whatever just hates it when copyright abusers face justice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 4:37am


    ...the contractor has filed a lien against Johns Miami home

    I missed the real significance of that the first time I read it. Assuming I'm reading it right, it looks like the company that did the renovations is trying to claim the entire house as payment, after Steele basically defaulted and refused to pay the full fee.

    Oh please let that land in front of a sympathetic judge, having his greed and arrogance cost him a house would just be too good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. icon
    Ninja (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 4:50am

    Re: Rule of Holes

    We'll stop when we reach the other side of the globe.

    - Team Prenda

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 6:02am

    Re: DMCA and CDA

    The Court likely erred in assumptively agreeing to the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, as there are a lot of rather stifling requirements that must be met to gain said harbor. The CDA is more clear on providing these as a given without any required act on the part of the service provider.

    Partially true, but I don't think it's entirely accurate. While DMCA 512 is unquestionably weaker than CDA 230, the point the judge was making here was not to determine wholly if the ISPs were in the safe harbors, but rather pointing out the general point that Congress intended for ISPs not to be liable for actions of their users. And, to some extent, you underplay the way DMCA 512 is viewed at times. Even if ISPs don't meet each and every qualification, courts have taken the spirit of the law to mean that they are protected.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. icon
    Frankz (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 6:10am

    Re: Re: lien

    No, a lien doesn't claim the whole house as payment. It keeps the house from being sold or transferred in any way without first paying off that debt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 6:54am

    Re: Oh sweet, sweet schadenfreude...

    I'm still waiting for the shills to either continue defending Prenda like they used to or to muster up the courage and honesty to admit they were wrong for once.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    darthskeptic, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re:

    It's an ordinary mechanic's lien. Failure to pay the lien means the contractor can sue to foreclose. The home will then go to a foreclosure sale, the contractor will get the proceeds, then any surplus will go back to Steele.

    If Steele tries to play his usual "dodge the process server" game, he will lose. He can be served by publication. If he is served by publication, the contractor only loses its ability to go after Steele for the difference of the sale price and the lien.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    darthskeptic, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 7:11am

    Remember that Prenda's shenanigans put Comcast on the right side. I repeat, Prenda made us cheer for Comcast.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    David, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re:

    It's more like John can't sell the house without either paying the contractor first, or paying the contractor out of the proceeds of the sale first before John gets a dime. It definitely hamstrings that asset.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Baron von Robber, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 7:40am


    Salt Marsh is really an AKA for Fresh Water Pool!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 7:49am


    Dumbass hates it when sanctions against cocky, asshole lawyers are enforced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. icon
    DannyB (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re: Rule of Holes

    Why stop there?

    - US Courts

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. icon
    sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 7:53am

    One subtlety was not noticed. A s seasoned attorney (@Zenofyle) noted on Twitter,

    A rare and unequivocal bench-slap if I ever saw one. An appeals court calling-out counsel [Voelker] in a decision is meant to send a message.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. icon
    LduN (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 7:59am

    Re: Rule of Holes

    well they do need to enlarge their asses so that they have room to try and squeeze their collective heads out of aforementioned hole...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 8:07am


    You are a fucktard of the lowest degree.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 8:18am

    That little rebuke to Voelker in this decision is all because of the slight he made before the appellate court when they were arguing the appeal.

    The three Judges weren't impressed when Voelker made about the court that brought down the Judgement, and even after the Judge made mention of it to Voelker, he just wanted to slink away without an apology to the court for his remark.

    Judges have a long memory for things like that, and them making the comment in this decision makes the point quite clearly they didn't appreciate the remark or forget it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. icon
    MM_Dandy (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 8:24am

    Re: Re:

    My theory is that he's contracted the same suddenly-no-longer-able-to-afford-a-certain-way-of-life-syndrome that afflicts many retired professional athletes. I don't think Steele ever envisioned that his money well would ever dry up, and was spending money as fast or faster than he was pulling it in, even when it looked like the well was going to get capped. And now that it's happened, he's looking at a growing mountain of debt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re: Whoope damn do

    Besides, the more crap they pull in all these other cases, the more ammo they give the USAG to use against them in the criminal case. They aren't just digging, they are loading a massive dump truck waiting to refill the hole with them still in it once they are done.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. icon
    MM_Dandy (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re:

    Hmmm....after some thought, I'm less inclined to think that Steele is running short on funds for a couple of reasons - the refusal to disclose his finances to the court, and the fact that he's enough of a scumbag to still be attempting to collect settlements - can anyone tell me if this is happening, or of a way to determine if this is happening?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. icon
    Matthew Cline (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 8:48am

    Somehow, the first time around I'd missed Prenda claiming that it was illegal for the ISPs to try to get the subpoena quashed. I mean, wow.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 9:15am

    According to Google, "prenda" is Latin for "arrested".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 9:23am

    I get that these guys seem like dirtbags, but I don't understand the obsession. Is it just because they're copyright lawyers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 10:25am

    Next Hearing

    Why Do I hear Steele saying:

    "But your honor, I can't sell my house to pay the sanctions. There's a lien on it."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47. icon
    GEMont (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 11:02am

    nothing up my sleeve...

    I have to wonder, precisely how much money this gang of lawyer-charlatans has cost the US taxpayer. The sheer number of court proceedings alone is astonishing, and Team Prenda has apparently been able to so far avoid any costs whatsoever. Hopefully, this is about to change, although in truth, I doubt they will ever pay a cent.

    It might indeed be very interesting to see an estimate of how much money this and similar Copyright Troll court cases has so far cost the American Taxpayer in total, as a yardstick for comparing the merits of the copyright laws currently on the books to those older copyright laws that were displaced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Oh sweet, sweet schadenfreude...

    >> Now, if some of those sanctions were actually enforced

    Ahh... but a bond was eventually posted... guess who gets that bond now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49. icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Next Hearing

    assuming he is a florida resident, there is protection for your primary residence, it can not be taken from the owner as a result of any civil suits against them, it is protected from such judgments...

    which is one reason a lot of rich/dodgy folks relocate to florida and build a zillion dollar home: it is untouchable when/if their scumbag machinations get a civil judgment against them...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:56pm


    No, it's more due to the fact that they were, and likely still are, blatantly abusing an already broken law and court system to make life a living hell for anyone they decided to shake down for a quick buck, and now, finally, the courts are starting to take notice as to just what's been going on, and doing something about them.

    The fact that Steele and co were/are incredibly sleazy and arrogant during everything, makes seeing the court cracking down like this all the better. Seeing a group of scum who are just so convinced of their own brilliance and 'intelligence' being told flat out that, nope, the court isn't buying any of the usual tricks, lies and misdirections, is good times all around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So not quite as serious as I thought, but still unpleasant to have to deal with. Let's hope he tries to bluster and dodge his way out of this one too, from what the poster above seems to be saying, if Steele tries it, it will not go well for him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52. identicon
    Kronomex, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 6:42pm

    Jeez, what a bunch of complete and utter dipshits. What nutrition and vitamin free breakfast cereal did they get their licences to "practice" law?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 12:10am


    How many millions of dollars did they need to steal before they rated coverage in your mind?
    They used bittorrent, computers, secret magic box technologies.
    This is an area of litigation, abuse of copyright, abuse of DMCA, trying to ignore settle law that effects technology and advancement.

    While many of us take great joy in seeing them spanked over and over, even casual readers find themselves shocked that the courts are still so far out of touch with technology while sitting in judgement of cases that hinge on actually understanding the tech.

    And I have yet to touch on their lawsuits seeking to unmask people online over butthurt. One of their claims is their reputation was damaged because it was implied the corporation fornicated...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 12:14am

    Re: nothing up my sleeve...

    Until recently it only cost $350 to bring a copyright suit. They packed thousands of Does into each case to save on costs.

    If they had to file single cases against 500 Does it would have cost, $175,000.
    They did that number for $350.

    So a quick review of their cases would tell you number of Does they pursued...
    They wasted courts time, taxpayers money, and gave us a poster child for why copyright law needs to be updated to close these loopholes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55. icon
    IAmNotYourLawyer (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re:

    After getting laid off from my law firm, I actually talked to one of the Prenda people (a few years back before they became infamous) about being local counsel. I was told about the copyright lawsuits but didn't go through after seeing them in some of the early copyright trolling articles.

    Sure am glad I dodged that bullet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.