Prenda Scam Boss, Paul Hansmeier, Pleads Guilty

from the welcome-to-the-big-leagues dept

After fighting for years, it appears that Paul Hansmeier realized he was cooked. On Friday, he pleaded guilty to various fraud and money laundering charges related to his copyright trolling under the Prenda name. Hansmeier, of course, was one of the two "masterminds" (and I use that term loosely) behind Prenda along with John Steele, who pleaded guilty last year, and was set to be a witness against Hansmeier, who came up with some colorfully ludicrous theories to try to talk his way out of these charges.

If you don't recall, Hansmeier and Steele started out as garden variety copyright trolls, suing tons of people and shaking them down for money, but they kept expanding the scam, to the point that they were setting up bogus honeypots with content they themselves uploaded to get IP addresses to shake down (with hilariously dumb attempts to cover up that it was them). They also set up fake shell companies as their own "clients" which didn't go over well in court. That's not even getting to the way that Steele and Hansmeier were clearly the beneficiaries of these shakedowns, or the fact that they tried to hide the money. And do we even mention the outright lying in court?

One of the most incredible things in watching the whole Prenda saga over the years was just how much Steele and Hansmeier seemed absolutely 100% convinced that they could talk their way out of everything. No matter how bad it was getting, they would scream to the heavens about how everyone was lying about them and that eventually they'd be shown to be innocent. Yet now they've both pleaded guilty. Hansmeier's plea agreement has him pleading guilty to mail fraud and wire fraud, along with conspiracy to commit money laundering. The "deal" is that prosecutors won't charge him with even more crimes that they've since uncovered "including conduct associated with the defendant's bankruptcy proceedings." The agreement lays out much of the scam in pretty clear terms (the P.H. in the agreement appears to be Paul's brother Peter Hansmeier who there are differing opinions about his level of involvement in the scam, P.D. is obviously Paul Duffy, who was another bumbling part of the scam, and who died a few years back of "chronic ethanolism" as all of this was unraveling):

Defendants Uploaded Clients' Movies to File-Sharing Websites

Beginning no later than in or about April 2011, HANSMEIER and Steele caused PH. to upload their clients' pornographic movies to BitTorrent file-sharing websites, including a website named the Pirate Bay in order to entice people to download the movies and make it easier to catch those who attempted to obtain the movies. As defendants knew, the BitTorrent websites to which they uploaded their clients' movies were specifically designed to aid copyright infringement by allowing users to share files, including movies, without paying any fees to the copyright holders.

Defendants Obscured Their Involvement in the Lawsuits

In or about November 2011, in order to distance themselves from the copyright infringement lawsuits and any potential fallout, defendants caused Prenda Law to be created. Although P.D.--an attorney located in Chicago--nominally owned Prenda Law, HANSMEIER and Steele exerted defacto control over Prenda Law, including the primary direction of its employees and dispensation of its finances.

Additionally, beginning in or about 2011, defendants created various entities they surreptitiously controlled, including AF Holdings LLC, Ingenuity 13 LLC, Guava LLC, and LW Systems LLC. The defendants used these entities as plaintiffs in copyright infringement lawsuits the defendants filed against individuals who had downloaded movies the defendants had uploaded to BitTorrent websites.

Defendants Filmed Their Own Pornographic Movies and Uploaded Them to File-Sharing Websites

Beginning no later than in or about May 2012, defendants participated in filming pornographic movies. On at least three separate occasions in Chicago, Miami, and Las Vegas, HANSMEIER and Steele--at times assisted by P.D., M.L., and P.H.--contracted with adult film actresses and produced multiple short pornographic films. HANSMEIER and Steele then caused Ingenuity 13 to obtain copyrights to the films, which bore names such as "Five Fan Favorites" and "A Peek Behind the Scenes at the Show." Shortly after filming the movies, HANSMEIER instructed P.H. to upload the movies to file-sharing websitessuch as the Pirate Bay in order to catch, and filed lawsuits against, people who attempted to download the movies.

Defendants Concealed Actions from Courts

After uploading their clients' and their own pornographic movies to BitTorrent who purportedly downloaded the movies did so without "authorization" or "consent" from the copyright holder or its agents and that their client had suffered "damages." After filing the initial complaint in these lawsuits, defendants then filed ex parte motions seeking to obtain early discovery regarding the identities of the subscribers associated with the IP Addresses used to download the movies, and therein represented to the court that the unnamed defendants downloaded the movies without authorization. In each of these lawsuits and the accompanying ex parte motions for early discovery, HANSMEIER and Steele concealed from the court that they: (a) uploaded their clients' movies to BitTorrent websites, (b) filmed their own pornographic movies in order to upload them to BitTorrent websites, and (c) owned and controlled the plaintiffs and thus had a significant personal stake in the litigation. HANSMEIER and Steele knew that these facts were material to the courts' decisions whether to permit early discovery.

The courts, relying on the defendants' lawsuits and motions, granted early discovery and thereby authorized the defendants to subpoena internet service providers for subscriber information associated with the IP Addresses set forth in the motions and/or civil complaints. After obtaining the subscriber information associated with the IP Addresses, the defendants sent letters and made phone calls to the subscribers seeking settlement payments in exchange for dismissing the lawsuit against those subscribers.

Then there's the discussion about the CFAA related scam that Prenda tried to pull:

Hacking Allegations

Beginning in or about October 2012, HANSMEIER and Steele caused lawsuits to be filed, generally on behalf of Guava LLC, falsely alleging that certain named defendants had "hacked" into their client's computer systems. In fact, and as the defendants knew, the defendants named in these lawsuits had been caught downloading one of HANSMEIER and Steele's clients' movies from a file-sharing website. These "defendants" had agreed that, in exchange for HANSMEIER and Steele waiving a settlement payment, the defendant would be sued and permit HANSMEIER and Steele to seek discovery about his/her alleged co-conspirators. HANSMEIER and Steele brought several lawsuits falsely alleging that these defendants had participated in hacking Guava's computers in order to attempt to obtain authority from the court to issue subpoenas to intemet service providers.

There's much more in there as well.

For what it's worth, kudos should be directed to the person behind the Fight Copyright Trolls website, who really was the first to not only call out Prenda's bad behavior, but who figured out many of the details of the scam way before anyone else did. I'll admit that some of that site's early reporting seemed so outlandish that I was initially skeptical that it could possibly be accurate. But as more and more evidence came to light, basically everything that FCT initially suggested turned out to be incredibly accurate. Also, many kudos to the various lawyers who helped bring Prenda down in court in a variety of different cases, which helped highlight the details of the scam. I know I'm forgetting some, but Morgan Pietz, Nick Ranallo, Dan Booth, Jason Sweet and Erin Russell put in quite a lot of effort in unraveling Prenda in court.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 2:22am

    Ah sweet guilt-free schadenfreude...

    With all the bad news coming from various courts these days it's nice to see someone who does have it coming finding themselves in the legal cross-hairs for a well deserved hammering.

    Looking over the details things look mighty unpleasant for good old Paul, with page 10 mentioning a possible eleven to fourteen years of prison(though the government apparently won't ask for more than 150 months/12.5 years), and page 11 talking about making restitution for the entire scam they ran, not just what they've been convicted of, which is going to drain that bank account just a titch.

    And that is the plea deal, the look on his face when he realized he wasn't going to be able to talk his way out of this and had to agree to a plea deal to avoid things getting even worse must have been priceless.

    The whole thing took entirely too long but better late then never, and always nice to start the week with a story for all to enjoy.

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    • identicon
      Amorous Quackpot, 21 Aug 2018 @ 2:44pm

      Re: Ah sweet guilt-free schadenfreude...

      I'm one of the people they tried to shake down three years ago. My doctor says my schadenfreude infection is now terminal.

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    • identicon
      John, 18 Sep 2018 @ 5:05pm

      Re: Ah sweet guilt-free schadenfreude...

      Ah schadenfreude...........it's spreading!

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 4:13am

    But but but I thought his plea allowed him take backsies if the appeals court rules his motion to dismiss is a perfect escape hatch.

    And as always, SJD, I'm a fscking bridesmaid.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:31am

      Re:

      "Hansmeier, who is suspended from practicing law, had been scheduled for trial Sept. 5 in Minneapolis. His plea agreement allows him to withdraw the plea if he is successful in appealing the district court’s denial of his motion to dismiss the case."


      Yeah - what's up with that?
      Is everyone allowed to play this game or is it another one of those things only the wealthy are afforded? And why was he offered a plea bargain, what do "the people" get in return for said leniency?

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      • icon
        James Burkhardt (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 9:01am

        Re: Re:

        I have seen similar clauses in other high profile plea bargins it is called a plea bargin for a reason.

        A trial for a case like this would be lengthy, costly (to the taxpayer), and burdensome (to the court). You always have the concern that a defense lawyer could somehow frame the facts in a way that introduces doubt. And then there are the inevitable appeals that further place financial and bureaucratic burdens on the taxpayers and courts. The people get the benefit of side-stepping this whole process. In a case this well documented, its a positive move.

        In fact, the appeals clause serves this same interest - with an appeal in the works to dismiss the case entirely, Hansmeier would rightly refuse a plea bargain without it, and be generally obstreperous. Despite the Hail Mary of his appeal, it is his legal right. And if he succeeds, the plea bargain makes no sense. The Judge would likely shut down a bargain which includes a backdoor method to subvert an ongoing appeal.

        So the clause is in the interests of Justice - it allows the appeal to proceed but shuts down further action if the appeal is denied. It reduces the burden such a case places on the court.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 9:11am

          Re: Re: Re:

          For expediency sake, we let wealthy crooks slide.
          For profit's sake, we railroad innocent poor people into prison for decades.

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          • icon
            James Burkhardt (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 10:56am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The issues at hand are related, certainly. The big issues involving the poor and innocent relate to mandatory minimums and the financial burdens of the system, not in the terms of plea agreements themselves.

            Because, in the end, the railroading is also about 'expediency' as you put it. That's why we push for plea bargains. It is the financial burdens the system places on the poor, and the inequitable sentencing created by mandatory minimums, that make plea bargains morally concerning and cause the perception of 'letting crooks slide' versus 'railroading innocent...people'.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 1:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yes.

              And the poor do not evaluate their condition(s) based upon written law, precedence, or other promises as they experience the world from a different perspective.

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        • icon
          That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:30pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          8 fscking years.
          8 fscking years.
          Millions stolen with the assistance of the courts.
          News reports talking about it as 3 million... funny the financials they failed to seal in DC IIRC was 6 million in a few months.
          Everyone has a plea deal except the one who drank himself to death (my sympathies to his family they did not deserve that pain).
          Millions of dollars unaccounted for, plenty of time to stash the assets, given breaks no court ever afforded the people they exploited.

          DoJ took protesters to trial, trying to blame them for the actions of others, even trying to say reasonable doubt wasn't a real thing to the jury. No evidence anyone on trial did anything wrong, they were just targets to spread fear.

          These MF'er got every possible pass, despite massive evidence of the fraud. If someone who wasn't the son of a connected politico in MN had brought to trial a strawman to use to get discovery in a fake case they'd have been stopped.

          They both moved onto the ADA scam & Hans even looted the 'client' accounts then turned the cases over to his wife to keep extorting money for their lifestyle of hiding assets & making Judges sweetheart deals on a condo.

          You'd think this should have scared the other trolls, it hasn't. They continue abusing the courts & the system to bring cases to obtain much more than what is allowed statutory for shitty films & flee so no one can see the man behind the curtain.

          Lipscom is the only one smart enough to have gotten out once he realized that the 'Fanatical Internet Hate Group' actually had toppled Prenda & were deep diving into the serious questions about MM's business model of suing people who magically were sharing content that hadn't even been released on their website yet... which should raise the question how did it get online if the public had never had access to it??

          This will not hurt them at all.
          Hans can apply to get his license back in a few years & to please daddy it'll happen. Steele gets to be close to his kids college after terrorizing people on fixed incomes & making threats not supported in law.

          While this might be nice all well and good, they needed to make an example of these asshats. They needed to put the fear of the law into them that a milisecond of alleged information shouldn't be the key to millions of dollars. They should not be allowed to frighten people into settling a 'crime' they didn't commit b/c they fear what will be whispered behind their back when they depose the neighbors to ask if THEY downloaded the porn using their neighbors connection.

          They lied to try and silence the Scooby's & scare anyone looking for help away from that help... while it really helped people understand this crazy tale was true, their punishment was... yep thought so.

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  • identicon
    The Great Teprender, 20 Aug 2018 @ 4:23am

    Typo in one of their company names.

    I believe they should have called it GUANO LLC.

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  • icon
    wshuff (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 4:45am

    So Steele and Hansmeier get hammered, and Salt March walks away scott free. Where is the justice?

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

  • identicon
    SJE, 20 Aug 2018 @ 4:59am

    Sentencing?

    Steele was found guilty and disbarred over 12 months ago but doesnt appear to have been sentenced or done any jail time. Where they waiting to sentence Hansmeier before they threw them both into the Big House?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:11am

      Re: Sentencing?

      IANAL but I think they held off on sentencing pending his testimony against his cohorts. Now that the Prenda Saga is coming to a close and he played the good little government witness, the gov/probation dept will recommend a 'reduced' sentence.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:13am

      Re: Sentencing?

      I think they were waiting till after he testified against Hansmeier, since that was part of his own plea agreement.

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

  • identicon
    Lord of the Files, 20 Aug 2018 @ 5:21am

    But were they the only ones doing it?

    I cannot help but wonder just how many so called anti-piracy outfits there are in existence right now currently employing these same tactics, impossible to detect simply because they're doing a better job of covering their tracks. I'm willing to bet it's more than a few.

    All we can do is hope that someone within their inner circle of trust is watching everything they do, taking detailed notes and squirreling away as much hard evidence as they can for when that inevitably rainy day comes. You know, when the ground beneath your feet suddenly washes away without warning. ;)

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 8:59am

      Re: But were they the only ones doing it?

      Insiders are nice (for discovery), but I wouldn't count on it. Better use the scorched earth approach, that's where the ground is currently more slowly than suddenly washing away for the trolls. A positive side effect is uncompromised integrity.

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

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:33pm

      Re: But were they the only ones doing it?

      A majority of them use the same firm that has dozens of names & moves the names of the players around to make them look like they aren't just 1 band of asshats overseas making bank by hiding the evidence while swearing they saw infringements, in documents to the courts, that predate the alleged infringement.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 5:22am

    Remember the day when Steele pleaded guilty, too? out_of_the_blue and Hamilton absolutely lost their shit. Hardly surprising, they represent scam artists.

    This should be interesting.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 5:27am

      Re:

      Shame horse with no name/MyNameHere/Just Sayin' isn't here to see it. He was so convinced, bless him, that Prenda would appeal, and Prenda would win.

      What a glorious day for copyright enforcement! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 5:34am

        Re: Re:

        IMHO, this has very little to do with copyright and everything to do with criminal behavior, which should never be tolerated. Criminals should be punished. Legitimate copyright and patent holders should not be punished, as you so often advocate here in such an absurd way.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 5:41am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Legitimate copyright and patent holders should not be punished, as you so often advocate here in such an absurd way.

          [Citation Needed].

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

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 5:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Well, count the number of articles and comments that talk about the horror of copyright and patent “trolls”, and count the actual number of “trolls”. I’d say the ratio is approximately 1,000,000 to 1, judging by how many times this one example has been brought forward.

            You can find a bad egg in every industry, but few examples of persistent condemnation comparable to that of “trolls”. This site has argued consistently that their behavior should be the basis for throwing out copyright and patent law altogether, and has already resulted in it’s corruption with ridiculously high expenses.

            In think the more likely situation is that big corporations are paying you criticize copyright and patent law, and blowing these few examples way out of proportion. Why else would you need paid commenters and censorship to make your point? The only reason I can imagine is that your case is so weak you have no other means to defend it.

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

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:05am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              So vague assertions, lies and strawmen, and baseless paranoid delusions as usual. Yeah, that's what I figured.

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

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:10am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I’m not sure what you mean by “vague”. My assertion is that Techdirts takes money from the Open Source industry and large corporations that could suffer severely if patent law were enforced. Does anyone deny that? My assertion is that you use that money for paid commenters and employ censorship to bolster your opinions. Does anyone deny that?

                This has been pointed out time and again by (usually) censored commentors. It does not seem to me to be vague at all, nor ambiguous or equivocal.

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

                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:15am

                  Point of order: If you make a claim (or “assertion”), the burden lies upon you to prove it is true. You made a claim; now you have to back it up with evidence. If you cannot prove the claim yet continue to insist it is true, we reserve the right to call you a liar.

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

                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:30am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I’m not sure what you mean by “vague”.

                  Yeah, refusal to face your dishonesty would be rather confusing I suppose, so let me make it easier and clearer on you: Provide specific examples of TD arguing that legitimate copyright and/or trademark owners should be punished for whatever reason, or have your strawmen dismissed yet again via Hitchen's Razor. No, 'you know, those articles!', provide links to the specific articles, one or more, with the exact quotes to support your position.

                  My assertion is that Techdirts takes money from the Open Source industry and large corporations that could suffer severely if patent law were enforced. Does anyone deny that?

                  And as before, [Citation Needed]. You make the claim, you provide the evidence to back it up.

                  My assertion is that you use that money for paid commenters and employ censorship to bolster your opinions. Does anyone deny that?

                  See previous response, also thanks for once again demonstrating your dishonesty and delusional mind, having two possibilities for schadenfreude in a single day is twice the fun.

                  See, funny thing, if baseless accusations are something you consider acceptable then it would be all too easy to turn them on you. After all, were I or anyone else similarly dishonest I/they could just as easily say that such an eagerness to attack anti-troll articles must surely be an indicator of having a vested interest in the process, whether that be financial or personal, and as such you yourself would be brought into question and forced to demonstrate your innocence.

                  (Of course I have no need to go that far or take you that serious, because frankly you're not worth it and I don't even give you that much credit.)

                  This has been pointed out time and again by (usually) censored commentors. It does not seem to me to be vague at all, nor ambiguous or equivocal.

                  By liars such as yourself who have their comments flagged for said lies you mean? Why yes, you do get reported fairly often, go figure. Act like a child, get sent to time-out like one.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:33am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I know it's difficult for you when you live life in a crazed frenzy trying to defend the undefendable, support the crony-capitalist-ism, row row fight the societal progress.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 4:12pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I deny it with any proof.

                  So prove it.

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                • icon
                  Karl (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:12pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  > the Open Source industry

                  HAHAHAHA *gasp* HA HA HA HA HA...

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:09am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Why would big corporations pay anyone to criticize copyright and patent law?

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

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:14am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                For the same reason that the Open Source community does. A single patent could bankrupt the Open Source industry, so they invest large sums of money using various and often nefarious means to weaken patent law and to sway public opinion against patent holders. Large corporations have billions of dollars of revenue at stake that could be lost by a single patent case. They both have a huge vested interested to weaken patent law.

                Just ask Mike Masnick where he gets his money. He will never answer, of course, because he is a charlatan. He has stated repeatedly ad revenue does not pay the bills, and T shirts certainly don’t.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:23am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  so they invest large sums of money

                  Didn't you say that Masnick's side was "financially" unsupported? Where are all these large sums of money coming from?

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:37am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    These bastions of grifting do not recognize discrepancies between present and past opinions.

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

                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 3:02am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      I only there was a way for someone to provide citations in order to prove such claims rather then expecting to just take the word of anonynous comments stating things without proof.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:27am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  And you can of course back up your assertions that big corporations want to weaken copyright and patent law instead of trying to lengthen and strengthen them?

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:44am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "For the same reason that the Open Source community does."

                  "The Community" as you call it responded to attacks by defending themselves and you call it ... "weaken patent law and to sway public opinion against patent holders".

                  What sort of twisted pretzel logic has lead you to this point?

                  What do you think of all those crazy patents issued? idk, how about "Apparatus for facilitating the birth of a child by centrifugal force". I'm quite sure women across the globe will be standing in line for this procedure.

                  "because he is a charlatan"
                  Is this defamation or is it slander?

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

                  • icon
                    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:54am

                    Slander in defamation, but slander is defamation via spoken word. In print, it’s libel.

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 8:02am

                      Re:

                      Only if it is false.

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

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                        identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 8:23am

                        Re: Re:

                        I will share one sad fact with you, Stephen - in my long career, I believe I have paid attorneys well over a million dollars to deal with this little problem or that little problem. In the course of that million dollar education, I have learned a few things.

                        I am not sure it would be possible to libel Mr. Masnick on his own web site, on which he enjoys exclusive control of what is published or not published. I think he might have an affirmativel obligation to limit his own damages by simply removing the offensive material before it caused him substantial financial harm. It is his web site, after all, under his control, with which he can do whatever he wants.

                        I think anyone could say anything about Techdirt and/or Mr. Masnick here without having to worry about a libel problem, ever. As in Never, Ever worry about what you say here. Ever. For any reason. Period.

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

                        • identicon
                          Christenson, 20 Aug 2018 @ 8:53am

                          Re: Re: Re:

                          I disagree about the worrying.

                          First, there's my *own* reputation to be concerned about when I post something here, and my post might reflect badly on me!

                          Second, although Mr Masnick obviously believes in "don't be a dick", what if he dies tomorrow and his heirs feel differently and drag me into court, even frivolously? That would be *very* expensive! (There's a huge amount of economic friction in the law, frequently decried on TechDirt! ).

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

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                            identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 9:02am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            You can deal with your first point by posting anonymously.

                            For your second point, his heirs would have the same affirmative obligation to remove any defamatory content before it caused damage.

                            You can say anything at all about Mr. Masnick and/or Techdirt here without worrying AT ALL about legal retribution, no matter how vile, disgusting or untrue. That’s a side-effect of the power he enjoys here. He is totally unable to claim damages, ever.

                            Open Season for All. (Call your friends)

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

                            • identicon
                              Christenson, 20 Aug 2018 @ 9:20am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              I think you missed my point:
                              *Legal* safety is not the same as practical safety. Just ask Prenda Law's (and Malibu Media's) victims, not to mention Gawker.

                              Me, I *like* techdirt, and am not worried!

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

                        • icon
                          That One Guy (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 9:29am

                          Re: Re: Re:

                          That's not just wrong, it's fractally wrong, to the point that it's almost impressive how wrong you are.

                          There's this little things called 230 protections, you might have heard about them? Just because something is on a site does not make the site owner and/or moderator liable for it, nor does it shield the ones who posts it from any consequences by shifting it to the site.

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

                          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                            identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 9:44am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            The same authority that makes it possible to Techdirt to censor makes it impossible for them to claim damages that they choose not to mitigate.

                            Period, idiot.

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

                            • icon
                              That One Guy (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 10:07am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              And again, not just wrong but fractally wrong. TD has the right to moderate content(and/or allow the community to do so by providing insightful/funny/flag as abusive/trolling/spam options) without also being liable for the content itself. That is almost literally the point of the law. Nothing in there means that if someone uses the platform they provide to post content which may be illegal the site is liable, nor does it mean that the one who made the post isn't liable.

                              You are of course quite welcome to provide citations and evidence to support your position to the contrary, should you wish to double-down on this.

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

                            • identicon
                              Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 10:12am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              "The same authority" -- What might that be?

                              "Techdirt to censor" -- whatevar been thru this one before

                              "impossible for them to claim damages" -- enlighten me

                              mitigate or litigate? .... english is so weird

                              Yes, everyone with whom you disagree is an idiot.

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

                              • identicon
                                Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 11:59am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                By demonstration

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

                                • identicon
                                  Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 8:51pm

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                  Demonstration... you know, the fact that people can still reply to your garbage on the same site means you're not being censored.

                                  Your insults are just as weaksauce as your "Techdirt Editorial Imperative" from way back when, Hamilton. Have fun defending a copyright troll who's on his way to the hoosegow!

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

                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 4:16pm

                          Re: Re: Re:

                          That’s because Mike isn’t a delusional, thin skinned liar, and fraud.

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

                • identicon
                  Christenson, 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:52am

                  The Great Copyright Conspiracy Machine...The Internet!

                  So here you are, operating part of the greatest copying machine ever constructed...the internet...which has *effortlessly* and *automatically* stolen a copy of this post, which is *automatically* copyrighted...and you weren't warned, but I'm going to file a lawsuit against you anyway. Pay up! Not to mention, I'm gonna censor your response because you *might* have excerpted this post with a completely frivolous DMCA takedown notice (See Lenz v Universal Studios).

                  You really have to ask yourself how much of this makes sense anymore.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 2:44pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yes this is "an anomaly"..sure.

              You need help dude. seriously. next you'll be saying your dog told you to start chopping up hookers.

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

        • identicon
          mcinsand, 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:33am

          this has a lot to do with copyright

          Prenda voided their own copyrights by uploading for download without permission. Doing so constructively abandoned copyright, which then tossed their legitimacy for filing infringement suits.

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

          • identicon
            David, 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:48am

            Re: this has a lot to do with copyright

            It's sort of like a busker suing his audience for listening to copyrighted material.

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

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Turner Wright-Backatcha, 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:55am

            Re: this has a lot to do with copyright

            Prenda voided their own copyrights by uploading for download without permission.

            It's an arguable point, but isn't actually relevant to copyright. The content was wrongly made available, sure, but everyone should have known that any and all on a pirate site is illegal to take. Two crimes don't make a right.

            By same notion, leaving your car unlocked / unalarmed in public is just inviting those with criminal tendencies. But you'll find that's still theft.

            Doing so constructively abandoned copyright, which then tossed their legitimacy for filing infringement suits.

            ONLY FOR THAT CONTENT AND NO OTHERS. Clearly, you pirates wish this to invalidate ALL copyright. Not going to happen.

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

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:19am

              The content was wrongly made available, sure, but everyone should have known that any and all on a pirate site is illegal to take.

              Prenda did not “wrongly” make the content available for free—their doing so was the entire intent of the plan. And last time I checked, if you intentionally give away your product for free, where you distribute it generally does not matter.

              theft

              Copyright infringement is not theft.

              Clearly, you pirates wish this to invalidate ALL copyright.

              [citation needed]

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:32am

              Re: Re: this has a lot to do with copyright

              There are legal downloads on so-called pirate sites. It's a distribution point for some media creators trying to build a fan base.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 8:55am

              Re: Re: this has a lot to do with copyright

              any and all on a pirate site is illegal to take

              Really? Are you sure about that? Are you absolutely sure you want to make that absolute statement? Because I could easily come up with a bunch of examples of stuff on so-called "pirate sites" that is absolutely 100% legal to download.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 4:19pm

              Re: Re: this has a lot to do with copyright

              Still defending them. That’s sad even for you blue.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Not so humble IMO

          It is grifting, plain and simple. I doubt they will spend any time in jail.

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

      • icon
        DB (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 9:40am

        Re: Re:

        We'll see the strength of their convictions if they come here to comment.

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

    • icon
      blademan9999 (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 3:25am

      Re:

      Link please. I can't seem to find their coments.

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

  • identicon
    Avideogameplayer, 20 Aug 2018 @ 5:38am

    I guess it's no longer Hammer Time?

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

  • identicon
    David, 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:02am

    Coming up next: Guardaley

    Also known as PNG ("Prenda, the Next Generation").

    Well, one can hope.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Turner Wright-Backatcha, 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:47am

    Separate out points you wish to indiscriminately mix.

    1) Far and away, 999 out of 1000: no implications at all for copyright and patents. Those are soundly based from Common Law / Constitution. No matter how many criminal use copyrighted content somewhere in their activities. At most, methods.

    2) The "honey pots" are perfectly legal. No one was / is induced to take the content.

    3) LAWYERS ARE ALL CRIMINALS, PERIOD. Only remarkable point is that these were SO beyond the bounds that are brought to small part of justice.

    4) It's taken what, four or five years? During which how many petabytes of infringed content was illegally downloaded? -- They were on the right side until got greedy. YOU are on the wrong side, which is promoting piracy. It's only possible because difficult to prosecute. These lawyers got impatient, is a partial defense.

    5) Pirates should STILL be prosecuted for their thefts. The crimes of these lawyers don't justify YOURS to steal from creators.

    6) You kids can chortle all you want and try association to smear copyright supporters here, but it's not true. Just another of your self-serving lies.

    7) This is about ALL the wins you kids have in last year. And it's not support for your piratey notions, it's the JUSTICE system moving slowly. -- Same system will jail you if just confess to what have done!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:07am

      Re:

      Bang on schedule.

      out_of_the_blue just hates it when due process is enforced.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:20am

      Copyright infringement is not theft.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:54am

        Re:

        Criminal copyright laws prohibit the unacknowledged use of another’s intellectual property for the purpose of financial gain. Violation of these laws can lead to fines and jail time. Criminal copyright laws have been a part of U.S. laws since 1897, which added a misdemeanor penalty for unlawful performances if "willful and for profit". Criminal penalties were greatly expanded in the latter half of the twentieth century, and those found guilty of criminal copyright infringement may now be imprisoned for decades, and fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminal_Copyright_Law_in_the_United_States

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:59am

          I did not say “copyright infringement is not illegal”. I said “copyright infringement is not theft”. Even Wikipedia says so:

          Courts have distinguished between copyright infringement and theft. For instance, the United States Supreme Court held in Dowling v. United States (1985) that bootleg phonorecords did not constitute stolen property. Instead, "interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The Copyright Act even employs a separate term of art to define one who misappropriates a copyright: '[...] an infringer of the copyright.'" The court said that in the case of copyright infringement, the province guaranteed to the copyright holder by copyright law – certain exclusive rights – is invaded, but no control, physical or otherwise, is taken over the copyright, nor is the copyright holder wholly deprived of using the copyrighted work or exercising the exclusive rights held.

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

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 8:08am

            Re:

            The funny thing is I strongly suspect that if it came down to it a good number of the 'copyright infringement is theft!' crowd would not be happy if it was legally treated as theft, for two main reasons.

            First, the standards of how the accusations differ are significant, and were infringement to use the theft standard mere accusation would not be enough, you'd have to demonstrate that you've in fact lost something.

            Second, the fines would be vastly lower, mere pocket change in comparison. No more hundred or thousand dollar fines for a single song, instead even $100 would be in the upper range, with most fines being in the lower double-digits.

            This in turn would impact the 'losses' certain groups like to trumpet about, cutting them to a fraction of their current amounts. No longer would a handful of songs cause tens of thousands in 'damages', rather you'd be looking at a few hundred at most, and trying to justify why you need even more laws passed in your favor with numbers like that would be a titch more difficult.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 4:24pm

          Re: Re:

          Still not theft...

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

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 9:37am

      Re: Separate out points you wish to indiscriminately mix.

      > ...no implications at all for copyright and patents...
      Well, it implicates concerns about how the law and jurisprudence has incentivized extortionate behavior. It might not implicate their existence, but it certainly implicates the current paradigm of enforcement methods.

      > 2) The "honey pots" are perfectly legal.
      In rebuttal, I refer you to the criminal charges. Under copyright, if the copyright holder makes a work available for copying, it is not infringement to make that copy. And Legal jurisprudence has held that making a work available on a torrent network has de facto provided authorization for that torrent network to function as intended. And you are right, it is legal for a copyright owner to do that.

      To then sue over that intended activity is a misuse of copyrights and concealing the origin of the work from the court is fraud on the court. Those are illegal. So a bit of a nothing burger

      > 3) LAWYERS ARE ALL CRIMINALS, PERIOD. Only remarkable point is that these were SO beyond the bounds that are brought to small part of justice.
      Not sure how this helps any of your later claims, prosecutors are laywers as well....

      > 4) It's taken what, four or five years? During which how many petabytes of infringed content was illegally downloaded? -- They were on the right side until got greedy. YOU are on the wrong side, which is promoting piracy. It's only possible because difficult to prosecute. These lawyers got impatient, is a partial defense.

      In these cases the entire point is that the content was not illegally downloaded. They were the initial seed, and the copyright holder. And if they might have had legit careers before that, it really has no bearing on their grossly illegal actions.

      >5) Pirates should STILL be prosecuted for their thefts. The crimes of these lawyers don't justify YOURS to steal from creators.

      No one is arguing differently.

      >6) You kids can chortle all you want and try association to smear copyright supporters here, but it's not true. Just another of your self-serving lies.

      Well, Copyright supporters have a history of supporting Prenda in these comments. Even as evidence of the criminality of their scheme, rather than just the questionable model of enforcement, came to light justifying the crimes with an ends justify the means stance, so....

      > 7) This is about ALL the wins you kids have in last year. And it's not support for your piratey notions, it's the JUSTICE system moving slowly. -- Same system will jail you if just confess to what have done!

      I don't know where to begin. This should be a win for copyright supporters - proof that the system isn't broken because the criminals get shut down. But to you this is a win for piracy supporters because someone suing a pirate for infringement where there was no infringement is being held accountable?

      Also, you do realize that without criminal lawyers there wouldn't be a justice system? Judges are lawyers, Prosecutors are lawyers. Half the clerks are in law school. Its lawyers all the way down.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:59am

    you mean this is OVER?

    what i am going to do with all this popped corn?

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

  • icon
    sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:59am

    Thank you, Mike.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 8:28am

    Prenda Popcorn Blowout!

    Get yer popcorn here! Buy one, get one free! Everything must go!

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

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 10:30am

    someone Mike forgot to mention

    U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II - for not putting up with Prenda's courtroom BS.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 10:51am

    Rot in jail.

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

  • identicon
    Christenson, 20 Aug 2018 @ 10:58am

    John Steele...

    This just in from SJD:
    Co-conspirator John Steele just tested positive for Marijuana, 4 days late. His travel is restricted to AZ and MN, and he must be assessed for chemical dependency.

    https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.mnd.160889/gov.uscourts.mnd.160889.104.0 .pdf

    Seems he still thinks he can talk his way out of anything!

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 11:08am

      Re: John Steele...

      Well to be fair were I in his shoes I'd probably be in dire need of a little 'relaxation' too, though a quick check and it would seem that arazona and minnesota are both states where recreational weed use are still illegal, so it would seem even now he continues his boneheaded actions.

      I'd like to be surprised that he decided it was a good idea to get high while under court supervision, but yeah, thinking he's above the law seems to be par for the course for that scum-bag.

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:37pm

        Re: Re: John Steele...

        Most accounts of his current appearance have noted he looks sick.
        While I do enjoy the idea of him suffering, if he had cancer & was using the pot to deal with the side effects I'd have a small amount of pity for him.

        No one deserves that, even him.

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

        • identicon
          Christenson, 20 Aug 2018 @ 8:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: John Steele...

          Facing jail alone from a family that wasn't poor was enough to drive my younger brother to drink. John Steele has also lost his wife. That might make anyone sick.

          Steele seems pretty young to have cancer.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2018 @ 11:07am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: John Steele...

            He may fake cancer to try to get a lesser sentence or early parole then "get better".

            Time also to get Duffy exhumed and a toxicology report done to see if Steele and/or Hansmeier murdered him to shut him up.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2018 @ 2:17am

          Re: Re: Re: John Steele...

          Yeah, about that... remember the last time someone from Prenda had cancer? That was Brett Gibbs. And he dealt with his cancer by having an expensive Caribbean-themed wedding.

          Any sympathy these assholes get, they squander. Fuck that.

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

          • icon
            That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 3:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: John Steele...

            But Brett finally saw the light & handed over the receipts.

            Yes I was very tired of his, but I had brain cancer thing, that was meant to trigger humanity in the Scooby's.
            I've been accused of lots of stuff, having humanity isn't on that list.

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

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 9:54am

          Re: Re: Re: John Steele...

          Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona and it's not difficult to get a card. I'm not sure about Minnesota.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 22 Aug 2018 @ 2:04am

          Re: Re: Re: John Steele...

          On the one hand I can sorta see that, if it is cancer rather than simple 'stress from realizing that he won't be able to talk his way out of the hole he dug himself' that would be unfortunate in general, as cancer is a terrible thing.

          On the other hand I can't help but wonder, if one of their victims had said that they couldn't pay because doing so would mean that they wouldn't be able to pay for medicine they dearly needed, say chemo treatment or drugs to mitigate some of it's unpleasant side-effects, would they have so much as paused in their demands?

          Given the utter indifference towards the suffering they've caused I strongly suspect the answer to that would be 'no'.

          As such if he is dealing with cancer I'm not going to be dancing for joy or celebrating it in any way, but I'm also not going to waste so much as a second feeling sorry for him. He didn't care what suffering he caused, I'm not going to feel sorry for any he might be dealing with.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2018 @ 11:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: John Steele...

            He needs to PROVE beyond any shadow of a doubt that he a) has cancer and b) it's terminal and utterly untreatable before he gets parole because he's a lyin sack of shit that WOULD pretend to be dying to get out of prison early.

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

  • identicon
    SJE, 21 Aug 2018 @ 6:29am

    Holdup - if Steele can only travel back and forth between Arizona and Minnesota, then does this mean he _isn't_ living in Florida and the home he bought to protect the millions of his ill-gotten gains? Do the Florida protections to keep homes safe from asset forfeitures apply in such a case?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2018 @ 11:05am

    And now that Paul Hansmeier is on the way to prison, its time to exhume the corpse of Paul Duffy and run FULL complete toxicology reports, because theres a suspicion that Hansmeier may have murdered him to prevent him turning over evidence.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2018 @ 9:32pm

    Altogether now!

    There once was an out of the blue
    Who hated the process of due
    Each lawyer he'd paid
    Was DMCAed
    And gave his blue ass a big screw

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


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