by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jun 30th 2014 3:33am
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jun 12th 2014 9:02am
Copyright Troll Malibu Media Tells Court That Its Critics (And Opposing Lawyer) Are Part Of A Psychopathic Hate Group
from the good-luck-with-that dept
It appears that Malibu Media's lawyers have something of a persecution complex:
Plaintiff is the target of a fanatical Internet hate group. The hate group is comprised of BitTorrent users, anti-copyright extremists, former BitTorrent copyright defendants and a few attorneys. Opposing counsel is one of its few members. Indeed, as shown below, opposing counsel communicates regularly with the hate group’s leader. Members of the hate group physically threaten, defame and cyber-stalk Plaintiff as well everyone associated with Plaintiff. Their psychopathy is criminal and scary.Most of the rest of the filing is taking some of SJD's admittedly mocking tweets and trying to twist them into some sort of conspiracy against Malibu Media and all of its lawyers. Ridiculously, the filing asserts that "The Internet hate group has conspired to and is implementing an unethical and illegal campaign to intimidate Plaintiff by threatening it with criminal sanctions." As lawyers, they must know that only the government can actually get criminal sanctions. No private individual can legitimately threaten anyone with criminal sanctions. Opining that certain actions may open you up to criminal sanctions is very, very different than actually threatening someone with criminal sanctions when you have no direct power to do so.
By administering and using the defamatory blog www.fightcopyrighttrolls.com, “Sophisticated Jane Doe” (“SJD”) leads the hate group. SJD is a former defendant is a suit brought by another copyright owner... She is a self-admitted BitTorrent copyright infringer. SJD’s dedicates her life to stopping peer-to-peer infringement suits.
Schulz also attacks the lawyers fighting against Malibu Media for not asking SJD to stop, as if they have any control over the situation, and as if they have any obligation to ask someone to stop investigating and mocking Malibu Media and its lawyers. Much of the complaint focuses on how the lawyer opposing Malibu Media in this case is "a key member of the internet hate group."
Opposing counsel regularly Tweets with the other members of the hate group. Further, his Tweets are often part of a series of Tweets intended to harass Plaintiff and its counsel. Opposing counsel also Tweets about on-going litigation including this case and disparages Plaintiff... He even called Plaintiff a liar.I've seen no indication that anyone is trying to "criminalize" copyright infringement suits. They're pointing out other behavior that may violate various criminal statutes. There's a pretty big difference there. Malibu Media is also upset that the lawyer in question, Jonathan Phillips, actually releases some of the evidence turned up during discovery on his website. Because, apparently, Malibu Media thinks the legal process should be held entirely in secret. While it points out, accurately, that there is not a "first amendment right to see discovery materials," that doesn't mean they must be kept under seal.
Opposing counsel is SJD’s and the other hate group members’ darling. They give him Kudos as he works toward trying to criminalize peer-to-peer copyright infringement suits.
Basically, the entire filing is an effort to (1) slam Malibu Media's critics, accusing them of defamation and illegal tactics, without ever actually filing a lawsuit against them and (2) more importantly, an effort to make sure that a bunch of potentially damning and embarrassing information about Malibu Media is kept secret. Either way, calling a bunch of your online critics psychopaths and a hate group isn't generally a strategy that works long term.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, May 19th 2014 3:34am
from the history-repeats-itself dept
Oh, that revolving door. Helping patent trolls. Also, note that everything fell apart just as... Intellectual Ventures ramped up its political contributions. I'm sure that's just a coincidence, right?
According to a tech industry source, Leahy has changed his position in part as a result of pressure from the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, a lobbying group whose law firm Akin Gump recently hired Leahy’s long time chief-of-staff. The source added that Leahy is prepared to let the reform bill founder, and then draw political cover by casting blame for the failure on committee members’ inability to produce a suitable compromise. Meanwhile, the bill’s momentum has also been sputtering as a result of the trial lawyer bar pressuring other Senate Democrats to slow the bill.
This account of the Senate patent bill’s slow death is consistent with a source cited by Reuters, who said “It’s somewhere between sinking like a rock and air going out of it, like a balloon,”
And, of course, even if something does get squeezed out, much of the important stuff has already been wiped out of the bill. Late last year and earlier this year, most of our focus was on making sure that the covered business method provisions stayed in the bill, but we've been told they're long gone. This was the part of the bill that would allow the Patent Office to more quickly review business method and software patents to make sure they were legit. This already exists for certain financial patents, and it's been shown to be effective in tossing out bad patents. There is no reason to oppose this unless you have a bunch of bad patents... so of course, bad patent hoarders like Microsoft, IBM and Apple freaked out about it.
But even more basic ideas for stopping patent trolls are being stripped from the bill as well, according to Jeff Roberts over at GigaOm:
Staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who did not want to be named, said by phone that the hold up is due to disagreements over two new points of contention: a provision that would require patent plaintiffs to provide detailed descriptions of alleged infringement in the pleadings they file, and one that would alter the legal process known as discovery (in which each side has to produce documents and witnesses). The latter reform is important because patent trolls rely on the economic asymmetries of patent litigation — especially the threat of discovery, which is extremely time-consuming and expensive — to force their victims into settlements.If you've been following the patent reform space for more than a decade, you'd recognize this pattern. Back in 2004, Senator Leahy had introduced a semi-decent (not great, but not horrible) patent reform bill... and the trolls (and pharmaceutical companies) went apeshit over it, killing it. Every new session of Congress, a new version would be introduced that would be watered down to appease the pharmaceutical companies. Seven years later, the America Invents Act was finally passed... once it had been stripped of basically all useful provisions. It did absolutely nothing to deal with the problems of the patent system (and actually may have created a few new ones).
These proposed pleading and discovery reforms have until now been uncontroversial.
Unfortunately, it looks like we may have a few more years of this kind of crap, and no actual end in sight to patent trolling. It's pretty clear that companies that abuse the patent system are now abusing the political process to make sure they can extract more cash from those who are actually innovating. It's profitable to destroy our innovation economy, apparently, so why not spend it on buying politicians who won't stand up for what's right?
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 23rd 2013 7:52pm
from the a-good-start dept
Among the good things in this bill: (1) in cases of really egregious behavior, the bill will allow for awarding attorneys' fees to the prevailing party. So in cases where a patent troll files a bogus lawsuit as part of the shakedown, the defendant can get attorneys' fees. That's helpful, but it will still require years of fighting and expenses to get to that point. (2) In the lawsuit, suing companies actually have to explain what was infringed and how. I know, it seems crazy that this wasn't a requirement before, but welcome to the insanity that is our patent system. (3) Limiting the discovery process. Discovery can be incredibly expensive, and trolls have leveraged that to burden innovative companies that they're suing. This bill tries to limit the power to abuse discovery, though there are always loopholes. (4) "Transparency of ownership." Basically, patent trolls won't be able to hide behind shell companies as easily as before. (5) It tries to (somewhat) limit the ability of patent trolls to go after end consumers of products (such as the troll claiming it could sue all WiFi users) or the troll going after anyone using a networked printer/scanner. All it really does here is allow the consumers to continue using the products while other stuff gets resolved if the troll has also sued the manufacturer. This means, if it's more lucrative, trolls will just avoid suing the manufacturer and go after the users. Again, this protection is not complete, but it's a step forward.
All of these are useful and positive steps, but won't stop trolling. It will, hopefully, limit the most egregious cases, but we've certainly seen that trolls can get creative in how they troll, so I imagine that, if this becomes law, we'll start to see new methods pop up quickly. That said, it's still a long way from actually passing. The fact that the bill is being introduced with a wide variety of powerful backers -- Reps. Bob Goodlatte, Pete DeFazio, Zoe Lofgren, Jason Chaffetz, Howard Coble, Anna Eshoo, Lamar Smith, Tom Marino and George Holding -- means that the bill actually has a better chance than most of actually getting to the floor and passing. But there will be others fighting against it, and a similar bill needs to get through the Senate as well, though that seems likely. If it can get through Congress, it seems like that the administration will support it, but that's not definite.
Honestly, the best thing about this is that, contrary to our expectations after the America Invents Act passed, patent trolling behavior became so egregious that Congress was actually willing to step back into this issue. That suggests that if the activity does continue, Congress will actually address it at some point. That's a good thing, and as EFF notes, we have the patent trolls to thank for that.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jun 24th 2013 1:45pm
from the well-that-clears-it-up dept
The government's response, filed last week, is both interesting and useless. It starts out by claiming that the collected data does not include "cell-site location info," which was requested:
In his motion, the defendant primarily seeks to compel production of cell site location data, i.e., information about where a cellular telephone was geographically located at the time a call was made ("CSLI"), during July 2010 for Metro PCS cellular telephone number (786) 307-4240, based on public reporting about the collection of call data records under a classified order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ("FISC"). The information acquired under this program, however, did not include CSLI. Thus, the government does not possess the records the defendant seeks.From there, there's a lot of [CLASSIFIED INFORMATION REDACTED] brackets, so it's unclear what else the government is saying to the judge. The filing does spend more time explaining why it needs to keep most of this discussion a secret. The claim that the business records request does not include CSLI is interesting, because it has long been assumed that such information was included in the metadata demanded under the FISC order. I'm wondering if the government is carefully parsing its words here, and a slightly different form of location data is included, rather than the specific "CSLI" data.
Later, in the non-redacted part of the filing, the DOJ pulls out the standard excuse from defenders of scooping up business records, that this isn't really surveillance since there is no expectation of privacy in 3rd party data:
Respectfully, the Government submits that Section 1806(f) is not the appropriate vehicle by which to respond to this Court's inquiries because the subject in question does not pertain to information obtained by electronic surveillance, as defined by FISA, but rather to records obtained through the "business records" authority of FISA.Got that? You're not being spied on when the government hoovers up all that data on every single phone call, because it's just a "business record" not "electronic surveillance." Don't you feel more comfortable now?
Either way, people are pointing out that these kinds of requests, from defendants in federal trials, seeking data from these programs are likely to become a lot more common now that there's confirmation that such data exists.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jun 13th 2013 7:09am
from the well-this-interesting dept
Defendant Brown urges that the records are important to his defense because cell-site records could be used to show that Brown was not in the vicinity of the attempted robbery that allegedly occurred in July 2010. And, relying on a June 5, 2013, Guardian newspaper article that published a FISA Court order relating to cellular telephone data collected by Verizon,1 Defendant Brown now suggests that the Government likely actually does possess the metadata relating to telephone calls made in July 2010 from the two numbers attributed to Defendant Brown.The court agrees that, under the law, the government may need to produce those records.
Here, Defendant asserts that, under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), due process requires the production of the July 2010 telephone records because they are anticipated to be exculpatory in that they are expected to show that Defendant Brown was not physically located at the scene of the alleged attempted Brink’s truck robbery in July 2010.That order was actually issued Monday, only giving the government until yesterday to comply. At the time of posting, the government's reply has not yet shown up in PACER, though it may pop up soon. I'm guessing that they'll try to either get some sort of extension or explain why those records are somehow inaccessible -- but it could get interesting.
In view of Defendant Brown’s Motion and the requirements of FISA, it is hereby ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the Government shall respond to Defendant Brown’s Motion and, if desired, shall file an affidavit of the Attorney General of the United States.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 16th 2013 9:45am
Appeal Over Former RIAA Lobbyist Judge Allowing Prenda To Get Info On Over 1,000 John Does Moves Forward
from the doesn't-that-look-silly-now dept
What you may not remember is that the key case in which Howell did this happens to be a case involving... you guessed it... AF Holdings and its "law firm" Prenda Law. Oh, and the "copyright assignment" that AF Holdings is using for this case was one of those supposedly signed by... Alan Cooper. While Judge Howell may be well served to pay attention to Judge Otis Wright in California and his actual investigation into Prenda/AF Holdings/Alan Cooper, the case is out of her hands for now, as the various ISPs who have the info in this particular case have appealed Howell's ruling and the EFF, ACLU, Public Citizen and Public Knowledge have stepped in as well with additional arguments in an amicus brief.
Both briefs are well worth reading, though you might be surprised that the amicus brief is probably the more reserved of the two. The ISPs who took part include: Bright House, Cox, Verizon, AT&T and Comcast -- with most of them (Verizon and Comcast being the exceptions) not even providing service in the jurisdiction of the district court: Washington DC. Comcast joining in is interesting, given that they own NBC, but we'll leave that aside for now. To put it mildly, the ISPs think the appeals court should put an end to these kinds of cases, noting that a majority of other courts have refused to allow joinder on so many defendants, and have blocked the discovery process. It points out, of course, that these cases are almost never taken to court, but are usually just used to reveal names and then offer settlement demands. Specifically, they feel that Howell made a pretty big legal mistake, in that a showing of "good cause" is required for discovery, and Howell ignored that.
The district court’s conclusion that rules governing personal jurisdiction and venue provide no impediment to pre-Rule 26 discovery of the ISPs is legal error. A showing of “good cause,” which is required for discovery ostensibly intended to identify defendants, requires an evaluation of whether the information sought from the ISPs would be used to name and serve defendants in the forum. See, e.g., Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 352-53 & n.17 (1978) (where “the purpose of a discovery request is to gather information for use in proceedings other than the pending suit, discovery properly is denied”). The Copyright Act and the District of Columbia’s long-arm statute limit the court’s reach to defendants who reside in the district. And the uncontroverted evidence before the district court showed that few, if any, of the targeted Internet subscribers reside in the District of Columbia—as publicly available geolocation software used by Plaintiff’s counsel in other cases confirms. The district court’s decision to defer any consideration of personal jurisdiction or venue until after the subscribers’ personal information had been disclosed to Plaintiff requires reversal.The ISPs also, quite reasonably, point out that if mass joinder and discovery is allowed in this case, the trolls will descend on the DC Circuit courts in a mass forum shopping situation:
The court’s decision to permit discovery of the ISPs before deciding whether the 1,000-plus “Does” are misjoined provides an additional basis for reversal. Plaintiff, by routinely declining to name and serve defendants after obtaining the subscribers’ personal information, virtually ensures that Rule 20’s requirements for joinder will go unaddressed if not evaluated at the outset. And as a growing majority of courts have concluded, deferring a ruling on joinder deprives the courts of filing fees and encourages a proliferation of improperly coercive lawsuits. Given the groundswell of published opinions that disagree with the lower court and have severed or dismissed non-resident “Does” or all Does except for “Doe No. 1,” deferring a ruling on joinder in a suit that seeks nationwide subscriber information also encourages forum shopping—as the record here shows persuasively.
The record reflects that Plaintiff’s counsel’s cases have migrated across the country, with the venues selected, not by the locus of the parties or situs of harm, but based on counsel’s perceptions of which forum is most likely to authorize the greatest discovery, at the lowest cost, with the least judicial oversight.The ISPs also go through, in detail, the accusations against Team Prenda, and the claims of Alan Cooper. As it notes:
The specter of intra-district, judge-specific shopping in Plaintiff’s counsel’s cases further underscores the problem with the lower court’s approach. The ISPs raised below Plaintiff’s counsel’s practice of filing complaints and dismissing them vel non based on the judicial assignment—only to re-file in another court. When presented with the same facts, Judge Wilkins quoted with approval Judge Huvelle’s finding: “Plaintiff’s actions a[re] akin to ‘judge shopping.’… This Court could not agree more.” ...
The ISPs respectfully submit that the district courts in this Circuit should not be the destination for 1,000-plus Doe cases that are brought primarily to compile mailing lists—not to adjudicate actual cases or controversies.
AF Holdings and its counsel owe a duty of candor to the Court, and a duty of fairness to appellants.... The serious issues concerning attorney misconduct and potentially forged documents were not identified for the court below; they necessarily affect the “good cause” analysis and provide an alternative basis for reversal to address the evidence now being considered in the pending disciplinary proceedings in the Central District of California.The EFF/ACLU/PK/PC filing is more focused on the specific errors in Howell's ruling, concerning the "good faith" standard for discovery and the mass joinder of over 1,000 people. They also point out the jurisdiction problems of the defendants who are clearly outside the jurisdiction of a DC court -- and the fact that these cases rarely end up in actual lawsuits means that the question of proper venue will not be "cured" later. Finally, the brief argues that Howell ignored key First Amendment issues concerning revealing anonymous internet users, and the higher standard for them to be revealed. This argument wasn't made by the ISPs, so we'll focus on that one here. It points to the key Dendrite standard we've discussed many times before concerning the revealing of anonymous users. This does not mean that you cannot identify those accused of copyright infringement, but rather that you can't go on a random fishing expedition to get names, as many copyright trolls have done.
Specifically, in a series of cases beginning with Dendrite Int’l, Inc. v. Doe No. 3, 775 A.2d 756, 760-61, 342 N.J. Super. 134 (App. Div. 2001), courts have adopted a balancing standard to assess requests for early discovery to identify anonymous online speakers that protects the right to speak anonymously while at the same time ensuring that plaintiffs who have valid claims are able to pursue them. Without such a standard, abusive plaintiffs could too easily use extrajudicial means against defendants from whom they could not, in the end, obtain judicial redress. See Levy, Litigating Civil Subpoenas to Identify Anonymous Internet Speakers, 37 Litigation No. 3 (Spring 2011).It will be interesting not only to see how the appeals court deals with it... but also Prenda's argument, since they seem to be getting more and more wacky lately.
The use of BitTorrent to select and share movies is expressive and, therefore, protected by the First Amendment. Call of the Wild Movie, 770 F. Supp. 2d at 350 (“[F]ile-sharers are engaged in expressive activity, on some level, when they share files on BitTorrent, and their First Amendment rights must be considered before the Court allows the plaintiffs to override the putative defendants’ anonymity.”).
Although the expressive aspect of the conduct alleged here – the posting of copyrighted movies to BitTorrent – is somewhat minimal, that does not mean that discovery to identify the anonymous user without adequate initial evidence that individual Doe Defendants committed the alleged infringement. The weakness of AF Holdings’ assertions of personal jurisdiction and proper joinder means that First Amendment concerns weigh more strongly here in favor of quashing the subpoenas. Certainly it was not appropriate for the district court to ignore the question altogether.
by Joyce Hung
Wed, May 15th 2013 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Canada's scientific research and development agency, the National Research Council, has announced that it will now only conduct research that has "social or economic gain." Apparently, the President of the NRC actually said, "Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value." Unfortunately, that's one giant leap backwards for mankind. [url]
- U.S. House of Representatives chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) is proposing to replace the National Science Foundation's peer review process with a new set of funding criteria chosen by Congress. Smith's "High Quality Research Act" would require the NSF to judge grants based on three criteria -- that the research will: advance national health, prosperity, welfare, and security; solve problems that are important to society at large; and not duplicate other research projects being funded by the government. [url]
- On a more positive note, the Thiel Foundation's Breakout Labs is aiming to change the way early-stage science is funded. Their grants of up to $350,000 over 1-2 years will enable startups to chase some risky ideas with groundbreaking potential, returning a small percentage of any commercial success back to Breakout Labs to help fund the future ventures. [url]
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 20th 2013 12:07pm
from the who's-hiding-what? dept
The decision to lift the protective order rests with the judge who put it in place. Documents provided by MIT in the Swartz case included individual names and information regarding MIT employees. It is MIT policy and practice to protect employee privacy. MIT provided the documents under the express understanding that they would be protected from disclosure, which is the purpose of the protective order. Given this, we are concerned about any public release of information about individual MIT employees: we will seek to protect their privacy. At the same time, MIT is eager to share important facts about its actions in the Aaron Swartz matter with the public: Professor Hal Abelson has been charged by President Rafael Reif with conducting an analysis that will be made public in the coming weeks.Peters, quite reasonably, found this statement to be absurd. Especially the part about MIT claiming that it provided the documents in the belief that they would be kept secret. As Peters noted in response, this was obviously untrue.
"This statement is an insult to my intelligence. The documents were provided to the government before any protective order was entered, and directly contrary to this statement, with the express understanding that they would be used in a criminal prosecution', which would lead to a PUBLIC TRIAL, at which time the documents would be offered into evidence and the witnesses would testify, in public. MIT never could have expected these materials not to become public, and I find this statement to be shockingly misleading and insincere."Around this same time, the Congressional investigation into Swartz's prosecution requested the same information. Given that, Swartz's legal team met with the DOJ to discuss releasing the documents currently under protective order. They agreed to redact certain personal information (phone numbers, emails, home addresses, social security numbers, birthdays), as well as the names of four people who were questioned during the investigation, but who "were not actively involved in either the Government's or any institution's investigation" into Swartz. However, where the conversations broke down was over redacting the names and info of just about everyone else: law enforcement, MIT employees and JSTOR employees.
Swartz's lawyer argues that this information should be public and if the case had gone forward would have been public:
Criminal proceedings in our nation's courts are presumptively public....They further note that hiding the names of those actually responsible will make the Congressional investigation into what happened much more difficult. Second, the information was provided initially without any expectation that this info would be kept private, so to ask for it to be kept private now makes little sense. In fact, they note that most of the people named, who the government and MIT wish to redact, were likely potential witnesses had the trial been able to move forward. "Consequently, MIT and JSTOR cannot now claim any reliance interest on behalf of their employees in the continued privacy of their emails at the time they produced the emails at issue to the government." They further point out that most of the names in question are already public and highlight press accounts and previous releases of documents in the case that specifically name: "MIT employees Dave Newman, Paul Acosta, Ellen Duranceau, Ann Wolpert, Mike Halsall, and Mark Sillis and JSTOR employee Brian Larsen, identifies their positions, and quotes their email communications." Given that this is already public, it seems odd to further seek to redact their participation.
As described above, the circumstances in this case have changed dramatically. Perhaps most obviously, with Mr. Swartz's death, there is no longer a case to prosecute and thus no danger that disclosure will impede a fair trial. Mr. Swartz's tragic death has also led to an increase in public interest in both the details of the investigation and prosecution and the reasonableness of prosecutions under the CFAA generally. In its discussions with Mr. Swartz's counsel about modifying the Protective Order, the Government has not, to date, asserted any reliance interest based on the Protective Order. Even if it were to assert such an interest, any Government reliance on the Protective Order's terms is tempered by the fact that it is a blanket order and therefore inherently overinclusive. As this District explained in Bulger, modification of such a blanket order is not unusual. Id. at 54. As a result, the only interest left to be balanced against the significant public interest in access to unredacted documents is the alleged privacy interest of the government employees and third party individuals named in the discovery materials. For the reasons discussed below, those interests are minimal and are overcome by the public interest in the disclosure of these documents.
The argument in the other direction is that the attention this case has received means that names of such folks might lead to threats, but Swartz's lawyer says there has been no evidence presented of any threats to MIT or JSTOR employees -- and even if there was, that wouldn't necessitate blocking out info on all such employees.
Separately, his lawyers point out that redacting law enforcement officials names makes even less sense, given that they are public employees.
Days after this motion was filed, MIT "responded" by agreeing to release the documents itself... but with those same redactions requested by the DOJ. MIT President Reif has tried to spin this as being "in the spirit of openness, balanced with responsibility." Of course, that doesn't make much sense. The DOJ has already agreed that this same level of information should be released, so MIT isn't doing anything here other than making it appear -- falsely -- as if it is making some concession towards openness. On top of that, MIT has said it will not release this info until its overall investigation is over.
Not surprisingly, Swartz's family is not particularly impressed by all of this. In a statement provided to us, Swartz's girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, notes that this is misleading not just because MIT isn't doing anything new here, but also in that this isn't MIT's decision at all.
“I welcome President Reif's commitment to transparency. However, this announcement is misleading. MIT does not get to decide in what form the evidence is released publicly. The judge does. MIT has already given this evidence to the courts, at which point it gave up proprietary control over the evidence. President Reif's decision simply foreshadows the inevitability that the judge will release at least this much of the evidence. It sets a low bar, but it does not decide the matter. The redacted documents MIT is releasing only tell one part of the story. Huge amounts of information would still be hidden beneath the protective order -- information that MIT's investigators themselves will not have access to unless the protective order is lifted. If MIT is really committed to transparency and having a full, complete investigation, they need to join the call with Aaron’s lawyers to lift the protective order."Similarly, Aaron's father, Robert Swartz, noted that this is not a concession by MIT, and that MIT already gave up its rights to these documents, so trying to control how they are disseminated makes little sense.
"This is not a change in MIT's position. MIT could have no expectation of privacy or security since this evidence was given to the government with the understanding that it was evidence in a public trial,” said Robert Swartz, Aaron’s father. “They understood when they gave these documents to the government that they had no rights to privacy or security. MIT should release all internal communications related to this case whether or not they were provided to the government including all internal communications they had related to how they handled it and decided not to ask the government to drop the case."Stinebrickner-Kauffman also pointed out that "if MIT wished to protect these people's privacy, MIT should not have become involved in the criminal trial to begin with. They made a calculated decision not to nip this case in the bud. They don't get to avoid the consequences now, after Aaron’s death."
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 25th 2013 6:44pm
from the incredible dept
As we noted, there was some suspicion that the "named" defendants and their lawyers were somehow in on the deal -- and the judge in at least one case flat out asked Prenda's John Steele, and the defendant's lawyer Adam Urbanczyk, if they "were in bed together" to come up with such a settlement. At the time, we pointed out that it was still a big leap to assume that, but now there's a bit more evidence. In one of these cases, involving the likely-Prenda-shell-company Guava, one of the named defendants, Spencer Merkel, has filed an incredible affidavit in which he admits that Prenda had offered him a "settlement" in which he would be "named" in a lawsuit and agree to cough up his BitTorrent log files. And Prenda provided him with the lawyer who would then represent him thousands of miles from his home.
Michael offered me a settlement deal. The deal consisted of the following parts:Now, throughout all of this, he believed that Prenda was representing Hard Drive Productions, one of the porn companies that Prenda used to represent, but whose cases they dropped entirely not too long ago to focus solely on these questionable shell companies they claim to be "representing."
a. I would agree to be sued.
b. Prenda would ask for, and I would provide, a copy of the bit-torrent log from my computer. The excuse for gathering this log is that it would corroborate the IP address evidence that they had already gathered through the use of Prenda's sottware.
c. Prenda would, upon receipt of the information, dismiss the case against me.
4. In discussion of the settlement, Michael stated that he did not know of any pro bono attorneys in Oregon, but could provide the name of an attorney who might take my case in Minnesota. Because I cannot afford to pay an attorney, I agreed to be sued in the state of Minnesota. I then retained my attorney, Trina Morrison, based on the information provided to me by Prenda Law.
5. Before the start of this case, I had not heard of Guava LLC. I believed that I would be sued by Hard Drive Productions, Inc. I believe that Guava LLC's case against me is based on my admission to Michael that I downloaded the video at issue in the Hard Drive Productions case.Oh, and it gets worse. After all of this... Prenda went after him again, which seems to be why he's now willing to speak out about the "deal."
6. Before the case against me was filed, I had not heard of Alpha Law Firm. I believed that opposing counsel was Prenda Law.
7. Afier subpoenas were served in the case against me, I learned of Guava LLC's and Prenda Law's practice of finding one John Doc to be a named defendant, and then discovering the names of and requesting settlement money from other John Does by issuing subpoenas to ISPs.
8. Last week, on 01/15/13, I was once again contacted by Prenda Law Firm. I received a voice mail from someone on behalf of Prenda Law stating that I needed to make payment arrangements or I would be sued.At the very least this raises very serious questions about the conduct of Prenda Law and some of the lawyers who represented these named defendants. Given that Prenda is already dealing with serious questions in multiple courts about possible fraudulent activity, finding out that they may have effectively blackmailed a defendant into taking a dive, for the purpose of "agreeing" to discovery to find another batch of people to go after, can't look good.