In short, Steele admits that he and Hansmeier used sham entities to obtain the copyright to (or in some cases film) porn, uploaded it to file-sharing websites, and then filed “false and deceptive” copyright suits against downloaders designed to conceal their role in distributing the films and their stake in the outcomes. They lied to courts themselves, sent others to court to lie, lied at depositions, lied in sworn affidavits, created sham entities as plaintiffs, created fraudulent hacking allegations to try to obtain discovery into the identity of downloaders, used “ruse defendants” (strawmen, in effect) to get courts to approve broad discovery into IP addresses.
Source: Prenda Saga Update: John Steele Pleads Guilty, Admits Entire Scheme | Popehat
The wheels grind slowly, my friends, but they do grind.
While Rightscorp was expected to make the most of BMG’s victory in its future dealings with ISPs, the level of aggression in its announcement still comes as a surprise. Essentially putting every provider in the country on notice, Rightscorp warns that ISPs will now have to cooperate or face the wrath of litigious rightsholders.
Source: Rightscorp Threatens Every ISP in the United States – TorrentFreak
Whether this week’s developments will help to pull Rightscorp out of the financial doldrums will remain to be seen. The company has been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for a couple of years now, and its shares on Wednesday were worth just $0.038 each. Following the BMG news, they peaked at $0.044.
The CCIA proposes to change this by introducing statutory damage awards for abusive takedown requests. This means that the senders would face the same consequences as the copyright infringers.
Source: Tech Giants Want to Punish DMCA Takedown Abusers – TorrentFreak
This same coalition has fought for years in courts around the country to explain how the trolls were abusing the legal process to extort settlements from unsuspecting John Does. While several district courts have agreed, this is the first time a federal appeals court has weighed in.
via Crushing Blow for Copyright Trolls: Appeals Court Halts AF Holdings’ Extortion Scheme | Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“Once a troll gets the names it’s looking for, then it already has what it needs to put its shakedown scheme in motion,” EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz said.
“The agreements are noticeably devoid of any provision for the disposition of any revenues that could be obtained from verdicts or court orders of fees or costs upon success in court, suggesting a business model of using the information obtained from early discovery into the identities of individual defendants to negotiate quick settlements under the threat of embarrassing and expensive litigation without actually litigating claims on their merits,” the Judge explains.
via 2,919 Movie Pirates Walk Free as BitTorrent Trolling Scheme Falls Apart | TorrentFreak.
The Pirate Bay logs not only link Prenda to the sharing of their own files on BitTorrent, but also tie them directly to the Sharkmp4 user and the uploads of the actual torrent files.
The IP-address 126.96.36.199 was previously used by someone with access to John Steele’s GoDaddy account and was also used by Sharkmp4 to upload various torrents. Several of the other IP-addresses in the log resolve to the Mullvad VPN and are associated with Prenda-related comments on the previously mentioned anti-copyright troll blogs.
via The Pirate Bay Helps to Expose Copyright Troll Honeypot | TorrentFreak.
Of course, lawyers and litigants use the court system every day as a way to make money; entire business models like patent trolling remain legal, and the lawyers involved aren’t so much as sanctioned. But with Prenda, the difference in Wright’s mind was apparently the target—not companies but individuals, many without much money or court experience. Prenda’s plan, Wright said, was nothing less than a scheme “to plunder the citizenry.”
via Why weren’t the Prenda porn trolls stopped years ago? | Ars Technica.
As for the porn trolling business model, well, it’s not dead yet. But at least it can’t be done this way.
This case has been terribly confusing for me to follow. The following comment from the comment section sums up the issue with Prenda nicely.
One issue is that lawyers aren’t supposed to misrepresent who their clients are. In this case the lawyers *are* the clients, via numerous shell corporations and offshore trusts designed to obscure that fact. The Prenda attorneys allegedly bought the IP of little-known porn movies for very little money and then set up various bogus organizations to obscure the fact that the attorneys were also the plaintiffs who would benefit from favorable judgments. IANAL but apparently that behavior is frowned upon by law-talking guys.
Last mention of it here was last March. A lot of work from sites like DieTrollDie and FightCopyrightTrolls went into helping the victims of this extortion. Here’s a snippet from the latter:
We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Congratulations to everyone involved, especially Morgan and Nick.
ISPs over the years have profited from the switch to online media consumption and they have offered unlimited Internet access with very high download speeds in advertising campaigns, Sabam said. “The Internet access providers have never paid copyright levies for this activity. They hide behind their status as intermediary, without taking responsibility for the information transmitted over their networks,” the organization said.
via Belgian ISPs sued for providing Internet access without paying copyright levies | PCWorld.
The TL;DR is that there is going to be an unprecedented showdown in a Los Angeles court on Monday that could lead to someone associated with Prenda going to prison.
via Copyright Trolls Order WordPress To Hand Over Critics’ IP Addresses | TorrentFreak.
This story keeps getting stranger and stranger.