What Prenda Law Is Facing In Los Angeles, And How They Got There

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129 Responses

  1. Jonathan says:

    Burn Baby Burn…

  2. mojo says:

    Well, well. There's the cat amongst the pigeons, sure enough.

  3. cindy says:

    the suspense is killing me. can't wait to read the follow-up.

  4. Ravious says:

    I love you! That is all.

    Just great, great post.

    This is also not spam because…. uhh… your associates suck for not reading this blog every day.

  5. Patrick says:

    This is where I get preemptively mean again and suggest to you, our readers, that you be careful what you write, because the last thing I need, at this moment in my life, is to have some fucking stranger engage in discovery aimed at establishing I'm a co-conspirator with Ken in publishing your libel-slanders.

    I've had a rough few months these past few months, so don't tempt me. Be civil, and stick to the facts. Someone from Prenda Law is reading this.

  6. tsrblke says:

    Is anyone else totally confused by this? I mean IANAL, but I can usually follow a case. But this is like some sort of Copyright James Bond flick.
    Where did Prenda law even come from in the first place? Were they an established firm before all this mess or did they spring into existance about the same time as "Ingenuity 13 LLC."
    And on that note, how did Ingenuity 13 end up with the copyright for the porn film in the first place (since it seems they aren't really a production company…if such a word works for porn, but rather a copyright holder/clearinghouse type thing. Again, if such a term even works here.)
    Where did AF holdings come onto the scene? (No really they just sorta came out of no where.)
    Finally, if (given all the good reasons I might add) you can't just use an IP address to ID an internet user (makes sense) how come a Red light camera can use a license plate to "ID" a driver (or demand they turn over the person actually driving the car?) Ok, that once is more of a pet peeve.

    So what of the Allen Cooper currently claiming his name has been stolen. He's now ordered to appear, because (if his claims are to be believed) someone dragged him all into this against his will. That seems a little much. After all ostensibly he's fighting Prenda (or AF holdings) on different front unrelated to this lawsuit. Unless I'm misunderstanding Judge Wright's intent here (which seems to be to determine if there are in fact 2 Allan Coopers.)
    All I can say is I hope we get to the bottom of this and if there is any wrongdoing that the parties involved are held responsible. I hate those who basically use the law as an improvised weapon.

  7. Terry Towels says:

    Thank your for the analysis of the documents. I read them, but am unfamiliar with the context of legaldom to understand what they imply in the larger sense. So, it is as bad as I thought.

    I hope some day, you or someone else (if for legal reasons you can't) will do the same for the John Doe v Carreon case. I've been keeping up on the filings, but I don't understand what they mean. I can't decide what the judge is doing with his rulings.

  8. MattS says:

    As a non lawyer I have occasionally wondered what it would take to terrify a lawyer enough to mess his/her pants. Now I know. :)

  9. David says:

    How exciting!

  10. nentuaby says:

    … and what happens if party f in the March 5 order is, indeed, fictional?

  11. Ken says:

    … and what happens if party f in the March 5 order is, indeed, fictional?

    Well . . .

  12. tsrblke says:

    Also, I'm a little unclear as to how "John Doe" found out someone (I still can't figure out who) was trying to get his identity from an IP address, but Kudos to him for putting up a fight. I have to imagine that takes resources. I was never a fan of the drive by settlement attacks that Wright describes in his "easy route…hard route" bit. It's not clear that was Prenda's goal in the first place (the judge merely notes that it could go that way), but sometimes the only way to find out is the fight the original filing. In some respects it reminds me of the RIAA battles of yesteryear. And Kudos to Wright for making them show their intent.

  13. John O. says:

    Playing thermonuclear chicken with a federal judge means you're gunna get nuked.

  14. Rob says:

    @tsr,

    if you want to spend the time to get up to speed, I'd suggest starting with arstechnica's coverage. This is the Top Story at the moment, and all the previous stories are linked from there, or use the copyright tag to search.

    If that isn't enough, http://fightcopyrighttrolls.com is your next stop.

  15. naught_for_naught says:

    OK, this is sooo much better than TV. For the record this is the line were I lost it:

    From the perspective of Prenda Law, this order is what we call in the convoluted nomenclature of federal practice a Very Bad Thing.

  16. Jeff says:

    tsrblke: I would speculate that Prenda/Ingenuity/whoever sent a notice to the ISP, refused to give up the name, and who then informed the subscriber.

  17. tsrblke says:

    Thanks Rob,

    I don't think it would be factually inaccurate to say this case (or cases) have a ton of moving parts and a timeline slightly more complicated than you're average time travel movie.

  18. Dan says:

    Wow. I am a lawyer (who never goes to court) and this order is my personal nightmare. I don't usually read the super-long Popehat posts, but I couldn't stop. Eager to hear the results.

  19. Ken,

    Is there an opportunity for one or more of the guilty parties to come forward and try to throw themselves on the mercy of the court by ratting out the rest?

    I only ask, because my entire knowledge of the law comes from Law & Order; and as I don't watch cop dramas like Law & Order, I only gleam little bits from the commercials.

  20. Nicholas Weaver says:

    Patrick: With the two postings by Ken, you've all but guaranteed that Prenda is going to send third party subpoenas your way for deleted posts, the IPs of all posters, etc, if they don't outright name Ken as Doe 3.14159….

    So since your screwed anyway, you might as well enjoy being Libel, and practice saying "Yo, California Anti SLAPP law… BITCH"

  21. Nicholas Weaver says:

    tsrblke: Most ISPs notify the customer first on such requests these days, unless the warrant or subpoena specifies that they can't, in order to allow the customer a chance to fight the subpoena or take other action themselves.

  22. Ken in NH says:

    Ken,

    I think you missed option 5, one or more of a through g realize the jig is up and start researching extradition treaties and last minute airfare.

  23. tsrblke says:

    @Nicholas Weaver,

    Ahhh that makes sense. Well Kudos to him for fighting it, I suspect most people ignore those and hope nothing happens.
    Also did you call Patrick "Libel?" Then "You R Slander!" (or something.)

  24. Kevin says:

    My favorite bit is where Pietz actually created a graphic illustrating the players involved. Note the image he used to illustrate Anthony "Salt Marsh" Saltmarsh. I like the cut of this guy's jib.

  25. Peter says:

    I assume food and drinks are not normally permitted in federal courts, but judge Wright seems like a fair minded fellow, and I bet he would permit popcorn for the people watching the hearing. In the interests of justice, you know.

  26. SJD says:

    Very good summary, an always-missing holistic post in the world of extensive yet scattered coverage.

    I wanted to note that you referred extensively to TechDirt, but neglected another source that covered this saga restlessly, ArsTechnica. But in the end I was relieved to see the link to Tim Lee's coverage.

  27. That Anonymous Coward says:

    *whistles while refilling the popcorn maker*
    Saltmarsh is very photogenic.

    I have asserted and continue to maintain that the efforts of "Prenda" (or whatever new name they are using this week) were not on the up and up. I am excited that a court finally has taken notice of some of the "issues" with this "litigation" system.

    Its not like they never angered a Judge before…

    We haven't served anyone, but go ahead and let me search all the computers in the account holders home so I can find the bad guy. Oh Mr. Gibbs when will you learn not to anger Judges?

  28. Orv says:

    Get the popcorn, this is gonna be good.

  29. Justin says:

    A (slight?) tangent, but how would Pietz get involved before Prenda has had a chance to identify his client? How, before then, would the client even know he is being sued? Someone's reading through court filings, notices their IP address and gives Pietz a call? I'm sure this is obvious and I'm missing something simple, but I'd appreciate it if someone could straighten me out.

  30. SJD says:

    John Steele has dismissed "his" lawsuit (the one filed in Florida) without prejudice today.

  31. perlhaqr says:

    I was kinda wondering something tangential to what tsrblke mantioned: If it turns out that this Alan Cooper fellow really did get his name misappropriated, and that the other Alan Cooper doesn't even exist, will Prenda at least have to reimburse him for his time and money for flying to LAX from MN? I mean, I think I recall hearing from some other post about this that the fellow in question is a gardener or landscaper or something, he might not really have the extra scratch to take a random trip to Hollywoodland.

  32. Chuck says:

    My first thought upon reading the order is that I don't see how the court has jurisdiction over the Minnesota Alan Cooper, though he may well want to attend anyway.

    Anyway, as an unemployed lawyer in downtown LA (world's smallest violin, I know!), I intend to check this hearing out on Monday.

  33. George William Herbert says:

    If the Alan Cooper in Minnesota were too poor and need contributions to provide airfare and a hotel room in LA, I am sure that honest uninvolved folk who are interested in fair justice could donate for that purpose.

  34. Ken in NH says:

    Chuck,

    IANAL, but since this is federal court, jurisdictional issues do not apply within the borders of the US, its territories and possessions, is my guess.

  35. Anonymous says:

    @Ken:

    You wrote many things up there to try to explain to us, your lay audience, how terribly far up Shit Creek that Prenda Law and their client(s) might potentially have sailed.

    I just want to applaud you for the subtle use of the article tags; the words on their own are powerful, but I feel more moved by the fact that this is the only article they link to. Bravo.

  36. Ygolonac says:

    And it's official, ladies and gentlemen, the balloon has dropped!

    We invite you to enjoy the ominous whistling sound and the frantic bleatings and scrabblings of the doomed, and remind you that there's still plenty of time for fresh buttered popcorn and refreshing beverages from the concession stand…

  37. Patrick says:

    Nicholas Weaver, I don't live in California, bitch.

  38. Andrew says:

    A couple unrelated, mundane notes…

    First, the real Alan Cooper from Minnesota (whose address is, unfortunately, in one of the orders) lives nowhere near a truly major airport, and getting to California from the closest regional airport will be one expensive proposition. A quick search tells me that, round-trip, he could expect to pay over $1,500 for air fare alone. Driving to the Minneapolis airport could save about $1,000. I'm not in the best position to help with that, unfortunately.

    Second, on page 2 of ECF No. 59, there is a reference to "interest in a
    subpoena to obtain testimony and records from the Minnesota bank that employs the notary who supposedly notarized Mr. Mooney’s signature on legal pleadings." I am not a lawyer. However, it has been my experience as both a litigant (pro se and represented) and as a political candidate (for which a number of affidavits are required by statute) that the diligence of Minnesota notaries varies widely. According to the frequently asked questions for Minnesota notaries (click "Frequent Questions" on the left side of the page), a journal is recommended but not required by statute. When I have had documents notarized at a bank, more often than not, the notary did not record any information. I always presented identification to the notary regardless of whether the notary requested it, but it is conceivable that a busy bank teller may pay little attention to the authenticity of the identification. I'm sure I'm telling Minnesota lawyers nothing they don't know already.

  39. Dan Weber says:

    Is it ever acceptable to show up at a court in one's home state in lieu of showing up at a court in a faraway state?

    I feel for the original guy who had his identity (allegedly) stolen.

  40. Ken says:

    Pietz just filed a transcript of a deposition of Paul Hansemeier, who was designated as the representative of AF Holdings LLC for a depo in the Northern District of California.

    It's — wow. It's just — it's —

    Is this real life?

  41. Dan Weber says:

    I'm a bit confused by things happening in both California and Florida. If I understand the "main event" is in California and Lutz is doing some stuff in Florida. What's the relation?

  42. RogerX says:

    If I may be so bold, are you permitted to take audio recordings of the proceedings? The applications available for iPhones and Android devices these days are quite useful for such purposes, and as a techie who's never been summoned for jury duty, I'd love to consume some actual, real-life courtroom drama.

  43. Shane says:

    Ken – Is the Deposition transcript posted anywhere besides PACER?

  44. Ken says:

    1. The depo is only on PACER

    2. I will try to write it up tonight.

    3. NO YOU CAN'T RECORD IN FEDERAL COURTHOUSES. DANGER WILL ROBINSON.

    4. Wow. Holy shit. Holy holy shit. (In re: the depo.)

  45. Matt says:

    Ken — will there be a video stream of these proceedings? I would love to be there in person, but alas, I live in Nebraska…

  46. SJD says:

    When I posted about Coopergate for the first time, it was a shock and 5 days waiting before Tim Lee wrote about it in ArsTechnica. The accusations were so unbelievable, that some of the popular news outlets explicitly said that they would wait when I contacted them.

    Now everyone wants to deliver news pieces and comment ASAP. Makes me happy.

  47. Ken in NH says:

    Ken,

    Slight hijack, but I would like to hear your take someday on why recording (audio and/or video) should or shouldn't be allowed and why the hell we're still using stenography (or stenotype) when an actual recording should be just as reliable if not more. (I'm not saying we should get rid of court reporters, but they should probably be more audio engineers than typists with funny keyboards. They or their subordinates can type up the transcript later.)

  48. Steve H says:

    OK, I think I follow this, except, who is Angela Van Den Hemel and why does Judge Wright want her to appear for the hearing?

  49. Orville says:

    If this goes badly for Prenda Law, could the results be used to gain restitution by someone who felt compelled to pay them rather than fight?

    I'm not that person – I am just curious.

  50. Rob says:

    I believe the deposition Ken is referring to is here: gov.uscourts.cacd.543744.69.1.pdf

    To tsr @12:56; yes, it's fair to say this is a rather complex matter. :)

    {Edited for better linkage ~D}

  51. Terry Towels says:

    @Rob, thanks, I've been debating paying for PACER.

  52. George William Herbert says:

    Rob, the URL is getting truncated somewhere, can you shortenize it?

    Thanks.

  53. Noah Callaway says:

    @Ken Wow. This write-up is absolutely incredible. I'm very much looking forward to the write-up of the deposition tonight. Thanks for always being an awesome resource for my law-related followings.

  54. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @Justin – The process works like this.
    They ask the Judge can we find out who "owned" these IP addresses at this time. Judge says ok. ISP then sends out a letter to the identified accountholder sometimes they explain you can try to fight, sometimes they don't, sometimes they tell you to contact the lawyer trying to find your identity. (boggle on that last one)
    A Doe at that point might retain a lawyer to file a Motion to Quash or as in this case a Motion to burn the entire thing to the ground.

    Often the Doe's are told they are not a party to the case seeking their personal details so they can supposedly be named in a lawsuit.

    They did attempt in this case at some point somewhere to file a motion chucking out the Pietz (sp) filing because his client might not exist and he was just doing this to meddle in their affairs. Funny them claiming other people don't exist…

    @Andrew I noted over on FCT that at least 1 poster suggested that people would help to get Mr. Cooper there if someone would setup a way for people to donate anonymously. I am not rich but if there was a way I could contribute from the shadows I would. Many of the people targeted by Prenda aren't rich, but there are enough that even a $10 or $20 "gift" from each one would put him well on his way there.

    And for the record… ZOMG will people please learn how to ACTUALLY redact a document? I mean seriously… with all of the information that ends up leaked you'd think someone would actually figure out how to do it… But I do enjoy looking at what I'm not allowed to see…

  55. bonez565 says:

    For those who are getting a truncated URL in Rob's post here is a short version: http://goo.gl/1NQSZ

  56. sorrykb says:

    I'm reading the deposition now, and wow. There is not enough popcorn in the world.
    P.S. I'm only on page 82, so no spoilers!!!

  57. Sharon says:

    *bytes tongue to avoid spoilers*

    I just finished it a few minutes ago. Holy shit is an understatement! I am eager to see the writeup and subsequent deconstruction.

  58. Dan Weber says:

    As a non-lawyer, it's fascinating how lawyers get deposed.

    I've read like 5 pages where they're trying to figure out if Lutz was paid anything for his job as CEO.

  59. Anonymoose says:

    Purely commenting as a non-lawyer from across the northern border…

    Matlock has nothing on this.

    The only comparison for me is if AMC decided to make a serial dramedy that combined elements of "Person of Interest", "24" and the Shriner's Circus. Clowns, warrants, searches, an ominous figure of government wanting to seek out a specific group of people, all directed by Abbot and Costello. Eric Idle could do the music!

  60. Jim Tyre says:

    Matt, and Ken in NH

    I'm not Ken (and, thankfully, I don't even look like him), but federal courts traditionally have been quite opposed to allowing videos of proceeding. There is a somewhat new pilot program that allows for videos of court proceedings, but only if the the federal district, the judge for the case and all the parties consent. Central District of California is not one of the districts that has opted in, so the other two don't matter.

  61. bonez565 says:

    So i have a question, as a person whose sole knowledge of the law basically comes from sites like this is this sort of deposition normal? All this question dodging and misdirection?

  62. George William Herbert says:

    CB and Boenz565 – thanks!

    This is terrifying reading. I've read transcripts of confrontational depositions. Of depositions of the clueless. Of those trying to hide something. This is … something else. And I'm nowhere near done yet.

  63. sorrykb says:

    As another non-lawyer, I'm wondering…
    Are all (or even many) depositions this good?
    Have I been missing out all these years, squandering my time on trivial reading that pales in comparison to this extraordinary document, at one time both comedy and thriller?

  64. Tom says:

    Regarding the deposition: Geez, does anybody know how to redact a document properly?

    But from the un-redacted portion on page 30, I wonder if Mark Lutz has any cause of action against AF holdings since his employer has not paid his any money for his work, which would seem to violate minimum wage laws.

  65. bonez565 says:

    Tom, unless i'm more confused than i feel – which is possible – then the question of minimum wage would fall under the laws of Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis which according to their website only cover "domestic servants and employees in stores".

  66. Alan Bleiweiss says:

    if the deposition I'm reading (linked in comments) is what I think it is. holy crap. Page 121 Alan Cooper and "how do we wiggle out of that crap" and "John Steele = under bus".. IANAL but wow. Can't believe I'm reading this depo. It's like going on forever. :-)

  67. Alan Bleiweiss says:

    And for the record, PopeHat, you're awesome! #JustSayin

  68. That Anonymous Coward says:

    When one compares ones business plan to mortage-backed securities how do you not expect it to end in tears?

    So my guess is…
    John Steele, in the Salt Marsh, with the Lutz
    Oh we ain't playing clue? damn…

  69. Shane says:

    It's not redacted, it's highlighted. I can read all the yellowed text on my iPad.

  70. G Thompson says:

    That deposition…. ummm WAT! o_O

    Oh and if this article series isn't going to be part of a case studies in law schools world-wide (well I'm going to push for it) after this case is over I'll eat a pony!

  71. Mark Lyon says:

    I don't understand the comments regarding redaction. The document has highlighting, not redaction.

  72. nlp says:

    Why do I think that Jonathan Torres (the lawyer in Florida who was talking on the phone and who was reamed out by the judge for not doing due diligence) is thanking his lucky stars for getting out of the case when he did?

  73. nlp says:

    Also, I'm sorry that Judge Wright did not include Sonny Leone in his list of people he wanted to meet up close and personal. I realize she would have to rush home from Bollywood, but I think she would add even more interest to the case.

  74. AlphaCentauri says:

    MR. PIETZ: When AF Holdings gets a settlement, who gets the money?

    THE WITNESS: Every dollar of it.

    MR. PIETZ: All I'm trying to find out is the owner of AF Holdings.

    THE WITNESS: Who.

    MR. PIETZ: The guy that gets…

    THE WITNESS: That's it.

    MR. PIETZ: Who gets the money…

    THE WITNESS: He does, every dollar. Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.

    (apologies to Abbott and Costello …)

  75. lawcritter says:

    Ken,
    You are cruel beyond belief. I was sipping a cup of coffee when I say the graphic and the picture of Mr. "Saltmarsh." Now I must clean coffee off of my monitor and keyboard.
    You've hooked me. Which courtroom does Judge Wright preside over? I feel tempted to drive up from San Diego to observe.

  76. SJD says:

    Reduction/highlight confusion: don't read this document on Scribd: Scribd started mutilating documents recently, messing with fonts etc. In this documents it renders yellow opaque highlight on top of the text, totally covering it.

  77. Ken says:

    Post on the deposition is up.

  78. Rob says:

    Apologies for the borked link above, and thanks to those who provided alternatives.

    And, whew, that's quite a read.

  79. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @Mark Lyon – some pdf viewers are rendering the highlighting over the word blocking them out. In the past in redacted records they just drew a block over the words letting them be selected, copied, pasted to notepad and instant unredacted document.

  80. bst says:

    For those confused about the comments on redaction: When I click on the link to the PDF document to read it in my Firefox browser, I see some lines that look like they are redacted by being painted over in yellow. When I downloaded the PDF file and read it in Adobe Acrobat, the same lines just looked like they were marked up with a yellow highlighter. From the content of the text I could see in Acrobat, I would guess that it was intended to by highlighted, not redacted, and the error is in some software that does not display the highlighted text.

  81. Fred says:

    Typo warning:
    >Judge Wright's Fateful March 5, 2012 Order: This brings us to yesterday's remarkable order from Judge Wright.
    I believe "Yesterday" was March 5, 2013 rather than 2012.

  82. Wayne Borean says:

    From the perspective of Prenda Law, this order is what we call in the convoluted nomenclature of federal practice a Very Bad Thing.

    From the perspective of n inveterate court watcher, what we have here is a very entertaining thing, no matter how it plays out.

    Wayne

  83. babaganusz says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sinister_Secret_of_Saltmarsh

    ran it in our high school 'graphics courtyard'. good times.

  84. Dictatortot says:

    Good Christ. I don't know the over/under for Ken's four "What will happen now?" options, but as ominous as things are looking for the plaintiffs, I wonder if there isn't a fifth he should have added:

    5. One or more of the summoned individuals attempts to beat a very hasty retreat from U.S. soil before Monday's court date.

  85. AlanF says:

    I am in Los Angeles and don't have to work on Monday, so I would like to attend this circus. When and where should I show up?

  86. PK says:

    Info for the hearing:

    Monday, March 11 at 1:30pm

    Location:

    Hon. Otis D. Wright
    Courtroom 11
    312 North Spring Street (Downtown LA)

    Wish I could make it but excited to hear all about it!!!

  87. AlanF says:

    Thanks, PK. I'll be sure to show up early so I can get a good seat.

  88. Waldo says:

    Even as a lawyer, this is all quite confusing to me. The one thing that is crystal clear, however, is that Judge Wright is on the warpath. I don't know that Gibbs or Prenda have done anything illegal or unethical. I do know that I'd be shitting my pants if I were them however.

  89. James Pollock says:

    "I don't know that Gibbs or Prenda have done anything illegal or unethical."

    That's what the hearing is for.

  90. Matthew Cline says:

    Patrick: With the two postings by Ken, you've all but guaranteed that Prenda is going to send third party subpoenas your way for deleted posts, the IPs of all posters, etc, if they don't outright name Ken as Doe 3.14159….

    Well, in that case…

    Dear Prenda:

    Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!

    (Sorry, Patrick)

  91. Kensington says:

    What confuses me in all of this is that I do not see any reason why they they needed such a bizarre and convoluted obfuscation scheme in the first place. Let us say, for example, that Steele and Hansmeier are and have been the sole owners of the "mystery trust" all along. Why would they need to hide the fact that they are indeed representing their own interests in court ("fool for a lawyer" commentary aside)? It seems like this whole game of "thermonuclear chicken" (I *so* need to appropriate that term) with Wright is going to come crashing down on their heads explicitly BECAUSE they've been playing stupid shell games with their own standing in the case.

    I for one do not see any issue with copyright holders vigorously defending their property, and I don't even have a problem with someone creating a business model out of monetizing that defense for profit. If S&H (in this example) want to buy porn flicks so that they can make money by suing BitTorrent users who pirate the movies, how is that wrong? (Yes, yes… It is a really SCUMMY way to make money, but that's not my question.) To lose your standing in a case simply because you cannot or will not come clean about who actually owns the property — as happened in the Florida case — seems incomprehensibly stupid. Why would anyone do that?

    (I am leaving aside the issue of the IP addresses — which is the actual reason the California case got dismissed — for now. The subject is not nearly as salacious or awe-inspiring as the who's-on-first shell game that they brought on their own heads.)

  92. Alan Bleiweiss says:

    Kensington, as an armchair popcorn eating observer, first thing that comes to my mind is they obfuscated with all the shell companies so that if it ever hit the fan (like it's doing now) that at least some of the money would be hidden away and unreachable. In that scenario, if that's at least one of the reasons, it's possible they figured "if it all collapses, we'll just dust ourselves off and be financially set".

  93. JOP says:

    @Steve H

    Probably not worth replying as this thread got 'jacked and was superseded by another post, but anyway.

    Angela Van Den Hemel is apparently something like a paralegal or clerk at Prenda (hard to say what anyone's job is on any given day over there though, some of them wear many hats and they don't necessarily identify themselves honestly). The reason Judge Wright wants to talk to her is because part of the reason Gibbs ended up facing this sanctions hearing that has spiraled out of control is because in a couple of related cases in CACD, the court stayed subpoenas to ISPs for subscriber information but Prenda continued to pressure the ISPs to respond and represented to ISPs that the subpoenas were valid. Brett was called out by Judge Wright and passed the blame up the chain to Van Den Hemel, who is responsible for nagging the ISPs.

    Subpoena shenanigans are something copyright trolls have quite a history with, including Prenda. One particularly shameless troll, Evan Stone (not affiliated with Prenda), actually sent out a bunch of subpoenas to ISPs after a judge denied his request for discovery and earned a $10K sanction and major tongue lashing. It sounds like Judge Wright is not impressed with Prenda's apparent indifference to whether or not discovery has been stayed in any given case.

  94. Psyborgue says:

    I did a google search for the title of the offending film. I can't find any evidence it exists. One would think that if it were an actual film, and were popular, it would at least be available to order from a website, if not a torrent site. One begins to wonder if the film exists at all.

  95. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @JOP – You left off 1 little part of the Evan Stone story. After he sent out the subpoenas, violating the courts ruling, he was standing before the Judge still arguing why he should be able to send them out.
    It came out because someone targeted discovered they had representation already appointed to them… so they called them.

    @Psyborgue – If you read the deposition, it comes out that they are just "investing" by acquiring the copyrights that are "almost worthless" because of 'piracy', and they value will of them will go up as soon as they stop people sharing them… *blink*

  96. Tom says:

    By the way:

    69.109.216.238 is pingable

  97. Psyborgue says:

    @That Anonymous Coward.

    I haven't read the deposition yet but my point was more that if the movie was not available on the internet in either legitimate or pirate form, how could somebody have downloaded it? I mean in theory there should be a torrent somewhere, but i'm unable to find one anywhere for that name. Strange. I'm no lawyer, but perhaps there would be a way to request discovery of the film in order to verify it exists at all.

  98. Sharon says:

    I couldn't find any mention of the movie anywhere. The only relevant hits on that phrase "A Peek Behind the Scenes At The Show" were blogs discussing the case.

    At the very least, I'd expect to have a hit on some movie review site ("We give it Two Dicks Up!!") or porn's version of IMDB, maybe a porn industry magazine or video site mentioning the release of the video. Even if the video was later pulled from sale, I'd expect to see some hits along the lines of a cached merchant's page, perhaps with an "Out of Stock – sorry we don't know when it will be available again" note and page of reviews or commentary by previous purchasers, a la Amazon and the like.

    Not saying that it doesn't exist, but the complete lack of hits was … odd.

  99. Anonymous says:

    @Sharon

    We may never know how Prenda's ultimate long term plans would have developed, but based on the way things seemed to be going with Steele's new shell companies, along with some fabulously indiscreet posts he made during a brief love affair with Twitter, it appears the next phase of his operation would be producing his own adult content to sue over. Whether it would have been made available for sale through legitimate streaming or DVD channels is open to speculation, those following Prenda's history assume he would produce this content for the express purpose of setting up honeypots on BitTorrent trackers and then suing anyone who downloaded it. With a completely vertically-integrated trolling machine, he would have total control of the decision making and the proceeds.

    The reason for all these machinations instead of just working with existing porn studios and "protecting" their works appears to be a combination of greed, ego and incompetence. Steele's pre-Prenda cases actually were brought on behalf of existing porn producers, particularly the enclave in Phoenix, AZ, but between drawing negative attention to the producers (who like to live a discreet lifestyle, especially when they appear to be violating the hell out of local laws) and Prenda's own incompetence it seems like their real clients lost their taste for copyright trolling. Prenda was failing to register the works they were suing over with the Copyright Office, harassing their targets, sometimes hounding people with multiple phone calls per day. They even went through a robocalling phase, using essentially debt-collection tactics, and there were some great blunders like dunning letters sent out printed with placeholders instead of the recipient's actual first and last name, and a campaign of sending out "informal discovery requests" basically asking people to incriminate themselves.

    Another thing that has been missed by people coming to the drama late is their CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) lawsuit campaign. They found people who were sharing passwords to paywalled adult websites (not a cool thing to do, to be sure) but instead of deactivating the passwords they would keep letting people use them, then sue them, accusing them of "hacking" the web site, and making up basically just a complete load of BS legal threats that were not supported by the CFAA.

    A couple of particularly ill-conceived cases got their clients counter-sued and were settled in the Does' favors, then Prenda apparently got to the point where the couldn't get any clients but themselves, and thus we end up with the tangled web of shell companies that all seem to somehow or other actually be owned by Prenda's people.

  100. Anonymous says:

    @Sharon

    We may never know how Prenda's ultimate long term plans would have developed, but based on how things seemed to be going with Steele's new shell companies, along with some fabulously indiscreet posts he made during a brief love affair with Twitter, it appears the next phase of his operation would be producing his own adult content to sue over. Whether it would have been made available for sale through legitimate streaming or DVD channels is open to speculation, those following Prenda's history assume he would produce this content for the express purpose of setting up honeypots on BitTorrent trackers and then suing anyone who downloaded it. With a completely vertically-integrated trolling machine, he would have total control of the decision making and the proceeds.

    The reason for all these machinations instead of just working with existing porn studios and "protecting" their works appears to be a combination of greed, ego and incompetence. Steele's pre-Prenda cases actually were brought on behalf of existing porn producers, particularly the enclave in Phoenix, AZ, but between drawing negative attention to the producers (who like to live a discreet lifestyle, especially when they appear to be violating the hell out of local laws) and Prenda's own incompetence it seems like their real clients lost their taste for copyright trolling. Prenda was failing to register the works they were suing over with the Copyright Office, harassing their targets, sometimes hounding people with multiple phone calls per day. They even went through a robocalling phase, using essentially debt-collection tactics, and there were some great blunders like dunning letters sent out printed with placeholders instead of the recipient's first and last name, and a campaign of sending out "informal discovery requests" basically asking people to incriminate themselves.

    Another thing that has been missed by people coming to the drama late is their CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) lawsuit campaign. They found people who were sharing passwords to paywalled adult websites (not a cool thing to do, to be sure) but instead of deactivating the passwords they would keep letting people use them, then sue them, accusing them of "hacking" the web site, and making up basically just a complete load of BS legal threats that were not supported by the CFAA.

    A few particularly ill-conceived cases got their clients counter-sued and were settled in the Does' favors, then Prenda apparently got to the point where the couldn't get any clients but themselves, and thus we end up with the tangled web of shell companies that all seem to somehow or other actually be owned by Prenda's people.

  101. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @Psyborgue – They acquired the rights most likely after the majority of the cash had already been made on it. Given copyright currently runs 120+ years or something silly and the life span of porn is typically much shorter than that… (exception to rule – Debbie Does Dallas the latest owner had hired Evan Stone… giggle).
    Its possible it had been off the market for a while. But they still hold the rights and if someone is out there trading it they are horrible peoples. But then that raises a questions in my mind.
    Whats the quality of the rip, using the hash to build a timeline of when it appeared first online, etc etc. If it was encoded with "newer" tech it means it was a recent rip… which would be a neat trick if its been off the market long enough.

  102. That Anonymous Coward says:

    Whoops I chewed on my foot a bit. I confused this with some of the other copyrights they hold.
    Registration Number / Date: PA0001802629 / 2012-08-24
    Date of Creation: 2012
    Date of Publication: 2012-07-25
    Description: Electronic file (eService)
    So I am guessing this only exists as a digital file as some of the others held by I13 say DVD.

  103. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @Sharon – If one were inclined one can use a hash to search the web to locate a location where one could download it using BT. The only hit on Google is from their own court filing posted. Someone more adventurous might then remote into another machine and create a trackerless magnet link for the hash, then add trackers. 2 seeds and 1 peer reported and 10 downloads recorded by 2 large public trackers… for a filehash not listed anywhere else.

  104. Sharon says:

    @That Anonymous Coward – This one is not so inclined, but is grateful for the interesting information.

    My purpose was mostly just idle curiosity "how much IS that video, normally, legal purchased etc?" and "how easy is it to find an illegal download?" … thus the cursory Google search.

    It looks as if, on the surface, a law-abiding Joe-wants-a-blow citizen going the typical plain-old-Google-search isn't going to find it available legally over the Internet, new or used, or even any sign that it ever was available for sale.

    If it's available for legal purchase now, whoever's selling it needs to fire their marketing department and SEO consultants. If it was available for legal purchase online in the past, whoever had it has done a spectacular, enviable job of cleaning up every last trace and cache. I know people who'd pay big bucks to get that kind of erasure of certain other information. :)

    So it seems as if the only way the video is available to anyone nowadays is if they are savvy enough to go searching for it in a specific way and download it illegally.

    No wonder the claimed owners can't place a value on the item *rolling eyes*

  105. James Pollock says:

    It's also possible that the file is torrented under a completely different name, or several completely different names.

  106. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @Sharon – One can query a tracker without actually getting any portion of the file.
    There is a line from one of the first versions of the lawsuit over this movie. They stated that I13 had acquired the exclusive rights to distribute the file on Bittorrent. But I13 is listed as having full ownership of this work for hire made for them.
    There should be serious questions raised by the Copyright Office as to where this content was first released, and why there is no retail outlet known to Google, Bing, etc. that offers it.
    something something make a video, stick online, profit, something something…

    If you add "magnet:?xt=urn:btih:" before the hash the file begins to download. You can embed that as a blind clicky. If someone has a BT client installed that supports magnet links (or the Opera browser) it will just start the download if you use the default install options. You could hit a link disguised as something else and until it actually get the filename from the seeds you'd never know. The title is innocuous so you might just let it run. A Google search of the name isn't going to tell you its porn.

    This reminds me of another famous troll who was trying to collect from people who ended up downloading his clients pron, they might have been trying to get something else as that network allowed multiple file names to be assigned to the same file. So even if you wanted to claim you weren't trying to get that pron you had to admit you were after someone elses content… and well that would look awesome in court wouldn't it? There were always questions about who was renaming the files and how they got there, but it was very profitable for a while.

    @James Pollock – You could rename it all sorts of things, but using the Hash provided in their court filings points to no hits in any of the major BT search engines. If this file is being 'stolen' by pirates costing them millions of dollars why can I find no trace of it in the largest torrent indexes? Why can we not find it offered for sale? Why can we find nothing promoting it? Why did no DMCA notices come up on a title search, when you can average at least 10 for every 'popular' title?
    If not for wanting to avoid being the target of Prenda again, I would have started the magnet link and recorded the 3 reported IP addresses and looked into where they are and attempted to figure out who the source of the files is… I might have a suspicion, but the law stops me from finding out lest it punish me as an evil pirate.

  107. James Pollock says:

    "the law stops me from finding out lest it punish me as an evil pirate."
    Actually, I don't think it would, because the fair use analysis would go your way… you don't copy the whole file, you have a noncommercial purpose, and you have no effect on the marketability of the work.

  108. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @James Pollock – It is a copyrighted file and it would be wrong for me to 'steal' any portion of anothers property. Mostly I just want to avoid the Prenda robodialer.

    I've had enough of lawsuits this last week.

    I gave all of the instructions anyone would need if they wanted to do the research and report the findings. A list of the IPs seeding the swarm could prove to be enlightening. The shame is I am unaware if there is a way to see how long they had been seeding the file, had they been seeding the file from the beginning of all of the cases based on that hash it would raise a serious question about why they were never investigated.

  109. Erik says:

    Wow. I'm on page 135. This is getting good! Better than fiction. You can't make this shit up. What a weasel this guys is!

  110. James Pollock says:

    "It is a copyrighted file and it would be wrong for me to 'steal' any portion of anothers property."

    "Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, … is not an infringement of copyright." 17 U.S.C. 107.

    Steering clear of the grinding wheels of legal process is understandable. But I think joining the swarm just long enough to log the IP addresses of the seeders of the swarm, is probably not an infringement of the copyright. If you were willing to fine-tine the firewall, you could even ensure that you didn't distribute any part of the file nor make any copies, while still capturing the source IP addresses of the packets from the seeders.

  111. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @James Pollock – I was always jealous no Judge had ever mentioned me in a footnote, SJD and DTD both have mentions. It is another thing entirely to see my avatar staring back from 3 different lawsuits.

    The courts are currently split on that issue, as many of the tracking "firms" only have a single snapshot (that fails to prove the entire file was downloaded) or have multiple snapshots and attempt to portray each incident as a separate infringement.

    My curiosity can't overcome my desire to protect myself.

  112. Psyborgue says:

    I've kept looking over these past few days and can't find the movie anywhere. You can search for the film all you want on google, The Pirate Bay, even private trackers, and I don't think you're going to be able to find it. I have come to believe it does not exist, and here's why:

    1. If it existed, you would expect it to be on Ingenuity 13's website. I can't find such a site or mention of the film outside the context of this case. Sure you could say perhaps it existed at some time and was then removed but then:
    2. If the movie existed at one point and was removed from circulation, as somebody mentioned above, why are there no reviews? Why is there no mention on the IAFD's website (IMDB for pr0n). Most of all, why is there no torrent / magnet link on The Pirate Bay or another private tracker. TPB is notorious for not responding to takedown requests. Unless the torrent died, which does happen, it should still be up there. Even if it did die, other sites which link to the pirate bay should still have some sort of record. Try searching for something really obscure and old. You'll generally find at least one torrent or magnet link.

    There are two possibilities as I see it. The movie existed at one point, in both legit and pirate form, and was magically erased from the internet with such efficacy that I don't think anybody here or in the tech community has ever seen, or it never existed at all except on paper (certainly not in digital form). I find the latter to be far more likely.

    I'm not about to say flat out that Prenda lied and the movie was made up out of whole cloth to extort money from random IPs, but it's certainly a distinct possibility, and given the behavior they've apparently exhibited so far, i'd say it's an avenue worth investigating.

  113. Alan Bleiweiss says:

    @Psyborgue I object! Misleading. Contradicts previous testimony. Compound question. Character assassination. Argumentative. Already answered.

  114. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @Psyborgue – I located the file on TPB. I'm very confused by it not showing up before and suddenly I'm getting hits.

    It appeared on TPB 4 days before it was registered with the Copyright office and one of the lawsuits was filed less than a month later.

    The file is 12 minutes long and comes in at nearly 1 GB in size. This is ridiculously oversized for video. Its stored in WMV.

    'Alexis Texas s_s and f_s at a porn show' is the title on TPB, i've taken the liberty of editing out 2 obvious words.

    12 minutes of a porn star sleeping with random fan from a show is worth thousands. Isn't copyright amazing!

    I have no interest in looking further but now you know the star of the movie maybe someone can find out where it was for sale… or Jimmy Hoffa which ever you find first…

  115. Delvan says:

    Interesting. She has only one entry on IAFD for 2012, for a Bang Productions film ("Girls of Bang Bros 10"). The "porn show" in the filename can't be from her NightMoves award that year, that ceremony was in October. Unfortunately, she's been in 400+ movies, so its probably not as simple as firing off an email and asking if she was in any other 2012 videos. No results for Alexis Texas "A Peek Behind the Scenes at a Show" (the actual copyrighted title of the file).

    I'd go see if her website has a list of her work on it that's more up to date than IAFD, but I've probably set off enough red flags on my work network googling that movie already.

  116. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @Delvan – There is an interview with her done by Adam and Eve at AVN awards of some sort on YouTube and in the interview she talks about having gotten there and already shot a scene where she slept with one of her fans… which is what the 12 minute video claims to be.

  117. Delvan says:

    A hash is one way: it will always point to the same file, but it tells you nothing about the contents of the file. The file names for said hashes aren't great either (one hash points to "PD.avi"), so far only a SINGLE one of those hashes I've found in their paperwork had some kind of *.nfo or *.txt file to go with the media. Even if the Doe was knowingly downloading that torrent its fuzzier than I thought whether they knew what they were actually downloading. Torrents are not exclusive to pirates, there's plenty of free adult entertainment out there on that Interwebs…I can't verify it from where I'm at right now, but I'd have to guess that applies for the torrents that are out there too.

    The other question, which we've sort of talked around, does that torrent *actually* point to a copyrighted work? Does the owner of the copyright (who could, therefore, legally download the torrent) have any obligation to show the torrent a Doe is connected to is for the copyright they claim? The public filings often mention the hash, but you need the preimage (the file) to know what the hash is actually for. I haven't seen any examples of their evidence beyond "this IP, this hash", but I'd love to see it if its out there.

    If they aren't obligated, if they only have to point to a *.torrent file posted somewhere (which you can rename to anything you like without changing what the torrent points to), what is the Doe's defense options here?

    1- If they *did* download it before the trial and they still have the file, they could bring it to court to show it isn't said work and that the hash matches. Could be a lucky break if they were *trying* to pirate the work and got duped by a fake file, or lucky break if they thought the file was something else and got duped, except in both those cases they would have deleted the file, right?

    2- If they weren't the ones on the torrent at all, or they connected to the swarm but didn't download the file (or 1, above, but they deleted/didn't finish), the only way to establish if said file is said work would be downloading the file and viewing it. How many innocent Does will risk pirating the file they were already charged with stealing? How many innocent Does won't mind watching some porn long enough to verify its the porn they were charged with stealing?

    Its late…I'm probably ranty. Sorry 'bout that.

  118. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @Delvan – Trust me I know ranty, I've been at this for a while.
    There is also using magnet links with just a hash to dl from the BT network. The filename doesn't have to appear in a magnet link, and unless its explicit in its title, someone could be unaware.

    As these are civil cases the burden of proof is more likely than not.
    Several trolls have taken the position that if you know what a BT client is, you must have done it.
    If your proficient with computers, you must have done it and hidden the evidence.
    If your male, you must have done it.
    If your household contains a make of the right age, you/they must be guilty.
    If you downloaded even 1 block, you must have downloaded the whole thing.

    These cases are built on the grounds of we said so, and we have this 'technology' that supports our claims so we are right.
    It costs more to try and defend yourself, if they ever bother to serve you.
    Some lawyers 'assistance' is telling clients to settle, and they will get a better price for you… except now your out that fee and the settlement.

    These cases are completely lopsided, and some courts still rule that alleged Does have no standing to raise any issues with the case until they are named… or out themselves to the troll in filing to attempt to raise issues, only to be told those should be decided at trial.

    Its a crazy world.

  119. Albert Einstein says:

    Brigham & Colette Field – Lipscomb – Lipscomb, Baker & Eisenberg P.L- Malibu Media LLC & Streisand effect

    does Lipscomb think the Courts & community have been distracted by Steele's/Prenda & goons ?

    http://dockets.justia.com/search?query=Malibu+Media%2C+LLC+

    Cases filed matching "Malibu Media, LLC "
    Display as Search Results
    Cases 1 – 20 of 701

    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." ~ Albert Einstein

  120. Delvan says:

    In defense of Malibu's sanity, they have been doing the same thing over and over, and expect the same results: bleeding people dry with damages that do not fit with the scale of the infringement (and, of course, lots of questionable practices on whether they're suing the actual offender, what evidence they actually have to suggest that, how they got that evidence, etc.)

    However, last I looked their newer cases were only against Does alleged to have pirated multiple works over a long period of time. Seen any single-infringement Does named recently by them?

  1. March 6, 2013

    [...] @Popehat: What Prenda Law is facing in Los Angeles next week, and how they got there #prendalaw popehat.com/2013/03/06/wha… [...]

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