Prenda’s recent devastating defeat in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was a result of Dan Booth’s / Jason Sweet’s titanic work and John Steele’s / Paul Hansmeier’s incurable hubris. Trolls’ hubris made them foolishly believe that they had more than a “between slim and zero” chance of prevailing on appeal despite the compelling evidence of not so laundry-fresh financials.

The evidence itself, scrupulously collected by defendant Smith’s attorneys, was compiled in a single sealed motion for contempt (#135¹ filed on 3/20/2014), and it has been intriguing us for a while: scarce references in Steele/Hansmeier/Duffy’s motions pointed to the treasure trove of information, namely Prenda’s financial records showing that our trio of assclowns was indeed more than capable of paying what they owe:

The financial records produced in discovery so far give evidence that Plaintiff’s Counsel have significantly understated their financial resources and have acted to conceal or move assets off-shore. This evidence, combined with further deceptive statements and actions by Plaintiff’s Counsel, suggests that they are deliberately attempting to frustrate the Order and may have provided the Court with incomplete records of their finances for in camera review.

This motion was unsealed today after a two-week advance warning by the court:

If any document received under seal did not form the basis of the parties’ dispute and the district court’s resolution, a party can request that this court return the document to the district court.

[...]

Absent a motion from a party these sealed documents will be placed in the public record on August 15, 2014.

Surprisingly, no objections were filed, which I can’t explain (if it was indeed an oversight, expect emergency, instanter or similar Senna-themed motions). So now we can peek deeper into documents showing

…that despite their protestations, Plaintiff’s Counsel are fully capable of paying the amounts ordered by the Court, and have acted to conceal or otherwise move assets off-shore.

Take your time:

 

Thanks to @darthskeptic for procuring the document.

 

Note that the hearing on this motion (and another one — motion for sanctions) is set to November (emphasis is mine):

NOTICE of Hearing on Motion 153 MOTION for Sanctions for Obstructing Discovery, 135 SEALED MOTION for contempt. Motion Hearing set for 11/12/2014 at 01:30 PM in East St. Louis Courthouse before Chief Judge David R. Herndon. The parties may NOT appear by phone for the hearing. (kbl)THIS TEXT ENTRY IS AN ORDER OF THE COURT. NO FURTHER DOCUMENTATION WILL BE MAILED. (Entered: 07/30/2014).

Second document

The second unsealed document, Anthony Smith’s Reply in Further Support of his Motion for Discovery Sanctions (#172, 05/16/2014) contains no less damning evidence of our trio’s crookery. Particularly, this motion debunks Steele’s laughable claim that multiple entities created by the conspirators (Prenda, Steele|Hansmeier, Alpha Law et cetera) are separate and independent. Also, the defense reiterates (presenting solid evidence) that our “big leaguers” are still in possession of what they looted from the US citizens:

Plaintiff’s Counsel have identified no current sources of income, yet are able to maintain mortgages in excess of $500,000.00 (see Ex. Y); able to provide for their families’ living expenses; and even on occasion add a pool, spa and other renovations to their home. See Ex. Z. Their violations of the Federal Rules to prevent Smith from clarifying their Byzantine finances should be sanctioned.

Media coverage

 


¹ Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Smith et al (initially St. Clair county, removed to ILSD — 12-cv-00889).

Yesterday defense attorney Francisco Ferreiro appealed a federal court’s decision denying attorney fees in Malibu Media v. Leo Pelizzo (FLSD 12-cv-22768).

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first appeal of a court decision in a Guardaley-driven lawsuit. M. Keith Lipscomb and its “client” X-Art are slowly but surely following Prenda’s footsteps. Prenda’s appellate experience so far was a total disaster for its disgraced attorneys, and I hope the same fate is awaiting Keith Lipscomb, Michael Hierl, Paul Lesko et al (the list is depressingly long).

To refresh your memory, the Pelizzo case was probably the most disgusting porn troll’s assault on an innocent citizen. 100% knowing that Mr. Pelizzo had absolutely nothing to do with the alleged infringements, Lipscomb continued twisting the defendant’s arms for months.

The apogee of douchebaggery was an email to the defense counsel (again, keep in mind that at that time Lipscomb knew with absolute certainty that the defendant is innocent):

[...] you should counsel [your client] that when he loses, he will lose everything he owns and owe my clients hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mark these words, your client’s decision to reject a walk away will be the worst decision he will ever make.

The reason behind this stinky vitriol was the defense’s rather modest request for attorney fees. While making millions on selling out his compatriots to the German Mafia, Lipscomb went postal over about five thousand dollars.

Why didn’t Lipscomb cut and run earlier, as soon as he realized that he targeted a wrong person, when hostilities didn’t go that far and when it was much cheaper to buy his way out of the looming PR disaster? I have no idea. I can only speculate that he thought that admitting a mistake would endanger his future shakedown activities, or the enormously swelled ego of our insecure ostensive Christian was the actual decision maker.

Unfortunately, Judge Patricia Sietz only partially granted attorney fees to the de-facto prevailing party — defense. The defendant didn’t think it was fair, hence the appeal:

 

While federal judges continue buying copyright troll’s lies and closing their eyes to the obvious fraud, I want to believe that appellate judges think not only about following the letter of the law, but care about its spirit, about the negative societal impact of decisions made by the lower courts.

I wish Francesco Ferreiro and his client to prevail.

You’re nothing but a pack of cards!

Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland.

 

Lynn Hughes
Copyright bully
Keith A. Vogt

We have been eagerly waiting for today’s hearing in Judge Hughes’s chambers (Dallas Buyers Club v. Does 1-25, TXSD 14-cv-02218), after the judge curtly denied copyright troll Keith Vogt‘s (ostensibly via his local counsel Daniel R. Kirshbaum) attempt to postpone inevitable “prolonged tirades by the court.”

Alas, our anticipated Schadenfreude turned into disappointment: Vogt dismissed the lawsuit at the last moment. Not really a surprise: this type of behavior is a hallmark of a bully who is only capable of harassing those much weaker: when he encounters anyone who is stronger, it’s usually time for an emergency laundry.

Now, as you can imagine, Judge Hughes was not amused and issued a short order in his distinguished style. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as I did:

 

Effectively, this judge just killed Bittorent lawsuits in the Southern District of Texas. You may say I’m a dreamer, but… is it really too much to hope that other judges ask a couple of simple questions before rubberstamping ex-parte discovery requests based on fraudulent declarations? This episode shows that trolls’ “litigation” is just a house of cards ready to be blown away with a slightest wind.

Related
There are many good responses to copyright trolls’ activities these days. This opposition to Malibu Media’s attempt to game the courts by filing a last-minute motion for enlargement of time to complete discovery caught my attention for the reasons described below, especially the last one — the one that gave the title to this post.

The motion was filed on 8/4/2014 in Malibu Media v. Eric Siegel (PAED 13-cv-06252) by a New Jersey attorney Darth Newman.

Protective order gamesmanship

First, Mr. Newman describes a painfully familiar Lipscomb’s modus operandi: trolls drag their feet till the last moment (often declining defendant’s offers to examine his/her hardware), and then suddenly request an extension. Rinse, repeat.

This case wasn’t different:

The Court’s April 25, 2014 scheduling Order set forth a bifurcated discovery plan whereby Malibu was obligated to complete certain discovery, primarily focused on Mr. Siegel and his computer hard drives, before moving on to the expansive third party discovery initially sought by Malibu. Malibu has failed to timely pursue even this first category of discovery.

In the several months since the initial conference, Malibu has only pursued document requests and interrogatories, to which Mr. Siegel provided timely responses.

Then, what supposed to be simple protective order negotiations, turned out to be a delay tactic: Malibu kept insisting on unacceptable terms:

On July 14, Mr. Fiore finally sent an alternative protective order but this draft was both limited to the examination of Mr. Siegel’s computers and purported to expand the materials Mr. Siegel had agreed to produce to include his tenant’s personal property. The July 14 draft failed entirely to protect Mr. Siegel’s confidential and personal information.

One-way discovery

We witnessed many times in the past: the crooks want to know everything about the defendant (including his/her purported porn habits), but when it comes to production of plaintiff’s relevant information, all we see is desperate attempts to obstruct the due process.

Not only has Malibu been slow with respect to making discovery requests, it has also been sluggish to respond fully to Mr. Siegel’s discovery requests. Mr. Siegel propounded requests for documents and, although it timely responded, Malibu interposed a number of frivolous objections and seemingly arbitrary limitations on the materials it would agree to produce.

Malibu offered to produce some documents and counsel have traded correspondence about Malibu’s objections and limitations, but, to date, the only documents Malibu has actually produced are copies of copyright registrations which are publicly available online.

Jessica Fernandez
Porn troll Jessica Fernandez
A side note: who is in charge?

If you look into the Exibit A (email correspondence between Malibu’s local Chis Fiore and Darth Newman), you will find yet another proof that Fiore is simply a pawn: he merely forwards documents to and from the Troll Center (Lipscomb’s associate Jessica Fernandez curated this litigation):

 

Where is the evidence?

The apotheoses of plaintiff’s thuggery, and the fact that prompted this post, was the admission that the troll don’t even have the most critical information handy:

Malibu agreed to produce a limited portion of the electronic materials it intends to rely on to prove its case but has indicated that doing so will take an additional four weeks. Did Malibu not have this information when it filed suit?

Read it again and try to believe your eyes: these charlatans file lawsuits en masse indiscriminately and don’t even possess the information that forms the basis of their cases:

In particular, Malibu agreed to produce a subset of the data it claims shows Malibu’s investigator’s alleged connection(s) to Mr. Siegel’s IP address and the data allegedly downloaded from Mr. Siegel. This data forms the basis of Malibu’s case and Mr. Siegel and his expert(s) must have a fair opportunity to analyze all of it.

In my opinion, this is yet another visible sign of a gross abuse; it is very frustrating that courts around the country continue to swallow trolls’ bluff so eagerly.

The reason I use the word bluff is in part premised on recent events in a case involving another Guardaley-driven lawsuit, Elf-Man v. Lamberson (WAED 13-cv-00395). It appears that the trolls in that case simply don’t have any incriminating data beyond a TCP/IP handshake and transmission of a part of a movie that is shorter than an average wink. It is not a big stretch to suggest that the same game is being played here. Moreover, no one ever saw any Guardaley’s evidence: all we saw was a smokescreen of “PCAPs,” “WORM tapes” and “German government issued timestamps.”

There is simply no valid reason why producing the most essential evidence can take an entire month. Not only is the king naked, he doesn’t even wear sunscreen to withstand the sunlight of even a casual scrutiny.

 

Lynn Hughes
US Federal Judge
Lynn N. Hughes

Remember TXSD Judge Lynn Hughes? I wrote about his amazing bench-slapping of Prenda’s sloppy minion Douglas McIntyre two years ago:

The court is not an ex-girlfriend’s Facebook wall. All documents must be filed with the court, captioned, signed by counsel, and with service certified.

Later I wrote about this judge calling out Prenda’s abuse, ordering the troll to destroy putative defendants’ personal data they already got from the ISPs:

First Time has abused its opportunity for discovery. It has insufficiently cooperated with the court and now wants to abandon its claims without explanation.

It may not use the information it has received; it must destroy it.

So, you get the idea: if you lie about your real motives, if you pretend to be interested in bringing the case all the way to the jury trial (while inventing excuses for delays and extensions), if you are generally a dirtbag, you really don’t want your case to be assigned to Lynn Hughes.

Yet the behaviors I just described are the exact modus operandi of copyright trolls! Thus, I bet that Keith Vogt, a Chicago-based sleazeball, who filed a champertous lawsuit Dallas Buyers Club v. Does 1-25 (TXSD 14-cv-02218) on 8/2/2014, is not happy to find out that he must face Hughes soon.

The judge doesn’t mince words: right after the case was assigned to him, he issued a short order outlining what our poor troll should expect. The service must be accomplished in 60 days, and the judge expects all the parties to appear for an initial pretrial conference on 11/3/2014 (I hope, Hughes will require personal attendance). Yet the most hilarious line is #8:

Failure to comply with this order may result in sanctions, including dismissal, and prolonged tirades by the court,

which I really hope will happen if Vogt is stupid enough not to run away at once.

 

Crystal Bay Corporation, seriously?

Vogt and his German employers don’t have any sense of reality. In his declaration (which is a sole basis of ex parte discovery), plaintiff’s purported expert, Guardaley’s Daniel Macek, claims that he works for Crystal Bay Corporation. In an ongoing troll disaster Elf-Man v Lamberson (WAED 13-cv-00395), defense attorney Chris Lynch thoroughly proved that this “corporation” is a pure fraud, a shelf entity created by a disbarred attorney in South Dakota. This fake corporation also “employs” Guardaley’s own incarnation of Alan Cooper’s ghost — Darren M. Griffin, a mysterious dude, whose existence is reasonably questioned.

The Troll Center knows about these developments, yet nonetheless an army of US parasitic lawyers continue impudently defrauding US courts. It won’t end well for them. I hope that one of the Does in the instant case will explain to Judge Hughes what is really going on in his courtroom.

110 E Center St Ste 2053, Madison, South Dakota 57042-2908
the address of a Guardaley’s shell, a fake company Crystal Bay Corporation

Update

8/8/2014

Hilarity continues. What can I say? Certain Vogt’s manly bits are undoubtedly busted:

Order to Amend

By 2:00 p.m. on August 8, 2014, Dallas Buyers Club, LLC, must amend its complaint to specify, as nearly as it can, by technical description or otherwise, the people whom it has sued. It must remove all mention of “Does” or similar fictions.

 

So, our poor troll with a little soul did exactly what the judge told him not to do: replaced one fiction (“Doe”) with another (bizarre “Internet User and Subscriber to IP address XX.XX.XX.XX located in Houston, Texas”). The bust is scheduled to August 12: I hope that “prolonged tirades” will be properly transcribed. Vogt will appear by telephone [update: I misunderstood it — Vogd was ordered to appear in person], and a local attorney named Daniel R. Kirshbaum will enjoy his own spanking in person.

Update 2

8/11/2014

Oh my… Local counsel cries he doesn’t know anything, and Vogt apparently soiled his pants: filed a second motion to reset hearing at the last moment (18:01). I’m sure Judge Hughes will be happy:

Plaintiff respectfully requests that the hearing set for August 12, 2014, at 3:30 p.m. be reset to anytime convenient to the Court between August 20, 2014 and August 22, 2014. Plaintiff’s counsel mistakenly believed that Mr. Keith A. Vogt would have been able to attend the hearing by telephone so as to full comply with Rule 4 of Judge Hughes’s Procedures.

The additional time will allow Mr. Vogt to make the necessary arrangements to attend the hearing. Plaintiff’s other counsel, Mr. Kirshbaum is acting solely as local counsel. Mr. Kirshbaum is not as knowledgeable as Mr. Vogt about the substantive issues in this matter, which the court may wish to address.

…and the motion was denied at 20:27.

Followup
Copyright shakedown is a disease that affects a vital organ — federal courts, and we are currently in the midst of an epidemic. Some virus mutations, like Prendavirus, have been successfully contained, but currently there is no effective cure against another family of viruses that originated in Germany (especially Libscombema palladium).

Some areas of the US are affected the most: Illinois, Pennsylvania, Colorado… Yet others, as we will see in a moment, try to maintain a good hygiene, and although it is impossible not to get sick, those who at least understand the pathogen’s potential harm and think about the ways to contain the illness, are better off.

M. Keith Lipscomb (via its NJ agent Patrick “Moving Lips” Cerillo) started contaminating New Jersey district in June after a year-long lull (since 8/5/2013). 27 cases were filed on June 17-20, another batch — 19 cases — were initiated on July 10-11. What’s interesting, the judges kept silence for more than a month: in other jurisdictions requests for ex parte discovery are usually rubberstamped in days.

Tonianne Bongiovanni
US Magistrate Judge
Tonianne Bongiovanni

Today we saw the first order, which, alas, has granted the discovery request, but with a twist. When the order starts with

Once again, a veritable orgy of lawsuits involving the alleged infringement of Plaintiff’s copyrighted material have been filed in this Court,

trolls should know that the joy ride to the US citizens’ pockets won’t be quick and easy.

Magistrate Tonianne Bongiovanni‘s concern is well articulated:

This Court has generally granted these types of motions in the past, in many instances simply rubber-stamping the requests. However, since the first round of filings approximately two years ago, courts in this District as well as around the country have grown warier that allowing copyright holders access to all the information requested in Plaintiff’s Motion could result in abusive litigation tactics because of the potential embarrassment defendants could experience given the nature of the copyrighted work.

While the judge reluctantly partially granted the subpoena request (and the blame for it should be placed on lawmakers, not on judges like her), a clear message was sent: pornographers and their greedy lawyers are not very welcome in New Jersey.

I hope some defendants will give a good fight, which should be a bit easier in hygiene-wary New Jersey than in jurisdictions heavily affected by Libscombema palladium.

 


Edward Toussaint,
Judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals
(Retired)

When it rains, it pours. As if the last week total Prenda smackdown by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was not enough, today Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed more than $63K in attorney fees and costs in an infamous collusive Guava v. Merkel (Hennepin County District Court, 27-CV-12-20976).

The opinion is harsh and a must read. I only want to note one heartwarming detail:

In the complaint that initiated this litigation, plaintiff-appellant Guava LLC is described as “a limited liability company that owns and operates protected computer systems . . . accessible throughout Minnesota.” It is unclear, however, whether Guava even exists. Despite repeated inquiries by the district court, the record includes no evidence regarding Guava’s incorporation, the identity of its principals, or the nature of its business operations.

So, after two years, during which we have been constantly questioning the existence of multiple Prenda’s empty shells (Guava, Arte de Oaxaca, LW Holdings etc.), finally courts started to realize that they were impudently defrauded.

Still waiting for the criminal law hammer to drop on the Prenda collective head. It’s a matter of when, not if though.

 

Hansmeier is continuing to dig his hole deeper: more questionable lawsuits

In the meantime, Hansmeier continues to extort small businesses using ADA lawsuits: two new cases have been filed

 

[8/8/2014 update — thanks to a commenter for a tip]
There are also less transparent state cases (search for “HANSMEIER PAUL”).

  • 27-CV-14-2417: Eric Wong vs Chatterbox Enterprises Inc, Tyrone Sharpe;
  • 27-CV-14-11721: Eric Wong vs Sawatdee Inc, Cynthia D Harrison, Jennifer T Harrison-Reilly, Supenn Harrison d/b/a Tippaya Partnership;
  • 27-CV-14-12087: Eric Wong vs Gargar Clinic & Urgent Care LLC, Argo Enterprises LLC;
  • 27-CV-14-13308: Eric Wong vs St. Paulette’s Inc (Small Bakery).

 

Some people simply cannot earn money honestly. All recent Hansmeier’s parasitic endeavors (copyright trolling, class action objections, ADA lawsuits) were all based on the only skill Paul has mastered: using his law education to rob hardworking citizens — those who actually contribute to the society.

Media coverage
I want to disturb the past a little bit. A Guardaley-handled lawsuit over a masterpiece with a classy name Teen Anal Sluts was one of the most disgusting scums that trolls unleashed onto the US courts and the public. This conspiracy to plunder US citizens began with letters that a Guardaley’s facade Copyright Defenders Inc. (a Nevada-registered corporation) sent to hundreds of law firms. These letters offered potential plaintiff attorneys a cut for maintaining mass Bittorent lawsuits orchestrated by German “investors.” The majority of recipients ignored this proposal to participate in champertous activities, but some took the bait. One lawyer who agreed to participate in such semi-legal action was an attorney from New Orleans Joseph Pieffer, so a lawsuit 4:TwentyMedia v. Does (LAWD 12-cv-00031) against 1,341 yet unknown Does was ill-conceived on 1/10/2012. Peiffer admitted that only 7 Does happened to be Louisiana residents: hello, Prenda!

Shortly after I publicized this shakedown campaign, Peiffer quickly bailed out, and Paul Lesko of Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC (Alton, IL) took over.

Paul Lesko
Paul Lesko

This was the first Paul Lesko’s copyright trolling experience. Apparently, Paul was overwhelmed by the taste of easy money and started actively cooperating with the Germans, handling bittorent lawsuits for porn and non-porn plaintiffs. I still experience some kind of cognitive dissonance when thinking about this guy: he is the head of the intellectual property department in a big lawfirm that handles billions of dollars, and yet he finds it OK to shake down his compatriots over low-budget pornography.

I digress; back to “Teen Anal Sluts.” Given the salacious title, the settlement rate was high and this undertaking made around a hundred thousand dollars. The loot lasted for eight months until Judge Michael Hill severed all the Does but one, effectively killing the lawsuit.

4:Twenty Media

Of course we tried to find out who the “plaintiff” 4:Twenty Media was. The information was scarce: all we had was the copyright registration, according to which the company with a cheek-in-tongue name¹ (or a middle-finger-behind-the-back, if you want) was purportedly incorporated in Seychelles. We failed to find any evidence that this “masterpiece” was ever offered for sale.

Big thanks to a community member (he opted to remain anonymous), who made an inquiry and obtained the following certificate from the Seychelles authorities. To be frank, I hoped that this shell company was not even registered (like Prenda’s St. Kitts and Nevis shells), but it appeared that the trolls did bother to register despite the fact that pornography is illegal in Seychelles.

 

Even if the company was formally registered, it is obviously a pure shell: it declared zero shares, provided a non-existent address on the copyright registration (fraud on the copyright office?), and clearly was registered with a sole purpose of filing a single frivolous lawsuit in the United States. After two years of inactivity the company registration was struck off by the Seychelles Financial Services Authority. Finally, note that the ostensive rights holder — Christoph Petznick — is possibly connected to the German trolling factory (as you will find out below).

The German cobweb
Matthias Schroeder Padewet
Matthias Schroeder Padewet

The “expert” who filed a declaration in this case is Matthias Schroeder Padewet, a self-described Vice President of Copyright Defenders, Inc., a.k.a Excubitor (his colleague Ralph Pytlik lists both company names in his LinkedIn profile, yet it’s not the only link between these two entities).

Domain name registration of copyright-defenderes.com shows a Nevada address, but it was not always like this. The last update was made on 4/18/2012 – after the lawsuit in question reverberated on the net. Prior to that the registered agent was

registrant-firstname: Matthias
registrant-lastname: Schroeder-Padewet
registrant-organization: Excubitor UG
registrant-street1: Kaiserstr. 132
registrant-pcode: 76133
registrant-city: Karlsruhe
registrant-ccode: DE
registrant-phone: +49.7216699283
registrant-email: kontakt@antipiracy-excubitor.com

So, we see “Excubitor” here, as well as Karlsruhe — the troll capital of Germany.

Now, looking at the address, we easily find that Padewet’s family business — a music instrument store — was located there until 6/30/2012.

The search for the name of the purported rights holder Cristoph Petznik only yields one result — an orchestra administrator in Badisches Staatstheater in.. [drumroll] Karlsruhe. Is this servant of Music an active participant in the shakedown conspiracy or a Guardaley’s version of Alan Cooper? I have no idea.

Now, tell me: am I wearing a tinfoil hat?

It is, alas a long shot given the air of unaccountability that outdated laws and busy courts produce and copyright trolls breath, but I think that despite the fact that two years have passed, this case warrants a revision, preferably in the form of a class action lawsuit against the trolls. I only glanced down the rabbit hole: no doubt professional investigators can find more instances of actionable wrongdoing.

 


¹ “420” is a clear reference to a slang name for marijuana.

By Kat Anon and TAC

If for some (frankly, inexcusable) reason you know nothing about yesterday’s Prenda smackdown resulted from the April hearing in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, these articles will bring you up to speed:

 

Now, enjoy the movie:

 

 

I mostly deal with copyright trolls that actually file lawsuits and leverage population’s natural fear of the court system (in addition, porn trolls such as Lipscomb/Malibu Media take advantage of the societal stigma attached to pornography).

Robert Steele
Rightscorp’s boss
Robert Steele

An anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp, Inc. is a slightly different troll species. It does not file lawsuits against individuals (yet?), it does not demand thousands from alleged file-sharers. Instead, it sends myriad notices to ISPs, and many providers match troll-supplied IP addresses to subscribers and forward those notices to them without disclosing the subscribers’ identities to the troll. Rightscorp demands only a nuisance amount — $20 per infringement. Obviously, only the most ignorant and gullible part of the US population rushed to pay, but even if a tiny percentage of recipients pay, it translates to quite nice loot. Metaphorically speaking, Rightsorp is in business of throwing hundreds of thousands pieces of feces against the wall: some do stick.

Forwarding small demands via ISPs is certainly not as bad as “conventional” copyright trolling (yet it is still an extortion-based model that exploits FUD and insanely high statutory rates). The problem is that this year we have been witnessing a very troubling development: while in the past the troll knew only IP addresses of alleged infringers but not their names, now Rightscorp aims at unmasking their targets’ identities. Rightscorp bullies mostly small ISPs by filing “petitions” (like this one) and sends out subpoenas without court leave. The trolls state that ISPs owe them people’s identities, and doing so our “businessmen” simply ignore the case law they don’t like. As Rightscorp’s CEO Christopher Sabec told TorrentFreak,

Christopher Sabec
Rightscorp’s CEO
Christopher Sabec

The [RIAA vs. Verizon] Court case used flawed reasoning in concluding that an ISP such as Verizon is not a ‘Service Provider’ even though it clearly meets the definition laid out in the statute.

The only other US company that adopted this kind of parasitic business model is Ira Siegel’s CEG-TEK, but unlike the latter, Rightscorp is public (NASDAQ: RIHT), yet with capitalization of just a couple of millions and extremely volatile penny stock:

 

“Big” on Twitter

On Friday I was looking at the Rightscorp’s twitter account, and the list of followers (1,150) looked very suspicious.

It is not a secret that in order to boost their perceived significance, some Twitter users buy fake followers in bulk. I tweeted my concern, and Tim Cushing pointed me to a fantastic resource (TwitterAudit) that evaluates how real one’s followers are. The audit confirmed my suspicion. Here is the comparison of the results for @rightscorp and yours truly’s @fightcopytrolls:

 

A company that is trying to boost its significance by artificially inflating the number of its social accounts’ followers is undoubtedly engaged in deception, and since Rightscorp is public, this (admittedly small) fraud may be a SEC’s concern. Or is it not a big deal? I will try to contact the regulators tomorrow to find the answer to this question. Even if it not a big deal from the SEC’s viewpoint, this discovery was still worth publicizing as it confirms one more time that extortion and fraud are siblings.

Related