Received a message that suggests contacting Steele? Read this first!

Posted: December 4, 2011 by SJD in Prenda
Tags: , , , , , ,

Reading recent comments, I noticed very-very troubling development regarding subpoenas to BrightHouse ISP obtained by John Steele. So far various providers that received subpoenas from porno studios and their lawyers were considerate enough to provide subscribers, whose information was being sought, with as much information as possible, including a copy of a subpoena they received, or at least the case number.

But the message from NeuStar, BrightHouse’s contractor, who manages various issues including legal ones, did not include any information about the lawsuit in question, stated that they have no clue about the underlying lawsuit and, the worst thing, they suggested contacting Steele.

Here is the message from NeuStar, posted by its recipient:

IP Address xx.xx.xx.xx on xx/xx/xx xx:xx:xx

Dear BrightHouse Networks Customer: Neustar is the designated agent of BrightHouse Networks authorized to respond to subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders for the production of subscriber records. It is the policy of BrightHouse Networks to notify a subscriber that a subpoena has been received for the subscriber’s records. Accordingly, please be advised that on 10/25/2011 a C6ivil Proceeding Subpoena Request was received from John Steele, Attorney for Plaintiff Phone # (312)-880-9160.

BrightHouse Networks will comply with this subpoena on 12/13/2011 unless we receive legal documents that delay or terminate the process on or before 12/12/2011.BrightHouse Networks is not a party to this lawsuit and has no information about the basis for the subpoena. Any questions you may have about the subpoena itself should be referred to John Steele, Attorney for Plaintiff, Phone # (312)-830-9160.

If you have a need to contact Neustar about this letter or our procedure, please contact Trevor Gray at (571)-434-3439.To better enable us to provide prompt assistance, please refer to case # xxxxxx when calling.

Sincerely, Trevor Gray Authorized Agent for Custodian of Records BrightHouse Networks If you would like to authorize the release of your records immediately, please sign in the space provided below and fax this page to us at (571) 434-3401.

This is brutal. Any service provider that treats their customers like this does not deserve to be in the services business. I and active members of the community explained dozens and dozens of times why talking to a troll lawyer is a very bad idea. I don’t worry much about those who discovered this site and read posts and discussions. However, I fear that those who received such a message may have rushed to the phone and called Steele instead of trying to do a research (and inevitably finding this, DieTrollDie’s or any other resource explaining the situation).

Those who are innocent usually never consider the possibility of trouble and think that they have nothing to fear, hence nothing to hide. Unfortunately they are very wrong: there are people out there who abuse social norms for their own monetary gain. I don’t think that any of those who called that dreadful number took any effort to mask their own. As a result, Steele got what he wanted — the information he sought via subpoena, delivered by the victim himself, weeks before ISP’s self-imposed deadline.

In addition, Steele most likely tried to provoke self-incriminating statements: this is not so difficult to do. This society is based on trust and dignity. People usually don’t expect to be trapped, and that’s why con artists get what they want in many cases. This is yet another irreparable harm trolls inflict on our society: they erode the social norms based on initial trust and push people to be suspicious to any stranger.

So, if you received a message from your provider that advises you to contact plaintiff’s counsel,

DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT HEEDING THIS “ADVICE”:

 

DO NOT CALL JOHN STEELE!

 

I will update this post as new information emerges (check this article or follow me on Twitter). I’m trying to research if this kind of “considerate” notification breaches any laws or rules of conduct. I suspect they do. And the reason for such a dreadful conduct may be sloppiness at best, and conspiracy at worst.

Meanwhile I urge those who received this message from BrightHouse/Neustar, to call Trevor Gray at (571) 434-3401 and demand more information; demand copies of any documentation received or produced in relation with this incident.

And please disseminate this information to help potential victims, who are ignorant about the copyright trolling scam.

“Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.” Thomas Paine.

 

Comments
  1. skruuball says:

    Unbelievable that Neustar would do this. If they’ve received a subpoena, they have the case number. A subpoena must contain the case number.

  2. Doette says:

    This is exactly what Windstream did. About a week before the deadline, they sent an email that seemed to indicate that the info had already been released prior to notifying me. It advised that all questions should be directed to the Plaintiff’s attorney. There was no formal letter in the mail, just the email.

    They did attach a copy of the subpoena, at least.

    I will be getting rid of Windstream at the first possible opportunity.

    • TAC says:

      Flee Windstream like the wind. *giggle*
      Elsewhere in my “good works”, like SJD does here but behind more barriers, I encountered at least 1 Windstream user.
      They were confused having gotten a demand letter from a lawyer talking about their account with Windstream and bittorrent, and when they were calling Windstream to ask questions resulted in them being told it was just “a scam” and to ignore it by “the legal department”. Multiple times they were told this, until the Windstream employee transferred them to another department who said it was legit and well we emailed you.
      Nearly every other ISP has been sending snail mail letters to targets, sending a random email about a legal matter seems to be really stupid.

      I remain…
      TAC

  3. TrollTrasher says:

    Yeah, I was one of the ones who spotted this letter in the comments and recommended that it be posted here, so thanks for that, sjd. This is a great information resource you’re running here, and the thousands of people unjustly caught up in this need to see things like this so they don’t make a mistake that unnecessarily ends up costing them thousands of dollars.

    I used the term “horrifying” with that letter, and I think that’s an apt way of putting it; it boggles my mind that they would recommend such a thing AND not provide the customer with any information regarding the subpoena or a copy of the subpoena itself.

    • WordPress is great in terms of visibility, the articles appear in Google search results in no time, so basically the main goal of this post was to make this information visible to search engines, hence to the receivers of NeuStar messages if they care to do some research.

      And taking the opportunity, thank you very much for being active and helping people. I happy to see that one of my goals – self sustained community of victims helping each other – becomes reality. I’m just too overwhelmed to answer each and every comment or email. I do my best, but still can’t cover many.

      My thanks extend to all the other active commenters. Keep up the good work, we will eventually crush those scumbags. I believe that we already seriously damaged their “business”.

    • DieTrollDie says:

      I have never been one to be called paranoid, but when I read some of the earlier posting I was shocked and dismayed. There is something to this that just doesn’t “feel” right. Not just the piss-poor sloppy SLOW notification by BrightHouse/Neustar. There is a Troll stench to all this. Not the normal one, something a little more sleazy and slimy than usual. Neustar may be sloppy, but a legal department sending this crap out with NO case number AND then asking a subscriber to call them if they want to authorize release of their information???!!! Something tell me that Steele and associates are trying some new ploy. It probably isn’t working with the major ISPs, but these smaller one may fall prey to some slick wording.

      I would love to see what BrightHouse has received from John Steele. I suspect it is some fancy letter informing them that their “experts” identified IP addresses belonging to their customers and they will be “seeking” a subpoena for the subscriber information. “please be advised that on 10/25/2011 a Civil Proceeding Subpoena Request was received from John Steele”. A “Request,” verses an order???

      On the recently started North Florida cases, the Troll stated that DMCA take-down letters were sent to the ISPs with a request to contact the Troll to resolve this issue. No information was provided on IF the ISP forwarded these notes to the subscriber, but I suspect they would, based on trying to stay compliant with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Failure to comply place the “safe harbor” status if the ISP at risk (then they can be sued). This may be a new way for the Trolls to get people to “voluntarily” contact them to try and resolve the situation even before any subpoena is granted. DON’T CALL THE TROLL!

      DieTrollDie :)
      “Some ships are designed to sink… others require our assistance.”

      • TrollTrasher says:

        Ugh, yeah, great points about how loaded so much of the language seems. It definitely seems to jive with the emergence of these single Doe suits. Remember how we thinking these are probably Does targeted by the trolls as slam dunk default judgements or Does who have incriminated themselves by contacting the trolls directly? That seems even more likely when you see that hundreds, maybe thousands of people are getting notices like this and falling right into the greedy paws of the trolls. Disgusting.

      • I also have very bad feeling about that. That’s why I hinted “conspiracy”, but obviously I can’t blatantly accuse people without a proof (I would need a phd in douchebaggery and a troll certification to do that).

        • DieTrollDie says:

          Very true. No blatant accusation, but something is rotten here. And I love that term – “douchebaggery” LMAO.

          DieTrollDie :)

        • On2ndThought says:

          I was just looking into BrightHouse and Neustar, and I’m comfortable calling it a conspiracy. For one, the majority of BrightHouse’s business is in central Florida which is right around John Steele’s new headquarters. Secondly, if you check out Neustar’s website, they complain about social protestors using DDos attacks against websites. Neustar appears to be an anti-hacktivist business that also specializes in IP geolocation. I’m pretty sure their view on hacktivism parallels their opinion of the use of P2P programs. Will look into it more though

        • CTVic says:

          That “phd in douchebaggery” phrase sounds a bit familiar ;)

        • CTVic: it’s in public domain now ;) Like many other excellent phrases you came up with. If you produce folklore-grade phrases, live with that :)

      • TAC says:

        @DTD – If memory serves correctly there was a way to do this sort of thing. Evan Stone (no really stop laughing) was talking about his ability to do this in the case where he was sanctioned. I thought that this route had been tried in the past and proved to not work, but Stone had claimed a new method. Steele was using Randazza’s $250,000 “WIN” in his threat letters for a while, it is possible he is trying the same stunt Stone was on to.

        TAC

  4. Sloop John D. says:

    Wow…just wow. Between “service” providers like these and lawyers who switch sides, the average Doe almost stands zero chance. Almost depressing. Almost. But we have FCT and DTD fighting the good fight.

  5. […] have reposted the Fightcopyrighttrolls.com article, “Received a message that suggests contacting Steele? Read this first!“  Thank you sophisticated Jane […]

  6. John Dizzle says:

    That’s the same letter I received and I almost made the mistake of calling because I was so confused. I’m glad I didn’t and found this site instead. I completely agree with how shady this is for this company to do. But can someone explain how this neustar place is even involved in all this?

    • John Dizzle says:

      As you were.. My letter doesn’t have this:

      “Neustar is the designated agent of BrightHouse Networks authorized to respond to subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders for the production of subscriber records.”

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have had to deal with Nuestar (COX Communications) and it has been a very similar painful experience despite being a different contact person. I am beginning to think they are getting their pockets lined by Steele since my case involves him as well. Anyway, I got a similar letter basically saying to contact John Steele for more info on the case (my letter was from Angelique Dade at Nuestar). I ignored that and sent in a MTQ to the court copying everyone. A random tech at Nuestar got my MTQ and was helpful and said all was in order. However, I just got an email from Angelique Dade basically saying that they will release my information per the supoena regardless of the MTQ unless I let them publish my IP address as the one that filed the MTQ. Basically she is saying that they won’t give my information to John Steele as long as I give it to him. Her tone was a fairly nasty too. So, it looks like Steele may be finding another way to get around the hassle of the MTQ (which had little chance of success with my judge anyway).

  8. anon says:

    Neustar is not an ISP, they are a third party clearing house, that manages IPs, telephone numbers and offers other solutions to service providers.

    One of their solutions is Ultraviolet. which is a DRM streaming service for DVDs. Seems like a conflict

    http://www.neustar.biz/solutions/media-and-entertainment

    The subpoenas were issued to Brighthouse or Cox in the comments above, not to Neustar.

    http://paranoia.dubfire.net/2010/01/who-is-neustar.html

  9. On2ndThought says:

    Neustar specializes in DDoS protection. Another company that specializes in the same sort of services, Black Lotus Communications, has shown up on the Florida Cases page. It is tied to one of the IP addresses listed on the page. Not sure if it is just a coincidence

  10. Don Joe says:

    OK, I get why it’s bad to talk to troll lawyers by phone, but my question is — what if you ignore them completely, and the troll decides you will be the guy who never responds, and thus can be brought to court for a default judgment?

    If I am a troll, who do I choose to take to court hoping for default settlement? Probably the guys who ignore everything, which makes them likely to ignore that court summons.

    Most innocent people probably just have their names on the ISP account as they pay for it. If you’re innocent, why not talk to the troll and say ‘I didn’t do it, I have open wi-fi and roommates and friends over and it could be my nieghbors or what-not.’

    The troll can still threaten you all they want, but again put yourself in the troll’s shoes, if a Doe gives you this excuse, sure maybe it’s a lie, but who would you rather take to court — guy with potentially legit excuse or guy who never responds?

    • I use “you” generally:

      “Potentially legit” excuse may be twisted by trolls… you never know. By making any statement you accept the burden of proof that this statement is true, and troll may try to attack your credibility. For example, you indicated that friends and/or roommates are visiting often. A troll may confront you and demand to list those friends and/or roommates: if you comply, those friends and roommates can be harassed (and hate you). If not, a troll may argue that you know something and try to hide relevant information. Both ways are bad, but if you did not make a statement in the first place, this particular scenario would be moot.

      There is a valid concern about picking those who ignore 100% of calls and letters in anticipation of default judgement. So if you wish, you can say something like “I don’t know what are you talking about, I did not do what you allege, please stop calling me”. Another good line would be “I’m looking for an attorney, and I don’t intent to talk to you directly”. But you should say it only once and hang up: don’t even think about answering any questions – any answer is a statement, and I already explained why you shouldn’t make any statements.

      • Anonymous says:

        A person in the situation of having unsecured wi-fi, several roomates and friends of roommates (whom they know less well, if at all), should absolutely give a troll the list of names.

        I mean, any sane innocent person should let the guilty parties be harrassed. No law exists federal or otherwise saying the person who pays for Internet is legally required to secure their wi-fi, or be liable for anyone using that unsecured connection to infringe anything.

        So by giving the troll a list of names, you allow the possibly guilty party to bear the burden of their infringement, AND you show the troll a.) that you have a legit excuse, and would be a tough nut to crack as far as forensics due to the # of people the troll would need warrants for, and b.) you are willing to fight in court, you are not somebody they will get default judgment against as you honestly don’t believe you did it.

        If they’re your friends and roommates they would understand your desire not to deal with an alleged infringement you did not commit.

        • skruuball says:

          Be aware that the Trolls have filed declarations stating that an unsecured wifi router is not a defense. Their contention is that the owner is liable for infringement committed as a result of their failure to secure it. I do not know that it has ever been tested in court (for that matter, virtually none of their assertions have been tested in court !), but I would personally not offer it as a defense.

        • Trolls filed many declarations full of BS :) So maybe unsecured router shouldn’t be the main defense, but it can be definitely listed as one of the fallback strategies. It’s common to specify many affirmative defenses arranged from the strongest to the weakest. I saw a document that denied any knowledge of file sharing, and nonetheless listed fair use as the last affirmative defense.

          And unsecured wireless connection is far from being the worst defense. The best opinion I saw on the subject is our friend Nicholas Ranallo’s article in TF: Open WiFi and Pirates: Why Copyright Negligence Won’t Fly

        • skruuball says:

          @SJD, agreed, this is one of many BS decs they’ve filed. I saw Mr. Ranallo’s analysis and it appears to be sound. I only wanted to point out that the Trolls have addressed this defense and that it is conceivable that a judge may agree with them.

          SB

        • You're a douchebag says:

          Not sure who is worse.. the copyright troll who harasses people with threatening phone calls and letters.. or the asshole who would give a troll a list of their closest friends in order to point the blame

        • CTVic says:

          NO!!! Don’t even do that!! Don’t give them that much! The person calling you on the phone is most likely NOT the troll. It’s more likely that it’s some punk kid intern making a dollar an hour, reading lines from a script the trolls wrote to harass you into talking. Assume the person on the phone has NO power over the case at all, and doesn’t care what you have to say – just that their job is to get you talking and to try to get you to say something incriminating.

          Don’t give them a list of names, don’t tell them that you had unsecured wi-fi. Just tell them, repeatedly that “I did not do it”. “Wasn’t me”. “You’ve got the wrong person”. Etc … All that you’re doing by telling them anything other than that is giving them information to pass up the chain to the real douchebags who are filing the paperwork in courts.
          It’s just not worth the risk of possibly misspeaking and incriminating yourself. It’s not worth the risk of giving them names of other people who they could potentially contact and use to further build a case against you.

          If the trolls are serious, which I doubt many are, they will have a judge sign an order for a deposition. THAT is when you want to build your case. THAT is when you want to talk about your unsecured wi-fi, and the roommates who like to download donkey porn. Don’t give them ANY information until they have a judge sign a piece of paper demanding it. Don’t tell them what your defense is until you’re in a tiny little room with the court-appointed recorder documenting everything and a lawyer at your side.

          The most likely result of you giving a caller ANY information other than “I didn’t do it” is that you’ll mix up a few words, say something that could potentially be incriminating, and the trolls will say “Thank you, we withdraw our settlement offer and will see you in court.” Then they’ll let you sit and sweat for a while before calling you with an offer twice the size they’d offered before.

    • Sy Ableman says:

      Default judgements are worth nothing to a troll. A person who ignores a court summons is not the same person who pays any portion of a default judgement. Trolls are in the business of getting paid so they can go to porn conventions and smoke crack with celebrity porn stars, not in getting worthless default judgements from people who are going to declare bankruptcy or skip town.

      Trolls don’t want to take you to court, they don’t want to get judgements, they don’t want to have to explain who collects their data and how they’re getting paid. They don’t want to pay for forensic examiners to examine your hard drive. If any of their cases actually goes to trial, they know that their shitty evidence and methods of mass extortion will at best get them a high profile defeat, and at worst monetary sanctions. They would rather collect settlements from as many people as possible, because it’s easier to steal one dollar from a million people than it is to steal a million dollars from one person.

      • Doette says:

        I was browsing the XBIZ industry rag the other day after some Google hits about the troll suits (they like to publish weekly updates about how many people have been sued each week) when an ad caught my eye for an upcoming pornapalooza called XBIZ LA 2012. After I recovered from the hellish visions of self-important middle aged trolls in $1500 suits, flanked by well-worn, leathery porn “stars” in lucite platform stripper shoes and reeking of cheap body spray, I began to wonder how many trolls will be writing off the cost of attendance as a business expense on their 2012 taxes. Not that there would really be any cost, as I’m sure they will be comped for everything including blowjobs and rental Lamborghinis.

        The president of Pink Visual will be holding a seminar to talk about us, the infringing evil.

        You can read the article about the seminar here. http://www.xbiz.com/news/141202?&ln=web

        Consider yourself warned about the giant nipples and collagen filled lips that may appear on the page.

        • Doette says:

          On reviewing my post I feel I must point out that there is nothing wrong with middle-age. I myself am middle-aged, although female. However, I am of the opinion that no one over 35 should wear, or hang out with the wearer of, lucite platform shoes.

          Also, sex conventions should not be tax-deductible.

      • TrollTrasher says:

        Default judgements are valuable to the trolls. They don’t want a ton of them, but they want them so they can shop around how they “won” cases where the accused has to pay $150,000. Nevermind if the person can’t pay and nobody will ever see that money; it’s the headline that sells and they can use that to intimidate more Does into settling for several thousand each.

        • Anonymous says:

          So basically if you just ignore these guys when they call, or send letters, you are home free after a few months?

          I.e. After awhile they stop bothering you and/or the case gets dismissed by the judge for being on the docket too long without named defendants?

  11. Doette says:

    I just read the fine print in Windstream’s terms of service. They specifically state that they will release customer information without the customer’s approval:

    “To provide information requested by law enforcement or a third party pursuant to a subpoena or other method of requesting information. We will not give you notice of any subpoena or court or administrative orders related to your account, IP address, contact information or use of Services unless required to do so by law.”

    Wow. We will not give you notice unless required by law? Pretty clear where they stand on privacy and rights. I wonder if Cox has similar terms.

    I have now accelerated my hunt for an alternative to Windstream.

  12. DieTrollDie says:

    I understand your point. Some ways the Troll may try to determine who is a “best” case for a default judgement or to take to trial:
    1. None of the contact information provided by the ISP comes back as good. ISP states a subscriiber account is no longer active and no forwarding address. Letters – returned to sender – address unknown. Calls – disconnected number, no voicemail enabled or no voicemail message greeting stating your name or telephone number. Email – email failure delivery. One thing a Troll may do is send a letter via UPS signature required/certified/registered, etc. – note: you do not have to sign these if you don’t want to accept it.
    2. Incriminating statements to the Troll are probably the biggest factor in determining who is a canidate to take to trial. If they can determine that you have assets (not difficult to do with public records searches), this is another motivator for them.

    If you decide to contact the Troll, I would keep any comments very generic and not engage them in any arguements. Lose your cool and make a accidental statement or piss them off by calling them names can get you in trouble.

    I would only say something to the effect that you or your family didn’t do this. The movie in question is not on your system(s), do not contact me further, and you will fight this in court. If you have records that show unauthorized people have used your network without your permission, you can state so generically. Don’t volunteer your systems for forensic examination.

    Also if you don’t reside in the jurisdiction of the court where the case was started in, they will not be trying to take you to trial in that location.

    Each situation is different, but I still stand by not talking to them.

    DieTrollDie :)
    “Some ships are designed to sink… others need our asstance.”

    • The best way to piss off Steele is to mention he is not an IP lawyer, but a divorce one. Don’t do that during the harassing phone calls. Always do it in online discussions :)

      • CTVic says:

        I wouldn’t say anything derogatory about the lawyers, but I would certainly ask some leading questions about how much bullshit their evidence is – for example:
        “How many 80 year old grandmothers did you nab in this case?”
        or
        “Don’t you have any blind geezers to harass?”
        or
        “Is the next name on your list a printer or a dead body?”

        That would do a double-duty: implying that everybody knows their evidence is total bullshit, as well as leaving that implication on their recording so that the troll lawyer won’t want to present it to any court should something go to trial.

  13. John D says:

    Great comments SJD and DTD, I have a question, before a default settlement can be handed down, do they not have to show proof that they attempted to send you something, not just phone calls?

    • Yes, they have to file a certification of service. Most lawyers attach receipts and delivery notifications if summons were sent by a certified mail, but to the best of my knowledge they don’t have to: a statement is enough.

      Currently merely putting an envelope (regular mail) into a mailbox is considered enough. That’s something prone to abuse of course, but I don’t believe that anyone sane would play the game of lying about sending documents – the entire carrier is at stake if the deception somehow surfaces.

      • pissed off says:

        But if you keep watching the case on pacer it will show it there too correct, or will it show up somewhere you would never guess, just incase you didnt get the certificate of service and it should be listed under same (in my case new sensations vs does 1-1474) case number.
        If they file on real names does it stay with the same Judge and case number or is it filed again under new case number?

        • TrollTrasher says:

          Unknown, because they’ve never actually filed or re-filed a case against a named person. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but all of the new single Doe cases and the earlier default judgements are against Does. In the default judgements it looks like the names came out after the fact, but I don’t think the judges changed or anything like that along the way.

        • CTVic says:

          Don’t get confused between a settlement letter (scare letter) and a court summons.
          Scare letters don’t show up on any of the court tracker sites, because technically it is not a court document – it is something done outside of the legal system in the name of “settlement negotiation”. Judges don’t need to be aware of all of the backroom negotiations that go on between plaintiff and defendant, so they won’t show up on pacer, or recap or rfcexpress.
          With a court summons, you will most likely have somebody physically handing you the paper and telling you “you’ve been served”. If not that, then it will be some kind of registered mail that has some kind of tracking on it to show that it has been received. It will have the seal of the court and the judge’s signature, giving you a deadline to respond to plaintiff’s allegations. Don’t ignore those! If you ignore one of those, then the trolls can request a default judgment and the court will most likely grant it.

        • pissed off says:

          Damn, it makes me want to jump off a F#*&ing Bridge, damn, never mind that’s the trolls home.
          GRRRRRRRRRR.

  14. John D says:

    SJD,

    thank you for the quick response, the line about “anyone sane would play the game of lying” is sort of a oxymoron in reference to these trolls.

    Sorry, I don’t know lawyer speak very well, but does that mean they only have to attempt to send a notice (or summons, not sure what it is called) once, and the court is allowed to say the defendant is in default?

    • John D says:

      opps, hope I used the term “oxymoron” correctly :),

      if not, my apologies.

    • On2ndThought says:

      Just putting this here since it is a pretty common problem, but frequently the notices to ISP subscribers ends up in their main ISP e-mail address. Most people don’t use their main ISP e-mail, so they never notice the messages. I’ve heard from multiple Does who said they were never warned, and then they find multiple e-mails in their main ISP account

  15. freaked!! says:

    Hi all

    I received one of these notices from neustar. I have no case # to find my subpoena in order to send a MTQ. Even if I did, I only have 6 days left to get it there. I am trying to formulate a strategy on how to procede from here.

    So far from what I have read here:

    Cancel my ISP service before they release my info. Cancel my phone service which is connected to this ISP account. Cancel my email accounts that my ISP have listed for me (gmail). Dont talk to Steele. Dont sign any receipt of documents sent through postal, UPS etc.

    Other than that I am at a loss on how to proceed. I have no money to hire an attorney. I have no assets, just a vehicle, tools, computer, clothes etc. I suppose I could move from the state of Florida.

    This has me very frightened but determined to get through all this. Any comments on how to proceed welcomed.

    • TrollTrasher says:

      Don’t be frightened, freaked!!!. I’m sure a lot of what you posted is hyperbole, but there’s no reason to go to such great lengths to avoid a troll. Cancelling your ISP isn’t going to prevent them from releasing your info. Going off the grid is going to accomplish much besides being a big pain in the butt for you and actually making you a more ideal target for the trolls to pursue a default judgement. Just hang in there and be smart; if the trolls contact you just save their letters. If you end up on the phone with them just say you don’t know what they’re talking about and hang up. Your strategy is simple: don’t panic. Just stay informed and stay smart. Don’t let the trolls trip you up and ride it out.

    • Imagine the following situation. You are in a crowded street. Some guy named Jack Stoole cries “this guy stole that’s old gentleman’s wallet!” and points a finger at you. There is a cop nearby and, naturally, he wants to ask you a couple of questions. Seeing that there is no evidence that supports Jack Stoole’s claim, he eventually lets you go. But what happens if instead of asking the cop to present evidence and refusing to answer potentially damaging questions, you start running away? Sure you will be chased and arrested.

      That’s what you are trying to do by canceling your services and not accepting certified mail. I researched the mail issue and found out that in many cases, if a defendant actively refuses to accept summons, courts ruled that summons were properly served. So my advice: just live through inevitable harassment, and you will be fine if you don’t talk to scumbags. You don’t have to prove your innocence. They must present solid evidence, and they don’t have any: harassing people having no more information than an IP address is pure bluff.

      P.S. And… it appears that no one “stole” that old gentleman’s (a porno studio’s boss) wallet: he lost it by failing to adapt to the realities of new marketplace.

      • CTVic says:

        Actually in most of these cases, the old gentleman handed off his wallet just so that he could point his finger and accuse thousands of people of stealing it. Then have a big scary bully rough those thousands of people up a little bit before demanding payment for having to go through all that trouble.

    • CTVic says:

      Like TrollTrasher just said – don’t do any of that. These trolls are feeding on FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.
      Canceling service won’t stop your ISP from releasing your information. You’re already on file with them, and had service at the time the trolls say the infringement occurred – so they have to release that info per the court order.
      Don’t change your email address. Don’t cancel your phone service. Don’t move. Unless you’re living in a movie, and the FBI comes knocking to put you into a witness relocation program, you can’t just disappear off the face of the earth … and why would you want to even if you could?

      The trolls WANT you scared. They WANT you to make a bad judgment, and say stupid things when they contact you. They WANT you to do stupid things like sell a kidney so you can afford to settle with them for something you didn’t do.

      So the best thing you can do is read, read, read. Read this blog. Read dietrolldie. Read torrentlawyer.wordpress.com. Read eff.org’s site. Read up on the RIAA lawsuits from a few years ago. Read about how many cases have been shredded and eradicated. Educate yourself – that IS why you have internet access, right?

      And in the end, recognize that this is all about money. Not criminality. Worst case scenario is NOT prison. Worst case scenario is a big bill. If you have no money or assets, then they have nothing to take. 150 thousand dollars is no different than 150 trillion quadrillion dollars if you’re broke.

  16. freaked!! says:

    I still would like to see the details on the subpoena. Whats the reason for it? I am pretty sure I am accused of downloading or sharing something, but what and by whom. Am I being singled out individually or with a group of “does”.

    Ridiculous! Definitely a shitty way to be notified with minimum info & no time to respond before they hand over my personal information to the troll.

    People need to be aware that their ISPs are using companies like Neustar who do shady things, like notifying just before or just after the fact they are releasing this personal information without any information as to what it concerns etc.

    You expect it from an attorney, but not from your ISP. If this ends in a default judgement how are they going to squeeze the money from me if I am unemployed and penny-less with no assets?

    Thanks to everyone for the support. It does make a difference.

    • TrollTrasher says:

      freaked!!!, I understand your concerns, but you ARE freaking too much. You can contact the ISP or their legal representation to request/demand the subpoena/case info. The odds are very slim that you are or will be singled out and be the victim of a default judgement against you.

  17. freaked!! says:

    Thanks for reassurance TrollTrasher

    Guess I am going from frightened to pissed off. Anyway I have spent many hours so far reading on this sight and doing some general searching about cases trying to find mine. I have found a couple of lists of cases that Steele is involved with, but not the most current up to date.

    I have learned a lot thanks to you and others and fell way better than I did a couple days ago.
    I would think there should be a list of cases or a way to search them on PACE for Steele.

    • TrollTrasher says:

      http://dockets.justia.com/search?q=JOHN++STEELE%C2%A0

      He’s not the only John Steele out there, but “our” Steele hasn’t filed a case that he was handling directly since August. It’s very telling that he’s pulled himself back from the spotlight in this manner.

      And freaked!!!, I saw your post in the other thread about the lawyers. The honest truth is that most of lawyers on the EFF list WILL suggest either that a Doe settle (since that is the only way to ensure that the case is something you can leave behind you and prevent the troll from getting your info if it’s settled before the ISP releases the info) or that the Doe should hire them to fight the case. These lawyers are just looking at it realistically from their standpoint. The ones I had talked to in the past had a ton of good advice, but definitely wanted me to hire them to fight the case. That works for them twofold because it means they’re getting paid and they get to take on a rather notorious and probably pretty easily trounced trend if these cases ever went to court. They also suggest settling because settling is the only definitive way for a Doe to end the matter ASAP and prevent their info from getting out there if it’s before the subpoena deadline. They’d be remiss to NOT suggest it if a Doe spoke to them and asked how they can end this matter.

      • Doette says:

        Steele has substituted in on these Miami-Dade District Court (Florida state court) cases:

        BOY RACER INC vs DOES, JOHN (1 615) 2011-29024-CA-01
        Filed 9/12/2011

        MILLENNIUM TGA INC FOREIGN CORP vs DOES, JOHN 2011-31922-CA-01
        Filed 10/3/2011

        BOY RACER INC FOREIGN CORP vs DOES, JOHN 1-625 2011-32622-CA-01
        Filed 10/7/2011

        OPENMIND SOLUTIONS INC FOREIGN CORP vs JOHN DOES 1-313
        Filed 10/7/2011

        Perhaps he is pursuing only at the state level and farming out the Federal cases. There may be more but considering the poor quality of the Miami-Dade clerk’s website, it’s hard to find them all.

        A note for those who are not familiar with the Florida cases:

        Florida has a little used and relatively archaic law on the books allowing a Complaint for Pure Bill of Discovery. You can read more about it here: http://www.floridabar.org/DIVCOM/JN/JNJournal01.nsf/Articles/CD48D82DEB84C04885256E43004F37C7.

        Trolls have been filing cases using this law to unmask Does by subpoena and extract settlements. Does who don’t settle or dispute may then be referred out to the Meiers and Hashmis of the world (or other similarly situated trolls) for actual suit. Jurisdiction and joinder have so far been a non-issue and Florida does not yet seem to mind that their discovery law is being used as a fishing expedition. You can review a motion that outlines the Steele fIrm’s argument for use of this law and issuance of subpoenas here: http://citpsite.s3.amazonaws.com/ftt/huffman/OpenMind_Ex_Parte_Motion_for_Discovery_from_ISPs.pdf

        Additionally, in some cases the the usual Plaintiffs (Patrick Collins, K-Beech, Third Degree, Raw Films, Diabolic, Nucorp. Berlin Media and Zero Tolerance) are joined together against hundreds of Does for what can only be multiple different works and swarms. I don’t see how this can possibly be proper and only serves to deny the court the filing fees it is due.

        Sooner or later, and I hope sooner, someone in Florida (I’m looking at you, State Bar and Attorney General) will take notice of this practice. I am also hoping that the trolls eventually name a state Doe in Federal court so that a Federal judge will take note of what Florida is doing regarding subject matter over which they clearly have no jurisdiction. .

        The whole thing stinks and is riddled with what appear to be egregious abuses, but that’s nothing new.

        Please also note on the motion that I linked above, there is a Steele troll name I haven’t seen before – Joanne Diez.

        • Thank you, good overview and links regarding Florida cases. I copied a part of your comment (with minor modifications) to the “Florida” page.

        • anon says:

          What is the actual wording of the subpoena to the ISPs? Does it state that John Doe from IP address xx.xx.x.xx, living in the state of North Carolina, used his/her Verizon subscriber account to infringe on Plaintiff’s works?

          I would think Verizon, or whatever ISP, would question a subpoena from the State of Florida, not a Federal Court, alleging copyright infringement from a subscriber residing in a different state entirely.

          I am probably thinking too logically here…

    • CTVic says:

      And THIS post is exactly why I am glad that this blog is here, and am extremely grateful to SJD for maintaining it – as well as the other informational blogs with their respective authors. “I am going from frightened to pissed off” covers my own reaction to these things perfectly, once I was able to learn something about what is going on.
      Information and education. Light of day. These are the things that will shut down these predatory law suits that are going forward only on a foundation of smoke and mirrors.

      These sites are a much-needed public service.

  18. freaked!! says:

    I agree TrollTrasher about what an attorney would suggest. Kind of put myself in their shoes. Each case is slightly different but there may be some that are exceptional. Mostly though they know the procedure according to their experience. What seems to have worked best according to what case they work on and what the defendant wants to accomplish.

    Basically one would need them if it goes to a trial, or even if someone wanted to settle.
    I would think one would need an attorney to be sure everything is done correctly. Let the attorney deal with the troll. Still have to pay the settlement and the attorney but there are only so many options.

    Ive read a lot of your stuff, here and on dietrolldie.wordpress.com. Good stuff. Thanks for helping.

    • CTVic says:

      Keep reading and never stop. Look up torrentlawyer – Rob Cashman’s blog, and read it from the bottom up. He posts a lot of good information both in the articles as well as the comments. Also look up some articles in the tech policy section of arstechnica.com – especially those by Nate Anderson – he has a few good articles out there about these trollawyers. (The Ken Ford/Teen Anal Nightmare article was *great*)
      Also do a bit of research on the cases filed by RIAA from about ’08 on. These porn chasers are just mimicking what the “legitimate” music studios tried a few years ago – and there’s a good bit of history and precedent that was set by BMG, Universal, etc… For example, poor college students successfully asked the court for assistance in finding pro-bono (free) defense lawyers. Or, that some states could require these data collectors who cast the nets to be licensed as an Investigator in the state before their bullshit data is even admissible.

      Like every other facet of life, the more you know, the better off you will be.

      • Also visit the Resources/Press page: I compiled the lists (and do my best to keep them updated) of relevant articles from TorrentFreak, TechDirt and ArsTechnica. TF and TD articles go back to May, and I just started Ars ones – only checked back to August. If/when I have time, I’ll keep expanding lists back into the history.

  19. CTVic says:

    I was thinking about this last night – and maybe a “real” lawyer can chime in on this issue – but this subpoena notification could be a real liability for Brighthouse and Neustar. They are actually giving their customers legal advice to directly contact the plaintiff’s lawyer – without any disclaimer saying that “this is not legal advice”.
    A 3rd party asking possible defendants to directly contact plaintiff’s counsel on their own is bad advice in ANY case. Even more-so here, when you’re dealing with a scumbag porn chaser who makes a living out of extorting settlements from innocent people. I mean c’mon … John Steele has ruined his name to the point where he has to work through various proxies just to have a court accept his motions.
    The ISP could be setting itself up for a little lawsuit of its own by giving the extremely bad advice of trying to negotiate with a shark.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not necessarily, if they are send the subpoena directly to Neustar. Which, is a third party agent used by service providers to help law enforcement track people down.

      http://leap.neustar.biz/

      If we start to see subscribers of other ISPs involved, we will know that they are abusing LEAP.

  20. anon says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the subpoenas are being sent directly to Neustar’s LEAP business unit.

    http://leap.neustar.biz/

  21. Anonymous says:

    The Resources page does have a lot of good info for me and I would recommend anyone
    coming to this site to read over it. There is more than can be read in a day.

    About Neustar. I still feel that they should have sent a copy of the subpoena or case # legally.
    I have been researching to see if this is true, but cannot find anything specifically to prove this.
    An attorney would know this or be able to find it very quickly.

    Sounds like a good pro bono case for an attorney to take on if they (Brighthouse/Neustar/Steele) have done something to be liable for. Someone stated earlier how this seems like conspiracy or collusion. Planning together with the attorney to make it extremely difficult to defend against the subpoena without following the law or abiding strictly by a proper code of conduct.

    It would be great to hear attorney’s opinion on this.

    Thanks all for the input.

  22. freaked!! says:

    The last comment “Resource page” was mine. Forgot to enter the name, also thanks Doette for listing those Florida cases Steele is involved in and to TrollTrasher for the link relating to Steeles cases.

    I still have not found the subpoena info to be able to file an MTQ as I received the notice without a case # or subpoena copy.

  23. TAC says:

    Question campers – Does it appear these letters are coming out of Florida using the Dade county court? Is it a Bill of Pure Discovery suit?

    I ask because the truly sick portion is…
    Your not being sued.
    The entire point of this type of case is to see if there is enough evidence to have a real lawsuit.
    This allows them to fish for your information and then send you very scary letters threatening that you settle or they will file a federal lawsuit naming you.
    Think of it as the way the former RIAA employed Judge in DC is operating, you have no standing to stop your ISP from releasing your account details because YOU are not named in the suit.

    Evil part – there is no time limit on file or f*ck off like in a federal level doe case. Federal cases for does need people named in 4 months or dropped. This is why most trolls drop the cases without prejudice at the 4 month mark or so. They then keep working the list trying to find scared people to extort. The threats seem less scary when there isn’t an active case they can just slap you into.

    If Steele calls you, just point out you heard that his expensive never wrong system identified the granny in San Fran incorrectly. Would he like to turn the code over to experts to start shooting holes in or would he like to loose your number now.

    • CTVic says:

      Regarding 4 months … yes and no. In a sensible, true-to-the-rules world, trollawyers should be dropping at the 4 month mark because of the name & serve or f*ck off & die rule of 120 days. Unfortunately, the trollawyers have been able to play the “Slow-as-molassas ISP hasn’t produced information” card time and time again, letting judges grant them extensions of time to go WAY over 120 days. Naturally, trollawyers are milking the “Slow ISP” argument – whether or not the ISP has actually been slow – to grant themselves as much time as possible to threaten their way into a settlement.

      • TAC says:

        @CTVic – I was pointing out that the rule existed and could be leveraged in a Federal case. These pure discovery crap just hand them all the info they are looking for and they walk away, there is no oversight of what happens once they get the data they sought. All of the Federal “rules” about 1 case per movie, per swarm all are out the window. I have seen the papers for a pure discovery filing covering like 15 movies and several thousand names from different studios, all for 1 low filing fee. The trolls have found a loophole to make it even cheaper to shake people down.

        It would be nice if a Judge refused to let them dismiss without prejudice some of the mass cases, pointing out the lawyers brought an action against x,000 people all at once. If they intended to actually try a case they should have been ready to proceed. If they are instead trying to save money by lumping multiple people into a single case, and will drop the suit but keep seeking “settlements” the court is not the proper forum to use.

  24. anon says:

    This is an excellent Motion to Quash from AT&T in the Patrick Collins and K-Beech case(s) that Steele..Ahem Prenda Law has filed.

    Bart Huffman & Carlton Fields filed this with AT&T counsel

    http://citpsite.s3.amazonaws.com/ftt/huffman/Collins_K-Beech_Motion_to_Quash.pdf

  25. anon says:

    I agree, we don’t know.

    Kudos to AT&T, Mr. Huffman & Mr. Fields though

  26. PotentialDoe says:

    Absolutely amazing that the trolls continue to get away with this crap. AT&T hit the nail on the head.

  27. RuhRoh says:

    Can anyone tell me what the motion to server is? There are no comments for the last MTQ and the last MTD.
    12/14/2011
    MOTION: TO SEVER
    12/14/2011
    MOTION TO QUASH
    12/14/2011
    MOTION TO DISMISS
    12/14/2011
    MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER
    12/14/2011
    TEXT DECLARATION TO SUPPORT MTN BY DOE 98.228.181.116
    12/13/2011
    MOTION TO QUASH
    12/13/2011
    MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER
    12/09/2011
    MOTION TO QUASH
    11/30/2011
    NOTICE OF HEARING- MOTIONS 01/17/2012 09:45 AM

    • Anonymous says:

      motion to sever means you should not be joined together with other defendants. You are arguing that they should sue you individually, you did not do anything in concert with the others.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I also got this letter and I actually called them,

    they didn’t even know my name and asked around $2,400.

    I told them I have no money, no one to borrow some cash, and I’m totally alone here.

    and this woman sorta started negociating the price to around 2 grand, saying I can pay them $500 each for 4 month.

    and asked my email, so that they can send me the “Settlement”

    I gave them wrong one, and I called the twice this afternoon again, but she didn’t answer that.

    I was kinda frightened and after I read this blog,

    BULL SHIT!

    I freaking don’t know what they are talking about.

    I’m, not gonna respond them anymore.

  29. Hunter576 says:

    About a year ago, our internet stopped working. This was on a Friday evening, and since this did happen every so often and usually resolved itself in an hour or so I took no action. It never came back up? I couldn’t understand this, I am a 60 year old disabled cop,my good wife a 63 year old disabled nurse, we have no children at home and our grandkids are over a hundred miles north.

    Well come Monday I called our ISP and was informed that I had downloaded a movie called NCIS at such and such a time using bit torrent.

    Hmm I though, well I hadn’t downloaded anything at that time, or any other. While we do use the internet, mostly games on Facebook we rarely if ever download anything. I guess I do go and get Microsoft Security Essentials when I am fixing up a laptop for us or one of the kids/grand-kids as I do play with old computers but to download a movie, or even a TV show (Who needs to download them when we have Netflix). So I tell this guy that, and perhaps some neighbor or kid on the street had leached off my internet service, however I am taking precautions and have WEP enabled on my router. At any rate the fellow turned on our internet again with a stern warning to NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!

    I was pissed but I guess there isn’t much I could do about it, and, after all nobody was threatening to take me to court, but I guess they may well have should they wanted to I guess.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I do understand the legalities since Workers Comp sent me to a couple of years of college to be a paralegal and it was my pleasure to work three months for a district court judge as a paralegal law clerk, where I gained some insight as to what happens behind the scenes in court cases, and maintaining a 4.0 throughout the two years of college did send a bit of a thrill up my spine, sadly i as still just as disabled after I graduated at the top of my class as I was when Workers Comp sent me, and I have done little since attaining the degree, but it did leave me with a good general understanding of the law and how things work. So I find this site very interesting and Thank God that the bungholes who are serving everyone for copyright violations decided that making me uncomfortable for a weekend was enough punishment for allowing some passing kid to download a (TV SHOW??) movie off my poorly protected router (now using WPA2).

    However I can surely see where one could get screwed royally by these blasted attorney’s (One thing I never changed my opinion of lawyers from my days in court on the witness stand being harangued by the assholes by being taught the law from them in college.)

    So to those of you facing the terrors of being persecuted by these strange beings from a Law School, you have my best wishes, and I would love to help in any way that I can, however living on social Security and a bit from workers comp leaves me little to none for contributions,,,so all I have to give you is my best wishes and hopes that you come out clean and the POS’s who are going after you suffer their punishment if not here then in hell when they have to face their makers.

    • Thanks for stopping by, telling your story and wishing our readers good luck – they need it!

      My concern (and fight) is two-fold:

      1. You know yourself that IP address collection methods are flawed and many innocent people become harassment targets. Since costs to prove innocence are higher than paying up, many innocent people pay, especially if they do not want their names to be associated with pornography lawsuits. This is not acceptable.
      2. Even those who indeed shared those files do not deserve this treatment. This violation is minor, no more serious than speeding. So if they are caught (AND proved to be guilty) they should pay a fine, law is law, but a reasonable fine! 150,000 maximum payment was designed by the Congress for large commercial infringing operations, not for individuals! Threatening anyone with this amount is like false-executing traffic violators.
  30. […] Calls originate from the official Prenda phone number (312-880-9160) but the robot voice suggests calling Florida (305-748-2102): don’t even think about doing that! […]

  31. I have an essentially identical letter from NeuStar on behalf of RCN, filed in Illinois, and with a Paul Duffy as the attorney.

    • SJD says:

      Yep, they keep sending these messages selling their client’s clients out. Many people complained, Neustar is apparently deaf. We need to bug EFF: I believe it should be relatively easy for them to contact Neustar legal department and explain why they are wrong. Writing amicus curiae briefs is much more expensive.

  32. […] started receiving letters from their ISPs. One of the readers (ignorantly) called the predators (big “thanks” to Neustar) to be told that the ransom amount is […]

  33. […] Shortly before the EFF’s announcement, Paul Sieminski, a General Counsel for Automattic (WordPress.com’s parent company) sent an official response to Paul Duffy, refusing to comply with the troll’s sneaky overreaching subpoena. I’m sure you will enjoy this eloquent email and praise the business that, while having to abide the law, actually cares about its customers and does not throw them under the bus (as, for example, Neustar does): […]

  34. Dan says:

    Im getting ready to write a motion to quash, wondering if i could get away with blacking out my IP address on the copy sent to the trolls?? No reason to let them know which doe sent the motion if i dont have too!

    This is a great blog by the way, couldnt have been comfortable with my situation without it!!

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