The story about a copyright troll Terik Hashmi who was caught practicing law without license in Florida was widely covered this week (DieTrollDie, EFF, ArsTechnica, TorrentFreak, Rob Cashman). As a result, the judge put his 27 mass bittorent cases on hold pending investigation.
Many knew that the website of a copyright bully, Copyright Enforcement Group, listed Terik Hashmi’s “Transnational Law Group, P.L.L.C.” as a partner:
If you visit this webpage today, you will not find “Transnational Law Group, P.L.L.C.” there anymore. Obviously, the settlement factory rushed to distance itself from an alleged felon (practicing without license in Florida is a 3rd degree felony, and carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine.) No one in this “business” wants too much attention: trolls dwell in dark corners and are afraid of light (publicity).
The list of partners still includes the following members:
- Law Offices of Ira Siegel. No introduction necessary. Ira was quiet recently, after judge Maria-Elena James became the last Northern California judge who finally had had enough of trolls and killed his two monstrous cases.
- The Copyright Law Group, P.L.L.C. It’s also a wide-known troll (or rather a weretroll), Maik Meier. Meier and Hashmi know each other for a long time.
- Carroll Law Firm. I don’t know anything about this firm. Let me know if you have any interesting information.
- Law Offices of Marvin Cable. This is a puzzle. Marvin Cable is listed on the EFF Subpoena Defense page (Update 3/23/2012: not anymore), represents Randazza gang’s victims and does not file lawsuits against unnamed Internet users. While being related to a settlement factory does not add to an attorney’s reputation, I wouldn’t categorize him as a troll and leave it between him and his understanding of ethics. Update 3/23/2012: Although I tried to give a benefit of a doubt to the guy, the prospect of quick and easy cash has finally won over dignity. Confirmed: Marvin Cable is a troll.
- Schulenberg & Schenk. This is a German lawfirm, Guardaley’s co-conspirators in multiple extortion schemes in Germany. A Berlin court found that Guardaley’s IP collection methods are flawed, however it did not prevent Guardaley from extending extortion business to US using various decoys (“IPP”, “Baseprotect” etc.)
CEG’ website was redesigned recently and now looks professional and creates an impression of a reputable company. Obviously, some good designers and marketers were hired using money shaken down from semi-random Internet users. It is still no more than a settlement factory that has automated already inhuman process of sending out hollow threats and scaring innocent (and not-so-innocent) ISP subscribers into paying.
And it all started…
A less known fact: Ira Siegel and his partner Owen Onouye started a trolling business “Hammer Law” back in April 2009. Then, Onouye became one of CEG’s founders and its registered agent. Prior to these events Mr. Onoye served 2.5 years in prison: police caught him with 48 pounds of marijuana and he was convicted in 2005. It took a while for the California Bar to catch up (did they ever hear about the trolls?), but finally Owen Onouye’s license was suspended in August 2011.
The story of Mr. Onouyo’s moral downfall is an interesting read: Onouyo claims that he agreed to be involved in drug delivery because his financial situation was dire. As we know, Ira Siegel’s is in a similar predicament: he filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection in 2010. Still… No matter how bad your finances look, improving the situation by turning to questionable methods, whether it is drug trafficking or copyright racket, is always a wrong answer. Karma police does not need court approval to watch inside everyone’s soul.
There were some events surrounding the consolidated case — all-in-one 27 cases fraudulently filed by Terik Hasmi in Florida: order to show cause why this case shouldn’t be dismissed, Hashmi’s tearful reply, and substitution of disgraced attorney by weretroll Mike Meier. On April 3 Judge Hinkle finally dismisses this case.
Adult industry’s main news outlet, XBiz, also wrote about this event calling plaintiffs some of the top studios in the adult entertainment. I laughed wondering who are the bottom ones then, and what kinds of predatory assaults on the general public they are capable of (with the little help from some ethically challenged lawyers).
CEG changed its name to CEG TEK, probably to commemorate TEriK Hashmi.