Archive for December, 2012

I intended to enjoy the New Year eve with family, friends and champagne. I postponed some really explosive news till tomorrow (and I promise some fireworks!)¹, but this one just knocked me out. I strolled to the kitchen, looked into the fridge, checked my wine rack: no, I did not drink anything yet. Nonetheless, the following is simply surreal.

To understand the desperation that caused Gibbs’s mega-hysteria and unambiguous admission of the offshore fraud, read my Friday’s post (which, by the way, was featured on the front page of slashdot.org).

Sorry for breaking these news at this time. Normal people try to find peace in their souls on the New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year, normal people! It is painfully clear that the next New Year we will celebrate without thinking about the crooks if they continue to stay on the path of self-destruction (which we, naturally, hardly regret).

Unbelievable.

 

Featured comments
  • 89 Year Old Defender on December 31, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Poor misunderstood Brett. I actually began shedding a tear for a brief moment, then realized it was only an allergic reaction to the text of the Motion. Years ago, I developed an aversion to courtroom lawyer games and lying litigants.

    To my friends on this blog, and elsewhere, this garbage Motion to Disqualify Judge Wright is an act of pure desperation, and I predict Mr. Pietz will pulverize him. The only reason I can think of for him filing such an outrageous Motion is to try and set the stage for an appeal. In fact, the “I know I’m gonna lose this one, but don’t you worry, I’ll appeal” thing is written all over it. Gibbs is nothing less than screwed, and he knows it.

    On Page One: “Of Counsel to Prenda Law, Inc.” — he forgot to mention Prenda’s status with the Secretary of State. Oops.

    …and throughout the pleadings otherwise, he actually spells out exactly what the plaintiffs have been doing, and then blames the judge for calling him on it. Utterly astounding. “Look, Judge Wright, you’re saying we do all these mean and nasty things (which are all true) so now you’re biased against us.” Yeah, no shit Gibbs, you’re a walking talking liar machine. No one believes you anymore, and frankly I’m surprised anyone ever did.

    I await patiently for the Opposition that is filed to this one. I can only imagine how it will look and what will be on it. Mr. Pietz, the ball is in your court. I know you won’t disappoint us.

  • Anonymous on 2012/12/31 at 8:40 pm

    Don’t be so modest SJD, any tale of Troll woe will only warm the heart of a Doe, no matter what day of the year. Watching Gibbs fall further into despair as he contemplates the coming loss of his freedom sounds like a great way to ring in the new year, and while I have been teetotaling recently and was considering abstaining this evening, I may just have to raise a toast to Brett Langdon Gibbs’ Fear.

    While motions to disqualify may be common, I would be surprised if they are usually so personal, insulting, and hysterical. Like all Gibbs’ recent filings, this is a massive rambling blob with very little stating of his case. If there are inconsistencies and apparent biases on Judge Wright’s part, simply state them and get on with it. Considering this is Gibbs’ home territory more or less (although CAND is where most of his cases have been filed), and CAND lead the nation in putting down mass-Doe cases, this is not a diplomatic argument and I don’t see how Gibbs can believe filing this will be of long-term positive benefit to his litigation plans in Northern and Central California when he is already on the defensive. That leaves us to suspect that he is on the ragged edge of despair, making the Alan Cooper question all that more urgent and suspicious, as Prenda is clearly willing to do anything and everything to avoid simply providing Plaintiff’s contact information!

    I’ll say it again, thinking about Brett Langdon Gibbs desperately puking out this garbage on New Year’s Eve makes my year, this is truly a great New Year’s gift and sends 2012 out on a positive note for me. He deserves all the fear and paranoia he is feeling right now; I wish the grief he has caused Does back on him one hundredfold, and I hope that as he goes deeper into despair, there is some remaining piece of a human soul that realizes this is what he has been inflicting on others for the last two years.

    I hope he has a miserable New Year’s and that next year becomes the worst year of his life.

    Happy New Year Does. This one is shaping up nicely before it even starts!

  • Anonymous on 2013/01/01 at 9:24 pm

    Sure, that would be great [a reply to another commenter who noted that "Court should order the “Plaintiffs” to prove the validity of their existence and registrations by documentary production"]. The problem is unless and until Prenda is the subject of a criminal investigation, or a judge pins them to the wall and simply refuses to let them run, Does and their attorneys are stuck doing the investigative work.

    I think we are close to Prenda getting busted by the authorities, but until then it remains to be seen if this or any judge will prevent them from just dismissing this case and running away without having to answer the revealing questions. I’m honestly surprised that Gibbs is pushing his luck this far, of course dismissing the case after discovery of Cooper’s identity was allowed would be super-suspicious, but this is suspicious as well and it risks the wrath of this judge and every other judge in his District and perhaps elsewhere. Judges talk, and CAND and CACD can already smell Gibbs coming, so the more suspicious his behavior and the more obvious it becomes that he is hiding something about these plaintiffs the greater the risk that a judge will alert the guys who WILL find out WTF is going on. Gibbs and Steele must be really desperate with this one, because between this and the motions for security Doe defenders have a strategy that blocks Prenda operations in CA.

    I expected this case to be dismissed immediately after Pietz’ discovery request was granted, so this continuing train wreck is a delightful surprise. But the real test of Judge Wright and the judicial system will come when Gibbs’ latest brilliant plan is inevitably dropkicked into the garbage, and Prenda tries to dismiss the case and weasel out of discovery. Then we will see whether Judge Wright is on to them.

Followups
Media coverage

 


¹Update 1/1/2013: I meant this news, admittedly I exaggerated the explosiveness, but still…

As I reported last week, copyright trolls John Steele, Paul Duffy, Brett Gibbs (and Mark Lutz¹) hired the “best law firm in Tampa for white collar criminal defense,” Kynes, Markman & Felman, P.A. (“KMF” below), in an attempt to avoid sanctions after an embarrassing yet entertaining Sunlust Pictures v. Nguyen (FLMD 12-cv-01685) hearing on November 27, 2012. In my opinion, the con artists simply could not risk fighting the defense attorney Graham Syfert’s motion without an outside counsel, as it would result in another hearing with all the perils of answering judges’ questions under oath.

As a part of the argument against sanctions, four declarations/affidavits were attached to the KMF’s response (by Daniel Webber, Paul Duffy, Brett Gibbs, and John Steele).

Besides a coordinated attack on Graham Syfert, these exhibits also meant to explain the November blooper in detail, covering possible questions — in order to avoid further scrutiny by the judge.

Not surprisingly, this blog’s readers scrutinized those declarations. Taking the occasion, I want to remind Prenda’s defenders one more time: this is not a run-of-the mill lawsuit with a handful of inattentive spectators, but a happening watched by hundreds of eyes. There is no way any lie, fact twisting, or crookery could be smuggled into the proceedings without us noticing.

So, people did read the declarations. And they did notice two serious flaws in the first one, purportedly filed by the plaintiff, Sunlust Pictures’ owner Daniel Weber:

  • His surname was misspelled: an extra “b” appeared in both occasions: “Webber.” The first occasion is at the top of the document, and I can imagine that the undersigned could overlook it, but the second one is right under the signature line. It is doubtful that a person would not notice a misspelling at the very place he is signing (unless, of course, he is under serious influence²).
  • In #5 he stated that both he and his generous wife were out of the country, “in the country of India filming a film during extended period of time, including November 27, 2012.” Well, his Twitter feed told quite a different story:

 

It is not a secret that this blog is the first thing trolls read in the morning, so those damning findings were duly noticed³: on 12/26/2012 KMF filed a notice to replace two exhibits, including the one embedded above, correcting those two “mistakes.” The new declaration is notarized this time (why?):

Misspelling alone, while suspicious, is still easy to brush off: we are not robots after all, and our pornographer could possibly overlook an extra letter gatecrashing his surname. However, not to remember in which country you were less than a month ago… Mr. Weber tries to explain why he lied under the penalty of perjury in his previous declaration:

Both my wife and I were in the country of India filming a film during extended periods of time in 2012, traveling back and forth between India and Los Angeles. To clarify my prior declaration submitted in this matter, I was originally scheduled to travel to India on or around November 27. 2012 and arranged for a representative to attend the hearing in my stead because I would be unavailable and because I believed that since I do not have intimate knowledge of the details of this matter, it seemed better for us to request the attendance of a person who has knowledge of the issues raised in the case.

My original travel plans were disrupted due to an emergency surgery performed on my dog. Thus I was unexpectedly In Los Angeles on the date of the hearing. I understood my prior declaration to have focused on my plans for the hearing and I would like to apologize for any confusion.

This is not a “clarification,” Mr. Weber, it is a 180-degree opposite statement. If you initially said that you were in India, and then “In Mumbai, India,” that would be a clarification. Also, analyzing Mr. Weber’s Twitter feed, we see a different story again:

 

December 4 is not “on or around November 27.” Also note how argumentum ad passions (“appeal to emotion” — sick puppy! what can be more heartbreaking?) was used to distract the judge from a simple, undeniable fact: the initial declaration contained knowingly and deliberately stated falsehood. Under the penalty of perjury.

[Update] Make sure to read the comments below. Some are exceptionally good. This one does a thorough job of reconstructing the sequence of Weber’s life’s events based on his and his wife’s tweets: more proofs of lying under oath. Other comments are worth your time too.

Some people also suggested that Mr. Weber did not sign the initial declaration at all. Indeed, signatures on these two documents look suspiciously different:

 

TAD commented:

Weber all of the sudden decided to sign using his initials instead of a loopy “D” (the worst looking “D” I’ve ever seen), not to mention the “Ds” do not match. Notice on DE44.1, the “D” in Weber’s signature basically begins with a straight line. On DE40.2, it’s the opposite, loopy all of the way through. Then there’s that stray line next to the “D” on DE40.2, no idea what that is supposed to be.

Two different people signed these two documents, I’m 99.99999% certain. Handwriting doesn’t lie and, although I’m no graphologist, I can tell the difference between two peoples’ writing when it’s blatantly obvious. I could point out more inconsistencies but I’m not really in the mood hehe.

I have a bad feeling that this is indeed likely (especially given that Prenda is not a stranger to accusations of identity fraud), although without a conclusion by a licensed graphologist I would not make an affirmative statement. Courts do not like conspiracy theories, no matter how plausible they are. For example, everyone believes that the plaintiff-defendant collusion exists in Prenda’s Guava cases, but without a strict proof, I cannot call it a fact, only “a most likely way of events.”

Regardless, KMF are now in a peculiar situation: while they started the representation as an honest law firm that “is just doing its job,” things have been moving towards a dangerous line, by crossing which they may find themselves indistinguishable from the crooks they represent. The story with Mr. Weber’s declaration is a huge step in this unfortunate direction.

 

So, let’s see what people think: I did not throw polls for a while:

 

 

Happy New Year!

To finish on the bright note, I wish everyone happiness and peace in the oncoming year. Even to you, Daniel Weber and your generous wife Sunny Leone!

I admit that I underestimated both the trolls’ greed and the judicial system’s inertia, and although “good guys” are clearly winning, the war is not over yet. We will continue to fight “bad guys”: anti-troll lawyers in courts, and we bloggers — on the Internet.

Coincidentally, this is my 200th post! I do not plan to spend much time on these issues until 2013: see you all next year!

Followup
Media coverage

 


¹ For some reason, Graham Syfert did not explicitly name Mark Lutz in his motion for sanctions.

² Prenda defenders! I hope you appreciate my generosity: I supply you with fine ideas how to weasel out of this situation!

³ 1/3/2013 Update: Apparently Graham Syfert, as he indicated in his second motion for sanctions, notified Plaintiff about the discrepancies in the Weber’s declaration. So, maybe the community’s investigation was not the reason for Weber’s declaration amendment. Nonetheless, it does not contradict the fact that the crooks read this site first thing in the morning. They do (and, thanks to Brett Gibbs’s selfless efforts, some judges visit my humble blog as well). :)

It is getting more and more interesting. Readers of this blog (as well as Arstechnica’s and TechDirt’s communities) are well aware of the “Coopergate” — the ongoing controversy regarding a Minnesota resident, former John Steele’s caretaker Alan Cooper, who, through his counsel, articulated a grave concern that his name might be used as a CEO of two Prenda’s offshore shell corporations, Ingenuity 13 and AF Holdings, without his consent and even knowledge. These two Prenda’s “clients” filed more than 250 shakedown lawsuits across the US. I used quotation marks because those “clients” are widely believed to be fictional, Righthaven-style entities, mere façades that John Steele and Paul Hansmeier created for their firm — created with a sole goal of filing lawsuits against alleged file-sharers and then wrestling them into settling, using deception and intensive harassment¹.

Two California attorneys, Nick Ranallo and Morgan Pietz, have been drawing various judges’ attention to this troubling development. Morgan Pietz, in his motion to relate similar cases, asked Prenda’s California counsel, Brett Gibbs, very straight, no-nonsense questions aimed at resolving this controversy:

  1. Is there another Alan Cooper, other than the gentleman in Minnesota who was John Steele’s former caretaker, who is or was the principal of AF Holdings, LLC and/or Ingenuity 13, LLC?;
  2. Will plaintiff’s counsel Brett Gibbs produce the original signature to the verified petition, supposedly executed by hand by “Alan Cooper” and notarized, which Mr. Gibbs stated, under penalty of perjury, that he has a copy of in his own possession and control? See In the Matter of a Petition by Ingenuity 13, LLC, E.D. Cal. Case No. 2:11-mc-JAM-DAD, ECF No. 1, 10/28/11;
  3. Will Mr. Gibbs identify his client contact at Ingenuity 13 and AF Holdings, given that Mr. Gibbs purported to speak with his “client” at Ingenuity 13 only two weeks ago?

Simple questions, and if there was another Cooper, they would be already answered, and the entire ordeal would be forgotten by today. Instead, Brett Gibbs became hysterical and reacted with a series of tantrums that I covered in detail:

Gibbs went even as far as filing a surprisingly frivolous motion for sanctions. This action raised some brows among attorneys: such a motion, full of baseless farcical allegations was destined to be denied. For example, Gibbs alleged that Morgan Pietz had tried to gain publicity and attract clients by secretly feeding this blog with publicly available documents. Of course, this motion was denied by Judge Wright without a single word of explanation.

On 12/14/2012, tired of Gibb’s games, Morgan Pietz filed an ex parte application for leave to take limited discovery prior to rule 26(f) conference regarding Alan Cooper and to stay subpoena in one of the Ingenuity 13 v. John Doe cases, 2012-cv-04976. He clearly explained the rationale:

[...]very recently, deeply troubling factual allegations have been made which suggest the plaintiff is engaged in a widespread and systemic fraud on the Courts affecting thousands of ISP subscribers. Specifically, very troubling questions have been raised as to whether Prenda Law, Inc., has misappropriated the identity of one Mr. Alan Cooper of Minnesota, holding him out in verified federal court filings as the principal of plaintiff Ingenuity 13, a shell entity organized in St. Kitts and Nevis, without Mr. Cooper’s knowledge or consent. Further, the circumstances seem to suggest that the plaintiff’s lawyers behind this action, Prenda Law, Inc. and/or John Steele, may be the real—but undisclosed—parties in interest in this case. For weeks, undersigned counsel, and others, have sought answers from Prenda Law, Inc. and its clients AF Holdings, LLC and Ingenuity 13, LLC, to try and put these concerns to rest. None of the answers proffered to date have been at all reassuring; to the extent Prenda has engaged on the issue at all, the only answers provided have been evasive to a degree that is almost comical.

To be honest, I did not put much hope in the success of this motion, yet to our cheerful surprise, it was granted by Judge Otis Wright.

Of course, I expect more tantrums and baseless accusations from the crooks in a futile attempt to avoid the inevitable, but this time I’m nearly sure that the judge means business and won’t allow Prenda to weasel out. It means that the following questions will be answered:

  1. Other than the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread, is there another Alan Cooper who is currently the principal of Ingenuity 13, LLC — yes or no?
  2. If the answer to the first interrogatory is yes, state all contact information for this Alan Cooper, including current home address, business address, and telephone number.
  3. Other than the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread, was there ever another Alan Cooper who was, in the past, the principal of Ingenuity 13, LLC — yes or no?
  4. If the answer to the third interrogatory is yes, state all contact information for this Alan Cooper, including all known home addresses, business addresses, and telephone numbers.
  5. Other than the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread, is there another Alan Cooper who is currently the principal of AF Holdings, LLC — yes or no?
  6. If the answer to the fifth interrogatory is yes, state all contact information for this Alan Cooper, including current home address, business address, and telephone number.
  7. Other than the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread, was there ever another Alan Cooper who was, in the past, the principal of AF Holdings, LLC — yes or no?
  8. If the answer to the seventh interrogatory is yes, state all contact information for this Alan Cooper, including all known home addresses, business addresses, and telephone numbers.
  9. If the answer to the third interrogatory is yes, state each position this Alan Cooper held at Ingenuity 13, LLC and the dates such position was held.
  10. If the answer to the seventh interrogatory is yes, state each position this Alan Cooper held at AF Holdings, LLC and the dates such position was held.
  11. Eleventh Special Interrogatory: Was the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread ever a principal, even unwittingly, of Ingenuity 13, LLC?
  12. Was the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread ever a principal, even unwittingly, of AF Holdings, LLC?
  13. On November 26, 2012, when undersigned counsel emailed Brett Gibbs to ask for a routine extension request, Mr. Gibbs responded by email “I would have to check with our client about that request. Just an FYI, our client usually does not like to grant these types of requests on short notice unless there is a reasonable chance that settlement may occur in the case.” Later, Mr. Gibbs purported to have an answer on his query to the “client” regarding an extension. Who is the client contact at Ingenuity 13, LLC that Mr. Gibbs spoke with on this matter? Note, no details of the communication are being requested, just the name of the client contact.
  14. Reference is made to the following civil actions filed by AF Holdings, LLC and Ingenuity 13, LLC in the Northern District of California: 4:2012-cv-02049-PJH; 3:2012-cv-02393-CRB; 5:2012-cv-02394-LHK; 3:2012-cv-02396-EMC; 3:2012-cv-02404-SC; 4:2012-cv-02411-PJH; 3:2012-cv-02415-CRB; 4:2012-cv-03248-PJH; 3:2012-cv-04218-WHA; 5:2012-cv-04219-LHK; 5:2012-cv-04446-EJD; 5:2012-cv-04447-RMW; 5:2012-cv-04448-EJD; 3:2012-cv-04982-CRB; 3:2012-cv-04216-JSW; 3:2012-cv-04217-RS; 5:2012-cv-04445-LHK; 3:2012-cv-04449-SC; 3:2012-cv-04450-MMC; 3:2012-cv-04976-JSW; 3:2012-cv-04977-WHA; 4:2012-cv-04978-PJH; 5:2012-cv-04979-LHK; 5:2012-cv-04980-EJD; 3:2012-cv-04981-RS. With respect to the copyright assignments attached to the complaints in these actions, as Exhibit B thereto, which all appear to have a similar signature by “Alan Cooper,” please state whether the person who signed these assignments was the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread — yes or no?
  15. If the answer to the fourteenth interrogatory is no, then state all contact information for the person that did sign these documents, including all known home addresses, business addresses, and telephone numbers.

Any attempt to avoid the answers will mean only one thing: a proof of a brazen criminal conduct. The scam artists found themselves between a rock and a hard place. Not the best timing for Prenda, given that in Florida another scandal involving possible document forgery is emerging.

Related
Followup

¹I don’t even touch upon the fact that all these allegations are based on the “impeccable” super-secret infringement detection methods employed by a “forensic” firm 6881 Forensics, which is not only unlicensed, but, to the best of my knowledge, unregistered as a business.

Hard Drive Productions v. John Does 1-1,495 (DCD 11-cv-01741) is over. It was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice on 12/21/2012 (de factowith prejudice: I will explain below why).

 

The early phase (Judge removal)

This case has a long and controversial history that was a subject of many posts on this and other blogs. Almost a year ago, I tried to recap what was going on with this lawsuit:

2011-11-02. Judge Bates, reading numerous motions to quash the subpoena, seemingly smells the stink this lawsuit exudes and stays the subpoena. One of the predatory features of copyright trolling cases is a Catch-22 situation: court rules require signing motions, i.e. revealing defendants’ names, while the very purpose of such motions is to prevent releasing the names. Judge Bates tries to solve this puzzle and orders Does to file motions under seal; he promises not to reveal movants’ names even if their motions would be eventually denied. This order filled every putative defendant with hope, and an avalanche of motions ensued.

2011-11-16. The case was reassigned to magistrate judge John M. Facciola, and this event raised some brows and created huge discomfort. Rob Cashman wrote a post about it suggesting political games — that judge Bates was removed against his will rather than voluntary referred the case to Facciola.

2011-12-21. Judge Facciola betrays Does’ hopes and issues an order that undoes Bates’ promise. According to this order, no one is allowed to file either anonymously or under seal. All the previously filed and sealed motions would be either unsealed or withdrawn.

The worst part of this order is the fact that the motions would be unsealed by default, if a filer does not request withdrawal. Although ISPs were tasked with notifying all the Does, it is not enough: it is not implausible that some Doe would miss this order, and as such would be betrayed by the court. Unfortunately situation like this is not hypothetical: I witnessed a defendant indeed miss that order and panicked a day before the deadline.

This order was negatively accepted by many IP law experts: for example, read an Elliott Alderman’s guest post on the Eric Goldman’s blog.

Read the entire post for other developments.

Many things happened since then, and I’m not going to list them all: too much work. Nonetheless, if you feel that I missed something important, feel free to suggest (or, better, to write) a chapter.

Judge Facciola awakes from hiatus

Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola

This case was mostly dormant from January to August: Judge Facciola did not issue a single order until 8/13/2012. On this day, he woke up from his hiatus and issued his Memorandum and Opinion, essentially reiterating Judge Beryl Howell’s pro-troll position, including an opinion that considering jurisdiction question was premature. Troll’s extortion vehicle was given a green light, and this vehicle started moving a month later, when Judge Bates returned to the case that he previously “outsourced” to Facciola, and surprisingly put his courage in reverse, allowing ISPs to supply subscriber information to the trolls.

The order that followed denied all the eight pending motions to vacate, quash, sever etc.

On 8/20/2012 EFF (Mitch Stoltz), noting that Facciola is awake, reminded the judge that EFF had asked for permission to submit its amicus curiae brief half a year before, and it was time to consider looking at it (“ripe for decision”).

Judge Bates’s betrayal

From Rob Cashman’s 09/27/2012 article:

As of yesterday, Judge Bates caved in and wrote a scathing order describing in detail how and why Hard Drive Productions, Inc. should be allowed to force the ISPs to hand over the subscriber information for the John Does implicated in this case. In addition, siding with Judge Facciola and Judge Beryl Howell, Judge Bates agreed that internet subscribers have no expectation of privacy for the account information they provide to their ISP.

On the same day, Bates granted EFF’s motion for leave to file amicus curiae brief but denied the very essence of the brief — the request for emergency stay and reconsideration of earlier Facciola’s order.

In the same order, Bates unsealed 16 motions he had promised to keep under seal, loudly announcing that his word was worth exactly half penny from that moment on.

The scam artists filed a motion to strike EFF’s brief on 09/28/2012, basically providing no sane arguments — simply reiterating the same insults to EFF that were spitted in their earlier opposition. This motion was simply ignored.

Do I make my decisions by throwing a coin? Not your business: I am the judge!

On 10/31/2012 a brave defendant filed a letter to the court noting that Facciola issued two 180 degree opposite orders in the cases that were nearly carbon copies of each other. It is notable that this letter was filed at all, but it does not matter: Facciola decided not to answer. Rob Cashman wrote a post about it: Judge Facciola issues a F’You order to one of the defendants.

Disobeyed my order? Not a big deal: try again!

Just before this case was dismissed, on 12/18/2012, Facciola issued an interesting order. He learned that his December 21, 2011 order, directing Plaintiff to notify ISPs about one of his decisions, was blatantly disregarded. His reaction? Sanctions? Order to show cause? Wishful thinking! Instead, he basically told the trolls: “Guys, you disobeyed my order, why won’t you try again? I give you another month.”

Regarding individuals settling on this case

According to the case docket, some (I counted 28) Does were dismissed with prejudice at various times, including very recent occasions (which indicates that they settled). Although the overall number of dismissals is exceptionally low (good news), every time I saw a recent notice, my heart was bleeding: how is it possible for an intelligent person to settle on an out-of-state HDP case, given that an hour of Internet research would have convinced him not to? It is beyond my understanding. There was no way the plaintiff, Hard Drive Productions, would proceed with this lawsuit or file new ones in proper jurisdictions, since it was severely damaged by two counter actions and has been investigated for recruiting underage porn models.

Yet it is a number game: the IQ distribution is normal and the number of defendants (1,495) is big enough. If I insulted someone who had genuine reasons to settle (e.g., a schoolteacher risking to lose her employment), I do apologize, but it is apparent that the majority settled out of intellectual laziness and cowardice. Sorry for being so rude, but I am not angry with them, but rather sad.

Conclusion

Apparent political games in the DC court district resulted in betrayal of hopes that Prenda’s victims had a year ago. In my humble opinion, the mockery of justice that has been taking place in courts is unspeakably more harmful to the society than all the copyright infringements combined. For the sake of the argument, let’s assume that these lawsuits are about solving the infringement problem, not about exploring the law loopholes in order to monetize people’s fears and weaknesses. Even if what trolls say to judges is true, there are alternative solutions to the problem — business solutions, the only viable ones, the only ones that do not trump people’s rights and dignity. On the other hand, when people lose faith in justice, society begins to rot. Not that we live in an ideal society: a lot of unfairness happens on many levels, yet the majority of population genuinely respects judges and does not consider the judicial branch hopelessly corrupt. Yet if one looks closer at some of many DC trolling cases, it is apparent that heavy and shameless lobbying¹ resulted in some judges forgetting about objectivity and fairness and siding with parasites.

The DC district (or, to be precise, one-half of it — a faction led by Beryl Howell) is probably the only unconditionally troll-friendly district today, and Howell’s disingenuous memorandum, a Troll Bill of Trumped Rights, is essentially the only document that scam artists use to justify their tricks. The majority of districts almost unanimously rejected the ideas expressed in this write-up, principally leaving Howell and her faction in isolation. Yet trolls still hold tight on this straw, never failing to refer to it in their frivolous complaints and motions.

Related

 


¹In addition, Beryl Howell allegedly has connections to the porn industry: there are very interesting leads and facts that require time and effort to check and follow through. If I ever dig in this direction, I will certainly publicize my findings as wide as I can.

Previous coverage on Sunlust Pictures, LLC v. Nguyen (FLMD 12-cv-01685):

 

Yesterday I broke the news that Prenda gang hired an outside law firm to prevent (or rather to slowdown) scam artists’ inevitable downfall. At the time of the writing, I was not aware that on the same day (yesterday) two important events happened.

 

1

On 12/20/2012 “White collar crime defenders” filed an opposition to Syfert’s motion. What can I say? Professional weaselness is apparent. They are good lawyers. Good fantasy skills. Yet because Steele’s gang is so deep in the excrements of its own production, I doubt that even a star lawyer can salvage the situation. The part aimed at explaining why Mr. Steele wife’s info ended up in the metadata is ridiculous and ironic. This days and age no one “inherits” someone’s computer with all the software installed. Note that in the unlikely case of “inheriting” a computer full of software, there would definitely be at least a couple of license violations, because many products are licensed to a user, not a computer. By the way, I would check the particular software used in creation of the PDF documents — its license agreement in particular. It would be a lot of fun to find out that the prominent “anti-piracy” law firm uses illegally obtained software. Moreover, the opposition’s attempt to discredit the accusation in Steele’s misappropriation of others’ identities is flushed down the toilet by Wasinger’s motion (see below).

Also, the skeletons of Mr. Syfert’s self-help forms were unearthed and dusted. Graham’s “personal alimony” towards an undeniably evil man is presented as a basis for a “bad faith purpose.” Any reasonable person, after spending an hour researching, would agree that Mr. Syfert should be commended for his work, targeted to stop the brazen abuse of the judicial system by Prenda and other scam artists; the abuse that gives bad names to all the attorneys, including those employed by Kynes, Markman & Felman.

Read the opposition and make your own conclusions. I only want to note that the entire document would look plausible if not for this blog’s readers’ extensive knowledge of Prenda/Steele’s shenanigans that are overwhelmingly documented in many places. As I wrote to Katherine Yanes yesterday, this is not a usual case with a handful of spectators: thousands are watching, and every spectator has a much better knowledge of Prenda’s history than the law firm it hired. With this knowledge, this document is just a nice fiction story, an amusing read, nothing more. I’m sure that, due to her long professional career, Judge Scriven is capable of telling made-up stories from real ones.

Don’t miss the exhibits — a full-blown assault on Graham Syfert by Prenda crooks (in addition to outright lies).

Apparently, Graham is Prenda’s mega-enemy, and it is not a surprise that so much effort is being put in discrediting him. Messing with a Mafioso racket bears its costs.

 

2

On the same day another document (embedded below) was filed: Matthew Wasinger’s Urgent renewed motion for withdrawal as a local counsel for Prenda. This document contains pretty damning accusations. Read and pay attention to yet another confirmation of Prenda’s abuse practice: how using others’ identity is not a big deal. Note that the super-scandal “Coopergate” was not brought to the attention of the judge, but if an outside law firm continues to defend indefensible, I’m sure that this scandal will surface in her courtroom.

As a reader Sausages nicely put it,

#11 & #12 explains why they retained third part representation — they (Steele) tried to once again write a motion and strongarm Mr. Wasinger into signing it with his electronic signature without seeking permission.

Pretty funny you have all these wordy lengthy oppositions filed by the third party saying how all this is a sham and Syfert is an extortionist, then the local guy they hired (who I really feel for now and is trying to back out of it to not ruin his career) drops this kind of bomb saying they tried to commit fraud once again and incidentally backs up Mr. Syfert’s assertion that Prenda often submits documents with other peoples signatures without permission (which the opposition motion filed by the third party lawfirm tries to discredit).

Comedy!


Don’t miss the exhibits: A and B (email correspondence). A lot of crookery to scrutinize.

I know another attorney whose identity was misappropriated by Steele, but that attorney decided to wash his hands and put this issue behind him. While I respect his decision, Mr. Wasinger’s courage in defending his dignity, while he is facing legal and other threats, is much-much more admirable.

Followups
After the disastrous Sunlust Pictures v. Nguyen (FLMD 12-cv-01685) hearing on 11/27/2011, which looked more like a circus performance than a courtroom event,

  • The case was dismissed by a frustrated Judge Scriven;
  • Prenda’s “counsel for an hour” Matthew Wasinger, feeling like conned by Prenda’s scam artists, indicated his willingness to answer questions about the circumstances of his recruitment;
  • Defense attorney Graham Syfert moved for sanctions and $10,000 in attorney fees.

 

Raul reported about these developments two days ago. Today another curious event happened on this case: our scammers (Prenda Law, Inc., Paul Duffy, Brett Gibbs, and John Steele) decided to hire the Kynes, Markman & Felman, P.A., “Best law firm in Tampa for white collar criminal defense” (as they advertise themselves). This hire was only made in connection with responding to defendant’s motions for sanctions/fees. I commend John Steele for his rare paroxysm of honesty in an implicit acknowledgement that he and his clique are essentially white collar criminals.

Raul’s commented yesterday:

The beauty of this situation is that Prenda/Steele have painted themselves into a corner in that they cannot oppose either the motion for sanctions or attorney’s fees without risking another hearing before Judge Scriven.

It seems that Steele & Co. have found a workaround. Now they can contest the requested fees/sanctions AND avoid a possible personal appearance: I’m pretty sure that if trolls were to appear without an external counsel in front of Judge Scriven, she would definitely scrutinize our trolls only under oath. I don’t think I should explain that the crooks have a lot of dirty laundry to hide and that they would fight tooth and nail to avoid any truthful testimony.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time when Prenda uses an external help, although other trolls invoked an outside representation before: for example, in K-Beech v. John Does 1-85 (11-cv-00469), when Judge Gibney threatened a minor greedy troll Wayne O’Brian with Chapter 11 sanctions.

We will watch the developments on this case closely. I wrote a quick email to Katherine Yanes (one of the two Kynes, Markman & Felman, P.A attorneys hired by Prenda). In this e-mail I introduced myself, and let her know that this is hardly a regular case for her firm: this time thousands of eyes are watching, and thousands of victims are hungry for Prenda’s [preferably painful] downfall.

Followups
By Raul

Previous coverage on Sunlust Pictures, LLC v. Nguyen (FLMD 12-cv-01685):

 

Matthew Wasinger, feeling deceived by Prenda, is willing to answer questions

On 12/6 Prenda’s Florida local to-be counsel Matthew Wasinger filed his response to Syfert’s motion for sanctions against him in which he states:

The undersigned is willing to answer the questions set forth by Mr. Syfert in his Motion upon Order by the Court and a finding of this Court that answers to these questions would not violate any potential ethical duty to Sunlust Pictures. The undersigned would truthfully answer any questions as directed by the Court under oath.

…it is now blatantly clear that I was mislead by Prenda Law regarding the overall handling of this case.

…the undersigned has significant concerns of the operation of Prenda Law that prevent the undersigned from continuing to represent the SUNLUST PICTURES, LLC in good faith, and as a result require him to withdraw in accordance with Rule 4-1.16(a) of the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct.

 

Defendant asks for around $10,000 in attorney fees

Also on 12/6 Syfert filed a motion for attorneys fees, which totals approximately $10,000 including costs, and where he points out that:

After filing and before service, the Defendant in this action voluntarily offered up his computer for inspection by agents of the Plaintiff and claimed innocence and a lack of knowledge. Despite the volunteering and cooperation and claim of innocence, the Plaintiff through its agents continued the case were unwilling to address actual issues of liability, and instead intended to proceed solely on the tenuous action of negligence. The further bad faith at the hearing, by presenting a corporate representative without any authority, showed an objective frivolousness by continuing the litigation despite any reasonable offers of cooperation or settlement.

Syfert also points out the charade of Steele’s “non-involvement” in the affairs of Prenda:

Counsel for Defendant filed two bar complaints against Mr. Steele for his involvement with Prenda Law, and he has consistently denied involvement with Prenda Law while he is within the State of Florida. While he is in Illinois or safely behind a telephone extension in Miami, he has embraced his involvement with Prenda Law and made multiple appearances on their behalf in the Northern District of Illinois. If challenged, Defendant can produce the affidavits various federal practice attorneys throughout the United States who have tried speaking with Paul Duffy at Prenda Law, and have only been able to speak with John Steele.

Syfert goes on to warn the court that:

Despite the objection of many attorneys, the Court within the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts have liberally granted early discovery to a Plaintiff alleging harm through the infringement that can occur in bittorrent swarm. Given their potential liability, limited damages, Sunlust and their counsel should be more wary of the consequences of attempting to violate the public confidence by pursuing massive amounts of claims. Plaintiff should further be deterred from advancing fraud upon the court in the furtherance of their claims.

Judge is angry; case dismissed

And finally, the official Judge Scriven’s order dismissing the case:

Before the hearing, Paul Duffy sent a letter to the Court claiming he was the sole principal of Prenda Law and that the Court’s directive that a principal of the firm appear was, therefore, directed at him. [...] He also questioned how he would be of any assistance to the Court since he was in no way affiliated with this matter and did not represent anyone in the case. [...] However both Mr. Torres and Mr. Wasinger stated that Prenda Law was in fact involved in this case, albeit through another individual, Brett Gibbs, who resides in California…

Further, the Court finds that Plaintiff itself failed to comply with this Court’s Order and attempted to deceive this Court when it sent Mr. Lutz, who had no knowledge of the company and had no authority to speak on behalf of the company, to pose as its “corporate representative.” Finally, the Court finds that Prenda Law, the law firm both counsel stated retained them to serve as local counsel on behalf of Plaintiff, misrepresented its role in the case and relationship to the Plaintiff.

The beauty of this situation is that Prenda/Steele have painted themselves into a corner in that they cannot oppose either the motion for sanctions or attorneys fees without risking another hearing before Judge Scriven.

Followups
Not surprisingly, the news comes from Massachusetts, where Daniel Booth filed a joint motion for costs and stay of proceedings, and for protective order in Guava v. John Doe (MAD 12-cv-11880). Basically, this document, besides asking what its title implies, describes the very same instance of Prenda’s douchebaggery that I wrote about in the last Guava update, but does so using more details and a much better language.

I do not want to write a full-blown post and analyze this document. Firstly, so many events have been happening lately on the troll battleground: if I dive in the details of each of them, I will have to spend 24/7 on this issues, which is less than desirable during the holidays season. And secondly, documents written by Dan and Jason are always well articulated and, as a rule, do not require additional comments.

If you don’t know anything about Guava/Arte de Oaxaca scams (derived from the Lightspeed’s fraudulent lawsuit) and want to fully understand both the subject and the beauty of the following document, you should familiarize yourself with the history of these lawsuit abuses.

John Steele, during his drunken outbreak of rage thought he vindicated only Erin Russell and her clients. It never crossed this narcissistic moron’s mind that Erin also might be a local representative for someone else. In this case, “someone else” happened to be Booth Sweet, whose attorneys are several leagues above Massachusetts Prenda’s counsel Daniel Ruggiero, so I pity the poor scumbag: he will feel a lot of heat soon (he is currently being confronted by superior attorneys in several states). His masters, criminal masterminds from now being abandoned ship Prenda, are not in much better situation. Readers of this blog know this.

 

Media coverage
Followup
Follow-up to the Alan Cooper scandal

Oh my… Brett Gibbs continues to dig the hole he has willingly put himself in. Yet another reply to Morgan Pietz’s no-nonsense document was filed, and this filing was obviously crying for having a “Shrill voice” checkbox on the ECF submit page.

Full of ad hominem attacks and LSD-like delusions, this is another attempt to assume an ostrich position after the blatant forum shopping has been made obvious and a suspicion of impudent, potentially criminal, Prenda’s fraud has surfaced.

The filing in question was a reply to Morgan Pietz’ “Supplement to Notice of related cases,” that was covered during the last week by:

 

So what are Brett’s “arguments” this time? In the past, sometimes Brett Gibbs provided contestable, yet coherent thoughts, so he could be considered a somewhat serious adversary. This time I have a sheer disappointment and a bad aftertaste, even with the realization that Gibbs essentially works on our side by letting emotions reign in a court document.

  • Morgan Pietz exceeded the mandated length of his notices. This is the only cohesive argument in this opposition.
  • The cases are not related because… courts found joinder improper. If you don’t believe me, read this argument (the entire tantrum document is embedded below): you won’t believe your eyes either. Certainly, Gibbs has to re-take his Bar exam, and maybe even the English mid-school exam: “related” and “joined” are not only different legal concepts, but by no means are associated words in English.
  • Morgan Pietz is improperly pursuing publicity by feeding information to our sites. No comment. Does Gibbs believe in this nonsense himself?

    Though the undersigned stands by every word he said therein, Mr. Pietz has committed a grievous ethical violation by not only publishing those emails as an exhibit to his Administrative Motion to Relate Cases in the Northern District and the instant Supplement to Notice of Related Cases, but also providing the email exchange to the fightcopyrighttrolls.com website.

    Will someone with a patience of a nursery teacher explain to Brett that the document in question is public, available through Pacer and archive.org. Also, Morgan Pietz runs his very own, quite popular, website, and many filings can be found there. No, Morgan Pietz did not send me anything. There was no need to do that. Court filings, unless sealed, are in the public domain. Should I repeat it one more time? Public.

    Moreover, Arstechnica published the emails in question independently approximately at the same time: this reputable media outlet always cites the original source of information. Fightcopyrighttrolls.com was not cited, which means that the author wrote his piece based on his own research, and I was not even the one who tipped him.

Since you know that, Brett, and premeditatedly attempt to mislead judges, I urge you to look into a mirror ASAP and check the length of your nose before going outdoors: I’m sure you’ll decide to stay home to avoid public embarrassment.

In the past Mr. Gibbs referred to our sites in footnotes, and a busy judge might or might not have followed the link (most likely not). This time he mentions fightcopyrighttrolls.com and dietrolldie.com in such an intriguing way, that I surely expect a visit from court clerks, and maybe judges. It was never a secret that one of our major goals is to widely publicize the bastardization of the judicial system, fraud, and extortion that copyright trolls commit: letting judges read about our grassroots resistance to the unprecedented law abuse is a nice early Christmas Gift. Thank you, Brett.

And the main questions, asked by Morgan Pietz, are not only unanswered, but not even mentioned! Forget the Bar exam, forget a mid-school English exam. Here we talk about basic language comprehension, which any citizen of the United States should master. For readers’ and Brett’s convenience, I repeat these questions:

  1. Is there another Alan Cooper, other than the gentleman in Minnesota who was John Steele’s former caretaker, who is or was the principal of AF Holdings, LLC and/or Ingenuity 13, LLC?;
  2. Will plaintiff’s counsel Brett Gibbs produce the original signature to the verified petition, supposedly executed by hand by “Alan Cooper” and notarized, which Mr. Gibbs stated, under penalty of perjury, that he has a copy of in his own possession and control? See In the Matter of a Petition by Ingenuity 13, LLC, E.D. Cal. Case No. 2:11-mc-JAM-DAD, ECF No. 1, 10/28/11;
  3. Will Mr. Gibbs identify his client contact at Ingenuity 13 and AF Holdings, given that Mr. Gibbs purported to speak with his “client” at Ingenuity 13 only two weeks ago?

 

Last, but not least: While Mr. Gibbs proudly signs his tantrum document as a “Prenda Law, Inc.” employee, he (and the judges) should probably be reminded that this corporation is NOT in good standing with the state of Illinois, and its crooked bosses are in the process of pulling a machination — abandoning the old corporation (most likely, to avoid writing the annual report and to get rid of bad publicity) and creating another one — with the same people, same mailing address, same website and same goal — mass extortion.

TAC’s greeting to judges

Given my strong believe (as I speculated above) that we may welcome some court clerks/judges here soon, I think it is absolutely appropriate to pull a recent TAC’s comment from a different (yet related) discussion thread and embed it it here:

Greetings your Honor,

I would like to hope that after the name of this blog was brought up that you would come visit us poor ‘misguided’ souls.

Sadly, our character is being assassinated by the lawyers who are extorting cash from senior citizens, so one hopes you will consider the source.

This is one of several blogs/website/et al., where people targeted by copyright trolls can get an education about the scam.

We help Does to stop operating in fear, and understand the legal system and how it is being abused to allow them to be harassed.

I might be crass, foul mouthed, and a litany of bad things… but I don’t extort people by abusing the legal system.

I have little respect for the lawyers who run these scams, and it shows.

I have little respect for some Judges who feel these lawyers are doing nothing wrong, how one can say that when the Federal Courts are being cheated out of millions in filing fees boggles the imagination.

The sheer volume of information presented here, should raise serious concerns in your mind about the case before you. The unanswered questions, the blatant forum shopping, the abuse of the legal system, and the desire to not actually pursue these cases is obvious and clear.

I hope if you have any questions you’ll ask, we have a pretty good research “team” at your disposal. A majority of them are people who survived troll attacks, and now help others avoid falling prey to them. We are even more expert than the expert who signed off on the IP addresses at the heart of this case, we can back up our claims with fact… not sure about their expert being able to do such. But then we aren’t paid from each “settlement” reached like their expert, we have ethics and morals.

Enjoy your stay,

I remain…

TAC

Updates
I learned about this motion from the Brett Gibbs’s Motion for Sanctions described in the next bullet point. Therefore, a quick question to Brett: should I be mad at Morgan Pietz for not sending this document to me directly in order to advance his publicity agenda? Morgan did not even notify me! This is outrageous that I had to spend $1.80 to fetch this document from Pacer. I consider joining your motion for sanctions and demanding my $1.80 back!
  • On 12/17/2012 Brett Gibbs filed a motion for sanctions against a “serial filer” (oh irony!) Morgan Pietz, basically reiterating the same delusional accusations as in the document embedded above (except, maybe, for the motion length, the only argument that has a merit, yet it does not warrant sanctions in any sane court). In this motion Brett not only prompts — he begs Judge Write to visit this site. A quick reminder: Judge Write has already labeled copyright trolls’ — including Prenda Law — practice as “extortion”) .
  • On 12/19/2012 I checked my inbox:

    You may accuse me of lying about it, Brett Gibbs, but I was never caught deliberately telling lies. You were — on multiple occasions. You are a miserable funny little man with a long nose, Brett Gibbs.

  • On 12/20/2012 Judge Write issues an Order to show cause (lack of service):

    Plaintiff is hereby ORDERED TO SHOW CAUSE why Defendant has not been timely served. Plaintiff has 7 days to comply with this order; or if Defendant have been served, Plaintiff has 7 days to file the proof of service. Failure to respond will result in dismissal of this action.

    It seems to me that Judge Write, although clearly understanding what kind of serial fraudsters he deals with, does not want to get his hands dirty and address Coopergate. I hope I’m wrong and we will hear more from him or other judges “forum shopped” by Prenda and its fake clients.

    Still I experience a slight Schadenfreude that these 7 days fall to the holiday week. Happy holidays, Pinocchio!

  • On 12/21/2012 Judge Write denies Gibbs’s motion for sanctions mentioned in an earlier update to this post. Without explanation (does anyone really need one?). Without even waiting for Morgan Pietz to file his opposition. Quite telling.
  • On 1/23/2013 DieTrolDie’s “torpedo” hit the target.
Followups
After we became aware that John Steele and his clique are about to assume a new name, “Anti-Piracy Law Group,” I did a couple of searches. One of them revealed the fact that Prenda Law is currently NOT in good standing with the State of Illinois.

 

My bet is that Prenda is being abandoned. I will be really surprised if this corporation is ever reinstated. The very timing of the new LLC coming into the game (exactly when Prenda loses its standing) suggests that “Anti-Piracy Law Group” is meant to be a replacement, not an entirely new structure. Prenda’s “not good” status is most likely a result of failing to file the annual report that was due on October 31.

The first question:

?

Why anyone wants to abandon the company that is not bankrupt, that has a nice positive settlement cash flow, not being sued etc.? Only crooks need machinations like this to operate.

(The last phrase was meant to play along with “Bittorent Betty,” in a desperate hope that she will retweet this question.)

While there might be legitimate (not necessarily ethical) reasons for the shuffle, Prenda’s current status dictates a couple of practical questions, irrelevant to the “why” asked above. I am ignorant in the part of the law that deals with corporations, and I do not know Illinois regulations either. I have no desire to do a research, yet my intuition tells me that asking these, maybe naïve, questions, can convey important information to attorneys, and through them, to judges:

?

Can a company that is not in good standing file and/or maintain lawsuits for their real and fictional clients?

?

Would a contract signed while a company was not in good standing, be valid? If settlement agreements were made between Prenda and alleged infringers after November 1st, would they be binding?

Knowing John Steele’s hubris, narcissism and permanent (and false) sense of invincibility, I am more than sure that court filings under the “Prenda” name were made during the period in question. Also, I’m sure that some folks settled with Prenda after November 1st.

Actually, I know one tidbit that is not a question: if someone wants to sue Paul Duffy for Prenda-related activities, it is a perfect time to do it now: he will be on the hook personally, cannot be shielded by a corporation that is not in good standing (even if it is later reinstated).

Thanks to TAD and Raul for the thoughts and expertise that led to these questions.

Update

2/17/2013
Prenda might be coming back on the header of the letters. According to the IL Secretary of State website, Prenda is back in good standing.

They filed their report on 02/06/2013 and paid the $47 for the certificate.