Archive for the ‘Polls’ Category

As you know from the previous posts here and a never-ending Popehat thread, after four clowns (Steele, Paul and Peter Hansmeiers, Mark Lutz) unwisely submitted frivolous motions claiming that they were not properly served by the opposition in the “Star Trek” case (and demanding sanctions against Pietz and Ranallo), Judge Wright set a hearing on these motions to this Friday, July 12. In the meantime, Pietz and Ranallo have lawyered up and delivered a sledgehammer response.

It was not unexpected that Steele would ask the Court to appear telephonically, and he did ask to appear by phone without specifying the phone (no email was provided either — only a Regus virtual office address):

 

Equally not unexpectedly, this motion was denied almost immediately:

 

Note that according to the order, the clerk did not advise Steele to file this motion while he claimed just the opposite.


If I close my eyes, there will be
no Wright, no Pietz, no Ranallo…

Now, we are all used to Steele’s lies, nothing is surprising anymore, except maybe the fact that John chose the most self-destructing path to go. Maybe he still thinks it’s a poker game and there is a room for bluff? But is he the only one who doesn’t see that mirrors are everywhere, and everyone knows that his cards are crap?

Claiming that he was not aware of the hearing prior to Monday? Bullshit: I know, John, you check our blogs and Twitter a couple of times a day and learn the news in real time. Who will believe you? This is the most important case in your life: many things, including your freedom, are at stake. While I called you derogatory names, I always thought that your IQ is above average, but seeing your latest actions, I have started to doubt it.

Now, a poll:

 

Media coverage
  • ArsTechnica: Prenda’s motion to reduce $238,000 appeal bond falls flat by Joe Mullin. I liked one reader comment in particular. AaronLeeR wrote:

    “[S]everal of the pro se persons in this matter are of limited income and cannot afford the extreme financial hardship associated with missing work and flying across the country on 3 days notice.”

    Financial hardships didn’t seem to be a concern when they were extorting people for cash. What goes around….

  • 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). :)

     

    Page views since the beginning

    Yes, it has been one year and half a million page views since I fired my humble flashlight… Not all the wishes have been fulfilled: mass bittorent lawsuits flourish, uneducated Does settle, trolls continue inventing new ways to game the judicial system.

    Yet the past year was not spent in vain. This site, as well as DieTrollDie’s and others, is super-visible on the Internet and anyone, who knows how to search the web, finds us in no time. As a result, the knowledge (and anger) kicks in faster than fear manages to take over one’s senses and ability to think critically. It is difficult to estimate, but I’m sure that a significantly smaller number of people settle these days, and one of the ways to stop the speculative invoicing disease is to cease feeding it’s bearer — the troll.

    Of course, we will win. I am indefinitely grateful to everyone who is about to make it happen.

    I want to ask for a small favor: please answer the following easy question. Be comfortably honest: I don’t have any means to see the poll log and hence to match IP addresses with results, so your constitutional right to anonymous speech is respected. I’m just curious.

    It’s all started with a comment on one of this blog’s articles (the original spelling has been preserved):

    It really really stinks but people are getting sued all over the country in federal AND state courts. The federal ones are the only ones that you can search, but I got sued in state court and ended up settling for $7500 with US Copyright Group. I could have gotten out for $3500 with the letter I got but I went ahead and agred to the $7500 settlement since my attorney wanted $10,000 on retainer just to file an answer. Take my advice: settle early, and try to do it yourself. Call the law firm and tell them you have an unsecured router, and offer them $1000 less than what they ask for and see if they will take it. You might be pleasantly surprised, and if they won’t agree, you arent out ANY MONEY. The copyright defense lawyers are just as bad as the ones doing the suing. This site definitely has it right: www.legalcopyrightreform.com I wish i’d seen it 6 months ago before i rolled the dice and blew the whole thing off. I keep reading “don’t feed the trolls, don’t settle”, but the people shooting that off arent going to be there to pay my attorney when I get sued. it is easy to just say “don’t pay” but they don’t have to deal with the conseuqences. I am all for this coalition group’s stance–they need to revise the whole copyright act!!!

    Because my bullshit detector is very sensitive, it overheated immediately. And when I followed the link in this comment I found a cynical and predatory assault on common sense.

    Half-truths have been always worse than pure lies. An unsuspecting visitor may be deceived by the lashing of trolls in the first paragraphs: it plays nicely along the feelings of copyright trolls’ victims. But little by little one can discover really strange ideas.

    The worst and most dangerous part of this site is its main message: settle early. Anyone in his/her clear mind wouldn’t come up with such an insane conclusion after just an hour of research.

    Some lies on this site do not even pass a laugh test:

    If you get named and personally sued . . . well you didn’t take this advice. Call a lawyer and deal with it. There are at least 100 cases where downloaders got sued individually and didn’t respond to the lawsuit and had $30,000 judgments AND attorneys fees charged to them. Now those trolls are taking houses, cars, bank accounts etc. . . .

    or

    We are a group of retired and practicing lawyers, law school professors, legal analysts, and concerned citizens who all share a common bond and goal: To promote and help facilitate the widespread and much-needed reform of the U.S. Copyright Act.

    Really? Lawyers lashing lawyers for being paid for their job? Lawyers giving an advice to deal with trolls without retaining an attorney? Law school professors who can’t spell and have a terrible writing style? Unbelievable impudence.

    The site cynically links to the Public Knowledge donation page to create an impression of legitimacy. I asked the guys from PK about www.legalcopyrightreform.com and as expected, they never heard about it.

    As I suspected, this “group” is actually a single guy named Malloch O’Brennan (the name may be fake), who has resorted to Google sites with the worst possible theme in stock.

    Here is the legalcopyrightreform.com WHOIS info

       domain: legalcopyrightreform.com
       created: 22-Aug-2011
       last-changed: 22-Aug-2011
       registration-expiration: 22-Aug-2012
      
       registrant-firstname: Malloch
       registrant-lastname: Obrennan
       registrant-street1: 1200 24th St NW
       registrant-pcode: 20037
       registrant-state: DC
       registrant-city: Washington
       registrant-ccode: US
       registrant-phone: +1.2025299934
       registrant-email: mallochb@gmail.com

    By the way the address in the registry is the address of an underground parking garage under the Fairmont hotel.

    This guy is spreading his lies all over the blogosphere: I saw posts similar to the one I mentioned above on TechDirt, ArsTechnica and TorrentFreak discussion boards. Different names — same sick agenda. This comment is from the ArsTechnica discussion board:

    truedaddy wrote:

    Wow these English blokes sure started a trend here in the States. Unfortunately for us, the attorneys doing this crap here are actually suing people, and there is a whole network of plaintiffs attorneys representing the studios and targeting individual downloaders in their home states. On June 9th, a Massachusetts judge awarded a judgment in that Far Cry case of $30,000 plus attorneys fees for downloading the movie. On July 5th another $30,000 award against a downloader of the Steam Experiment movie in Virginia (Eastern District), which is the max under the Copyright Act. I read there have been several hundred filed across the country and not just in Federal Court.

    With these results, the troll attorneys are going to be all over these cases to go after all the people who didn’t settle. It is just pathetic that these thousands of people who refuse to settle in the “pay up or else” scheme are actually going to spend the rest of their lives paying off these judgments or have to declare bankruptcy.

    Update: I was happy to find out that TorrentFreak community flagged a similar fear-mongering comment from this guy (this time as “JohnDoe2033″) recently, so I can’t quote it.

    So now when you have had a chance to browse his site, what do you think?

    Update

    9/26/11: legalcopyrightreform.com now points nowhere. The Google site is still there though: https://sites.google.com/site/legalcopyrightreform/

    9/28/11: There is another site, slightly different: https://sites.google.com/site/lglcr1 There is a suspicion that Kenneth Ford is behind this scam. Good news: google search on “legalcopyrightreform.com” or “Legal Coalition for Copyright Reform” yields this article as #1 result :)

    Various sources suggest that some extortion victims received more than one threatening letter after ISPs cough up their identities. Is it so? I wonder why some are targeted more aggressively than the rest. Please vote only if you can positively answer to one of the following questions. Did anyone received any phone calls? Comments are welcome.