Archive for the ‘Troll of the week’ Category

Copyright troll of the week

Recently I wrote about a copyright infringement monetization outfit “Copyright Defenders” that uses unlicensed “experts” to harvest IP addresses from bittorent trackers and solicits help from lawyers across the country in filing mass lawsuits and sending demand letters on behalf of various pornographers. The majority of recipients of such “lucrative offers” smells the scam and ignores attempts to draw them into a reputation-damaging endeavor. Nonetheless, some underemployed attorneys are eager to trade their dignity for a handful of shekels.

Meet a Colorado attorney Sanjin Mutić, who took the bait and filed two mass bittorent lawsuits in Colorado on behalf of a purveyor of fine arts — romantic movies with poetic titles (link NSFW!) — West Coast Productions Inc., essentially embracing a virtual company of an infamous attorney, who used to represent WCP, now convicted Kenneth Ford.


Copyright troll
Sanjin Mutić

    Sanjin Mutić
    Mile High Law Office, LLC
    621 Seventeenth St., Suite 1101
    Denver CO 80293
    Direct 303-204-6141
    Office 303-296-6456
    Fax 888-572-6456
    Sanjin@MileHighLawOffice.com
    Attorney for Plaintiff West Coast Productions, Inc.

 

Why did I decide to give some bad publicity to a minor underemployed opportunist? So far, he filed only 2 cases (12-cv-02642 and 12-cv-02644) that list 75 Does, and there is a long list of other trolls waiting for my attention¹. I’ll tell you why I’m so mad at this particular troll: Sanjin Mutic is on the Triskеle Foundation board of directors. What is Triskеle Foundation? It is a non-profit with a noble goal of providing “a high school equivalency for all those who want it, first in Colorado, then in the nation”:

Our focus at the Triskеle Foundation is to help those Americans for whom high school is no longer an option. Our agenda not only humanitarian, it is economic.

For 10 years, we’ve been told to be vigilant. We’ve been encouraged to show our patriotism through yellow ribbons, bumper stickers, flag waving, and catchy phrases. As the world economies recover, our society needs to be competitive. Now is the time to prepare our ‘human capital’ for success in the global economy.

Yes, Mr. Mutic is a senior member of a foundation that wants our nation to be a nation of educated people: prosperity is premised on the high level of education. Yet he is also a porn copyright troll. You may ask why these things cannot coexist and why I compare them. I’ll explain. I receive tons of personal emails, and more than once I heard stories about how victims’ education was jeopardized by copyright trolls. Many troll targets succumb to fears of being publicly named in a lawsuit that alleges sharing of a movie such as Mom’s Black Cock Anal Nightmare 2 (yes, this is a “work of art” at the center of one of the two lawsuits filed by Mr. Mutic). So they often settle regardless of guilt. They pay using the money that was set aside for college — their own or their kids’. Even if a teenager indeed shared those “works,” isn’t the price paid not only by a victim, but also by the society as a whole, too high? On one occasion (and it’s the only one I’m aware of) a girl accused of sharing a cheap porno flick couldn’t withstand harassment and agreed to pay, but the only way she could do it was to postpone her college education for a year and find a low-paying job to pay installments. She claimed that she is innocent.

So, now we witness a double-faced man, who is listed among the leaders of the organization that solicits donations to provide education to everyone, yet at the same time, he is a part of an extortion conspiracy that in many cases results in depriving young men and women of continuing their education, because their savings have been diverted to greedy parasites.

I hope that the Triskеle Foundation board will take a note: if potential donors learn about one of the organization directors’ shenanigans, it will hardly help their obviously honorable work.

 


¹I have not written about a serial scammer, new Prenda’s goon Daniel Ruggiero, for example.

By Raul

After reading DieTrollDie’s post regarding how troll Leemore Kushner plays loose and fast with Local Rule 83-1.3 by refusing to file notices of related cases with her shitload of Malibu Media lawsuits, I thought it was time to post about a little order which little old me stumbled across recently.

Federal Judge Otis D. Wright

The lawsuit is Malibu Media v. John Does 1-10 (12-cv-3623) which is pending in the Central District of California before Judge Otis D. Wright. As is usual with a copyright troll lawsuit, Kushner makes a motion to serve third party subpoenas prior to a Rule 26(f) conference, which, as the judge notes, is typically not allowed (in the context of all civil cases, not just mass BitTorrent lawsuits), but there are exceptions. As all the other trolls, Kushner argues that her lawsuit is an exception to the general prohibition.

Unlike some federal judges, Judge Wright displays a better understanding of BitTorrent than me. In his findings the judge notes that, amongst other things:

There are several nuances about the BitTorrent protocol. First, every participant may upload and download pieces of the file. Second, these individual pieces are useless until a user has all of them; the user cannot reassemble the original file with even 99% of the pieces. Third, a user may log on and download just one piece (e.g., a 10kb piece) of the file and then log off, waiting to download the other pieces later or discarding the downloaded piece. Fourth, a user may restrict his BitTorrent software to only download pieces, and not upload.

In discussing whether to allow the issuance of the third party subpoenas, the judge observes that (all together now!) the subscriber may not be the actual infringer, so “in some situations, the identity of the subscriber may yield the identity of the infringer; in others, the infringer may never be known,” Judge Wright then goes on to hint at how this is all going to end:

Although the Court is inclined to allow Malibu to conduct this discovery, the potential for abuse is very high. The infringed work is a pornographic film. To save himself from embarrassment, even if he is not the infringer, the subscriber will very likely pay the settlement price. And if the subscriber is a business, it will likely pay the settlement to save itself from the hassle and cost of complying with discovery — even though one of its customers or employees is the actual infringer.

Returning to his finding regarding BitTorrent, the judge points out that the troll has not put in any evidence that the Does downloaded the entire porno which the judge notes:

…that Malibu’s case is weak if all it can prove is that the Doe Defendants transmitted only part of all the BitTorrent pieces of the copyrighted work.

Judge Wright goes on to note that there is no evidence that the Does acted in concert and severs Does 2-10 from the lawsuit. With respect to Doe 1, the judge admonishes the troll (emphasis is mine):

…though Malibu now has the keys to discovery, the Court warns Malibu that any abuses will be severely punished.

In other words, do not dun Doe 1.

Here comes the punch line, and rather than dissect it, I think it is best appreciated as originally put down (again, emphasis is mine):

The Court is familiar with lawsuits like this one. AF Holdings LLC v. Does 1-1058, No. 1:12-cv-48(BAH) (D.D.C. filed January 11, 2012); Discount Video Center,Inc. v. Does 1-5041, No. C11-2694CW(PSG) (N.D. Cal. filed June 3, 2011); K-Beech,Inc. v. John Does 1-85, No. 3:11-cv-469-JAG (E.D. Va. filed July 21, 2011). These lawsuits run a common theme: plaintiff owns a copyright to a pornographic movie; plaintiff sues numerous John Does in a single action for using BitTorrent to pirate the movie; plaintiff subpoenas the ISPs to obtain the identities of these Does; if successful, plaintiff will send out demand letters to the Does; because of embarrassment, many Does will send back a nuisance-value check to the plaintiff. The cost to the plaintiff: a single filing fee, a bit of discovery, and stamps. The rewards: potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars. Rarely do these cases reach the merits. The federal courts are not cogs in a plaintiff’s copyright-enforcement business model. The Court will not idly watch what is essentially an extortion scheme, for a case that plaintiff has no intention of bringing to trial. By requiring Malibu to file separate lawsuits for each of the Doe Defendants, Malibu will have to expend additional resources to obtain a nuisance-value settlement — making this type of litigation less profitable. If Malibu desires to vindicate its copyright rights, it must do it the old-fashioned way and earn it.

Here is the entire order, hope you enjoy it:

For those who cannot access Scribd, enjoy the order here.

Happy Independence Day!

Update

07/13/2012

I’m happy to observe that Judge Write’s opinion reverberates all over the country: just noticed that it was quoted in Comcast’s reply to Prenda’s status report in the Hard Drive Productions v. Does 1-59 case (4:12-cv-00699, TXSD).

Magistrate judge John Moulds

I’m glad to report a significant victory in the Eastern District of California: on Wednesday Magistrate Judge John F. Moulds granted a Motion for Protective Order and Reconsideration in one of Prenda’s lawsuits that employ a slimy trick of suing a single Doe but trying to obtain personal in formation of numerous co-conspirators in order to harass them later (Pacific Century International, Ltd v. Unknown, 2:11-cv-03479).

We don’t often witness a judge changing his opinion. For some reason many perceive this as a weakness, while I think that changing an opinion under compelling arguments is a sign of courage and wisdom. In this case judge finds that troll Brett Gibbs’s “arguments” were erroneous and he shouldn’t have allowed early discovery back in January.

One of the predatory features of this type of shake-down lawsuits is that at the time when fishing expeditions are approved by judges, there is no one to oppose worm-tongued trolls, and in many cases they experience no resistance up to the point when Doe identifying information is handed out to them. Fortunately for the Does in this case, an experienced attorney was able to crush trolls’ lies into pieces in the judge’s eyes. Moreover, judge went an extra mile and barred Prenda from contacting even those Does, whose information may have been already released.

Given the apparent mess in Prenda’s bookkeeping (need a proof? — read about their disastrous robocalling campaign), one of the alleged “co-conspirators” in this case will receive a call from an intelligent robot or not-so-intelligent Mark Lutz — it is just a matter of time. Stay alert, record and report to the court when it happens.

At least one more Prenda’s case is pending before this judge (CP Productions v. Unknown, 2:12-cv-00616), and it is a no-brainer to predict its outcome.

One thing worth noting: in this case subpoena was issued by another court, and judge denied an earlier motion to quash because “federal courts do not have authority to quash or modify a subpoena issued from another district, Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(3)(A).” We can’t blame him for that. In my opinion, it’s the Illinois Bar Association who should investigate a clear violation of the rules of professional conduct:

4.4 (a) In representing a client, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person, or use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person.

Prenda (and some other trolls) very often secure subpoenas out of a court other than the one where their mass lawsuit is pending. This is per se a legitimate tactic: many respectable lawyers would use the same technique if they had to obtain testimony from a witness who lived in another state. The federal rules only permit a court to have personal jurisdiction over those persons and entities that are within 100 miles of the court according to FRCP 4(k)(1)(B). Where Prenda’s tactic falls apart is that entities, such as Comcast, Verizon or AT&T, generally are registered to do business in multiple states (and of course in California). Therefore, the subpoena could be issued out of the court where the action is pending without prejudicing anyone.

As we see, as soon as a motion to quash is filed by a pro se party in the court where the case is filed (and that’s a natural thing assume that this is the right court, isn’t it?), Prenda’s lawyers immediately point out that the movant should have filed that motion in the court that the troll chose to issue the subpoena, and they almost always succeed in getting the judge to deny the motion. So, it can’t be clearer that the reason to issue subpoena out of a different court is a dirty trick with the sole purpose to create confusion and burden defendants and their attorneys with necessity to argue different defenses in two courts rather than one.

This tactic does not go unnoticed though: Judge Wilkins recently expressed his concern in his recent historic ruling:

…there is nothing in the record showing why this forum was appropriate to issue a subpoena for personal identifying information for all 351 Comcast subscribers. Engaging in “one stop shopping” in the District of Columbia for the personal identifying information for all Comcast subscribers may be convenient, for whatever reason, to the Plaintiff. Nonetheless, this approach hardly demonstrates compliance with the Plaintiff’s affirmative duty pursuant to Rule 45 to take “reasonable steps” to avoid undue burden and territorial inconvenience to the 348 (among the 351 total) subscribers residing outside of the District of Columbia.

[...]

Forcing the Comcast subscribers to litigate their objections in a distant forum is completely unnecessary, since the Plaintiff can serve a subpoena upon Comcast in any judicial district where Comcast subscribers reside.

In the meantime, the Illinois Bar Association remains silent as usual: it’s hard to talk with the head deep in the sand.

The document that prompted this movie to be produced is embedded below. It is a response in opposition to motions filed by Nick Ranallo in the “CP Productions v. Unknown.” case. This intensity of lies is not even funny anymore. I could go point by point, but that’s most likely what Gibbs, Steele and their clique want. This is probably a new strategy the trolls have unleashed: to pack as many lies in a single court document as possible, so an honest defense lawyer would get sick of disbelief how low his colleague can fall, and subsequently either experience a writer’s block or spend months debunking each and every lie.

On the other hand, crowdsourcing can withstand this predatory tactics, and what is impossible for a single person, many can do. So I expect commenters to rip off Gibbs’ arguments piece by piece.

Update

Also, compare the following two documents on this case. Fairy v. Pinocchio: I’m sure you’ll have fun!

From now on, Brett Gibbs has a new nickname: “Pinocchio,” and he should be grateful, it could be much worse, like Paul “Anal” Lesko or Jeffrey “Blumpkin” Weaver.

Copyright troll of the week


Copyright troll Paul Lesko

Paul Lesko
Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd LLC
One Court Street
Alton Illinois 62002
Tel. (618) 259-2222
Fax. (618) 259-2251
plesko@simmonsfirm.com
Attorney for Plaintiff 4:Twenty Media Inc.

 

On January 11, I wrote about the only Louisiana mass bittorent copyright infringement (a.k.a. copyright trolling) lawsuit over a pornographic movie with a classy name “Teen Anal Sluts” (LAWD 6:12-cv-00031). That lawsuit was filed by a New Orleans’s attorney Joseph C. Peiffer on behalf of a shady company 4:Twenty Media, which is registered on Seychelles (where, by the way, pornography is illegal — 05/15/12 update). Copyright on that movie was registered in the USA, yet it seemingly impossible to legally obtain this “masterpiece” — online or offline. Joseph Peiffer has resigned from this case in the beginning of March: a lawyer from Illinois’ Madison County Paul Lesko replaced him.

I strongly believe that we, a community that fights this type of lawsuit abuse, caused this resignation at least in part. First, since I posted about this lawsuit, searching Google for “Joseph C. Peiffer” started returning a link to this site’s article with an embarrassing title “Attorney Joseph C. Peiffer and ‘Teen Anal Sluts’ ” on the first page of the search results.

As I stated in that article, I deliberately chose such an embarrassing title. Adult industry cries foul when something happens because of social stigma attached to pornography¹, yet the very same industry (well, a part of it) has no problem with leveraging the very same social stigma to wrestle settlements from alleged copyright infringers. Therefore, I don’t see any wrongdoing in reflecting the shame using a publicity mirror and beaming this shame back to the troll.

This Google exposure was not the only reason for Mr. Peiffer resignation: as it is clear from the blog comments, many readers and victims wrote to partners and clients of the “Fishman Haygood Phelps Wamsley Willis & Swanson”, a reputable firm that employs Mr. Peiffer. No doubt, his partners pressured Peiffer to drop this embarrassing and reputation-damaging lawsuit. In addition, it is possible that Loyola School, Peiffer’s alma mater, also was flooded by e-mails explaining their alumni’s and visiting lecturer’s shenanigans. It is rumored that even Loyola’s dean received a notice. “Teen Anal Sluts” is not the kind of title that a Jesuit school will cheerfully accept.

Peiffer had something to lose — his reputation, and he made a right choice by resigning from this case. I hope he learned his lesson and if he is at least somewhat remorseful, I wish him all the best. It is beyond any mortal’s power to remove his name from the Internet though.

Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd LLC, a lawfirm that specializes in asbestos litigation, a lucrative legal business that is quite controversial these days, employs Peiffer’s replacement, Paul Lesko. According to American Tort Reform Foundation, Madison County, where this firm’s main office is located, is one of the worst “judicial hellholes” in the USA and the epicenter for national asbestos litigation. This type of litigation is not necessarily evil per se, yet it is quite abused these days as explained in the articles linked above. Thus, this firm may or may not be immune to any reputational loss. In addition, I don’t know if Lesko represents his firms’ new turf or he is just a rogue attorney.

The case is still active: just last week Lesko dismissed more than 100 defendants with prejudice, which usually indicates settlements. Since the ransom amount is $3,500, so far extortionists were able to collect $350,000 from uneducated, scared Does. That alone makes my blood boil: a “masterpiece” like the movie in question usually has a budget that does not exceed $20,000-$40,000. Therefore, the proceeds from this ugly “business” probably topped the entire movie budget more than 10 times! If you are a part of this case — defendant or lawyer — please make sure this egregious abuse of the copyright law spirit is pointed to the judges. They have a power to request the information from the trolls, specifically how much settlement money they received. Until then take my calculations with a grain of salt: there may be different reasons for dismissing with prejudice, e.g., to create an impression that so many people settle. On the other hand, 10%-30% settlement rate is believed to be accurate (it is declining as people get educated about the scam).

Just look at the ransom letter sent by Lesko to his victims: it makes me so sad that this hogwash document, compiled from the pieces lifted from other trolls, caused so much irrational fear. “As you can see, the evidence we have in our possession against you is quite compelling.”: impudent, shameless lies.

There are also some good news for those Does who let their common sense prevail over irrational fears and either file numerous motions or wait the entire ordeal out. It seems that the judge on this case, C Michael Hill, is not impressed with this case’s merits and ordered all the defendants’ motions to be filed under seal, or their real names to be redacted. Though I may be wrong in my predictions, but over the last year I developed some intuition, and I have some good feelings about the judge.

A letter to 4:Twenty Media

Back in January one of our mates wrote an email, which, while being funny and entertaining, at the same time was up to the point and showed why this lawsuit is an ultimate piece of crap. It’s not a surprise that he did not receive a reply.

From: John Doe
To: 4twentymedia@googlemail.com
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 2:13 PM
Subject: Inquiry for legal purchase

I would like to purchase a copy of your wonderfully touching film: Teen Anal Sluts for my own personal viewing enjoyment.

I understand from the copyright registration that this is the email address of the individual owning the copyright to this heartwarming tale of sluts who are teens and do something with anals.

I must admit, I have a certain weakness for teen anal sluts, and consider myself to be quite the connoisseur of media containing them.

I have spent WEEKS trying to find this movie, which was reportedly published less than a year ago. I simply cannot find it ANYWHERE, and think that it is a real shame your legally registered movie cannot be found in my area. I have many friends across the country who are also searching for legal copies of this film, and they cannot seem to find it at any legal store either, whether it be an actual storefront, or a virtual one.

Can you please instruct me as to how I could go about purchasing a copy of this movie legally? I will need to know where to purchase the movie from, and how much it will cost as my budget does not allow for blank checks to be written, no matter how amazing the experience may be.

Also, be aware that if this title is NOT for public sale, nor has ever been legally published in the United States, your copyright registration could have very well been fraudulently submitted². Fraud is a felony.

Thank you for your time,

A paying customer.

Related

Attorney Joseph C. Peiffer and “Teen Anal Sluts”: the previous coverage.
Louisiana: discussion thread.
Multiple Hash Files In A Single Troll Case — Ripe For A Motion To Quash / Dismiss — Louisiana : DieTrollDie’s article.

Updates

05/01/2012
The other Louisiana trolling case, filed by Paul Lesko on behalf of West Coast Productions is over the “work” Super Anal Black Cougars, I’m not making it up! As an attorney, Paul Lesko apparently has very narrow (I would even say “tight”) specialization.

05/03/2012
Nicholas Ranallo and Carlos Zelaya filed an omnibus motion to quash. This is a must-read, must-consider document. Written in good English, not Legalese, it is a very good document.

05/18/2012
This story has yet another interesting dimension: pornography is illegal in Seychelles, where the rightsholder of the “work” in question is registered. I notified various Seychelles ministries about possible criminal activity of 4:Twenty Media, as well as reputational harm to their country, which heavily depends on tourism. So far I received a notification that my complaint was officially forwarded to a relevant agency for investigation. I’ll post an update once I get more information.

8/29/2012


¹For example, recent firing of a schoolteacher over her acting in a porn movie years ago caused quite a stir in the adult industry. To be clear, my opinion sides with adult industry in this case, I point to this story only to illustrate the hypocrisy.

²Disclaimer: Technically failure to market a work does not constitute fraud in a legal sense. In colloquial terms if is still a fraud as the spirit and purpose of copyright were shamelessly perverted. The demand letter may be fraudulent because it lists 150K figure, yet failure to market a work most likely renders statutory damages inapplicable.

Prenda Law is an infamous clique of lawyers who file hundreds of mass extortion-like lawsuits against peer-to-peer users who allegedly share copyrighted pornography movies. This outfit has no desire to progress their cases to the actual litigation. Misleading courts around the country, crooks obtained tens of thousands names of suspected infringers and used these names to threaten, harass and intimidate putative defendants (many of whom are absolutely innocent¹) coercing “small”² settlements of $3,400. Prenda Law comprises some creative con artists and managed to deceive judges around the country for more than a year.

Fortunately, more and more judges have grown skeptical and started to deny “fishing expeditions” (orders to ISPs to hand out customers’ information to the predators). Some rulings were subtle, with just a hint of annoyance, some more up to the point. Three weeks ago Judge Howard Lloyd issued a groundbreaking order that was widely covered in the Internet press (TorrentFreak, Arstechnica, Techdirt). In his order Judge Lloyd told Prenda’s Brett Gibbs to mind his own extrajudicial business and to not use (abuse) his court for name-fishing while having absolutely no desire to litigate.

After this unambiguous lashing by Judge Lloyd, Brett Gibbs had an audacity to move for reconsideration (on the same date voluntarily dismissing a similar trolling lawsuit assigned to Howard Lloyd to avoid further embarrassment).

Another interesting document followed this motion shortly. Seemingly, it was filed with the sole reason to move judge to pity. It appears that Gibbs (as well as other trolls) receives anonymous nasty emails from time to time. This is sad, counterproductive, and sometimes very disturbing, yet not surprising: when a troll threatens livelihoods of anonymous defendants in huge numbers (tens of thousands), he is destined to occasionally stumble upon putative defendants who are ethically challenged to an even greater extent than the troll himself is.

Clearly, the person who wrote these emails is a cruel, miserable jerk: wishing death to a person who recovered from a serious health problem is… I cannot find proper words. Such cruelty is beyond my understanding. Still, using such emails to soften judge’s heart in order to sway his decision is not much higher on the moral scale in my opinion.

As TAC noticed, Hushmail has zero tolerance policy for harassment. Meanwhile, there is a week-long gap between those two harassing emails. What does it say? Any reasonable person (especially a lawyer) would complain to Hushmail immediately, and the offending account would be suspended at once. Gibbs did not do it as if he hoped for more threats/nastinesses from that jerk in order to use them to advance Prenda’s agenda. Disgusting.

Looking at Gibbs’s sleazy opportunism, I’m absolutely sure that if he had more serious stuff sent his way (it’s a huge stretch to call the mentioned emails “threats”, although arguably they are nauseous), he wouldn’t miss the opportunity to use them to his advantage. So, if these childish rants are the most serious offenses, Gibbs/Steele most likely simply lie about actual “death threats”.

Thank you both, “John Johnson” and Brett Gibbs, for dunking my head into a virtual toilet: I am going to take a shower ASAP.

Update

6/7/2012

Seemingly Judge Lloyd was not touched by the little boy’s whining: the motion for reconsideration is denied (emphasis is original):

The papers submitted by plaintiff and the statements by plaintiff’s counsel at the hearing on plaintiff’s application for early discovery make it clear that granting the sought-after discovery would not uncover the identities of the infringers.

In what must be a misreading of the March 30 Order, plaintiff in effect seems to chastise this court for sympathizing with, and, plaintiff would argue, insulating infringers from plaintiff’s reach. The court had no such purpose or intent. Instead, it expressly sympathized with the plaintiff and other victims of infringement. It said nothing sympathetic about infringers. It was deeply concerned about non-infringers who, based on plaintiff’s prior use of early discovery in other cases, would almost certainly be caught up in plaintiff’s dragnet aimed at achieving an extrajudicial remedy.


¹My educated guess: 10-15% of targeted Internet users are innocent. Inherent flaws of the IP detection software tools, open wireless networks, human error — a few factors that contribute to this unacceptably high false positive rate.

²To wrestle settlements, trolls threaten their victims with insanely huge punishments — up to $150,000. This statutory maximum was clearly targeted at large-scale commercial infringers, and was written into the law before consumer-level file-sharing became widespread. No sane person would agree that the amount equal to an average American family’s lifetime savings is a fair and balanced punishment for sharing a single smut movie.

Copyright troll of the week
There are well known big name villains in the speculative invoicing (a.k.a. copyright trolling) arena: Steele/Prenda, Ira Siegel, Thomas Dunlap/DGW, and so on. There are many online resources that discuss their disgusting “business model” (which is practically blackmailing and extortion; even some trolls admit that). Besides those “supertrolls” there are many smaller, mostly opportunistic greedy lawyers involved in the trolling business. I suspect that most of them don’t even think that their hard-earned reputations (as well as reputations of firms and partnerships that employ them) are at stake. This is a big mistake. In the Internet age strange things tend to happen. Just last month I wrote a post about Frederic Abramson, who has a pretty well-established Internet presence: almost 4 thousand Twitter followers, a popular blog, etc. Nonetheless, if one searches for his name, my post “Frederic Abramson: respected lawyer or just another copyright troll?” appears on the first page of Google search results, contributing to his image.

So I want to use these powers to expose those smaller trolls, noting that what’s fair is fair: they use legal knowledge — the weaponry they perfectly mastered — to abuse the judicial system, while their tactics remain technically legal; and I use one of few legal weapons available to me: Internet with its amazing ability to shed light on the dark corners where copyright trolls dwell. I’ll try to write small posts like this one as often as I can, so that any prospective client of a troll lawyer could find out his or her dark secrets easily. And yes, I will keep choosing embarrassing titles deliberately.


Joseph C. Peiffer

So, meet this week’s troll:

    Joseph C. Peiffer
    FISHMAN HAYGOOD PHELPS WALMSLEY WILLIS & SWANSON, LLP
    201 St. Charles Avenue, 46th Floor
    New Orleans, LA 70170-4600
    Tel. (504) 586-5259
    Fax. (504) 586-5250
    jpeiffer@fishmanhaygood.com
    Attorney for Plaintiff 4: Twenty Media Inc.

 

Mr. Peiffer has filed a mass bittorrent lawsuit on January 10, 2012 against 1,341 Does alleging illegal sharing of a porno movie with a classy name “Teen anal sluts.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the first mass copyright infringement case filed in Louisiana.

 

And who is the plaintiff? A shady company registered in Seychelles, as I believe, for a sole purpose of procuring copyrights and using them to extort settlements, and no doubt with the ultimate goal “to promote useful arts,” as written in the Constitution. This “company” does not even have a registered URL: the only contact information listed is Seychelles address and 4twentymedia@googlemail.com email. I would love to see a proof that this company even exists — nothing can be found on the Internet, and even searching the Seychelles International Business Authority website yields nothing.

 

Also, unlike in cases with some smarter trolls (Gill Sperlein, for instance), who adapt and don’t use the arguments that were already defeated in many courts, this lawsuit is so last-year:

  • Joinder. The complaint lists 3 separate swarms, while even participating in a single one did not justify joinder in many judges’ eyes.
  • Jurisdiction. This is simply laughable: only 7 of 1,341 Does reside in Louisiana, and Mr. Peiffer admits that.

One particular statement regarding jurisdiction is arrogant and funny at the same time:

Defendants nationwide purposefully availed themselves to the jurisdiction of this Court and should anticipate being haled into court in this State.

Another interesting detail:

Copying (or “stealing” if we use trolls’ own misleading terminology) other trolls’ complaints (including misspellings – see Sperlein’s complaint, p. 4 for example) inevitably leads to embarrassing bloopers. So, reading the complaint attentively, we first learn that

16. Plaintiff is a Seychelles company located at Global Gateway 2970, Rue De LaPerle, Providence, Mahe, Seychelles, that markets and distributes motion pictures

and later…

43. Plaintiff’s Motion Picture is easily discernable [sic] as a professional work. Plaintiff created the Motion Picture using professional performers, directors, cinematographers, lighting technicians, set designers and editors. Plaintiff created the Motion Picture with professional-grade cameras, lighting, and editing equipment.

Yet another thought. Neither complaint, nor any other currently submitted document contains any hint on where and if this “work” can be bought legally. This blog’s readers searched and all they found were torrent links. In many porn troll cases I saw references to websites where allegedly shared porn could be purchased. Not here. If an illegally copied “work” cannot be purchased, all the damage claims are effectively moot. So in addition to many wrongs described herein, we probably deal with a brazen honeypot scam. So much for an attorney who “was named as one of the fifty Leaders in Law by New Orleans City Business Magazine”. Note that I will be happy to remove this paragraph if I’m pointed to an online store that carries the title in question.

Troll of the week


Frederic Abramson

Frederic Abramson is a well-known attorney from New York. He has a popular law blog “New York Business Law,” almost 4000 followers on Twitter, many of whom are famous journalists and legal experts. He is not a friend of the sleazy con artist Kenneth Ford, but there is something common between these two: they are both copyright trolls. Frederic Abramson filed at least one mass bittorent lawsuit on behalf of K-Beech (a porn outfit run by a convicted criminals’ goon Kevin Beechum, but it is another long story).

Last week I followed @fredabramson on Twitter and added him to my “Tweeting copyright trolls” list. Today I discovered that he blocked me from following — a funny way to hide something on the Internet. I wouldn’t bother writing about him when there are more urgent topics to address (Prenda Law’s ongoing assaults, for instance). But I respect the law. Streisand law in particular. So I had a sudden desire to make sure that anyone searching for Mr. Abramson’s name on Google will find this site on the first page of the search results.

There is one document in the abovementioned case, where a victim states an interesting fact:

Defendant spoke with a representative for Plaintiff in an attempt to prove Defendant’s innocence and avoid having to file the instant motion. Towards this end, Plaintiff was offered any and all evidence of Defendant’s (including Defendant’s computer to show that the required software was never on the computer, Defendant’s employment records showing Defendant’s whereabouts, sworn declarations, etc), but Plaintiff was not interested.

No comments necessary — as if it was a revelation! We know that trolls are not interested in truth, but rather in filling their pockets with money extorted from their victims. Anyone targeted in copyright trolling scam, who took time to educate himself, has already been transformed from being scared to “pissed off”. It’s your turn to run, trolls, but remember: you can’t hide — Internet is watching.

Update

As the first comment (the power of the Internet!) to this article says, Frederic Abramson has filed at least seven troll bittorrent lawsuits, all involving either Patrick Collins or K-Beech:

Update 2

12/20/11

As I anticipated, searching for “Frederic Abramson” in Google yields this post on the first page of the search results (at least today). This is the power of Internet: many crooks use Internet to do their shady business, but when the light clashes with the dark, the light always prevails. The only two weapons I personally utilize against copyright trolls are truth and publicity — they are the most powerful weapons by far.

Update 3

02/22/12

Below is a forum comment. I did not validate the claims myself, but assuming that the allegations are supported by the facts, some legal action should be taken here. Also it will be shame not to use this information in a defendant’s motion, just make sure you buy those masterpieces and compare them.

K-Beech is claiming in these lawsuits that hundreds of John Does unlawfully infringed upon their DVD entitled “Gang Bang Virgins” for which they recently obtained a copyright on 10-24-2011 (Registration number PA00017579630) but the lawsuits, by and large, were instituted before the copyright registration.

However, Gang Bang Virgins is scene by scene identical to an earlier pornographic DVD entitled Grand Slam, which was produced by a company called Combat Zone who applied for and obtained a copyright for it on 6-14-2006 (Registration number PA0001332187) which is over 5 years prior to K-Beech’s registration for the same DVD albeit under a different title. You can compare the two movies (warning: not work-safe!):

Grand Slam
Gang Bang Virgins

If this is true it would invalidate K-Beech’s recently obtained copyright and quite possibly open K-Beech and its counsel to criminal and/or civil sanctions for fraud/copyright misuse.

Troll of the week

“Weretroll” is a portmanteau of “troll” and “werewolf”, a name for a miserable kind of formerly decent attorneys who turn into trolls when the moon is full, confusing the full moon with a golden coin. Unlike a werewolf, a weretroll can bark, but cannot bite — just like any other representative of the troll genera. Like its relatives, it lives of those whom it manages to coerce into settling using deception and hollow threats.

A DC attorney Mike Meier was once listed on the EFF subpoena defense page. Although his name cannot be found there anymore, there are many articles saying that his “Copyright Law Group” defended those accused of copyright infringement in mass p2p cases:

“There are multiple reasons why the law firms may have tracked down the wrong person. For example, someone may have downloaded a movie by through a Wi-Fi network used by many people, or a minor child may have used the parents’ computer. Finally, there is the human or computer error factor, maybe the user was actually out of town when the alleged download occurred,” adds Mike Meier, of Counsel to the law firm. “Courts are still dealing with many unresolved issues in these cases where people allegedly download movies or other works from the internet.”

Moreover, in an interview to PilotOnline.com Mike Meier rightfully calls the troll tactics by the name they should be called:

Meier acknowledges the country’s long-standing copyright laws but said the lawyers’ tactics have been too aggressive.
“In my opinion, they are bill collectors for the movie industry,” he said. “They’re basically extorting money”.

However, having seen that his opponents make much more money using blackmail, Mr. Meier faced tough questions: does the so-called dignity have a monetary value? Is there a price that justifies abandoning a long and hard way of reputation building? Apparently, he answered “yes” to both questions and joined the growing army of blackmailers.

Mike Meier’s website before the transformation:

…and after the transformation:

There is a private yahoo group comprised of lawyers who defend copyright trolls’ victims. This group is attorney-only, because the members discuss strategies and tactics of fighting copyright trolls, and the group is very selective when it comes to membership. I don’t know if Mr. Meier was ever a part of this group, but if he was, imagine the harm that he is capable of inflicting now. I am not saying that Mr. Meyer will violate any attorney-client privileges, but he could still take advantage of the information once entrusted to him. Update: Rob Cashman noted in a comment below that Mike Meier is unknown in bittorent defense lawyer community. So probably the fear of acquiring some secret knowledge and using it against us is overstated.

Mike Meier employs the same “experts” as Ira Siegel – Copyright Enforcement Group (actually, Meier’s Copyright Law Group is listed as a partner) — the company that admits uploading copyrighted material to p2p networks in order to entrap file-sharers:

That’s what I meant back in September when I said that Ira Siegel participates in shameless honeypot schemes. Any accusation of copyright infringement based on such a brazen entrapment would be easily nullified based on the “unclean hands doctrine”, but remember: trolls have no intention to litigate these matters, so they don’t care about the piles of stinky filth on their hands (that’s how dirty money smells).

Update

8/7/2012

It came to my attention that Mike Meier was sanctioned in the amount of $37,415.00 under 28 U.S.C. § 1927 on 9/20/2011.