To those receiving ransom letters

AT&T finally succumbed to troll’s threats and coughed out our identities. People started receiving threatening letters. All the letters have perfect wording that humbles kidnapper’s ransom demand notes in many ways.

Mr. Sperlein gives ridiculously short time to come up with ransom, so people wouldn’t understand what’s going on and pay out of uncertainty and fear. Giving just a couple of days while the case was initially filed almost a year ago is unsurprisingly brutal.

I’ve been receiving many e-mails from the victims. All of them except one said that they never downloaded movies in question. Unproportionally large number of those e-mails came from women. Given the accusations in gay pornography, that’s another red flag pointing to large-scale scam launched by Mr. Sperlein. Some people indicated that they never heard about this issue before, probably because they have not seen AT&T’s February email, it could be filtered as spam, or just overlooked – AT&T sends many junk letters to its subscribers.

While being cunning and smart lawyer, Mr. Sperlein is absolutely ignorant in technology. He made one huge mistake in those letters, I will explain it in due time.

I have no moral right to ask victims to fight and not to pay ransom, but in my personal opinion, for those who did not download IO Group’s gay pornography, the defense arguments are pretty strong. I would wait for more information: in particular, for the outcome of the case management conference scheduled for June 2, and for developments in other IO Group’s cases.

Note that in his letter, Mr. Sperlein threatens to name you on his complain, thus making your name publically associated with gay pornography, if you don’t contact him by Monday, May 23rd. It is up to you if you want to communicate to Mr. Sperlein that you are innocent, but keep in mind that Mr. Sperlein is brutally cunning, so keep your communication to an absolute minimum: you never know how your extra words can be turned against you by a troll.

Also, try to hide your identify when posting case-related materials and comments online – Sperlein is famous for selective prosecution of those who dared to threaten his extortion business. Publicity is a serious threat. Among the privacy techniques are using anonymous e-mail address created specifically for this case (yahoo, aol etc.) and using an anonymity network Tor.

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6 responses to ‘To those receiving ransom letters

  1. I would just ignore any of these letters because:

    1. An IP address does not point to a specific person.
    2. Someone could have a wireless network, encrypted or not, that was used illegitimately by someone else.

    Need I keep on going? I’d just ignore these letters and threaten to report him to the bar in whatever state he is in.

  2. The problem with simply ignoring the letter is that it says that in this case Sperlein will assume that his claim is valid and will name you on the case. Consequently, it probably makes sense to inform him that you did not download that movie. However, I would recommend keeping communications with him to an absolute minimum and not disclosing any of your circumstances (like wireless router, etc.). Any information that you give him will most likely be used against you. I looked through his last filing (the amended complaint) only briefly, and I have a feeling that he added new details about eDonkey after listening to people’s explanations of their circumstances.
    I’d like to see what the judge will say at the case management conference on June 2nd. Sperlein’s conspiracy claims look ridiculous to me, and this judge has experience dealing with improper joinder on an older case. Sperlein has made his conspiracy arguments very sophisticated, but I think that they have no chance withstanding the defense of those people whose file name (on p.2 of the ransom letter) indicates that they were trying to download something not protected by any copyright. I hope that the judge will realize how ridiculous the conspiracy argument looks in this situation. And who knows, maybe these people will be dismissed from the case.
    I think we should start looking for attorneys in SF. I would suggest that we create several groups of defendants based on those different types of defense argumentation that are applicable in different people’s situations. I will read Sperlein’s last filing carefully and will suggest the list of possible defense types, so that we could discuss with attorneys whether several people with the same defense could join together. I hope to publish the list by tomorrow.
    If any of those people, whom Sperlein has already named on the case, are reading this, you definitely need to start actively looking for attorneys. I would suggest that you start calling those California attorneys, who are on the list provided by EFF. Ask those attorneys if they would be willing to represent several people with the same defense. This way people could get together, polish arguments, and hopefully save on attorney fees.
    I agree that it makes a lot of sense to file a complaint against Sperlein with the California bar. If someone has already found a web link for that, please list it here. The more people complain, the better is the chance that the California bar will pay attention to our friend Sperlein.

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