Disclaimer: This post in a way constitutes legal advice but is being submitted for discussion purposes only.
I wanted to write my first post and try to keep it simple about the case entitled Lightspeed Media Corporation v. John Doe currently pending in the Circuit Court of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, St. Clair County, Illinois (complaint is embedded below). Don’t let the title deceive you : this is not a lawsuit against a single malicious hacker, but a mere fishing expedition, which has a sole goal to obtain contact information of 6,500 Internet users and start extortion racket. Naming one person and burying hundreds, and (like in this case) thousands, of subscribers in a complaint is one of the new sleazy tactics employed by trolls in order to deceive both courts and public.
Who is Lightspeed Media Corporation?
Lightspeed Media Corporation (LMC) is a pornography enterprise located in Phoenix, Arizona. It is owned by Steve Jones, a former computer consultant who, along with his wife,
…publishes photos and videos of youthful models, and has long used terms such as “barely legal” and “barely 18″ in its marketing. Users pay between $30 and $40 a month, depending on how many sites they want to access.”
Today Steve Jones charges (NSFW link) either $34.95 or $39.95.
Who is LMC’s troll?
LMC is being represented by an attorney affiliated¹ with Prenda Law by the name of Michael O’ Malley, who until August 2010 was a judge in the court where this lawsuit is pending. Undoubtedly he is on friendly terms with the judge who has been assigned to this case in what American Tort Reform Foundation has identified as being in the top list of “judicial hellholes” in the USA.
Who is LMC’s Forensic Computer Expert?
Quick answer: Steve Jones. According to the complaint at paragraph 14,
Plaintiff retained Arcadia Data Security Consultants, LLC (“Arcadia”) to identify IP addresses associated with hackers that use hacked passwords and the Internet to access Plaintiff’s private website and content.
[to do this] Arcadia used forensic software named Trader Hacker and Intruder Evidence Finder 2.0 (T.H.I.E.F.) to detect hacking, unauthorized access, and password sharing activity on Plaintiff’s websites.
Arcadia‘s address is the same address for LMC. Arcadia’s sole member is Steve Jones (likewise Matthew P. Collins is the Organizer of Arcadia and Attorney of Record for LMC).
Furthermore, guess who owns, markets and likely commissioned the creation of the forensic software? Yup, Steve Jones (www.arcadiasecurity.com ²). So a more accurate statement of paragraph 14 would be “Plaintiff’s principal, Steve Jones, retained Steve Jones to use Steve Jones’s forensic software to identify…”. No reports, investigations or testimony would be admissible in an honest court because they would be found to have been issued or given by a “biased expert” or one who has a financial interest in the outcome of the lawsuit.
What is the Amount of Money Involved In This Lawsuit?
LMC is claiming damages in excess of $100,000 plus attorney’s fees and costs. Back to reality, Buffy the Pirate Hunter (a.k.a. John Steele) has threatened to sue individuals and if that is the case then, in my opinion, LMC’s damages would be the cost of a lost monthly membership ($34.95 – $39.95) if a case actually went to trial.
What of Earth is Going on With Count I of the Complaint?
LMC’s troll is bringing lawsuit in a state court based upon a federal statute known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) on the ground that John Doe and his 6,500 co-conspirators used hacked passwords to access his websites (how this could happen to a former computer consultant who has been working in online porno business since 1999 is beyond me). On its face it looks a little scary but I do not believe the troll has pleaded a claim that would survive a motion to dismiss. This is because to make such a case the troll has to prove that his client sustained “damage” or “loss” of at least $5,000 which I think is not realistic.
The CFAA states that “damage” means any impairment to the integrity or availability of data, a program, a system, or information and “loss” means any reasonable cost to any victim, including the cost of responding to an offense, conducting a damage assessment, and restoring the data, program, system, or information to its condition prior to the offense, and any revenue lost, cost incurred, or other consequential damages incurred because of interruption of service. In plain English and within the context of this lawsuit it means that the Troll has to show that LMC spent at least $5,000 to repair and/or re-secure his websites. The complaint claims it can reach this amount “in the form of actual damages, statutory damages, and reputational injury” but there are no statutory damages contained in the CFAA and as to reputational injuries to a pornographer that uses models/actresses who are barely 18… good luck with that.
What About the state claims of conversion, unjust enrichment, breach of contract and civil Conspiracy?
The simpler ones (conversion and unjust enrichment) are arguably valid but the damages are small ($34.95 – $39.95). The other two causes of action (breach of Contract and civil conspiracy), in my opinion, are laughable under the circumstances of this lawsuit.
I will keep an eye on these cases and, if the need arises, write a post about personal jurisdiction and removal under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In the meantime, do not feed the trolls.
Thanks to On2ndthought for unearthing some interesting facts presented in this post.
4/16/2012: A follow-up post: Attorney’s opinion: Lightspeed’s claim is a farce.
5/5/2012: Another follow-up post by Raul: Lightspeed Media Corporation v. John Doe: a quick follow-up Q & A.
Here is an interesting blog post about St. Clair county and its public servants.
¹ Pay attention to the address where deposition is set to take place: this is the official Prenda Law headquarters (a.k.a Troll Central).
² Initially I linked to www.arcadiasecurity.com, but it was brought to my attention that Steve Jones redirects to a Google image search for “gay love”. Is this how a mature individual behaves? You decide. Update: now it redirects to the Facebook main page; also, Steve Jones’s name is not listed in the domain name registration anymore: don’t worry, we have plenty of screenshots.