New low of Prenda Law: trolls indiscriminately and inappropriately send out “Letter of request for informal discovery”

Did you hear that? John Steele is coming up with a new way to game the judicial system and defraud citizens! Surprised? Did anyone really hope that robocalling was the final excrement of Steele’s voracious greed?

Nope. Certain people have been born to prove that the ethical abyss is bottomless.

As DieTrollDie reports, Prenda Law started sending out some kind of Nigerian scam letters written in Legalese. Like with robocalls, it seems that Prenda utilizes the entire database of addresses they were able to loot using unsuspecting courts as burglary tools. In particular, not only the Does who are listed in open cases, but also the people who were dismissed long time ago, have received (and continue receiving) “Letter of request for informal discovery.” For example, the letter embedded below refers to a case that was dismissed more than 3 months ago: this is not a mistake, this is a deliberate fraud on the federal court.

DieTrollDie did a good job analyzing the contents of this document, and I’m writing this post mostly to increase visibility and hopefully prevent potential victims from the perils of contacting the troll. In short, Prenda’s mailing is simply another attempt to lure people into contacting the con-men and possibly saying something self-incriminating.

If you have received this document, you absolutely don’t have any duty to reply to it. And don’t even think about contacting Prenda without an attorney. If you have time and resources to strike back, hire a good lawyer, who will monitor the situation; if Prenda fulfills its threats of trying to compel you (which is extremely unlikely), your lawyer can send a counter-request for discovery (yes it’s a two-way street!), which, believe me, will devastate the fraudsters. Or, this lawyer can kindly ask Prenda to pay for a reputable (and expensive) licensed forensic investigator of your choice: if they don’t agree (and they won’t), they will definitely shut up.

The letter threatens to file a “motion to compel” (BTW it is stated that a sample motion is attached, but no such attachment exists). Hogwash: first, in many situations there is no open case to begin with, so how the hell can they manage to file a motion without a case? Second, and most important: I’m not aware of any precedent of a judge allowing such a bizarrely broad discovery request (which includes a visit to Doe’s premises and raiding his private documents and financial records): on the contrary, any previous attempts to secure invasive discovery were unsuccessful. So, there is no way that any judge will approve such a motion (which will never be filed to begin with).

Fortunately, less and less people really think that Prenda has slightest merits to harm anyone beyond bullying. Yet, no matter how reasonable our arguments are, there will always be a few who are not used to listening to the voice of reason: such people allow fears to rule their lives. Hell, believe it or not, the 419 (Nigerian) scam is still alive and well, given that virtually anyone knows about it. It is beyond anyone’s abilities to prevent some people from irrational actions.

For the reference, here are the contents of the scary package for your amusement (and I’m sure that FBI, Attorneys General or IARDC would also enjoy reading this document knowing the circumstances):


Please answer the following questions: who knows, maybe the poll results will assist federal investigators:

Featured comment:

that anonymous coward says:
July 18, 2012 at 1:05 am

A deeper question one needs to ask oneself is…

If their case was so awesome, the evidence so overwhelming… why do they need you to give them evidence to make a case?

Maybe because they never had a case that would survive.

This is another dirty trick in a long list of dirty tricks, how much longer are the courts going to allow these cases and lawyers to continue before ending this spree of terror?

Featured Tweet:



The follow-up post: Prenda’s “Letter of request for informal discovery”: an attorney explains why it is patently invalid.

DieTrollDie’s follow-up post with practical recommendations: What to Do About the Prenda Law “Informal Discovery” Papers?

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58 responses to ‘New low of Prenda Law: trolls indiscriminately and inappropriately send out “Letter of request for informal discovery”

  1. It took me a few seconds to figure out exactly what they were doing and I agree with the approaches described here by SJD & DTD. What gets me so annoyed at all of these “scare” tactics is simply that John Doe Defendants could simply do a quick analysis — 1) when did the alleged download occur, and 2) what was the date the production company registered the flick for copyright protection (if at all)? If the so-called infringing activity is before the filing date (or within three months), then NO STATUTORY DAMAGES. With this information at your fingertips, why even worry what kind of letter they send you? Either they can go after you or they can’t. It’s that simple. [And sorry for the late night post; this is obviously not meant to be construed as legal advice]. -Rob

      • I’m not a lawyer and this is only for discussion, and is not legal advice.

        The three month window, for trolls to claim statutory damages before U.S. registration, ONLY applies if there are less than three months between the release of the work and the effective copyright registration date.

        The way I’ve read the passage about three months is:

        There requirements to file for statutory “remedy” for infringement(in the trolling cases, the $150 K figure mentioned in the extortion demands). Otherwise, the actual damages apply (for a single copy of a single work, presumably roughly the price of a work [no other factors are involved]).

        The work must have U.S. copyright registration.
        With registration, either the (troll) plaintiff must register the work within 90 days of its release
        must register the work within one month of first learning about the infringement.

        • Prenda has cases where the copyright registration date is not even close to three months from the dates of alleged infringement. Great example is the Northern District of California case, Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v Does 1-118. This is the case that provoked Seth Abrahams v. Hard Drive Productions, Inc. with Steven Yuen representing the former Doe. The dates of alleged infringement are March 2011, the registration date for the work is November 2011, eight months later. The complaint states that a copyright application is pending and asks for statutory damages. However, according to the Copyright Office website the effective registration date for a work is the date that the complete application was received, not the date the application was processed and granted. This means that the complaint filed by Brett Langdon Gibbs misrepresented the facts, and these misrepresentations were then used in the extortion letters to attempt to intimidate does into settling.

          Archive docket for that case is here:

          There are more, at one point someone mentioned California’s barratry law and I found three cases filed by Brett Langdon Gibbs where the copyright registration date was long, long after the alleged infringement dates, so that was likely just the tip of the iceberg. I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of the Steele | Hansmeier / Prenda Law cases filed before the second half of 2011 have the same problem. They seemed to get a little be better about it after that.

          I wonder if any class action attorneys would be interested in pursuing each mass-Doe case with post-infringement registration date as a separate class action. Seems like that would be a reasonable way to go, each case’s Does were defrauded as part of the same case brought with the same meritless claim of copyright registration. Since the statutory damage claims had no legal merit, and thus should never have been filed to begin with, it seems like they would be pretty cut and dry and a decent attorney could have a field day shaking money out of Gibbs’ and Steele’s pockets.

          I also wonder if all of Prenda’s clients know that they continue to send out dunning letters for cases that have been dismissed and/or did not have a valid copyright registration. These are just asking for countersuits, and the defendants in those suits will be the former plaintiffs, not Steele or Prenda’s other lawyers. Do you really think Paul Pilcher would be happy to know Steele is sending out more threats for cases that already brought him a couple of countersuits and cost him one settlement plus entered judgement stating the target had not infringed on Hard Drive’s copyright? Hard Drive stopped filing cases after the Abrahams countersuit was filed, so I think Paul lost his stomach for trolling. How do you think he feels about Buffy stirring up more trouble?

    • Rob, you comment on here? 😉 Yes, overall I agree…how are you suppoed to preserve something when they haven’t disclosed what you’re accused of downloading. They claim you’re supposed to cease using your computer altogether? “Hogwash” as the article aptly describes it.

      I just had a client contact me yesterday who received one of these letters…

      Anyhow, a shameless plug for myself: Didn’t want to plug you Rob in case you don’t want your info known, but you have a lot of experience in these matters to…

  2. I can’t help but wonder if sending out this sort of demand/threat is legal? I mean, Evan Stone recieved sanctions for sending requests for info from ISPs yes? How is that any different than this? First of all, they’re flat out lying if the case is not currently on going, when they send the demand for discovery. Second of all, they’re stating that it’s the person getting the letter that’s responsible for facts not in evidence, which leads to defamation and liable causes. Third of all, they state they send exhibits of what will follow, yet provide none. (I can’t help but assume that’s due to the letter itself being a c/p with the only changes done to it being the case referenced to it at the very beginning.) Which misleads, and promotes evidence, if any gained, as gained through ill gotten means, no?

    And last but not least, if this is sent to people that have retained a lawyer for the previous case, even if said case was DISMISSED. Isn’t it illegal to try and coerce information from someone on a case that they had a valid lawyer for, rather than contacting their lawyer instead of them? Personally, I’d like a legal opinion from the lawyers we know follow this site. Is this at all legal? Is this sanction worthy?

    • Are they sending these letters as “registered mail” or “signature required”?

      If not, they have absolutely no proof their targets ever received it.

      Yet another reason to ignore anything other than service with an actual court summons.

      • They keep telling me that I’m gonna be sued (3/4 times per week), yet I was dismissed. They keep telling me about “informal discovery documents” which I have yet to receive. In my opinion, if you’re gonna sue someone, sue them. Don’t threaten to do it using a computer every other day. It’s just like if you’re gonna kick someone’s ass, go do it. Put your fucking money where your mouth is. This is cut and dry blowhard bullshit. They have ZERO intention of litigating any of these cases and the only cases that will go to litigation will be the avalanche of counter-action against the plaintiffs and likely the attorneys who represent them.

        The robocalls (calls from Chicago, Miami, Tampa, and DC) come from Prenda and informal discovery docs *cough*SCAM*cough* come from Perea’s law firm, which is likely associated with Prenda but is an independent entity. Not sure if that is entirely legal much less ethical for them to act in concert and the robocalls are a whole different animal…also likely unethical but up here in Duffy’s home state of crooked ass Illinois, it almost seems like the IARDC has given Steele and Duffy a free pass to conduct these monkeyfuck activities as I’m sure there’s been hundreds of complaints filed against Steele and Duffy so far. “Please forward all complaints to the Recycle Bin.” For the record, I just pulled my case that was dismissed 7 months ago and the registration document is on the docket with the comment “copyright registration pending” yet the work still isn’t registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. I know the government is slow but 14 months?

        • Do you have a list of numbers they are calling from? I have some of them, but I want to put all of them in a filter that goes straight to voicemail. Supposedly my info was released 2 months ago, but I’ve yet to hear anything.

        • I have every voicemail that Prenda has left, with the exception of three that I accidentally deleted (the first robocalls). I’m up to 50+, which at an average of 2/week, is 6+ months of constant, unrelenting weekly harassment. Anyway, I digress. I can give you the latest number that their robo-moron computer has been calling me from for the past few weeks: 1-800-380-0840.. It reverses back to Nolani Marketing in Tampa, FL (likely Prenda front). I’d avoid numbers with the 305 (Miami-Dade) and 773 (Chicago Loop) area codes as well.

          I can’t fucking believe they’d harass me post-dismissal and risk having to defend litigation (against Prenda, fuck the porn companies) over a couple thousand dollars. In my opinion, the post-dismissal letters signed by Perea constitute attempted mail fraud and the phone calls are attempted wire fraud, especially since the “copyrighted” act that I supposedly pirated wasn’t and still isn’t actually copyrighted, although Duffy told the Court that it is.

          For the record, I have read that Perea is on the Florida Bar Association’s radar, which is a mild understatement. More like being actively investigated. At least one of the state bar associations actually gives a shit (taking a passive-aggressive stab at Illinois’ ARDC).

        • I should start calling those numbers posing as a New York Times reporter doing an expose on copyright troll extortion…

        • The catch is these phone calls and letters tell me that I’m “part of a federal copyright lawsuit.” As of January, that is a patently false statement but they are using that to try to extract money from me…making a fraudulent statement for the purpose of monetary gain, sounds like attempted mail and wire fraud to me but IANAL. I’m still getting calls telling me that I’m part of a lawsuit.

  3. To continue a conversation started with TAC over at

    Before there were porno trolls there were RIAA trolls and before there was this blog and that of DTD there was the Subpeona Defense Alliance to help Defendants. Their site has some Doe discovery templates which can only be described as awesome and which could easily be modified to a Prenda case if the need ever arose (it will not). Go to their site and click on “Other Resources”.

  4. Once again I am limitted to the resources of so am not 100% sure about this but it may be partly related to what is going on with the “informal discovery”?

    It looks as if since April of this year both Gibbs and Duffy have been filing tons of lawsuits, some individual and some posing as individual lawsuits but seeking the identity of “co-conspirators”. After filing, nothing occurs, no motion for expedited discovery, nothing. This makes me wonder whether there is no need for discovery as Prenda already has the Doe info from either earlier federal lawsuits or from the FL “pure bill of discovery” lawsuits. Likewise it could just be for the purpose of posting their website in an effort to spread FUD.

    Any thoughts anyone?

    • Regardless, they are referring to a motion for an existing case correct? A case that has been dismissed.

      Here is the docket for the case referenced in the letter in SJD’s post.
      Pacific Century International, Ltd. v. Does 1-129

      If I were a recipient of one of these “informal discovery” letters, I would forward a copy to Judge Lloyd and his clerk.

      • That case was dismissed without prejudice and the alleged infringement act(s) is/are within the statute of limitations. Suit still may be filed against the Does in that case and it’s basically open season on harassment via phone and U.S. Postal Service. Judge Lloyd’s hands are tied. However, if the Does had been dismissed with prejudice, the case becomes res judicata or “already judged” (I had to bust out some of my b-law knowledge). That precludes any future action against the Does for the alleged offense. If an agent of Prenda (or any other scumbag law firm) contacts said Does post-dismissal, that has the potential to turn into a huge shit storm for Duffy et. al. and if I were one of the Does, I would immediately contact the judge who presided over the case. Can anyone say sanctions?

  5. For the life of me I cannot see how this is not a sanctionable offense!

    I can’t fathom in my wildest dreams that in their dragnet they will not catch a savy lawyer who will take them to task.

  6. Just waiting to get a notice in the mail now that my case was dismissed WITH prejudice! I’ll be sure to contact the FBI, State’s AG, US postal service for mail fraud, and anyone else the local PD would like to string into this. You know how justice was served in the old wild west!

    Some folks don’t take well to these tactics and are sure to fight back when the time is right!

  7. Forgot to mention in my comment above…but the contact information on the complaint filed here in Georgia lists the name of a Georgia attorney, but the phone number and e-mail address go to Brett Gibbs, for those of you who know who he is…

    • I would be surprised if anyone who reached this comment (i.e. not a random surfer who has stumbled on the post above) does not know who Gibbs is. We even have a nickname for him: Pinocchio (because his nose grows every time he opens his mouth in front of a judge or types a motion).

      So, it seems that this time the clowns send out the same crap signed by different attorneys, I wonder why: they never cared about sending demand letters to states where the signers can’t practice Law.

      • If they put Gibbs’ name on letters sent to defendants in Georgia cases, could this constitute practicing law without a license in Georgia? I don’t think Gibbs is admitted to the Georgia bar…

    • Was the Georgia attorney Bryan M. Knight of Knight Johnson LLC or Elizabeth A. Morgan of The Morgan Law Firm. They were both active last year in the northern district court in Georgia. Knight brought suits for K-Beech, Raw Films, and Patrick Collins; while Morgan trolled a couple of suits for West Coast Productions, West Bay One, Maverick Entertainment Group, Voltage Pictures, and Cornered, Inc.

      Luckily the judges in Georgia put a stop their trolling pretty quickly, with the only troll case filed in Georgia this year that I know being Digital Sin, Inc. v. Does 1 – 245 NDGA back on February 15 of this year. I have not found anything about this case; it shows up on Dockets Justia under “Other Statues” but I can’t find it on

      It’s the same with Third Degree Films, Inc. v. Does 1- 152 filed near the end of last year on December 1.

      Outside of these cases, Georgia courts have been relatively troll free this year. Why earlier this week I saw local Atlanta news story about one the West Coast films lawsuits going after a single low income mother who is now been defended by a local law firm. Needless to say, it was not good publicity for the trolls and their extortion scheme.

  8. Here’s what I don’tget about that letter. Even if it was a “formal” request as part of a actual case, how could they prove spoliation? Couldn’t you just throw away the computer and then there would be no trace of the file? Why wouldn’t everyone do that?

  9. Exactly. At the rate that Apple comes up with new iPads and the time it takes these lawsuits you would well have replaced the device three times over.

  10. Could they check the wireless router and would that have a record of a missing computer that recenty connected?

  11. @SJD – see sometimes my comments are short, sweet, and on target. Its why you love me 😀

    This is another attempt at shaking down people who think lawyers play by the rules. He’s a lawyer, he said this, so it must be true. You’d think people wouldn’t fall for the scam, but be honest with yourself… we all know someone who fell for a Nigerian Prince scam. They make themselves look important and hope you will be overwhelmed with the idea that they are a lawyer this must be legal. Many of the Prince scams now use “barristers” and lawyers to gain credibility in the targets mind.

    There is a reason I have open disdain for many lawyers, even famed 1st Amendment Lawyers… they are lying scum in these cases. I have open hostility publicly with Randazza and Stone (and probably a couple more). They use the mantle of being a lawyer as a cloak to hide the fact they are extorting money.
    Oh the poor artists this, the pirates stealing money that…
    1 – A majority of these cases can have upwards of 80% of any settlement going into the lawyers pocket directly or with more off the top to their “investigator”. Many studios are unaware that their lawyers are demanding thousands from alleged pirates when they only ever see a few hundred dollars.
    2 – Filesharing actually increases sales for companies.
    3 – Filesharing is done for free, no money changes hands.

    If they spent less time worried about getting paid for every set of eyes that sees an image they control, and more time making quality images for people to see they would make more money. People hate the lawyers, but there is growing pushback against studios who use these methods that extract money from 80 yr olds, people without computers during the alleged infringement, and the blind. Is the couple hundred dollars you bleed out of people today worth the bad reputation that will actually hurt your sales?
    Porn used to push tech forward and come up with new ideas, stop being fat lazy bastards and innovate instead of trying to litigate. The market is full of amateurs doing high quality work, you need to compete not complain.

    • Come on TAC, I also love you for a few short quotes from your long comments. You did not finish reading my compliment and broke in tears bumping on tl; — if you would read further you could notice not dr; 🙂 Which means that I never pressed fast forward button on my eyeballs when reading your comments, the action I perform on many other commenters.

      • So I am talking with an Anon over on DTD and the claim in that specific case is the content in question in the Anon’s case was not copyrighted when discovery was granted, and it was granted with a date AFTER the alleged infringement.
        So this means they lied to the court, as you can not file a copyright case for material lacking copyright. One would expect the Judge in that case would like to know that discovery was granted for a copyright case that was precluded by law from moving forward, and now the lawyers are using this forbidden fruit to pursue merit less claims against these Does.
        I also wonder if the Does can file a criminal complaint as this is a lawyer threatening legal action where no law has been violated. Even if the Doe were guilty, without a copyright how can you recovery anything under the Copyright Act?

        • I guess it would be the statuatory versus actual damages claim. Everything created is copyrighted upon creation but through the act of registration there is the statuatory damages matter insteafd of just actual damages. So they would come back and say that they were filing based on collecting actual damages……misleading yes, but probably would get them off the hook.

        • @PreparationH while it might be copyrighted upon creation, I do believe there are limitations on the who what where when how you can collect. If they asked for statutory damages in the filing, they mislead the court. The Docs in the case could be very interesting and get them a world of hurt. They have often played fast and loose with the rules and this time it could burn them…

        • TAC
          According to the Copyright Office’s quick guide to Copyrights: The creator has a 90 day grace period from the date of original publication with which they may pursue for statutory damages without any registration. In order to pursue statutory damages on the 91st day they must have a valid copyright registration. It is at the Copyright Office’s discretion upon receiving all materials, fees, and documentation whether to make the effective date of registration retroactive to the date of application or upon receipt of all necessary items.

          Take a publication date of 1-1-11. They would have automatic entitlement to statutory until 3-31-11. If their application wasn’t submitted until 4-2-11. Any alleged infringements occurring after 3-31 but before 4-2 would NOT be entitled to statutory damages.

          Some states adopt the “application” date because of the CO’s ability to make registration retroactive. However, as we’ve seen: the Troll Whores and their Pimps are so desperate to scrounge as much money as they can out of Does they’re forgetting to cross their tees and dot their eyes. This is why there is such disparity between their application dates and registration dates.

          Take for example a film with a production date of August 2010. They would be entitled to statutory damages until some time in November. They submit their application in April to the copyright office. From roughly December through March their works are only entitled to actual damages, say $20. Some states, however, will recognize the date of the application (because the Copyright Office can make the registration retroactive) for a copyright infringement claim.
          Other states will only allow a copyright infringement claim once the copyright is actually received.

          Either way this becomes a moot point once registration is received. Copyright law is explicit as any infringements occurring after the 90 days and before the registration date are ONLY entitled to actual damages. Especially, if the production company doesn’t provide all necessary items for registration and the registration date is November 2011.

          I think I just confused myself.

        • I think another point of attack would be the original production date. I believe that Prenda has had clients such as HD productions lie about the production date.I believe some videos Prenda has with 2011 publication dates could of been available for download on plaintiff websites since 2010. These cases are weak on so many levels it is comical.

          Oh.. Let’s not also forget that many have mentioned that there is not any form of copyright warnings or notice on many of the videos. This opens the door for a court not to award statutory damages based on innocent infringement.

        • Ha 90 days. Those assholes have had 14 months to copyright the act they sued me for. Guess what? No fucking copyright registered with the U.S. Copyright Office even though the docket shows a document with a “pending registration” (would they stoop to forging government documents? you bet but I doubt that’s the case). Good luck if they try to sue me individually for statutory damages which is what Prenda is threatening to do right now. As I said before, if you’re gonna kick someone’s ass, you don’t call them 50 times and leave voicemails with threats. You just go do it without saying a word. Same goes for a lawsuit, sans “settlement negotiations” as in “our client was generous enough to extend your extor…err, settlement date….” Don’t call me 50 times telling me you’re gonna sue me, just do it or shut your pie hole. What the hell is a judge gonna ask if they sue me again for the exact same thing? Gee, I know…”Why are you suing this person again for the exact same thing when you dismissed this him several months ago…for the exact same thing?”

          IF an individual lawsuit is filed, I will systematically destroy the plaintiff/smut purveyor in my original (DISMISSED) case and when I’m done with them, every single Prenda employee, specifically Duffy, Perea, Lutz (just for being a pain in my ass), and Steele (we ALL know he’s still pulling the strings). Money is no object and I have no problem involving law enforcement. In fact, several of my acquaintances from college are now Illinois State Police Investigators and likely know a few FBI agents as well. It pays to have drinking buddies from school who are now in law enforcement. Networking isn’t only great for job hunting. Too bad I don’t know any IP lawyers, oh well. When I’m done with these assholes they’ll be lucky to have their Second Amendment rights, much less their careers and bar cards.

    • I do believe the Anon I was speaking with needs to do some homework.
      If one were able to show a long gap between “creation” and filing well outside of the small window the entire case was a lie. Time to go share this…

  12. Received a letter from Prenda Law today. They offered me a last chance to settle, I’ve to reply by 8/1 or they’ll move on with da lawsuit. They also robocalled me today said since they’re backed up with individual lawsuit so they generasly offer me a last chance to settle…

      • “Last chance to settle”, “extend the deadline” out of “concern”, “will move forward with the lawsuit”, “your attorney needs to contact us immediately or else…”

        These lines are getting tired. Maybe Prenda switched to their bottom-dwelling “informal discovery” garbage to relieve their own boredom. If trolls have, you know, human-like reactions.

        “extort [ɪkˈstɔːt]
        vb (tr)
        1. to secure (money, favours, etc.) by intimidation, violence, or the misuse of influence or authority”

        • All of those phrases are synonymous with the word “bullshit” or the phrase “we have no case, please incriminate yourself.” ALL they have is an IP address as “evidence” against you. Whatever these clowns want you to believe, an IP is not a fingerprint. In fact, it’s practically worthless in court. What they NEED you to do is answer the phone and talk to them….don’t. I waited mine out, was dismissed, am being harassed still via robodick calls. Whatever. I can tolerate the phone calls but if they try to sue me individually, it’ll get REALLY ugly REALLY fast for the original plaintiff.

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