Words fail me. You know that I’m a rational person who thinks well before acting. Yet if at this moment any of Prenda’s criminals — John Steele, Paul Duffy, Joseph Perea, Mark Lutz or any of their “local
counsels gangsters” — were nearby, I honestly don’t know if I would be able to restrain myself. Read the story below and you’ll perfectly understand why.
If you are an attorney and willing to defend this guy pro bono or on a contingency basis, reply to him on Slashdot or leave a message here. And please share this story widely.
Copyright trolls are murderers and must be stopped. The first blood would create a tsunami of public outrage and bury the trolls, but isn’t this price too high? Will we wait to react until this Doe kills himself because of Prenda’s threats and a complete failure of the system to hold Prenda accountable?
Update 8/4/2012: Thank you all for the overwhelming support! I’m happy that the author is among us and not desperate anymore. Read his comment below. Yet what is going on in this country is not OK. There will be no more “business as usual”: we will make sure that the ground is burning under the trolls’ (and their enablers’) feet. The crooks must be stopped unless it is too late. Please don’t be passive.
Let me say this before I tell my story: I live on a fixed income of SSI and SS for schizoid personality disorder, agoraphobia and so on. I also am not guilty of anything and have never been in trouble in my entire life. I am 28 years old. I am also very afraid. I also apologize beforehand for all the upcoming text.
I recently received a letter from Prenda Law stating they subpoena’d my ISP (new wave cable) and included my IP and the supposed porn video I downloaded in the letter. I assumed they’re liars and just pulled my IP from a torrent swarm or out of their ass. Either way, they phrased it as “Illegal Pornography” which made my mother assume the worse when I showed it to her and tried to explain what was going on. She didn’t understand that “illegal” meant copyright infringement and not weird bsdm porn (she’s old, she doesn’t know what that is and that it’s not illegal) or worse, CP. They’re demanding $3800 “to make it go away”. (By the way, I don’t live in my mothers basement, I have my own apartment). They were even nice enough to include a paper to put down my credit card information.
They also threatened to use local law enforcement to seize all of my PC equipment. The day that happens is the day I get my own slashdot article because I’ll be damned if they take about the only thing I get enjoyment from. From what I looked up though they have never been able to pull this off and it would cost them more to do that then what they want for the supposed infringement.
They just want to scare and embarrass people into paying. I refuse to be shamed — However I do not want to go to court either so I contacted lawyers…and this is where the rest of this little story goes into.
I went to the EFF site and grabbed a list of lawyers from there, contacting 3 that were within my area — 2 in IL and one in MO where I live. The first one I contacted was from torrentlitigation.com. After explaining my situation he said my IP equaled guilt and paying him $500 he could settle with Prenda Law and get it down to around $2000. I told “Adam” No.
I am not guilty and never admitted guilt, nor would I ever admit anything. I refuse to pay a lawyer who assumes I am guilty and wishes to just settle. Prenda has continued to call my phone on a daily basis and leave voice mails over and over, sometimes 3 times in a row. By the time I got their first letter I only had a few days to respond before they threatened to get logs from my ISP and take me to court. It is now past that date.
I contacted the BBB after being suspicious after “Adam” told me I was guilty and he could settle with them for the small, small fee of 500 dollars to him which could be paid with paypal or credit card. They told me to contact the FCC. I did. They laughed and told me to ignore it and to contact the FTC. I did. They laughed told me to ignore it. They also all told me to not ever answer the phone for them or contact them in any way as not to incriminate myself — something I already knew anyways.
I contacted the Missouri Attorney General. Laughter. Told me to ignore Prenda Law like the others. Everyone said they know about what is going on, but a lot of Judges have no idea about this type of scam. Prenda Law goes from state to state — once they get ran off/found out in one, they start in others.
I live on a fixed income of social security so if I was summoned to come to court I likely wouldn’t even have the money to make it to defend myself and the judge would issue a default settlement. It was heavily implied by the FCC and AG that some of these lawyers could be in on this (tinfoil hat time) or are just too lazy to fight for you in court.
I still don’t find it funny. I am not laughing. I feel like I am being harassed and singled out. I do not like being threatened. I receive SS and SSI for schizoid personality disorder, among other things. I get barely over $700 a month to live on. The only thing I have worth anything is my PC, and recently, a S&W .38 revolver. Obviously not to harm anyone but I will defend my property.
If worse comes to worse I would kill myself just so there would be a slim chance my story with Prenda Law would be heard on the news/internet and more light would be shed onto this scam and others would not have to go through what I am going through. Since I have no money to fight the only way to get my voice heard would be with a gunshot against my head. It sounds extreme but I do not know what else to do but wait and see if Prenda Law just ignores me since I ignored them and they just drop it once they realize I literally have no money. If they happen to try to seize the only thing I have in my life that brings me what little joy I do have I will not allow that. I contacted another lawyer in MO I found on the EFF site and told him what kind of hell they’re putting me through. I told him the above. I thought it was going to be confidential.
The police showed up at my door a day later. I thought my equipment was about to be seized. I almost painted the walls red with my brains until I realized it was just one cop and he was only checking up on me.
Since this has began I have been unable to sleep, I’ve stopped taking my medication and I really want to check myself into the Hospital for help. I am afraid if I do that though I won’t be home to defend myself from these attacks on my character. Prenda Law is preventing me from getting the help I require.
I have no idea what to do, everyone says to ignore it, it’s a scam and so on. I realize this but it still torments me. I am a paranoid person to begin with. Prenda Law is making my life hell.
I hope someone who has the money to fight takes them to the cleaners and stops these frivolous lawsuits against innocent people.
Please, mod this up so others know what kind of hell they’re putting people like me through.
Thank you for reading.
David Kerr points to the importance of Section 207 of the Social Security Act. In short, SSDI cannot be garnished or taken under any circumstances (there are exceptions but they deal only with government agencies or child support). Even if a person found liable (which is no more probable than a discovery of a soul in John Steele, i.e. 0.00001%), he is untouchable.
1. Section 207 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 407) protects Social Security benefits from assignment, levy, or garnishment. However, the law provides five exceptions:
- Section 459 of the Act (42 U.S.C. 659) allows Social Security benefits to be garnished to enforce child support and/or alimony obligations;
- Section 6334 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 6334 (c)) allows benefits to be levied to collect unpaid Federal taxes;
- Section 3402 (P) of the Internal Revenue Code allows beneficiaries to elect to have a percentage of their benefits withheld and paid to the Internal Revenue Service to satisfy their Federal income tax liability for the current year;
- The Debt Collection Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134) allows benefits to be withheld and paid to another Federal agency to pay a non-tax debt the beneficiary owes to that agency: and
- The Tax Payer Relief Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-34) authorizes the Internal Revenue Service to collect overdue federal tax debts of beneficiaries by levying up to 15 percent of each monthly payment until the debt is paid.
Also, regarding “They also threatened to use local law enforcement to seize all of my PC equipment.” — this is simply impossible: crooks don’t have this kind of power.