Paul Lesko, Simmons Law Firm, teen pornography and the end of trolls in Louisiana

“At the Simmons Law Firm we treat our intellectual property clients as partners.”
(From the Simmons Law Firm website)

One of the worst copyright trolling cases that I have been tracking, 4:Twenty Media Inc v. Swarm et al (6:12-cv-00031), is finally over. Magistrate Judge C. Michael Hill has finally made up his mind and killed all the Louisiana mass bittorent lawsuits, including this monster suit (1341 Does at the time of the filing), the first Louisiana’s porn shakedown fishing expedition initially conceived by Joseph C. Peiffer of a New Orleans’ law firm. After the unexpected and unwanted publicity, Peiffer’s partners pressured him into resigning from this case, and while he indeed resigned, instead of dismissing the lawsuit, he handed out this lucrative extortion undertaking to Paul Lesko of Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd LLC, an Alton, IL law firm. Unlike Peiffer, Lesko happened to be immune from any reputational loss (in other words, Lesko’s parents failed to teach him telling good from bad). In addition, the chairman of his law firm, John Simmons, deliberately gave this racket a green light with a full knowledge of the details.

To the best of my knowledge, it was Lesko’s first porn bittorent shakedown lawsuit (based on a movie with a classy name Teen Anal Sluts), but soon he got addicted to easy money, even if it smelled like something that Lesko’s favorite human body part oozes: believe it or not, the next two cases filed by Paul Lesko were based on the following “works of art”: Super Anal Black Cougars and Phat Black Juicy Anal Booty 8. That’s how Paul “Anal” Lesko got his nickname.

Although this case’s docket featured motions that explained the fraud in irrefutable details — masterpieces from Nick Ranallo and Morgan Pietz, unfortunately, no Fantalises came forward to file counterclaims in order to destroy the shakedown enterprise. Alas, scumbags got away not only unpunished, but carrying a hefty loot extorted from uneducated citizens (in large cases like this, the money trolls receive in settlements is orders of magnitude higher than money spent to produce a filthy movie like Teen Anal Sluts).

With all due respect and cheers, the judges’ order is also kind of dull: all the Does except one were dismissed based on improper joinder, and not because this lawsuit is evidently frivolous and even potentially criminal. Why criminal? In addition to the fact that extortion is not exactly a lawful activity, the age of “teens” in this movie was never scrutinized. This film is foreign-made, and its rights holder 4:Twenty Media is registered by an individual named Christoph Petznick in Seychelles with a sole purpose to extort file-sharers and innocent people alike. The “masterpiece” Teen Anal Sluts was never legally distributed, and may even have been seeded by the perpetrators themselves to entrap bittorenters. Pornography is illegal in Seychelles; if this fact did not stop the fraudsters, it is unreasonable to expect that they would be concerned about teen porn.

Currently Lesko continues to file cases in Missouri (Mark Twain must be turning in his grave) and Southern Illinois with blessing from his boss John Simmons. Until the legal system recovers from the epidemic of copyright trolling, these walking insults to the legal profession will keep bringing tons of misery to thousands of undeserving families daily.

How can we contribute to stopping these terrorists? Last week a weasel named Jason Kotzker accused us in inducing harassment. We did not expect a liar not to lie, but nonetheless, the perverted power of a wrong accusation can bring a lot of damage: no need to look hard for examples: the entire copyright trolling business model is based on baseless allegations, most of which cannot be proved. Therefore, please avoid stooping lower than trolls do. I urge you to refrain from harassing and threatening these scoundrels, their colleagues and especially families: this is illegal, immoral and counter-productive as it gives ammo to the enemy. Nonetheless, contacting authorities (lawyer associations, media, attorneys general) or using publicly available information to inform Simmons Law Firm’s personnel and its clients politely about the unethical, bordering with criminal, conduct that is taking place in this allegedly reputable firm, is not harassment, but protected speech, and rather a duty of any concerned citizen.

Finally, I cannot agree more with a comment by Jen from Texas, a copyright troll victim who succeeded in triggering a troll investigation in the Florida Bar:

I’d like to add one more thing to this post. The best possible action any John Doe can make is going to be legally. Going through the proper channels, such as state bars and the court system shows the trolls and the courts that John Does are not crazy, volent, or sleazy. If you can’t afford to retain an attorney, you can research and file complaints with the state bars for free. Check and make sure the film you are accused of downloading and sharing are copyrighted. (In my case, it is not). And remember, YOU have the POWER, DO NOT give it to the trolls by stooping to their level.

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46 responses to ‘Paul Lesko, Simmons Law Firm, teen pornography and the end of trolls in Louisiana

  1. The writing was on the wall after Hill severed the other case. Unfortunately the real question is why it took 8 months for him to reach this conclusion. So far as I know they got all the information they wanted, so at least it’s good he put the “must be filed within 30 days” clause in the motion. With all the other Anal fires burning there’s not much likelihood that Paul “Anal” Lesko will have time to file on anyone…too bad they already collected a ton of money on this (if all the dismissed with prejudice motions are any indication).

  2. I’d like to add one more thing to this post. The best possible action any John Doe can make is going to be legally. Going through the proper channels, such as state bars and the court system shows the trolls and the courts that John Does are not crazy, volent, or sleazy. If you can’t afford to retain an attorney, you can research and file complaints with the state bars for free. Check and make sure the film you are accused of downloading and sharing are copyrighted. (In my case, it is not). And remember, YOU have the POWER, DO NOT give it to the trolls by stooping to their level.

    • I strongly agree with the advice to take the high ground. Respond to trolls decently through government channels. Some guidance can be found on these blogs. Does with few resources can look for pro bono help, inlcuding at nearby law school clinics.

      The trolls aim to bring Does down to their crummy level. As usual, the trolls want it both ways. Trolls want to be free to inflict anguish and pain on Does, through questionable, immoral, nasty and sometimes unlawful methods. Meanwhile, trolls want to provoke Does. Trolls hope to weaken Doe responses and paint Does as irresponsible offenders.

      Porn purveyor copyright trolling has greatly disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands, and swindled many of them. With so many transgressions against Does, it’s no surprise a few have lost some composure. Let’s stay focused. Keep the language decent on blogs, even if the feelings are extreme. Starve the trolls by appropriately using the justice system.

  3. This is the email that went to all 59 email addresses available on Simmons Law Firm’s home page:

    Dear Sirs and Madams,

    Before sending you to the article I posted today, I want to note that any large law firm has its bad apples and by no means I want to imply that every Simmons Law Firm attorney has a low ethical standard. On the contrary, I believe that the majority of you undoubtedly can claim the high ethical ground and loathe the practice we call copyright trolling.

    “Copyright trolling” is an unethical scheme to obtain personal information from Internet service providers and wrestle unrepresented and uneducated Does into settlement threatening them with insanely high statutory fines and making their names connected to illegally downloading pornography with explicit, disgusting titles — for all potential employers to find by searching the web. The false positive rate of the methods used by unlicensed and secretive “forensic” experts is unacceptably high — up to 30%, yet the scheme is built to incentivize the innocents to settle rather to fight in court, and this is just a single example of this scheme’s inherent unfairness out of many. To date, almost 300,000 Internet users were victimized by ethically challenged attorneys, and 0 were brought to trial. Why? Because these cases are not winnable on merits. It was never a goal to litigate these cases anyway: once enough innocents and not-so-innocents alike succumb to fears and settle, 100% of these cases are dropped.

    Visit my site for more information.

    We are the community that fights this legal plague, and we made the visible difference over the last year by educating victims and shedding light on the crooks. We believe that we significantly cut the settlement rate, and caused trolls to constantly change their strategies and to invent new sleazy ways in order to sustain their racket. Also, because of our effort, judges got educated and started openly calling this type of litigation “extortion.”

    The counter-actions are on the rise and I predict their number will grow exponentially. I urge you to read this particular counter claim: it describes the entire moneymaking scheme in a way that even an imbecile will understand: only bottom-feeding lawyers with no self-respect are capable of doing this kind of “business.” In addition, there is a couple of class actions lawsuits, and last week Arizona Attorney general urged victims to file complaints with his office.

    I’m sure you care about the reputation of your firm, and legal profession in general, but I regret to say that we will do everything in our power to publicize your firm’s involvement in what more and more people (including authorities) regard as blackmail and extortion.

    Publicity is a powerful weapon. With almost a million page views, my site is highly visible and searchable. For example, try to search for “Paul Lesko”: despite his prior substantial online presence, an embarrassingly-titled headline appears as #4 in Google search result.

    Finally, today’s article:

    Paul Lesko, Simmons Law Firm, underage pornography and the end of trolls in Louisiana.


    • Quick reminder: It’s easily possible that the rate of false accusations against Does (false positives) is higher than 30%. The estimate was made by a troll representative. This rep had incentive (below verbal awareness) to underestimate the false positives even trying to answer truthfully.

      Also, his estimate was about the association between I.P. address account holder and infringer. It assumes that the I.P. address identifying technology, geo-location, and record keeping is 100% accurate and reliable. No technology meets this standard. Many innocent Does settle. There is no incentive for checking more carefully.

      • The false positive rate is much higher than 30%. I’d say that it’s over 50%, but I can’t verify because I don’t know what technology they use. Those troll techs are paid to be witnesses for the troll, then, IF the case goes to trial, expect to testify against the people they were paid to bear witness against. That doesn’t pan out at all. Conflict of interest, probably illegal and probably against the bar association’s rules of professional conduct.

        I was screwing around with IP geolocation sites once. One told me that my IP was in Boston. Another, Minnesota. Another, California. One of them got it right, but most are either mildly off or WAY off. I’d say the accuracy rate for a free geolocation tool like what Prenda uses is probably around 50%, and that’s a generous estimate.

  4. SJD – whoever and wherever you are? – – You’re like some sort of caped crime fighter swooping in to save the day – You are AWESOME!!!! Great post.

  5. When you Google Paul Lesko, this site is the second listing. The Simmons Law Firm is first, followed by SJD’s post. I’m dying laughing. So how do you think Troll Lesko’s week is going? 😜

  6. At first I thought Lesko was just some sort of rogue partner but after reading his profile, I do not believe that to be the case nor is he even a partner. He’s the head of their IP division and he’s doing this crap under supervision of the equity partners so he has likely received explicit approval to proceed with these cases.

    That being said, let the campaign against Simmons Law begin. If you Google Paul Lesko, his firm profile comes up, then 3 results below it is the page entitled “Attorney Paul Lesko and 1000% return on investment in ‘Teen Anal….'”, that’s not good for business…I’m crying laughing right now. If I were a partner at his firm, I’d want his ass OUT.

    BTW he filed a new lawsuit in SDIL. XPAYS, Inc. v. Does 1-34 (3:12-cv-00928-JPG-SCW). Oh shit I just read the complaint. It’s over “1 Night in Paris” aka “Home Video” aka “Paris Hilton Sex Tape” hahahaha. Not an anal movie, he’s moving away from his bread and butter.

    • To get a rough idea how these troll lawsuits are jamming up the federal judiciary, the SDIL
      docket # for LMC v. Smith & ISPs is 12-cv-889 and Lesko’s Combat Zone v. Does is 12-cv-990.

      • I’m well aware of the LMC case. Actually, I just recapped the docket and Bozarth/Huffman’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and Seiver’s motion to dismiss. Essentially similar arguments except Siever contends that all of the state claims are preempted by the Copyright Act but he argues them anyway.

      • As more evidence of the blight, about a third of all copyright cases nationwide this year are these porn purveyor copyright troll cases. It might be awkward to mention “jamming up” commenting on a post that discusses Paul “Anal” Lesko. But probably Raul is adding humor to his serious assistance. :->

  7. I have a question that I’m curious about—does the 30 days to file an individual complaint apply to that court only? The wording seems rather broad. By my count that’s this Friday (assuming that filing can’t be done on the weekend) so I was curious if there had been any activity on this. I am one of the does involved (not anywhere near LA) and I also haven’t received the follow-up letters that the judge said are required to go out (funny, didn’t take them three weeks to get the extortion letter to me…).

  8. It’s been 35 days since the August 17th order severing all the Does.

    If there have been no individual complaints filed against the severed Does, does that mean that they are dismissed WITH prejudice?

  9. nope, the does were severed but the order allowed for him to move against them individually. thats the way severance goes, severance never is with prejudice.

  10. I understand that the order allowed individual actions. However, the order also stated explicitly that

    “within thirty (30) days from the entry of thisOrder, plaintiff may file individual complaints against those Doe defendants whom it wishes to proceed.”

    Since the 30 days have expired, is Lesko somehow barred from bringing any further actions on this matter, at least in Louisiana courts?

  11. [sjd: I wouldn’t say this picture is unacceptable, It would be hypocritical, as I gave Paul the moniker “Anal.” Still, it is a bit gross for average public, so I removed the image but retained the link to it. Follow it at your own risk (especially if you are squeamish).]

    Paul “Anal” Lesko (literally)

  12. Well, that picture’s pretty damn gross, and kinda ruined my congratulations and thanks to this site owner and community… but thanks, I very much appreciate the fine work, and hope I can contribute in some small way by not giving in to their disgusting tactics.

    • I hear you. Maybe I developed a thicker skin dealing with scumbugs and their mainly disgusting business. I generally don’t like the idea of moderating, believing in “fighting speech with speech,” but I don’t want to facilitate shock-messageboard either.

      I hope I found a good middle-ground, and everyone is happy (except trolls.)

    • A German fetish company that produces a lot of pissing content. Seems Paul Lesko is dedicated to protecting all copyrighted excretory functions, I hope Santa gives him a clue for Christmas.

      • After looking at the wikipedia page, it seems really odd that a such a big company as Adam & Eve would contract a lawyer with such a horrible track record in these cases…

      • They’re not wasting any time either. This is for Buffy the Vampire Slayer XXX parody and the first time stamp was 11/05/12 and the last 12/04/12. Eight days after the last infringement they file suit. Paul “Anal” Lesko must have had this queued up and ready to go. They state that all the IPs reside on the state and the majority in that district.

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