“I’ve seen John Steele preaching”: an insightful comment from a discussion

By a regular SmallFurryCreature

Foreword by SJD:

My Friday’s post, as well as Copyright Clerk’s article on the same topic (Judge Write granting Morgan Pietz’s motion to interrogate Prenda regarding its allegedly fake clients) were featured on the main page of and generated a significant amount of comments. I can’t resist copying one particular comment here. Although most of the thoughts and conclusions expressed in this piece can be found throughout our site, it is nice to hear a story from a “semi-insider,” a story that expresses views similar to ours, a story that confirms that those adult producers who succumb to trolls’ preaching shoot themselves in the foot and risk losing much more than gaining from cooperation with troll lawyers. Interestingly, a very bold confirmation of this thesis is taking place as we speak: Prenda has hastily dismissed all the lawsuits filed “on behalf” of Sunlust Pictures, whose principles Daniel Weber and Sunny Leone are apparently in the process of cutting all the ties with Prenda after all the embarrassment, unwanted publicity, and potential perjury charges.

I replied to this comment on Slashdot, articulating my interest in reposting it, but the author did not react. I assume that he does not mind, but if he does, or, alternatively, wants to amend the text, I will respect his wishes.

I have worked for the porn industry and seen this guy preaching at industry conventions, once supposedly on a forum that was to discuss how to approach copyright infringement as a porn company/copyright holder. (There are other approaches: the best working is focusing on having your customers become loyal fans of your brand, so they want to pay, beg you to pay.)

It wasn’t a discussion really, as I sat by as a 3rd party (I do servers for whatever reason you might have and I make the same amount whether those servers are paid for by copyright owners, commercial pirates, amateurs or cat pictures) and was amazed to see him preach to the converted… well… up until the point you start asking for numbers. There are a lot of porn producers, a shit load more content and a near infinite amount of downloaders. The internet may consist of cat pictures but torrents are for porn. Yet he has done at the time only a few thousand cases. That is nothing! It ain’t even a drop in the bucket. The RIAA was doing vastly more cases.

While the audience was agreeing with him, you could see most didn’t have a clue as to the real issues and the developments with regards to copyrights and enforcing them. The porn industry likes to pride itself on being cutting edge, VHS, online payments but really that is just a tiny segment, the rest are slobs who figured out: sex sells. The moment the forum was over, I talked to some porn producers and asked what they though considering judgment like the then current claim of movie copyright infringement costing several times more than the entire world economy.

Or the cases of suing children, veterans and other people who might get the sympathy of the public. If the public chooses the side of dirty pirates against wholesome music executives… what chance does a porn peddler stand? Most porn producers are well aware that they are skirting the edge of public acceptance, they know they can only accept credit cards if they meet the decency requirements of the processing company, can only host with parties that accept adult content. They didn’t like it one bit when I linked them on my tablet to some John Steele publicity stunts, no porn company wants attention from Fox News about harassing some grandma who left her WiFi open as it was installed by her grandson who died in Afghanistan. No thank you sirree, that is not worth gathering a few bucks, especially when all the lawyer fees have been paid you end up owing the lawyer for bad publicity.

That I wasn’t the only doom spreader for dealing with John Steele is proven by the fact only a handful of companies deal with him. When you talk to him, he does his name justice Google his picture, say his name and what you think he will be like is how he is. A boisterous overconfident man who speaks so loud that he doesn’t hear anyone asking him to explain some details about cases thrown out of court and how does not quite work on a contingency basis (he gets more if he wins but he always get paid), how a settlement doesn’t include paying lawyer fees. If you lose in court and are ordered to pay $5,000 in damages, you often also have to pay lawyer fees. If you settle for $1,000, that is it, the lawyer still wants paying. John Steele certainly does.

It is no secret that copyright infringement happens, on a massive scale. And porn has an issue the mainstream media does not have. I once came up with a nice way to put but we are all males here so here it is: “You can cum on a trailer”.

Some Hollywood movies have trailers that tell you the entire movie and a few where the trailer is better than the movie but on the whole, the trailer makes you hungry for more.

In porn, the trailer is enough for most and just makes you sleepy. Watching a full movie on YouTube is a hassle (well it was until they removed the ten minute limit) but for porn tubes… how many minutes do you need? Oh wait, I forgot my audience. Seconds?

Sharing the entire movie on a torrent is far less of an issue to the industry then all those porn tube sites that contain more than enough to satisfy the audience. A teaser site can be enough.

But despite all this and free amateur (real, not paid for) content, the industry is doing just fine. John Steele isn’t needed. He tries to sell himself strongly to the industry but once the producers have left the hall and are outside the reach of his preaching, common sense sets in. And John is angry about that, he is trying to save the industry, all this money out there you can get from people downloading your movie.

He ain’t a happy bunny at all. A Forbes’ article is hardly the first look at his practices. When you talk to him directly or hear him speak (and he talks so fast and loud he can drown out anyone else) he is recovering fortunes for poor abused porn producers. In reality, it is a few bucks most of which go to him, and most of the industry refuses to deal with him. They might agree with him, but even the most rabid “oh my god they are stealing” producer I talked to, much preferred not to be in the spotlight like this and the bigger producers preferred simpler approaches to fight copying by focusing on engaging users with fresh content and see their back catalog as advertising.

To most porn producers, the guy who only needs a few seconds of porn is not their customer, they want the fan, the enthusiast, the one who refreshes his browser every 2 seconds when new content has been announced and writes reviews of the performers on the forum. These fans have no issue paying each month; it is their offering to their church. It was fun to see this lawyer and others like him try to sell copyright protection when all the business cases showed that the porn companies that do best are those who focus on their paying customers and ignore how much of their content is available on torrents. As long as the torrents are a week or more behind, they know their paying customers will keep paying.

John Steele is pursuing a business model that the industry does not support, and it doesn’t want the attention it is generating. I happen to have talked to some of the guys behind the content he is actually suing over and these are the most right wing nutcases you could ever hope to avoid. The majority of porn producers stay well clear. They listened to their geeks and saw how what was not working for mainstream content also would not work for them.

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15 responses to ‘“I’ve seen John Steele preaching”: an insightful comment from a discussion

  1. I’m glad you reposted that in a more visible format, SJD. I just wish he had mentioned the inaccuracy of the IP tracking software, and hadn’t made the exaggerated statement about the grandma with wifi installed by the veteran grandson and Fox News. I said this in another comment, but there is a growing trend among people who download music (and I’m presuming pornography as well) to just hunt for open wifi, get your music, and then use your home connection for legal, day to day stuff. People definitely know about these lawsuits and are trying to get around them without caring about the person who they implicate. That’s why I don’t think you’ll ever have a clue as to what percentage of the accused are innocent, and I don’t think there’s a good answer to it lest everyone go back to LAN connections only. We shouldn’t have to retreat to the 90’s because of frivolous lawsuits. As someone who builds servers, I really wish he had brought that up, but he comes across as basically saying “Well, they’re guilty, but the porn industry doesn’t want the bad PR and realizes it doesn’t work as a business model anyway”. All in all though, great information.

    • Well that wasn’t really the guy’s point, it was more a commentary on Steele’s PR campaign and his industry’s sentiment. I think it’s clear from how we have seen these cases play out that the potential innocence of victims isn’t really a concern. There may be a little bit of concern over the bad PR (publicity being something that is mentioned several times in the context of pornographers preferring to avoid it), but in practice this seems to be all about the bottom line, and I’m sure if this was really bringing in loads of cash for Steele’s clients studios would be lining up and would not be asking questions about collateral damage. The really damning part is the guy’s take on how Steele’s clients aren’t getting much money out of the deal, and that they get billed whether he is succeeding of failing. That surprised me, I figured the deal was basically the equivalent of assigning Prenda the right to sue (without actually assigning it because we saw how that worked out for Righthaven) but that his clients would only be getting checks not bills. Of course, this would be certain to change if a plaintiff was sanctioned, lost a judgement or had to pay fees, but basically I didn’t think they would be paying anything out of pocket for his services.

      Where I think your point becomes most relevant in the present is that file sharers are pretty savvy, so over time we can expect them to be taking better measures to protect themselves from copyright trolls, including leeching other people’s Wi-Fi. This means that over time, we should expect that the number of innocent parties sued will be increasing. My guess is in the early days they were mostly getting people who were guilty, major exceptions being cases where the infringer was someone else living in the same house as the account holder, dynamic IPs and bad record keeping, and goof-ups like the ones documented in the academic papers about fooling copyright holders. But now it is much more likely that the real infringer is someone who is proactively taking advantage of someone else’s internet so they take the blame.

      Another key point for readers here, he mentioned several times that these guys don’t like publicity. I’m pretty sure doxing (and noting how close he lives to a bunch of schools) motivated Pilcher to stop trolling and may have contributed to Lightspeed doing whatever the hell he is doing, saying he’s selling the company or whatever. Daniel Webbebbebener isn’t exactly benefiting from being watched either. So in the future we cannot remind ourselves frequently enough that the more we shine a spotlight on these guys, the faster they lose their nerve.

      • Sunlust’s Sunny Leone and husband/manager Daniel Webber have much more to lose than a typical porn production company. They don’t want to be distracted dragged away from filming in India for court proceedings. She shoots her second film starting this month and is signed for three more:

        “Sunny Leone gets three new films in her kitty”

        Sunny Leone is trying to develop a career as a Bollywood star. There are plenty of disparagers in India who would enjoy see Leone & Weber implicated in an extortion racket.

        Bollywood has all sorts of advantages over porn. It’s more reputable. Bollywood stars can keep performing for decades. Pornstar careers usually last just a few years. She can earn ten or a hundred times more per film, even though the Bollywood filming takes longer. Leone & Weber can get lots of income through acting without the responsibility of running a business. They may even hope that Leone can rise in Hollywood once she establishes herself in Bollywood. A cynic might say she is well prepared to sleep her way
        to the top.

        • I just want to interject here and say that while they haven’t been fully vetted yet, there are reports that Sunlust/Sunny Leone/Weber are still filing new lawsuits, they’ve simply ALLEGEDLY switched to CEG TEK and abandoned Prenda like rats from a sinking ship. So I don’t think it’s fair to paint her as having seen the error of her ways, when it seems to be that she knows Prenda’s end is near and is looking for a new cash stream. She also isn’t an innocent in this, because she has been well aware of Prenda’s tactics for some time due to does making her aware of it on Twitter (and subsequently blocking them of course).

        • CEG is even more toothless than Prenda. Do they even file lawsuits anymore? I thought they stopped after Ira made a fool of himself in the California courts, and have instead switched to DMCA warnings and asking nicely for a small penalty. It could be that this softer touch actually generates a somewhat better, and less likely to backfire, revenue stream. Or maybe Sunlust hasn’t changed their mind about trolling but just wants to try a different service provider after Prenda made a mess of their cases.

        • I should add that while CEG may still be THREATENING lawsuits, I am pretty sure they don’t actually follow through with filing any. They went very low profile about a year ago and even their forum on this site has been all but dead.

  2. I met Sunny Leone a few years ago. Very beautiful woman in person. She was nice, personal, and did not come across as snobby or bitchy. When Prenda started to sue on behalf of her company, I was bummed that she fell for their bullshit. Yes, porn producers want publicity, but, there is a good way and a bad way. And Prenda was giving Sunny the wrong publicity. Sunny and her husband may be in some serious trouble due to Prenda’s arrogance and greed, and if Sunny is cutting ties, then good for her. Get out of the game before anything worse happens.

    What these producers need to understand is, file sharing will never stop! People will always find a way to do it. You cannot stop the progress of technology or people. They also do not understand that someone downloading a movie or website scene and sharing it, brings customers. They cannot dispute that. Yes people get it for free, but people will join a site if they like what they see. Steele and other trolls are full of shit when they claim file sharing is ruining the porn business. Yes, there may be some money loss, but nothing compared to what it brings in annually. I have no issue with porn, and I’m not trying to defend them, I’m just stating some common sense.

    Copyright Trolls are the ones who are ruining the porn business by their business model. They sell their idea and promise the world. Yet, they take 90% of the revenue and claim all the glory. Trolls had no idea of the war they started and did not expect to fight to save their asses, or their client’s asses. Prenda’s downfall will either kill porn trolling, or put it to sleep for a period of time.

    To everyone here, our voices are getting louder and louder each day! Trolls are being surrounded with no exit of escape. Continue the fight! Stay strong! Do not give up!

    • Not to mention that suing the people who consume your product is not an effective strategy for long term success. Let alone massive campaigns of threats and harassment to secure large quantities of back-door settlement agreements.
      Really, who’s going to touch Lightspeed with a 10-ft pole, after the owner has gone off carpet-bombing thousands who may or may not have illegally downloaded anything from his site?
      Suing your customer base isn’t something you do to win them over, it’s something to do after you’ve given up on them.

  3. It looks like Prenda is going down faster and faster, right before our very eyes. Irritated Troll Hater you sure got it right and don’t worry we are not about to stop fighting, no way, and miss being part of the grand finale?
    SJD Thanks again for all your great work, there is an update in my case coming soon. Keep up the good fight and have an exceptional day . . . David.

    • Impatiently waiting for any updates on your case. Happy and prosperous New Year! I hope this ordeal (no matter how entertaining 🙂 ) will be over very soon for you.

      • Thanks, as I’m sure you already know DTD updated today. Sorry it has taken so long to reply. It’s starting to feel like an intense game of Chess, provided I’m not sanctioned (snicker), I have all the ammunition now to go in for the kill. Then the case becomes Harris v. Prenda Law, Inc., I hope those chickenshits can be found.
        Keep up the good fight and have an exceptional day. 🙂

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