Poor sleazeball Paul Pilcher! How many times the owner of an illegal¹ porn studio Hard Drive Productions cursed the day when he met a copyright troll John Steele (Prenda Law) and fell for his sweet promises? While this lopsided collaboration brought some dirty money to Pilcher’s coffers, this extortion campaign had a sizeable downside for the pornographer. Besides bad publicity and the fact that most of the loot ended up in Prenda’s pockets, this endeavor resulted in two countersuits from the victims: Liuxia Wong v. HDP (CAND 12-cv-00469) is now settled, and Seth Abrahams v. HDP (CAND 12-cv-01006) is dismissed by the judge but is currently on appeal.
Today a Minneapolis attorney Scott Flaherty filed yet another lawsuit (MND 13-cv-00380) on behalf of a Minnesota resident Nathan Abshire, who was initially a part of the infamous Hard Drive Productions v. Does 1-1,495 (DCD 11-cv-01741) lawsuit in the District of Columbia. After political games in this corrupt district resulted in unmasking all the Does in September 2012, Prenda started sending ransom letters, and its paralegal Mark Lutz (who sometimes lies identifying himself as “Jeff Schultz”) has been extensively harassing Nathan over the phone:
Hard Drive continued to propose various unacceptable settlement proposals, usually through its counsel Jeff Schultz. Hard Drive’s most recent proposal is a letter dated February 6, 2013. Attached as Exhibit 3 is a true and correct copy of the 2/6/13 Letter.
The complaint asks that the Court issue an order
- …declaring that Plaintiff is not liable to Hard Drive for copyright infringement;
- …declaring that Hard Drive’s purported copyright on its Work is unenforceable or invalid;
- …awarding Plaintiff costs, disbursements, and expenses including reasonable attorney fees as authorized by law including 17 U.S.C. § 505, as appropriate together with interest; and that this Court issue such other and further relief as may be just and equitable.
Litigating with the scumbags is not a pleasurable occupation and the outcome is far from certain (in part because ineligibility of pornography for copyright protection is asserted: expect Marc Randazza on a white horse). Nonetheless, I am happy to see that a former troll victim did not succumb to shallow threats and did not pay up. Neither did he choose to enter an unethical and possibly criminal agreement to defraud the court, but instead he decided to fight back defending his dignity. I hope that he will prevail and will be compensated for his troubles at the end.
I had a dream that thousands of lawsuits are filed against those porn purveyors who have been assaulting the society with frivolous lawsuits, which would force them out of business. As for the worst troll lawyers (Steele/Hansmeier and their gang in particular), they went too far and do not deserve such an easy way out; they should be pursued criminally.
- CopyrightClerk: Hard Drive Productions: Dirty Hands.
- The Arizona Republic: Inquiries reveal shadowy Valley porn industry.
- Minnesota Public Radio news: ‘Copyright trolls’ target Minnesotans, accusing them of stealing online porn by Martin Moylan.
- 02/22/2012: Summons were served on a Hard Drive Production’s agent on 2/21. Answer is due within 21 day, i.e. no later than March 14.
- 03/14/2013: As Copyright Clerk notices, the lawsuit was dismissed by the plaintiff in exchange of a covenant not to sue.
¹Production and distribution of obscene material is illegal in the state of Arizona. Nonetheless, since, to the best of my knowledge, this law was never enforced, adult production is flourishing in the open (courts have yet to decide if pornography falls under the definition of “obscene”). Besides Hard Drive Productions, the best known pornographers are CP Productions and Lightspeed Media: all of them have been involved in copyright trolling, and because of the bad publicity and other troubles, I tend to believe that today their owners regret about their bad decision.