Hard Drive Productions is hit by another lawsuit: this time in Minnesota

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.




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.

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46 responses to ‘Hard Drive Productions is hit by another lawsuit: this time in Minnesota

  1. Go Nathan!

    This raises an interesting question. Should this action, and other similar action, be successful; does this open the door to recourse for those victims that have already paid the troll(s). I would argue that the payment and settlement agreement were executed under severe duress. Any chance the alleged copyright holders would settle for the payment amount refunded to make “this” go away

  2. Always nice to see someone not taking the extortion passively and fighting back. Nice that the complaint references Jeff Shultz as there should be some discovery into his identity. Coincidentally at the bottom of the Scribd document page was a plug for this

    Also, for all we know the allegations of paragraph 18 of the complaint are true.

  3. Wow. This new extortion letter is priceless. I really want to do a breakdown of it on my blog, but for now I want to quote what I think is the best part from it:
    “No Admission of Liability. The Parties have determined that is would be in their mutual best interests not to engage in further litigation and desire to amicably resolve this matter. It is understood and agreed that this settlement is the compromise of a disputed claim, and that the payment made and other performances hereunder are not to be construed as admissions of liability on the part of the party or parties hereby released and that the parties deny liability and intend merely to avoid litigations and buy their peace.”

    They are basically saying “Hey, we know there’s no way we can prove you did it. So, for 1,500 you can buy your piece of mind that we won’t make you hire an expensive lawyer.”

    What shysters. I think anyone who gets this new demand letter ought to consider filing it away in case they ever do get named because this is just an outrageous statement. “Buy their peace.”

    I thought HDP was dead. Fresh ransom demands? Stupid.

  4. I like how they have lowered their extortion amount to only $1500 and if you act now you can get by with 3 monthly payments of only $500! What a deal. They really are grasping for straws now since their initial offer was $3400. Then I read that ruggiero was sending out settlement demands of $6000. I guess they are getting pretty desperate to try and pay the bills, just more reason to totally ignore them.

    • I really do wonder how much longer this extortion would have went on had they just offered settlements of 1000-1500 from the start. It seems like they could have avoided a lot of problems by doing so.

      • Interesting transcript. I don’t see where it says in the transcript that he has given them money in the past though in that particular transcript. I am probably stupid and missed it though.

          • Seriously what the fuck is wrong with these people it’s like Satan himself sucked out their souls and…did whatever Satan does with souls of the living heh. They want $4,000 this badly? I can’t even believe the judge is allowing this shit to go on. “Yeah the Doe is actually dead, but we’re suing someone!”

            “Plaintiff discovered that the [registered internet subscriber associated with the IP address at issue] is in fact dead. …. Plaintiff is currently in the process of communicating with the family of the deceased subscriber to the internet service associated with [the relevant IP address].”

          • This isn’t anything new. The RIAA themselves have found no qualms with suing the dead on at least two occasions.

          • Yeah but the RIAA actually litigation as opposed to what Prenda is doing…harassing the shit out of the family of a deceased person for a couple thousand dollars. As I’ve said all along, NO ONE is off limits. They would gladly sue a blind man for downloading porn even though he lives alone, doesn’t have a wireless network, and submitted his computer for “forensic analysis” and nothing is found…they’d still harass him and threaten. “Defendant had CCleaner to wipe his hard drive (even though it does not do that), CD burning software to make DVDs filled with our client’s material and distribute it, a bittorrent client to download client’s material, yada yada.”

          • There is a story (maybe more) about the RIAA suing the dead.
            The story I like to recount is they served a man who was dying of cancer. He spent his last days on this planet fighting them, rather than being able to focus on the end of his life. The RIAA lawyers submitted documents to the court “allowing” the family a few days to grieve when he passed away. They told the court he wanted to settle, which was untrue and then wanted to question the whole family. There was a mention in an answer filed by the man who passed away that plaintiff’s counsel had called him and masqueraded as some sort of settlement person violating ethics rules.

            Blind man has been sued by trolls. He settled because he is a “computer security professional” who at the time of the alleged infringement had an open wifi router running. The damage to his career would have been devastating over a simple mistake. They moved or the router they had died so he sent his wife to get a new one at Best Buy (or such) and she set it up… he forgot to check her work.

            Never ever underestimate how low lawyers are willing to go to get paid.

          • Never ever underestimate how low lawyers are willing to go to get paid.

            I think the issue with Steele/Prenda/Anti-Piracy Law Group is that people OVERESTIMATE how low some lawyers are willing to go. I think this is why they’ve been so successful at collecting settlements. Regular people have zero idea what powers lawyers have, so they view lawyers and anything they send as extremely authoritative, this-is-how-it’s-gunna-be, end of your financial life type stuff.

            When I read some of the comments on these blogs, the people who say they’ve decided to settle are because they don’t want lawyers to turn their life upside down. They proclaim their innocence but they envision the jackboots of a SWAT team busting down their door. Police cuffing them and all their belongings and their lives scrutinized. Yeah, you aren’t guilty of piracy – but what WILL they find? This is why people have even threatened suicide, among other things.

            Come to think of it, I would wager that at least one or more people have killed themselves over this. To delve into that thought would be an exercise in hyperbole, though. I have a strong feeling, though, that these trolls have blood on their hands. They just don’t know it. Would they even care if it was proven they did? Doubtful.

            I digress: People shouldn’t underestimate trolls. However, they shouldn’t overestimate them, either.

          • Part of the reason for how I speak to/about these trolls is to show people the lawyers aren’t gods. Many of the people they target were always taught to trust authority, and this is being abused over and over and over.

            I’m very familiar with the story you linked to about a suicide threat, it was a comment on Slashdot that had I not expanded all of the comments and been reading most likely wouldn’t have been seen. There is a difference I can’t explain in reading that and reading a 17 yr old saying if they out me to my parents I’ll kill myself. Both strike a chord in me, but one concerned me more than the other. I’ve spoken with many people privately and had to talk them off the ledge. Its one thing to see someone say a single line about suicide and seeing a post that is calculated and thought out.
            That story was posted not only to get help for AAC, who felt terribly alone and scared, but for every other person who doesn’t speak up about their terror. It was posted in under 10 minutes of being read, and there was immediate help offered… we waited with breath held hoping AAC would take my advice and come to FCT. AAC did turn up, got help in dealing with the scum and educated about how the scam works. At the last check-in AAC was doing much better.

            The blood on the hands is very likely given the number of people targeted. One also can’t forget the ‘issues’ that might exist when the troll tells someone well even if you didn’t do it your responsible because someone in your house had to have done it. No basis for that allegation but someone terrified of being on the hook for $150K and given someone to blame it on… I can see there being violence.

            These cases have much collateral damage that people don’t consider… we don’t always talk about it, but maybe its time we should.

          • i actually had to keep reminding myself that “i am innocent” because it’s very easy to start letting your imagination run wild (“what if they can control my computer and they put the files on there hidden somewhere?” “what if they forensically examine my computer and pay the guys to report they found something?” etc.). i would start to hyperventilate and then remember that “this is exactly how they WANT me to feel – scared and ready to settle”.
            i have said this elsewhere but i’ll repeat it, i was so distressed that my blood pressure was high (something that i had NEVER experienced in my life) and my doctor was very concerned I would have a stroke. My attorney made note of this in my “answer” to the trolls and if my case goes further you can bet that my doctor will have documentation of my decline in health due directly to the stress of this predatory lawsuit. i told my family that if I DO have a stroke they (my family) better sue the bastard trolls for millions of dollars! I just think about people who are already of frail health (like my mother) and if she were threatened by these trolls then honestly i believe it would kill her.

  5. Now if only the copyright trolls & adult movie producers had one Ring that Scott Flaherty could just toss into the fires of Mount Mordor and make them all go away forever!…

  6. I don’t know if it matters, but I did find this funny. I was attempting to look for a picture of Paul Pilcher for SJD, and I found a business profile page for HDP. It lists their SIC code as 7379, Computer Related Services.

    Oh a whim, I decided to see if there was a SIC code for “pornography”. There isn’t. But when I looked at other companies, there is one for adult entertainment. And just about every time I searched for variations of “porn” and “SIC codes” I always got companies that used 7922-27 for adult entertainment. And that includes what seems like several porn streaming sites (one was listed

    I’m sure its probably nothing, but I did find it interesting. But here’s what I found for HDP (I’m sure it’s already known.)

    Hard Drive Productions Inc Business Information
    Business Information
    Location Type Single Location
    Annual Revenue Estimate $2,200,000
    Employees 3
    Years in Business 17
    State of Incorporation Arizona
    SIC Code 7379, Computer Related Services, NEC
    NAICS Code 541512, Computer Systems Design Services

    • This is what 7379 designates:

      7379 Computer Related Services, Not Elsewhere Classified

      Computer consultants
      Data base developers
      Data processing consultants
      Disk and diskette conversion services
      Disk and diskette recertification services
      Requirements analysis, computer hardware
      Tape recertification service

      Whereas, 7922 is for Theatrical Producers and Services, with the -22 designating adult entertainment.

      Given that porn production is illegal in AZ, I guess it is no wonder that Pilcher classified his business as either data processing or database development.

      • A fact that AG Horne (Arizona) I’m sure is well aware of 🙂 He’s gotta be just biding his time, waiting to really fuck up Paul Pilcher’s world. That’s the only possible reason he’s waited so long and is still waiting, even after the FBI cracked that independent contractor working for HDP for kiddie porn, Horne did nothing….or maybe he is doing something, who knows I like surprises though hehe.

    • HDP need to come out publicly and state that they are going to sue any of the 1495 and call Prenda or whatever they are calling themselfs now off. If not we need to begin several actions against HDP. Just my opinion.

    • I have a feeling that this former Doe exited the negotiation room with something more than a covenant not to sue. Pilcher is in a situation when publicity over potentially illegal porn production is extremely harmful to him. As a matter of fact, any publicity is extremely harmful. I linked to his youtube video (depicting his posh life: a mansion on the hill, ferraris etc.), and the next day it became private.

      Don’t treat the above speculation a a hint… Oh, wait a minute…

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  9. I’m not sure what you mean by “¹Technically, pornography production is illegal in the state of Arizona.” No court in Arizona has ever ruled that pornography is prostitution. Bill Montgomery and Sheriff Joe Arpaio are well aware of who produces pornography in Arizona, but have consistently refused to prosecute them under current laws. Why? Probably because Bill Montgomery knows the court ruling would go the way of the California v Freeman case.

    • This is what I mean by “technically.”

      13-3502. Production, publication, sale, possession and presentation of obscene items; classification

      A person is guilty of a class 5 felony who, with knowledge of the character of the item involved, knowingly:

      1. Prints, copies, manufactures, prepares, produces, or reproduces any obscene item for purposes of sale or commercial distribution.

      2. Publishes, sells, rents, lends, transports or transmits in intrastate commerce, imports, sends or causes to be sent into this state for sale or commercial distribution or commercially distributes or exhibits any obscene item, or offers to do any such things.

      3. Has in his possession with intent to sell, rent, lend, transport, or commercially distribute any obscene item.

      4. Presents or participates in presenting the live, recorded or exhibited performance of any obscene item to the public or an audience for consideration or commercial purpose.

      So, technically, I’m correct. Whether the laws on the book violate First Amendment or not and why the said laws are not enforced, worth discussing, yet it is beyond my capacities at the moment.

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