Prenda

Prenda is essentially done

We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Congratulations to everyone involved, especially Morgan and Nick.

Coverage

Followup

5/4/2015

Prenda appealed. Almost exactly two years later US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments. And it didn’t went well (to put it charitably) for Prenda and its principals.

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Discussion

121 responses to ‘Prenda is essentially done

  1. Essentially done.

    Blech, I know I’m being a party pooper, but that seems to have been the anthem for about a year now.

    What’s to stop them from forming another “law firm” and doing this from the shadows again?

    I really want to see them lose their license. Does anyone know how long those Bar investigations usually take?

    • In last friday’s discussion about a lawyer that got caught delivering drugs and a weapon to a client in jail, a lawyer mentioned that actions on a complaint to the Bar were taking 12-18 months in California.

    • Well they may not have their law licenses for long, so it’s going to be harder for them. Finding local counsel will be hard unless they local counsel is so dumb they don’t google their names.

      Plus, the feds are getting involved and all the lawyers out there are saying the IRS is the worse bit of it.

  2. possibly the best thing ever written (aside from the amazing star trek references a la “resistance is futile, red shirt, prime directive, collective, etc) is foot note 5 – “This punitive portion is calculated to be just below the cost of an effective appeal” in reference to their settlement dollar amounts just below the cost of a defense.

    The fact that he will notify every single judge they currently have a case in front of means that hopefully Steele et al will also get punished, but Gibbs just got a very hearty howdy-doo for a wedding gift from the Judge. Lets see if he tries to sue Prenda / AF Holdings / Etc to recover costs.

  3. High Fives to Everyone but especially to SJD and DTD who took the fight to Prenda early and never relented in exposing their pattern of abuse, lies and overall douchebaggery.

    • If you remember Seattle’s tv skit comedy group Almost Live!, this is a great moment for the High Fiving White Guys. 🙂 Thanks SJD and DTD.. 🙂

    • Ditto here, I sometimes wonder how many people will never know how you guys have helped keep them out of harms way.

  4. I have to say I am glad Judge Wright ruled as he did. I was hoping that he would recommended and refer this to state and federal AG’s. I love the IRS criminal division referral as a nice touch and rightly so, the IRS isn’t very fond of not getting their end from monies earned.

    I also like that Judge Wright brought up RICO here as well, because after doing a lot of reading The Prenda gang and their antics in this case and others sure seem to fit the definition of RICO in my opinion from what I have read of the requirements and past case history of some of those that have been charged/prosecuted under RICO statutes.

    Also nice to see that Judge Wright is going to make other courts aware of the shenanigans that have went on in these cases Judge Wright looked at. Ranallo and Pietz have definitely earned my respect for their valliant effort in exposing the Prenda gang antics and connecting the dots with Salt Marsh etc.

    I look forward to watching and seeing what Steele, Duffy, Gibbs, Hansmeier and Lutz do now to try and thwart having to pay this and with their various cases around the country. I envision a mass withdrawl of cases ariund the country to avoid any more damage.

    With that being said I would bet we will see a new effort and new names, LLC’s, new copyrights and more of the same. I doubt these guys are just going to quit. I would bet they keep trying to milk the copyright troll teat all they can. They are too addicted too the easy cash…I suspect we will see a little more friendly agreements between defense and plaintiff councils ( hint hint were we have seen this already )

    But good on Judge Wright… now lets see what happens in Florida when the Judge there get this information from Judge Wright in the Sunlust case..I would say Prenda’s pain isn’t over yet

    • Prenda has a mere handful of federal court cases left standing and their state shakedown suits are anyone’s guess but a sampling suggests they are also being dismissed. I do not see how at this point the scam can continue to perpetuate itself.

      • I sure hope your right Raul and we have seen the last of Prenda, but somehow I have a feeling these guys aren’t through with being at the trough yet. I think there is more to come yet, there is still the Florida case where Steele, Duffy and Lutz have to face the music and there is also Judge Chen in the SF case were they were supposed to turn over the ADR with Salt Marsh’s signature.

        Well at least the Judges in the Florida and SF cases will have Judge Wright’s notification 0of the antics in this case to come. Should be an interesting moment for us and a little agony yet to come for the Prenda gang. I sure am happy that Judge Wright mentioned RICO..

  5. Thank you to all those who fought. This is a major victory, which should be the first in several bar and criminal victories.

  6. Who would have known that Judge Wright was a Trekkie? $81K in attorney fees is much better than Evan Stone’s $10K in sanctions up in the N.D. Texas, However, the lack of a larger number — although disappointing — is certainly understandable because they would simply move the money out of the account and claim not to have the funds to pay.

    If there is anything that would scare me, it would be the IRS’ Criminal Investigations Division. If they did not pay taxes on all these millions in settlements, we will likely be seeing them soon in prison. If there is any group of people a criminal organization does not want to be investigated by, it is the CID. Oh yeah, and their bar licenses are now at risk.

    Interesting day.

    • I was thinking about this further. If you read the actual order with all the Star Trek “trekkie” references, I couldn’t help but to wonder why all the comedy in such a serious document. It occurred to me that the Trekkie references set a comedic tone which will help to insulate this order from being overturned at a higher level at some later point should they choose to appeal the order.

      Judge Wright also purposefully did not order a multi-million dollar sanction not because he was afraid Steele would move the money out of the account, but rather, because having such a low sanctions order and a “mere” referral to the IRS’ Criminal Investigation Division, to the state bar ethics committees, and to the Attorney General are gestures meant to discourage John Steele and his cohorts from appealing the order.

      Simply brilliant. This judge had my respect before. Now he has trebled it.

  7. I’m not sure what’s more thrilling: the fact that Judge Wright is a well versed Trekkie, or the fact that these guys are being to the criminal investigation division of the IRS. Oh well, regardless of anything else, there is a dark little corner of my soul that is bursting forth with sunshine and glee at this order. Best I’ve felt in over a year.

    • P.S. Does anybody know who exactly is “11 decks up?” I’m thinking there is an office 11 floors above the federal courtroom. Maybe? Any ideas on exactly to whom Judge Wright is referring?

      • Yes, he was just saying it in a star trek way… 11 decks up will refit them for their next voyage..

        translation:
        the federal prosecutors 11 floors up are already aware of prenda’s actions and will be embarking on the criminal phase of this saga

    • Plus, there was a reference to the Assistant US Attorney, eleven floors up, in the previous two appearances in Judge Wright’s courtroom–I believe in the first one in early March.

  8. Reblogged this on TorrentLawyer™ – Exposing Copyright Trolls and Their Lawsuits and commented:
    Sometimes there are no words other than silence to best express the thoughts I have about Judge Wright’s order essentially referring John Steele and the Prenda Law Inc. gang to the IRS’ Criminal Investigation Division (CID) for all the settlements on which no taxes were paid. There is one police agency that a criminal organization does not want to be contacted by, and that is the CID.

    The $81K in sanctions essentially funds the lead attorneys who spent time on this case. And, the referral to the bar associations means that the principals at Prenda Law Inc. may no longer have their law licenses shortly.

    In sum, there is not much for me to comment here, except to be silent, because the judge’s order itself says all it needs to. Copyright trolling may seem profitable for the attorneys filing the lawsuits, but no money can compensate for the loss of freedom that one experiences when what was once a multi-million dollar law practice lands the principles in prison for tax evasion. This should be a lesson to all other copyright trolls out there. Judge yourselves accordingly.

  9. Bravo, lets see what they try next. Its time this crap ends. The next target NEEDS TO BE LIPSCOMB! !! This guy is the root of all evil. That would essentially end this practice in the US.

  10. Next up, Gibbs and Duffy compose their mandatory letters to the State Bar of California self-reporting the fact that they were sanctioned at least $1,000…. And, at least in California, attorneys who are arrested on felony charges are placed on “involuntary inactive enrollment” pending automatic disbarment upon their conviction.

    Game, set, match.

  11. This is indeed outstanding news, news that I’ve been awaiting for a loooong time. There are a lot of people to thank for Judge Wright’s order, starting with Judge Wright himself. He “got it”. He saw through the lies and smelled the bullshit. Thank you, Your Honor.

    Morgan and Nick deserve kudos, as well as all of the Does who stood up to Steele, Paul Hansmeier, Duffy and Lutz. Perhaps none of them could claim a complete victory, but each chiseled away at the stone wall, which led to it’s fall. I’m sure there are countless others who had a hand in the trolls being dealt such a resounding smackdown, most of whom I probably completely unaware.

    Finally, I would like to personally thank DTD and SJD for providing a staggering amount of information and input on the subject at hand. I have followed both of your websites religiously, and frequently held my breath waiting for your next post. The fact that so many of the troll-fighting attorneys post comments on your sites should indicate the importance they’ve played.

    The shenanigans of Prenda, and other trolls, may not be completely over, but the trolls have been dealt a serious blow. Perhaps they’ll think twice before they file the next suit.

  12. OHAI SJD!
    OHAI GANG!
    We can has party now?!

    This is a high point not only for SJD, DTD, Raul, TAD, and every other “known” face around these parts. (and if I missed your name, I’m not leaving you out… I’m old and forgetful.)
    This is a win for the community.
    It is proof that a group of anonymous people can work together to help others.

    We won this battle, let us enjoy victory… but the war continues on many fronts.
    Let this day remind us that the wheels of Justice can move slowly, but they move… and we can make them move if we work together like we have been.
    Let word go forth to the trolls, Prenda is dead… long live Prenda…
    We now have more free time to look into other cases, filings, and misdeeds…
    If I were you trolls, I’d be scared shitless.

  13. It is appropriate that the legal justice system finally responded to these obvious, repeated abuses.

    The only downside is that the routine violations of intellectual property will now be more difficult to prosecute.

    If this is a precedent, perhaps even the many obviously innocent people who lost money and time and damaged reputations will get recompense, especially those who were adjudged innocent but were denied, as in my case, Attorney’s fees from the Plaintiff.

  14. So I wonder if those amongst us who are being sued by Duffy / Prenda and repped by the good folks at the EFF would like to use Judge Wright’s order as evidence in the defamation/ slander lawsuits that were launched against DTD, FCT, Godfread, Cooper and commenters.

    I don’t really see Duffy/Prenda pursuing those suits at this stage of the game. I cant see them wanting this scathing order coming up in that hearing. Mind you this is Prenda and they seem to like to huff and puff a lot, so one never knows.

    I am anxious to see what the Judge in the Sunlust case does with Judge Wrights information regarding the Prenda gang,,, especially Steele, Duffy and Lutz. That should produce some panic on the three of them.

    Duffy is already drowning in judgements, Steele might want to get that for sale sign for that beamer of his… and Lutz well they are hiring at Burger King..lol

  15. Simply put – the beginning to a brilliant end to a not-so-brilliant criminal enterprise. This is only Star Trek 1, I can’t wait until Star Trek 2 comes out, starring Lutz, Steele, and Duffy in a federal prison near you…

  16. ALL OF IT.

    Where is Buffy the Pirate Slayer?

    Spin it!

    SPIN.

    IT.

    You were right John, people got really good advice from this site, and we kept it up. Your the one who didn’t take it, and you just got dropkicked into the garbage by Lady Justice.

    Who are you going to threaten to sue now? That’s your only game, isn’t it? It’s getting a little played out.

    Fourteen Days.

    Then more trouble; you gonna pay or just dig that hole deeper? Try a desperate appeal?

    I can’t wait to see you guys again at the arraignment.

    • Personally I’m waiting for a special appearance by Brigham Feld. Or Colette. Or Sunny Leone. Or Mark London.

      People downloading their “creative works” is going to be the least of their problems. The backlash that they employed Prenda is going to be huge.

  17. Yo John Steele?

    I may just whack my pud in my basement tonight, using only Judge Wright’s order for stimulation.

  18. “The federal agency eleven decks up is familiar with their
    prime directive and will gladly refit them for their next voyage.”

    Welcome to the big leagues

  19. Jointly and severally liable…. I don’t know the collection process for such an award (others please chime in), but I expect Prenda doesn’t have the brains to pay it out of their millions and try to close out this part. I expect that the Assistant US Attorney that gets this criminal case will start to drool when he/she starts to calculate the vast number of various charges (multiples by cases and then by the number of Does) that will make this case a win-win situation for them. The fines that could be awarded in such a case are huge. Nothing makes an AUSA happier than large fines, recoveries, and solid conviction potential from a case. It will easily meet the case threshold – referral by a Federal judge, fraud upon the courts, false statements, mail/wire fraud, etc…). I expect the little people in the Prenda crew will become the targets at first. Gibbs is seeing that cutting a deal is starting to work (he will not get off free) – the others will follow suit. The Federal apparatus knows how to work well when it wants to. “The Sleeper has awakened!”

    DTD 🙂

    • The other shoe has yet to drop. I have a feeling there is a scramble of lawyers that are presenting lawsuits to various courts today asking for class status to reclaim all of the money, time, pain and suffering that the does have gone through. I’m almost positive there are attorney’s who have prepared documents for the court to this effect over the past few months to be “first in line” for the massive class action that is about to follow.

      Additionally, if the judge’s order survives legal tests, it will be the boilerplate judgement used against all of the remaining copyright trolls–regardless if it is porn or otherwise–to document and demonstrate an abuse of the court in this manner. The backlash will be harsh and again more so in the form of Does attaching themselves to class action litigation against this business model.

      This whole litigation business model is now at incredible risk and any attorneys considering or currently engaged in it are also at risk. It will go from an “isolated incident” to “widespread misuse of the courts”. Be afraid, be very afraid.

      • It’s gonna be a bloodbath, Wright just dumped a container ship full of chum in the water.

        Not that anyone will see much money, but there is a great opportunity to get an avalanche of judgments at relatively low cost, if only for good measure and to keep all the people responsible from ever earning a living without having to work to pay reparations for their behavior.

        If John Steele thought getting screwed over by his ex-wife was bad, he’s going to be in for a real treat once he gets out of jail and has to slave away to pay down all the fines and judgments that are coming, with a radioactive reputation and no career prospects. Deliciously ironic that going to law school and firing up this scheme was his brilliant idea for a second act in life.

        How will they defend the cases brought against them? These guys were already pleading the 5th in their civil suits, now with multiple criminal investigations pending, filing a lawsuit against Prenda or any of their lawyers, for any of the conduct relating to their litigation activities, is essentially a guaranteed default judgment.

        The two defamation suits they brought and foolishly failed to dismiss before counterclaims were filed are already going to be a nightmare. I can’t believe they got Paul Hansmeier to try to personally attach himself to one, even after the two Wright hearings. Shows just how incredibly stupid they are.

  20. Over on Popehat, I liked this Star Trek comment:
    ————–
    Of COURSE there are more Star Trek references. I’m surprised nobody has written this one up yet:

    “Harcourt! Harcourt Fenton J. Steele, have you been filing Doe suits again? You miserable sot!”

    “Jane Doe, shut up!”

    “Harcourt! You’ve been drinking again, and sending settlement letters…”

    “Harcourt! You’ve been making harrassing phone calls again…”

    “Five hundred! Judge Wright, you can’t DO this to me. It’s inhuman!”

    And so we leave Steele, marooned on an asteroid, surrounded by Does, all modelled after Judge Wright, bent on criticizing his every legal move.

    —“I, Mudd”

    • Adam must have crapped his pants last night.

      While he hasn’t been under the microscope yet, if there was collusion between him and Prenda the forthcoming rectal examinations will no doubt go deep enough to find it.

      It will be most telling to see if he unloads a barrage against Prenda using this ruling as ammunition, although Wright’s order that all courts and judges with pending Prenda cases be notified of his ruling may spare Adam from having to do a bit of work defending his clients. Given his “cooperative” defensive strategy thus far it seems unlikely that he will proactively use this to mount a defense, but maybe he is smart enough to realize he should put on a show of being a real defense attorney given what’s a stake.

      It is certainly not a good time to be an alleged partner in Prenda’s alleged racketeering.

  21. Congratulations to all! Drinks & high fives all around!

    This ruling is a delicious hot fudge sundae full of delicious goodness! I just have to say that footnote 5 is the delectable cherry on top. Assigning the sanctioned amount to be just below the cost of an effective appeal? Poetry.

  22. I hope the word is out to those that received demand letters from Paul Duffy Law Group in the LW Systems LLC v. Christopher Hubbard case. I’m sure given Paul Duffy’s character that he would still be glad to accept payment, even though he’s most likely about to be disbarred and put under federal criminal investigation. I feel sorry for the folks scraping together the money to pay him that aren’t aware of Judge Wrights ruling…

  23. I’m very happy that Judge Wright didn’t buy Gibbs’ little “I’m just a hired gun that didn’t do anything wrong” act. IMO, he needs to hang with the rest of them.

  24. Wait Wait Wait Prenda still has a move left in it’s game of 11 dimensional stupido chess. After thumbing your nose at a federal judge and threatening pretty much all of the internets, it seems the next strategic move is to file lawsuits against all judges, all bar associations, the IRS and all US Attorneys General.

    I anxiously await Forbes follow up article on John Steele from Kashmir Hill.

    • My opinion, not much at all.

      Wright clearly gets the copyright trolling aspects, and he clearly doesn’t like it, but he nor any other judge can do much about that beyond slow the trolls down with procedural technicalities. The underlying problem that enables everything else these trolls do is the insane statutory penalty and that’s on Washington to fix.

      This is a long overdue repudiation of Steele’s web of fraud, and lies, and I’m delighted to see it, but the copyright troll model with actual clients remains alive and well.

  25. Even though Prenda’s, et al., abuses have been blatant, excessive, egregious {all kinds of apt descriptors apply} misuses of the legal justice system, I predict they will challenge these court orders, etc., and get a partial or complete overturning of same. And they will continue with business as usual, with (very) minor modifications. I hope to be proven wrong on this! The American legal system is analogous to a law of nature: for every force applied, there is an equal and opposite force invoked. That is what enables lawyers to thrive. Every lawsuit taken to court means that two lawyers will be paid, sooner or later. Cynical? Yes! True? Yes! A “good” lawyer can keep a dispute going until all the non-lawyers are broke: financially and spiritually. Sigh. It would be nice if the lawyers would really police themselves, but it isn’t going to happen because meaningful enforcement of ethical and professional requirements would be “bad for business.”

  26. from apparently the only place he’ll talk to, XBIZ:

    ——-
    “Steele on Tuesday told XBIZ that he plans on appealing Wright’s order with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    “Obviously we don’t agree on the ruling,” Steele said. “Judge Wright based his order on an eight-minute hearing where there was no testimony, no evidence introduced. Clearly Judge Wright does not like this type of litigation and he’s no fan of intellectual property law.”
    ——–

    I mean, was the Judge just supposed to sit there and listen to silence for 3 hours after you plead the fifth?

  27. Ah, interesting, they will be appealing.

    That is a little unexpected. $81K seemed as if it is in the useful range. High enough to be painful, but low enough that it actually wasn’t worth the cost of an appeal. The 14 day period added to the pressure — it’s long enough to get the money together, but short enough to prevent them from being too creative.

    With their situation, I expect that any firm taking their appeal will require a substantial up-front payment. They aren’t going to write an appeal, and risk not being released from representing Prenda if it turns into a bigger case.

    An appeal might require them to post a bond for the full amount. If so, they have an additional decision. There is a fair chance that the appeal may cut the sanctions to $41K, but it will take $81K plus lawyer costs to play. If any of the four is certain they will be disbarred, they might choose to not to pay. The others will have to ante the additional share to appeal, knowing that they are certain to pay a heavier burden. But deciding to fold isn’t a pain-free option, since anyone unrepresented will be first under the bus.

    Upon further thought, I don’t see how their appeal is going to work. This is an unusual case. They are plaintiff lawyers that have been sanctioned after taking the fifth. Although the ruling says that Prenda is one and the same as the plaintiff, the sanctions are on the lawyers. Unless the appeal is on very narrow technicalities, the appeals court can reasonably ask for a statement from the lawyers. Who presumably will continue to take the fifth. Which can only lead to an adverse inference.

    Really, almost defense they can muster will fall down when the appeals judge asks
    “Were you acting on orders from the client?”
    “Who was the client?”
    “How did you receive those orders?”
    They can’t answer the first, because it naturally leads to the second and third — topics they have already invoked the fifth on.

    • You could say that Prenda is…

      ( •_•)
      ( •_•)>⌐■-■
      (⌐■_■)

      Running at lightspeed.

  28. Steele is ranting and raving about Judge Wright and Pietz… Read it below.

    http://business.avn.com/articles/legal/Sanctioned-Copyright-Lawyer-Says-He-Will-Appeal-Judge-s-Order-516284.html

    And get this Steele say’s LiveWire Holdings will be filing new cases this week! LMAO.. good luck with that John!

    And once again Steele is also saying he is not associated with Prenda Law…but yet he knows LiveWire Holdings is filing new cases. John ought to give Miss Cleo a call his Psychic abilities are uncanny!

    • Please be true.

      If Steele is going to push this the outcome will be that much more amazing. Hopefully these cases get filed in time for Nick and Morgan to include them in the list of judges informed of Wright’s order.

    • Im not sure but i swear i just saw Steele’s defence attorney down at the hardware store buying rope and duct tape.
      I think it was to tie him down and shut his mouth.
      He aslo mentioned have may have a few Shovels to sell. Hes goign to confiscate them all before Steele digs any deeper if ghe can……….

  29. I’m still pinching myself, wondering if it’s April Fool’s Day. The nasties have finally been recognized by the court, after months of harm caused to Does and others. But it seems real. Judge Wright’s opinion is learned and even restrained, given the extent of the misdeeds revealed (let alone the misdeeds still to be discovered).

    Keep your houndstooth caps on, troll repellers. Lipscomb, Siegal, Dunlap, Weaver, Lesko, and a long list of their associates have not yet faced the Court’s full scrutiny. Hopefully, the trolls gangs are shuddering about this ruling, while (angrily) shaking their fists at the Prenda missteps.

    I salute SJD, DTD, Raul, TAC, and many others. You have worked even more generously than the Prenda group has acted despicably. Mighty work indeed.

  30. Just got another call from Troll Lutz (How the number is named in my phone) from Prenda … oh … i mean “Duffy Lay group” … i didn’t answer but believe that it wasn’t to tell me they are dropping the Hubbard case in Illinois! 😉 P.S. the next hearing has moved up to May16th at 10am room 404 from the June 27th date … hmmm …. wierd.

  31. Re LW Systems (I originally put this on the IL page a few minutes ago.

    Just got clarification on the hearing for May 16th at 10am. Apparently this hearing only has to do with motion(s) by the ISPs themselves in this matter, and the hearing for consumers’ Motions to quash is still at this point scheduled for June 27th. in the process of obtaining the relevant order and will post it soon.

  32. Thanks for the clarification Mr. Antonelli. How much longer do you think this Illinois thing can last with the May 6th order?

    • I just posted a copy of the Notice regarding the May 16th hearing http://www.antonelli-law.com/LW_Systems_LLC.php

      How long can this last? Longer than you would like to believe, unless ARDC makes the extraordinary move of issuing an emergency suspension of the attorneys. That move would most likely stop the case in its tracks even though Plaintiff’s co-counsel is not named in judge Wright’s sanctions order.

      With the publicity given judge Wright’s recent order by the mainstream and other press, it may happen faster as follows. My feeling is that politically connected attorneys (none representing interested parties) are now seeing this case, who have the power to move things along and bring attention to ARDC and other enforcement bodies. Similarly, if the ISPs lose on May 16th an immediate appeal will be read by law clerks and justices that hear from the above lawyers and see the news, and public concern makes the LW Systems case and others so hot they cannot ignore it. But this is just my speculative opinion.

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