Ghosts from the past. 4:Twenty Media lawsuit revisited
Shortly after I publicized this shakedown campaign, Peiffer quickly bailed out, and Paul Lesko of Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC (Alton, IL) took over.
This was the first Paul Lesko’s copyright trolling experience. Apparently, Paul was overwhelmed by the taste of easy money and started actively cooperating with the Germans, handling bittorent lawsuits for porn and non-porn plaintiffs. I still experience some kind of cognitive dissonance when thinking about this guy: he is the head of the intellectual property department in a big lawfirm that handles billions of dollars, and yet he finds it OK to shake down his compatriots over low-budget pornography.
I digress; back to “Teen Anal Sluts.” Given the salacious title, the settlement rate was high and this undertaking made around a hundred thousand dollars. The loot lasted for eight months until Judge Michael Hill severed all the Does but one, effectively killing the lawsuit.
Of course we tried to find out who the “plaintiff” 4:Twenty Media was. The information was scarce: all we had was the copyright registration, according to which the company with a cheek-in-tongue name¹ (or a middle-finger-behind-the-back, if you want) was purportedly incorporated in Seychelles. We failed to find any evidence that this “masterpiece” was ever offered for sale.
Big thanks to a community member (he opted to remain anonymous), who made an inquiry and obtained the following certificate from the Seychelles authorities. To be frank, I hoped that this shell company was not even registered (like Prenda’s St. Kitts and Nevis shells), but it appeared that the trolls did bother to register despite the fact that pornography is illegal in Seychelles.
Even if the company was formally registered, it is obviously a pure shell: it declared zero shares, provided a non-existent address on the copyright registration (fraud on the copyright office?), and clearly was registered with a sole purpose of filing a single frivolous lawsuit in the United States. After two years of inactivity the company registration was struck off by the Seychelles Financial Services Authority. Finally, note that the ostensive rights holder — Christoph Petznick — is possibly connected to the German trolling factory (as you will find out below).
The German cobweb
The “expert” who filed a declaration in this case is Matthias Schroeder Padewet, a self-described Vice President of Copyright Defenders, Inc., a.k.a Excubitor (his colleague Ralph Pytlik lists both company names in his LinkedIn profile, yet it’s not the only link between these two entities).
Domain name registration of copyright-defenderes.com shows a Nevada address, but it was not always like this. The last update was made on 4/18/2012 – after the lawsuit in question reverberated on the net. Prior to that the registered agent was…
registrant-organization: Excubitor UG
registrant-street1: Kaiserstr. 132
So, we see “Excubitor” here, as well as Karlsruhe — the troll capital of Germany.
Now, looking at the address, we easily find that Padewet’s family business — a music instrument store — was located there until 6/30/2012.
The search for the name of the purported rights holder Cristoph Petznik only yields one result — an orchestra administrator in Badisches Staatstheater in.. [drumroll] Karlsruhe. Is this servant of Music an active participant in the shakedown conspiracy or a Guardaley’s version of Alan Cooper? I have no idea.
Now, tell me: am I wearing a tinfoil hat?
It is, alas a long shot given the air of unaccountability that outdated laws and busy courts produce and copyright trolls breathe, but I think that despite the fact that two years have passed, this case warrants a revision, preferably in the form of a class action lawsuit against the trolls. I only glanced down the rabbit hole: no doubt professional investigators can find more instances of actionable wrongdoing.
¹ “420” looks like a reference to a slang name for marijuana, or it can be a veiled mention of Hitler’s birthday.
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