The Prenda Law Saga has finally turned criminal. John Steele and Paul Hansmeier were arrested Friday and charged with 18 counts of fraud, perjury, and money laundering in a wide-ranging indictment [.pdf]. Prosecutors allege "an elaborate scheme to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in copyright settlements by deceiving state and federal courts throughout the country". [more inside]
It's been a long time coming, but the Porn Trolling copyright lawyers of Prenda Law finally had (another) day in court, this time before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It went poorly.
To update followers of the Prenda Law porn-trolling copyright lawyers saga, Judge Wright has just issued a catastrophic order [.pdf] imposing sanctions and making criminal referrals, entertainingly littered with Star Trek references.
"Copyright Trolling" is a term used (by opponents of the practice) to describe copyright holders filing subpoenas to residential ISPs for the identities matched to IP addresses linked to content piracy. In this case, the piracy is often via BitTorrent networks, where peers can see each other's public IP addresses. Rather than filing suit after obtaining these identities, the content copyright holders attempt to extract settlements on the order of $2,000-3,000 from named ISP subscribers to avoid going to court. That's their plan anyway. The recent (and ongoing) story of Prenda Law demonstrates how turning the threat of copyright infringement lawsuits into a moneymaking venture (allegedly with a lawyer as both plaintiff -- through a shell company -- and counsel) can go very wrong for the "trolls"... [more inside]