back to article Judge hands copyright troll an epic smack-down

In a judgement peppered with criticism for the various entities clustered around the troll-machine known as Prenda Law, a US judge says the court “went to battlestations” and has passed information to various US agencies for investigation. The judgement is peppered in equal parts with Star Trek references and unflattering …

COMMENTS

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  1. jake Silver badge

    Tee-hee.

    Mayhap the legal system is starting to catch a few clues :-)

    1. Shannon Jacobs
      Holmes

      Fraid not

      All it proves is that Prenda Law wasn't smart enough and rich enough to bribe the right (AKA cheapest) politicians. I'm not saying that most businesspeople are bad. Most of them just want to play the game by the rules--but the rules are encoded into law by the most cheaply bribed politicians working for the greediest and least ethical businessmen... If there were only enough law firms of the ilk of Prenda, you can bet they would have lobbied to legalize their scam. Their only "sin" was that they weren't big enough. You know, to the point where you're basically compelled to become more evil over time just to survive.

      1. Psyx
        Stop

        Re: Fraid not

        "All it proves is that Prenda Law wasn't smart enough and rich enough to bribe the right (AKA cheapest) politicians."

        What do politicians have to do with the judgements made under Common Law?

        If you're going to slate your legal system, at least try to understand it first.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Happy

          Re: Fraid not

          "What do politicians have to do with the judgements made under Common Law?"

          Surprising question. Is it what do politicians have to do with judges, or what do politicians have to do with any law? And if it is both as you have worded, wouldn't it be everything? Yeh, so I'm bullshitting you a bit, but I can't see how politicians wouldn't be able to pull the strings of judges.

          With verdicts like this, it could be very quickly chalked up as a win for Mrs. Justice. However, if I stop and look around, I'll notice an alarming sum of patent lawsuits happening. Some of these lawsuits have billion dollar price tags on them, seems like they are Weapons of Massive Corporations (W.M.C.'s :-). So I have to wonder, is it really that the courts didn't know of such corrupt business practices, or is that the big boys want a bigger share of the pie, so time has come to knock out the little players?

          As you can tell, I like to play antagonist. But can you state honestly, positively and undoubtedly that you don't at all think or feel, for even a second, that there is something a little "off" about the timing of all this?

    2. LarsG
      Meh

      Blackmail

      Pure and simple coercion.

      Jail time perhaps?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Same thing

      Same thing happened here in the UK, and that can to a sticky end.....

      I believe he is being sued.

      1. Steve Knox Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Same thing

        Same thing happened here in the UK, and that ca[me] to a sticky end.....

        Wait... are you talking about the lawsuits, or the torrenting of porn?

    4. keithpeter
      Pint

      Re: Tee-hee.

      "Born in Tuskegee, Alabama,[1] Wright received a B.A. from California State University at Los Angeles in 1976 and a J.D. from Southwestern Law School in 1980. He was in the United States Marine Corps from 1963 to 1966, remaining in the United States Marine Corps Reserve until 1969. He was a deputy sheriff in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department from 1969 to 1980. He was a deputy attorney general in the Office of the Attorney General, California Department of Justice from 1980 to 1983. He was in private practice in Los Angeles, California from 1983 to 2005." -- wikipedia

      Given his place of birth, and subsequent career, Judge Wright probably has plenty of clues.

  2. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Beers for all...

    As per title.

  3. Esskay
    Thumb Up

    The IRS...

    Now it's Prenda Law's turn to prove their innocence.... I get the feeling the IRS was thrown in there to make them squirm, the real pain is still coming.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The IRS...

      "I get the feeling the IRS was thrown in there to make them squirm, the real pain is still coming."

      You are kidding. I'd rather have ebola. If the IRS get serious they'll get stuck so up your ass that anyone managing to extract them will be crowned king of the Britons.

      1. Doctor Evil

        Re: The IRS...

        King of the who???

        1. gerryg

          Re: The IRS...

          I assumed it was a picturesque reference to removing Excalibur from the stone

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The IRS...

            "I assumed it was a picturesque reference to removing Excalibur from the stone"

            But it wasn't Excalibur that was removed from the stone - Arthur got Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake - a.k.a. the "sword-flinging watery tart".

        2. Adrian Midgley 1

          Re: The IRS...

          Arthur. Python.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The IRS...

        Funny some things unite us ... HMRC have a similar reputation in the UK. I really would rather have root canal treatment sans anaesthetic than have them sniffing around again (3 years and £3,000 pounds spent by me that resulted in absolutely nothing).

        1. Gio Ciampa

          Re: The IRS...

          re: "3 years and £3,000 pounds spent by me that resulted in absolutely nothing"

          You should have told them you worked for Goldman Sachs (or Vodafone, etc...) - they'd have bent over backwards to help out then!

    2. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: The IRS...

      I was wondering when they would get around to following the money trail. Then we might find out who Salt marsh actually is.

  4. 0_Flybert_0
    Mushroom

    "They’ve discovered the nexus of antiquated copyright laws, paralyzing social stigma, and unaffordable defense costs.”

    I think we need Judge Wright to take a look at the MPAA's and RIAA's *legal* abuse .."the only enterprise they resemble is RICO."

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The scum fleecing the dumb

    There is no end to what unscupulous paid liars will do for money. As for those viewing pirated porn or any other copyright protected works, they too will be held accountable. Just because a patent troll is repremanded doesn't mean those viewing or downloading pirated porn will escape punishment and public exposure. If you're dumb enough to pirate you're dumb enough to go to jail. Japan has the proper approach with mandatory jail time of 2 yrs. for piracy plus large fines.

    1. moiety

      Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

      Wow.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Once more, with feeling (was: Re: The scum fleecing the dumb)

        WOW!

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      Fail.

    3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

      As for those viewing pirated porn or any other copyright protected works, they too will be held accountable

      First off, I don't think Prenda actually prosectuted anyone for copyright infringement, so none of its targets have been found guilty in a court of law. I believe that once a defendant started to put up a defence, they backed off. (Sorry, can't find the source for this right now)

      Second, the Ars Technica has an interesting excerpt from the Judge's order:

      "[Prenda] offer to settle—for a sum calculated to be just below the cost of a bare-bones defense."

      Prenda's aim does not appear to have been to prosecute people for copyright violations: It was just a scheme to make money. Hence the Judge's suggestion that:

      "[Prenda] boldly probe the outskirts of law, the only enterprise they resemble is RICO."

      No mater what you think of the current copyright rules and the MPAA/RIAA, copyright violation is a crime. But so is blackmailing people.

      1. Feldagast
        Pirate

        Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

        So is entering the US illegally, yet they propose amnesty, its not IF its a crime its IF and which political party can gain by it.

      2. Andrew Norton
        Thumb Down

        Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

        "First off, I don't think Prenda actually prosectuted anyone for copyright infringement, so none of its targets have been found guilty in a court of law. I believe that once a defendant started to put up a defence, they backed off. (Sorry, can't find the source for this right now)"

        Wrong.

        I know of at least one case where they went for it, and got a default judgement. Of cours,e less than a week later, the defendant had got his stuff together, hired an attorney and filed a response and a request to re-open the case. That was 2 months ago. Then Prenda decided to drop the suit (after getting a default win, just after the March hearing, and before the judge ruled on re-opening) so there was a sanctions motion filed. that's still ongoing, with the prenda lawyer firing any and all personal attacks on the defendants lawyer possible. The latest document there should be filed today

        *disclaimer* I've been working with said defense lawyer.

        1. Oninoshiko

          Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

          If you are working with a defense lawyer, I woud assume you know exactly what a default judgement is:

          One party shows up, the other doesn't. The one that showed up automatically wins.

          When the other party DID show up, they dropped the suit. That sounds EXACTLY like: "I believe that once a defendant started to put up a defence, they backed off."

          yes, there where declared guilty, but decided to drop when there was even a whiff of a defense. In that case Prenda would have been in a BETTER position, because they already had a default judgement. I've never heard of a judge allowing a case to be re-opened after a default judgement exempting cases where notice was improperly (not)given or possibly some kind of act of god.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

        "No mater what you think of the current copyright rules and the MPAA/RIAA, copyright violation is a crime."

        Downloading -civil offence.

        Uploading (including torrents ) - criminal offence.

        Which is why Prenda can try stunts like this.

      4. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

        You might find the reference here: http://www.popehat.com/

        They have covered this saga very well.

    4. Buckaroo_Banzai
      Paris Hilton

      Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

      Isn't one of the questions as yet unanswered by courts in the US is whether porn actually even is a copyrightable work?

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Buckaroo_Banzai (Re: The scum fleecing the dumb)

        "Isn't one of the questions as yet unanswered by courts in the US is whether porn actually even is a copyrightable work?"

        No. Porn is, in general, an "original work" (::snort::), and thus if I take a picture (or a series of pictures) of one or more people doing whatever local custom declares "porn", I own the copyright.

        Even if the "porn" variation of the day is illegal in any given jurisdiction, I might ad.

        I'm not a porn aficionado, but that's one hell of a slippery slope ...

        1. Captain Save-a-ho
          Coat

          Re: @Buckaroo_Banzai (The scum fleecing the dumb)

          I'm not a porn aficionado

          Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.

        2. Blubster

          Re: @Buckaroo_Banzai (The scum fleecing the dumb)

          @Jake

          "I'm not a porn aficionado, but that's one hell of a slippery slope ..."

          As the actress said to the bishop.

    5. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

      Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

      ....Coo... Someone rode the special bus to the forum today, didn't they. Would you like some crayons for your next post?

    6. Oninoshiko
      FAIL

      Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

      Just because a patent troll is repremanded doesn't mean those viewing or downloading pirated porn will escape punishment and public exposure.

      Who said anything about patents?

    7. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

      <troll alert>

      MAFIAA stooge alert

      </troll alert>

    8. JLV Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

      > Japan has the proper approach with mandatory jail time of 2 yrs. for piracy plus large fines

      Happy to see your tax dollars/pounds/euros/drachmas providing shelter for 2 years for what is essentially the equivalent of petty shoplifting? Followed by a criminal record that will ensure the guilty party will only get crappy jobs and be a burden to society?

      Who benefits, except the incarceration industry and an entertainment industry too thick to provide digital content in a customer-friendly way?*

      * Four effin' years and I still cant' get mp3s legally from Amazon, since I live in Canada and we need to protect our Celine Dions.

      1. Eguro
        Stop

        Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

        We could just refer to the honourable Judge in the discussion of whether or not they did much actual prosecution:

        "5. For defendants that refused to settle, the Principals engaged in vexatious

        litigation designed to coerce settlement. These lawsuits were filed using boilerplate

        complaints based on a modicum of evidence, calculated to maximize settlement

        profits by minimizing costs and effort.

        6. The Principals have shown little desire to proceed in these lawsuits when

        faced with a determined defendant. Instead of litigating, they dismiss the case. When

        pressed for discovery, the Principals offer only disinformation—even to the Court.

        [...]

        10. The Principals ordered Gibbs to commit the following acts before this

        Court: file copyright-infringement complaints based on a single snapshot of Internet

        activity; name individuals as defendants based on a statistical guess; and assert a

        copyright assignment with a fraudulent signature. The Principals also instructed

        Gibbs to prosecute these lawsuits only if they remained profitable; and to dismiss

        them otherwise."

        So yeah - they'd threaten with lawsuits until you paid up, or the balance tipped to the point of it becoming a waste of their time.

        Also not that they did not conduct sufficient investigations before threatening a lawsuit and - for those of you seeking infaaarmation on copyright issues in general the good judge includes this nugget:

        "Without better technology, prosecuting illegal BitTorrent activity requires

        substantial effort in order to make a case. It is simply not economically viable to

        properly prosecute the illegal download of a single copyrighted video."

        Make of it what you will.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The scum fleecing the dumb

      I don't see a logical reason why spelling errors should be so much more grating in a sanctimonious rant than in any other text, but somehow ...

  6. tkioz
    Trollface

    So when can we get this judge on the US supreme court? Having people with a clue there might be a good idea...

    1. Gav
      Facepalm

      I don't know. He speaks good sense, but I think he might find himself taken a whole lot more seriously if he didn't fill his judgements with dorky Star Trek references.

      1. MrMur
        Thumb Up

        Upvoted because IMHO the Star Trek stuff devalued the comments.

      2. Wang N Staines

        Only nerds would think that phrase originated from geeky movies.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    It's called "Suing for peace," as anyone whose read the novel "Edged Weapons" would know

    And on this scale I'd say these guys are a Racketeering Influenced or Controlled Organisation.

    Remember Al Capone went down for tax evasion, not killing or having killed anyone.

    Thumbs up to the judge. The IRS should be involved.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: The IRS should be involved.

      The only words in the US more feared than

      "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you,"

      are

      "I'm from the IRS and I'd like to see your tax return."

  8. TeeCee Gold badge
    Coat

    "...or be outed as the kind of person who would torrent porn."

    There are people who don't torrent porn?

    This is the same internet we're talking about, right?

    1. jake Silver badge

      @TeeCee(was: Re: "...or be outed as the kind of person who would torrent porn.")

      "There are people who don't torrent porn?"

      I don't. In fact, I can't remember exactly the last time I actually viewed porn online. Probably 1985ish, and that was accidental. As a human, pixels have never titillated me.

      1. Esskay
        Joke

        Re: @TeeCee(was: "...or be outed as the kind of person who would torrent porn.")

        The resolution has increased dramatically since then; you won't even notice the pixels!

        1. jake Silver badge

          @Esskay (was: Re: @TeeCee(was: "...or be outed as the kind of person ...))

          They are still only pixels, Esskay, and not even close to a substitute for reality.

        2. Version 1.0 Silver badge
          Unhappy

          @Esskay "you won't even notice the pixels"

          However the razor burn does show up very nicely.

          Porn has changed over the years and, as a lad who once was more than happy to stick the pages of Penthouse together, I find that Internet porn has become so boring as to be completely devalued. The Internet has done for porn what Justin Bieber has done for music.

          1. Mike Moyle Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: @Esskay "you won't even notice the pixels"

            "The Internet has done for porn what Justin Bieber has done for music."

            Auto-tuned porn? The mind boggles.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @TeeCee(was: "...or be outed as the kind of person who would torrent porn.")

        @jake .. dude, still so po faced ..

        Mind you, if 1985 was the last time you looked at porn online that might explain things. It was a tragic time. I had to keep a couple of magazines around to keep me busy while waiting for alt.sex to download ..

        1. jake Silver badge

          @nico (was: Re: @TeeCee(was: "...or be outed as the kind of person who would torrent porn."))

          I'm po faced because I have had an active & happy RealLife sex life for over 40 years? Can you understand why I might suggest that you get out a trifle more? There are plenty of MOTAS out there that are jonesing for good, old fashioned, sweaty, git yer yah-yahs out sex. But you'd have to leave your mummys basement to find them ...

          Porn, for me, isn't even close to a suitable substitute for the real thing. Never has been, not even when I was the proverbial 14 year old teenage boy.

          I find it completely tragic that I'm probably going to get several dozen downvotes for this post.

    2. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: "...or be outed as the kind of person who would torrent porn."

      I remember a porn star saying that she only felt exploited when people pirated her work.

    3. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

      Re: "...or be outed as the kind of person who would torrent porn."

      I don't torrent porn. Or download it via HTTP either.

      They're not fast enough.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    torrenting porn is not a good idea

    Its quite likely to have a nasty itchy something in there that your computer wont thank you for, just like a cheap or popular lady of negotiable virtue.

    Isn't there enough free porn out there... i dont torrent it, i dont pay for it... i just google it.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: torrenting porn is not a good idea

      "i just google it."

      Somehow you think that googling it will stop all the nasties?

      The mind boggles ...

  10. Conrad Longmore
    Facepalm

    The tip of a very big iceberg

    This is the tip of a very big iceberg with Prenda Law. If you want to know how they got to the state that a US judge basically takes the piss out of them, the full story can be found at Popehat - http://www.popehat.com/tag/prenda-law/. You will need a lot of popcorn.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to whack off to teletype pics of Bridgit Baudot.

    Hand me my Viagra and that roll of punched tape son, I'm off to the lav...

  12. FuzzyTheBear
    Pint

    Morning coffee never tasted best

    Reading that judgment with a warm coffee is the treat of the day !

    This is one of those times where we can all raise hands and shout Alleluiah !

    Really , facing the bar , the irs , criminal charges has a sweet sound to it.

    That sends a strong signal to other entities watching the show that were inspired by those crooks. Now , i can watch the movie with peace of mind ..

    I mean , not that i would torrent pr0n movies off the internet ..

    This is getting awkward , better shut up ;)

    Where's that beer ?

  13. bag o' spanners
    Devil

    In lawyerspeak, this definitely qualifies as "hearse chasing"

    1. Knochen Brittle
      Happy

      or ...

      'Operation Footbullet'

  14. tweell

    Prenda Law has ceased to be

    Judge Wright's sanctions 'calculated to be just below the cost of a decent defense' was a nice touch. He sent his judgement to every judge hearing a Prenda Law case in the USA, the bar associations, RICO (we can confiscate your car, house, bank account) and IRS CID. The Spanish Inquisition, etc. have nothing on IRS CID.

    Prenda Law is dead, finito, an ex law firm. It's pinin' for the fjords (or any country without an extradition treaty).

  15. Blofeld's Cat
    Coat

    Sentence...

    The sentence for these offences should presumably be "life"...

    ... but not as we know it.

  16. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Inquiring minds need to know

    Noun - he is a Prenda

    Verb - she just prendaed

    Expletive - Oh Prenda!

    Which will it become?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Inquiring minds need to know

      A noun.

      What do you charge to Prenda?

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Meh

    I take everything I see on the internet at face value.

    If a middle aged man with broadband internet access says he's never seen any pr()n of course I believe him.

  18. Donald Becker

    From the deposition, AF Holdings paid $0 for the copyright they were suing over.

    Now this was likely a bit of a lie. They transferred the copyright ownership to a trust in Nevis (an overseas tax and identity have), and transferring something of value would have raised tax issues.

    But still, they actually stated in a deposition that it was a worthless copyright. The settlement letters wanted $3K right away, or more later, and stated that up to $150K plus legal fees would be cost in court. For a copyright that cost them nothing.

    It's likely that the value of the movie was actually pretty low. Apparently it was a very low budget movie, and they have limited shelf life. Fans of the specific actors buy copies in the few weeks after release, and almost no copies are sold later. So after making a single pressing of a few thousand, the right to make additional copies has little commercial value.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For the full story: Popehat

    see http://www.popehat.com

    Those who have not been following the story there, from the beginning, should prepare themselves by telling the office that they won't be in for a week, ordering a large case of popcorn, telling the family they must not be disturbed and settling down for a saga of epic proportions.

    1. Fatman Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: .. settling down for a saga of epic proportions.

      I read through a lot of that, and I am amused at the cheekiness of those swine!!!!

      I really hope the IRS and the US Attorney's Office gets involved; and a few people do some serious hard time. In some commentary at a different site on that subject, was a suggestion that this saga might inspire a (pr0n) movie.

      I suggest a potential title for it: Getting The Shaft, When What Goes Around Comes Back To Bite You In The Ass. I know, it's a bit tl;dr, but, what the hell!!!

      Truly delicious karma would be judges in other parts of the country where Prenda Law cases are pending dismiss them with prejudice, and award attorneys fees to the defendants. Cumulatively, those awards could be staggering.

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