Copyright troll Prenda Law accused of seeding own torrents

Web of companies formed an end-to-end production, piracy and lawsuit-filing machine


Prenda Law – whose odious scam was to find porn downloaders, and humiliate them into a payoff with the threat of exposure – may have been dismembered by the US legal system, but there's still some fun to be had dancing on its grave.

Prenda's attorney principals John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, Paul Duffy, and Brett Gibbs have already been slapped with fines and been slapped down by the judiciary

Some associated cases still grind on, including that of First Time Videos vs Paul Oppold, and if even some of the some nifty forensics gathered for this case are true it makes for a delicious and fascinating look into the workings of a troll with a plan.

That plan? Well, at least some of the lawyers working at the disgraced firm, according to the recent filing, are accused of actually uploading the porn to peer-to-peer file-sharing programs themselves.

A filing by veteran Prenda opponent attorney Graham Syfert - made public on Techdirt - documents yet more forensic analysis of how the group went about its business.

Syfert asserts in the filing that Prenda was not merely looking for users downloading porn without licence: he alleges that lead attorney John Steele or his proxies were the originators of the files they were watching.

“Prenda Law also wants to/has formed/is forming a corporate structure where it is: pornography producer, copyright holder, pornography pirate, forensic investigator, attorney firm, and debt collector,” the filing states.

“Other than the omission of appearing in the pornography themselves, this would represent an entire in-house copyright trolling monopoly – not designed to promote their own works for distribution and sale, but to induce infringement of their works and reap profits seen from mass anti-piracy litigation”.

And why establish this elaborate superstructure?

According to Syfert in the filing: “Much like the plot of the 1968 Mel Brooks classic The Producers, a flop produced on a low budget and made freely available on bittorrent to future litigation targets could be more profitable than a fairly successful independent movie production.”

Syfert claims he's even turned up evidence that this was always the intent of the movies – not least because Prenda Law and yet another of its proxies, 6881 Forensics, allegedly knew enough of the BitTorrent protocol to make its downloads more attractive than others. The filing claims the firm attached BT_ALLOWED_FAST to the files it allegedly seeded.

“Such BT_ALLOWED_FAST messages are characteristic of a client that wishes to give out a file to as many people as possible,” the filing states.

And, as Techdirt notes, the files in question were seeded by BitTorrent user sharkmp4 before the world at large had ever heard of the movies they were supposedly illegally copying. The filing goes on to claim that the seeding was performed from the same IP address that Prenda's Steele had been using to access his GoDaddy account. In other words: Syfert is attempting to make the claim that - by allegedly seeding the files and trying to attract downloaders - it can be claimed that Steele "authorised" the downloads. ®


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