Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Prenda Law principal pleads guilty to federal charges in porn copyright case; ABA Journal, March 7, 2017

Stephanie Francis Ward, ABA Journal; 

Prenda Law principal pleads guilty to federal charges in porn copyright case

"A defendant in the Prenda Law case, which involved alleged shakedowns of people accused of illegally downloading pornography, pleaded guilty Monday to federal conspiracy charges of money laundering, mail fraud and wire fraud. 

John L. Steele, the defendant, previously bragged about earning millions from suing people for illegal downloads, the Star Tribune reports. Federal prosecutors claim that Steele and Paul Hansmeier, a Minneapolis attorney, created two fake businesses to acquire copyrights for the pornographic films, some of which they filmed themselves, and posted the materials to file-sharing websites. Then they and other lawyers filed John Doe lawsuits against the downloaders and subpoenaed Internet service providers to identify defendants.
The government asked for a sentence of eight to 10 years. But according to the Star Tribune, prosecutors could agree to something shorter if Steele cooperates with them, which presumably would involve testifying against Hansemeier.
Between April 2011 and December 2012, Steele and Hansmeier, along with lawyers who worked for them, collected more than $6 million in settlements, according to the article."

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