Copyright extortionist ripped off his competitor's threatening material

John Steele, a notorious US lawyer who sent out thousands of extortionate copyright threats to alleged Bittorrent infringers, has been found to be in breach of copyright himself. Steele's website contains a FAQ for his victims, allegedly explaining US copyright law and why it means they should pay him (or else). This stilted text is a direct lift from one of Steele's competitors, The Copyright Enforcement Group, another leading copyright troll. CEG have vowed to pursue Steele for his infringement, and I can only hope that the two of them keep each other occupied for a good, long time.
A notorious anti-piracy lawyer who claims to have spent as much as $250,000 to develop a BitTorrent tracking tool, doesn’t even bother to write his own settlement letters. In theory one could argue that he’s profiting from infringing the work of others, something that’s not taken lightly by the courts nowadays.

A quick search further reveals that Steele and his partner are not the only one who ripped off the FAQ from the Copyright Enforcement Group. Another group, operating under the name Copyright Action Network has done the same, again without permission from the copyright holders.

Anti-Piracy Lawyers Rip Off Work From Competitor


  1. They need to make the law that when something like this happens, they must refund all monies from previous actions.

  2. A few people are saying that this doesn’t matter; it does, simply because this casts the same kind of doubt that has been put on file sharing onto one of the major proponents of the old system.
    If I’m a dirt bag thief, than so is he; why does he get to throw stones?

  3. Kinda like putting a humidifier and a dehumidifier in the same room.  But sooner or later, CEGzilla and Steele-Rodan will stop clobbering each other long enough to remember their mutual enemy: the multiheaded King Ghidorah known as Bittorrent.

    But since I’m disinclined to believe that these entities are “fighting the good fight against copyright infringement” out of an altruistic desire to protect copyright holders from being victimized by piracy, rather than profiting from the relatively zero-sum scavenging vulture’s game of big copyright lawsuits, I don’t imagine they’ll join forces, like the daikaiju would.

  4.  Presumably the other company will send them a letter shaking them down for an absurd amount of money in “lost profits” for each time they’ve used this text.

  5. I wonder if they registered the copyright on their demand letter. That could affect damages quite a bit. In this case it qualifies for copyright protection because it is so creative (i.e. dishonest). 

    It’s amazing that lawyers who send out things like this don’t get brought before disciplinary committees. There is absolutely no legal basis for the claim that account holders are liable for the actions of anyone/everyone who might use their connection.

    1. Yeah, well, it just says the account holder “may be held legally responsible.” Nowhere does it say “may *correctly* be held legally responsible.” Because, hey, anything could happen.

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