For years, John Steele has been half of a criminal enterprise masquerading as a copyright law firms, "Prenda Law," whose owners, clients and employees were a mix of lies, impersonations, and crumbs of reality. In a guilty plea, John Steele admitted that the whole thing was a con, that they stole $6,000,000 from innocent internet users by threatening them with draconian copyright lawsuits, and then laundered the money.
Steele also implicated his business partner Paul Hansmeier, who is awaiting trial.
Steele and Hansmeier created pornographic movies, uploaded them to file-sharing sites, then spied on the downloads and abused copyright law to uncover the identity of the downloaders in order to send them copyright threats. They repeatedly lied to judges about what they were doing, and forged documents implicating people in their circle, from a hapless handyman to a housekeeper to Steele's own mother-in-law.
The saga of Prenda's trolling lasted for more than half a decade, during which thousands of people had their lives turned upside-down by these fraudsters.
Steele will be sentenced by US District Judge Joan Ericksen of the District of Minnesota. The sentencing hasn't been scheduled yet.
His alleged co-conspirator, Paul Hansmeier, was also arrested and charged at the same time as Steele. Hansmeier's case hasn't yet been resolved. Hansmeier lost his law license last year after legal regulators accused him of the same types of activity that the FBI and IRS have investigated.
It’s finally over: Mastermind behind Prenda Law porn trolls pleads guilty
[Joe Mullin/Ars Technica]
Since the earliest days of the "semantic web,", millions of dollars and hours of coding effort have been thrown at the problem of really organizing large corpuses of information, with two approaches emerging: rigid ontologies (like the Dewey Decimal system) that require a system's users to be deeply expert in the structures they're working in; […]
In 1971, the Australian indigenous artist Harold Thomas created the iconic Australian Aboriginal Flag which has since been named one of the "official flags of Australia," which resulted in Thomas successfully suing to assert copyright over the design.
[Editor's note: Whenever governments review their copyright, one of two things happens: either they only listen to industry reps and then come to the "conclusion" that more copyright is always better; or they listen to stakeholders and experts and conclude that a little goes a long way. Normally, when the latter happens, the government that […]
Whether you’re an artist, designer or just organizing a photo album, photo editing software is a must. And software designers know it: Platforms like Photoshop and Lightroom have a ton of helpful features, but you’ll pay for them in spades. Luckily, there’s some competition in the photo editing arena. Right now, Skylum’s Luminar software is […]
Who needs a holiday sale? Sometimes there’s no better time than the thick of summer to find deals. We should know – we’ve found ten deep discounts on some must-have items. Whether you’re searching for CBD edibles, exercise gear, chargers or other tech, take a look. But don’t look long – these prices aren’t likely […]
Heading abroad? Even if it’s just a short trip, there’s a lot to prepare for. Travel can be incredibly rewarding, but it can tricky to navigate different cultures and lodging arrangements – and even trickier to do it cheaply. Before you go shopping for suitcases, here’s our pick for a good first investment: The Ultimate […]