For years, Paul Hansmeier terrorized internet users through his copyright trolling racket Prenda Law, evading the law through shell companies and fraud, until, finally, he was brought to justice and pleaded guilty last August.
Now, Hansmeier has been sentenced to 14 years in prison and must pay $1.5m in restitution to his victims — people he accused of being copyright infringers and then bullied into paying "settlement" fees to avoid being dragged through expensive litigation. Any Prenda Law victim can contact the Minnesota DA to apply for compensation.
Prenda's tactics included identity theft, entrapment (uploading their own files to The Pirate Bay in order to generate downloads that they could threaten people over), and several kinds of fraud.
Hansmeier and his co-defendant, John Steele, were indicted for money laundering, perjury, mail and wire fraud. Both men entered into plea agreements.
James Renken attended and livetweeted the sentencing, noting that the judge handed down a sentence in excess of that requested by the prosecutor through the plea deal, saying that Hansmeier's "abuse of trust harmed the administration of justice…Like a wrecking ball to the trust and confidence people have in the administration of justice."
Steele will be sentenced next month; the prosecutor is seeking 8-10 years in prison.
Whether the people that were sued were indeed guilty wasn't much of an issue. This means that many innocent people were likely targeted as well.
"Hansmeier was generally content to take this step without investigating whether the subscriber was, in fact, the infringer. Hansmeier thus inflicted plenty of pain on persons who did not, in fact, download his pornographic bait," the Government previously wrote.
'Copyright Troll' Lawyer Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison [Ernesto/Torrentfreak]