Prenda Law Tries To Close The Barn Door After The Horse Has Lawyered Up

My prior coverage of the Prenda Law saga is here.

Yesterday, March 14, as Judge Wright was busy issuing a new Order to Show Cause directing Prenda Law clients and affiliated attorneys to appear before him, Prenda Law was busy too.

More specifically, Prenda Law — through Paul Duffy, one of the lawyers Judge Wright has ordered to appear — was busy dismissing cases and filing a "Notice of Allegations" informing other courts of what is going on. Sort of.

A tipster told me that Mr. Duffy had a busy day yesterday. PACER showed it's true. More specifically, Mr. Duffy filed voluntary dismissals of multiple AF Holdings LLC cases in the Northern District of Illinois — here and here and here (in which he stipulated to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning it can't be re-filed) and here. In one of those cases he filed the notice of dismissal even though AF Holdings had already secured a default against the defendant, leaving nothing but proving damages. I haven't yet counted all the cases in which Duffy filed dismissals yesterday.

In each of those cases — and in a case in the Northern District of California — Duffy also filed a substantially identical document styled a "Notice of Allegations." Here's what they all say:

Plaintiff hereby notifies the Court of allegations of forgery that were made during a hearing in a matter pending before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Ingenuity13 LLC v. John Doe, No. 2:12-cv-08333-OWD-JC (C.D. Cal. Mar. 11, 2013). On March 11, 2013, an individual by the name of Alan Cooper alleged that his signature was forged on two separate agreements assigning the rights of various copyrighted works to Plaintiff, including the assignment at issue in this matter. (See, ECF No. 1-2 at 2.) Plaintiff categorically denies Mr. Cooper’s allegations, which arise nearly two years after certain of the alleged conduct occurred. Mr. Cooper has a pecuniary interest in his allegations by virtue of a lawsuit he filed against Plaintiff. Cooper v. Steele, et al., No. 27-CV-13-3463 (Minn. Dist. Ct., Hennepin Cty., 2013).

Even if Mr. Cooper’s allegations were true—and they are not—Plaintiff’s assignments, including the assignment at issue in the instant action, remain valid. The formal requirements of a copyright assignment are “quite simple”: a writing signed by the assignor. 17 U.S.C. § 204; Effects Associates, Inc. v. Cohen, 908 F.2d 555, 557 (9th Cir. 1990) (“The rule is really quite Case: 1:12-cv-03567 Document simple: If the copyright holder agrees to transfer ownership to another party, that party must get the copyright holder to sign a piece of paper saying so. It doesn't have to be the Magna Charta; a one-line pro forma statement will do.”); see also Order, AF Holdings LLC v. Does 1-96, No. 11-cv-3335-JSC (N.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2011), ECF No. 29 at 5 n.1 (“The written copyright assignment recites that it is between the original copyright owner, Heartbreaker Films, and Plaintiff here, AF Holdings, LLC. . . . As the law requires only that the assignment be signed by the assignor and not the assignee, this inconsistency does not prevent a prima facie showing of copyright ownership.”) (internal citations omitted).

Mr. Cooper’s allegations relate to the assignee, not the assignor. The assignment at issue in this action satisfies the Copyright Act’s formal requirements. It is a writing signed by the assignor. Plaintiff’s rights in the copyrighted work in this action were transferred when the assignor executed the assignment.
Plaintiff is treating Mr. Cooper’s allegations with utmost seriousness and is investigating their substance. Because Mr. Cooper’s allegations relate to the assignment agreement at issue in the instant litigation, Plaintiff respectfully brings the matter to the Court’s attention.

Broken down, here's what Duffy is saying: (1) Cooper's claim is untrue, (2) but we're treating the claim seriously and investigating it, (3) but even if it were true, it doesn't matter, because an assignment only needs a valid signature from the person giving the property, not the person receiving the property.

Many things could be said about that argument. Among them: the first two points are oddly at war with each other, particularly when uttered in such proximity. If AF Holdings knows the allegation is not true, then what precisely is AF Holdings carefully investigating? Doesn't AF Holdings already know whether or not Mr. Cooper consented to be an officer for it and executed documents for it? What is there to investigate, exactly?

Duffy's third point is about a doctrine that lawyers — including, for instance, prosecutors and defense lawyers — call materiality. Most civil or criminal laws prohibiting false statements only extend to material false statements — that is, statements that are the sort that could make a difference in the issue at hand. Duffy seems to be previewing Prenda Law's defense by suggesting that even if Cooper's identify was misappropriated and his signature forged on assignments, that false statement was not material because a copyright assignment only needs a valid signature from the guy giving the copyright, not the guy receiving it.

There are a number of problems with that argument. Among them: Judge Wright is not only interested in whether Prenda Law made fraudulent representations about who received the assignments. Judge Wright is investigating — and has ordered Prenda Law to explain — whether Prenda Law made fraudulent representations about the true owners of plaintiff entities like AF Holdings. Whether Alan Cooper is a real officer or not is unquestionably material to that. Judge Wright has specifically ordered them to explain:

2) Why they should not be sanctioned for failing to notify the Court of all parties that have a financial interest in the outcome of litigation;

3) Why they should not be sanctioned for defrauding the Court by misrepresenting the nature and relationship of the individuals and entities in subparagraphs a–m above [of the March 14, 2013 Order];

Prenda Law's apparent theory of materiality may be apt in analyzing whether the copyright assignments are valid. But it may not be apt in determining whether any misstatements were material for purposes of civil or criminal fraud allegations directed at the ownership and management of Prenda Law's clients. For instance, as I've discussed before, for purposes of charging defendants with false statements to the government, materiality is defined very broadly to include the sorts of statements that have the capacity to influence the government, whether or not the government is actually misled.

All that said, aside from questions about the exact language of the "Notice of Allegations," Paul Duffy is very likely doing the right thing legally and ethically by dismissing the cases and informing courts of the allegations against Prenda Law. In doing so he is reducing the risk that he will be accused of continuing any alleged fraud on the court after the March 11, 2013 hearing.

With respect to what has already happened, though — my friends, that die is cast, the Rubicon crossed, the ram has touched the wall.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    Interesting. I went to Google Translate, typed, "Oh, dear bog, we've [——] up. Please don't send my sorry ass to prison. It's all somebody else's fault!" and selected "Lawyer-babble", and got exactly that.

    Go figure.

    (and the server load on skyrockets…)

  2. says

    Martha Stewart may not be a lawyer, but I'll be she could give them a tip or two about feeds and materialty.

  3. Anonymous says

    Could it be they are actually listening to their lawyers?

    Or that they leveled with their lawyers and were required to do this as a condition of representation, so their lawyers can't be dragged into an problems that ensue if they are found to be carrying on with something that turns out to be a fraud?

    Nothing yet had clued them in that it might be time to stop, even when they were caught out in fairly spectacular lies and missteps. Hell, on Monday one of their local counsels, Johnathan W. Tappan, was still filing documents that had Brett Gibbs' phone number on them!

    Something has changed.

  4. Anonymous says

    My view is that Prenda is doing a mass filing to dismiss in order to forestall any other allegations of fraud.

    The other courts are likely to ignore any misbehavior, considering the issue mooted by the dismissal of the case.

    It's actually following their pattern. They sought to have this case dismissed when the judge allowed deeper questioning.

    Their business model is, after all, not showing up in court. It's not about principles, justice or equity. Or about getting judgements. It's about entirely a bulk business of sending demand letters and getting people to pay because it's cheaper and less embarrassing than going to court.

    It does partially answer the question about how Steele and Duffy will respond: there was no fraud, they didn't know about the fraud, they investigated and the guy who committed the fraud skipped town, and the fraud wasn't material. They still don't know anything about Nevis, and Alisha orchestrated the whole thing from there.

  5. says

    @ Anonymous, 4:32 pm < "It's about entirely a bulk business of sending demand letters and getting people to pay because it's cheaper and less embarrassing than going to court."

    Too true. But you'd think they'd get a better return on their investment if they just bought a few million email addresses from Nigerian 411 scammers and sent out, "Dear Beloved In Christ, You do not know me but you have infringed upon my pr0n copyright. Please send your bank account data, full name, occupation, home/work/cell phone numbers, age, current address, and marital status…" Why bother with all the legal niceties?

  6. That Anonymous Coward says

    It doesn't matter who got the Copyright?
    Pardon my tone but, ARE YOU FRELLING HIGH?
    While it might not be required on the paperwork assigning it, there is a name filed with the Copyright Office.
    That name is kind of important so that ownership can actually be verified by someone looking to get the rights to the material.
    There is a name on paperwork filed with the courts listing what might be a fictional officer of a fictional company but that should be no concern.
    No your honor the name of who got the copyright assigned to them doesn't matter… but we included it in the submission to the court anyways.
    It doesn't matter that we mislead the courts about what we could and could not do with just an IP address.
    It doesn't matter that there are LLCs names on paper STILL not listed in the lawsuits over this. AF Films anyone?
    It doesn't matter that all of these people were allegedly working for 'free' while one of the people running the show was giving interviews talking about the millions in settlements they have taken in.

    The legal system allowed them to get thousands from people, people who's only crime might have been having their name on a bill and not wanting their name linked to porn titles. Because its cheaper to pay the extortionist off than to waste money trying to prove your innocence in a court. A court where if things look bad for the 'lawfirm' they will withdraw the claims and say no harm no foul we never actually named you, your not a party to the case. Yet they will have sent many threatening letters, made threatening phone calls talking about ruining you financially and your good name… but your still not a party to the case.

  7. Delvan says

    @ Anonymous Hell, on Monday one of their local counsels, Johnathan W. Tappan, was still filing documents that had Brett Gibbs' phone number on them!

    This brings up a question, the answer is probably no, but I'll put it out there. Given Judge Wright's OSC halting their investigation into Doe's, and the "not even really shells" game Prenda is playing with LLCs, does that halt apply to Prenda's other copyright suits if/when it is set down in the record that these are really the same entity? If so, would Prenda & agents who know about this problem be held by the date of the OSC, or the date of when the veil is collapsed on record?

  8. Ken Mencher says

    I'm wondering about all the people who've already coughed up money to Prenda's demand letters (extortion)…are they going to get that money back, now that Prenda is dismissing cases left & right?

  9. Shawn Young says

    Please forgive me if this question is naïve, but in my country (Canada) things don't usually work this way. That is, I'm used to judges trying facts and applying the law on criminal cases brought before them by the Crown or civil plaintiffs, not holding multiple hearings to investigate legal sleazery.

    Is this (relatively) terra incognita in the US, or does it happen frequently enough that it's not highly unusual?

    What I find most fascinating about this case is the judge acting as advocate. That is, in my country, if a judge smells serious legal misconduct he refers the matter to the province's Law Society and/or the police, and goes on with his day. This notion of a judge laying multiple OSC hearings on his own calendar when Hizzoner doth smell a rat, how strange is that? Or is it not strange at all?

    Many thanks.

  10. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Delvan – IIRC Tappan was claiming he had NOTHING to do with Prenda… while using the gibbs@wefightblahblah email as his email of record with the court.

    Pay no attention to the Judicial beatdown happening over there to everyone connected to these cases, it isn't important and has no bearing on this case. For bonus points I will besmirch the reputation of the online communities that are killing our settlement numbers and mislead the court that they are pro-piracy and not just anti-copyright troll.

  11. Delvan says

    Ugh, yeah, I can picture the cross in court,
    P:"So, you're a witness for the Doe and you know how the BitTorrent protocol works?"
    P:"So are you a Basement-Dwelling Pudwhacker, or just a Freetard?"

  12. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Ken Mencher – I don't think so. The case can be made that they didn't have to settle, and you were willing to spend thousands to avoid your name attached to a porn title I doubt they are willing to let their name be attached to porn to get the cash back.

    Given the different opinions in the Federal Courts currently its cloudy.
    There is the until your named your not a party to the case club, where even if you could prove they faked everything in the case you most likely wouldn't have a cause of action because your not a party to the case.

  13. says

    Hey Roscoe, our mutual friend George just discovered this story and is storming around the office ranting about it.

  14. IANAL says

    In my imagined version of the next hearing, the judge orders the bailiff to take Steele & co. into custody, whereupon Steele jumps up and starts shouting obscenities at the judge, while his lawyers flee. Steele is then tasered, handcuffed, and made to do the perp walk in front of the media gathered to watch him.

    I only wish they permitted recording these proceedings. I cannot attend, but I would love to see the look on his face. I don't know what the judge will say exactly, but I'm sure it won't be pleasant… for Steele, at least. Everyone who is not among his compatriots will be wishing they had popcorn.

  15. says

    If AF Holdings knows the allegation is not true, then what precisely is AF Holdings carefully investigating?

    I chuckled at "investigation" too, also wondering about the methods they use. Can filing numerous identical libel lawsuits be considered an investigation technique?

  16. z! says

    Sigh, need more popcorn. The next hearing will be -interesting-. (And I wonder how many Doe attorneys will be out after Prenda for blood. Metaphorically, of course.)

  17. says

    @That Anonymous Coward: "careful you make comparisons to scammers and they name you in lawsuits."

    Since I pointed out that they didn't simply buy email lists/etc., they'd be putting themselves in the interesting position of claiming that my saying they didn't commit 411 fraud is a sign of accusing them of being fraudsters. Especially what with a federal judge making extensive use of their names and the word "defraud" in his own court. Would they be claiming that their actions are functionally 411 scams, and that I unfairly noticed, even though I rather definitely noted the differences in operations? A good lawyer might have fun with that. I wouldn't know.

    Granted, they have demonstrated… judgement that seems questionable to us non-lawyerly types who don't understand the fine points of law that presumably will keep them out of prison.

    Ah, well… I'm so ignorant of law that I'm still wondering when the IRS will start asking, "Wait a minute. If y'all are saying that Alan Cooper — any Alan Cooper — isn't the lawful owner of those copyrights, where did the settlement money go?" (Note to lawyers: wondering, not asserting.)

  18. That Anonymous Coward says

    @SJD – OHAI!!!!!!!!!!!
    Is it fun when us 'bad guys' are better investigators?

  19. James Pollock says

    "Doesn't AF Holdings already know whether or not Mr. Cooper consented to be an officer for it and executed documents for it? What is there to investigate, exactly?"
    Now they're investigating whether or not "their" Mr. Cooper is actually a Mr. Cooper, and not a Mr. Unknown Doe, whom-we're-unable-locate-currently, of course. He's totally real, and he totally signed the papers, but he may have given (and signed) a fake name to all the paperwork and disappeared now that the pressure's on. Yeah, judge, that's TOTALLY what happened. Nobody here but us poor, innocent, officers of the court.

  20. James Pollock says

    "Could it be they are actually listening to their lawyers?
    Or that they leveled with their lawyers and were required to do this as a condition of representation"
    One of the VERY FEW allowable reasons to break client confidentiality is to prevent ongoing fraud.
    So, yeah, what's different is now they have real lawyers who aren't in on the scam.

  21. says

    (Purely hypothetical, not related to Prenda et al, and IANAL. Just trying to learn something about law.)

    My own mention of the IRS got me thinking about money. If someone were running an illegal scam, a Nigerian 411-style deal, in the US, one would presume they were transferring money somehow. I've seen references to EFT and credit card transfers. As I understand bank reporting requirements, banks are supposed to report to the feds various transactions such as "suspicious" or unusual deposits. And apparently there is a minimum threshold of $10,000 that has to be reported even if it doesn't trip other alarms. Splitting up transfers to avoid the $10,000 threshold is called structuring (or less formally, "smurfing"). If I understand this correctly, structuring itself is, or can be, a crime.

    If a scammer were routinely conning individuals out of a sum of… say $3,800 — short of the mandatory reporting threshold — and depositing that, would the feds consider those "structured" transfers? And pile on charges? Is this part of why you almost never seen 411 scams that appear to be US-based?

  22. Alan Bleiweiss says

    they're investigating whether the real Alan Cooper might have an identical twin – and whether that twin perpetrated a fraud on Steele by signing his brother's name to the documents Steele presented to him.

    Yes – lots of investigating, because that belligerent Alan Cooper never returned any of those friendly calls Steele made to him demanding dialogue.

    I'd guess they've even put Hansmeier's brother to work investigating Alan Cooper's IP address, so that Steele could search the interwebs and check Google Maps to see if the purported identical twin might live close enough to Alan Cooper's house as well…

  23. Matthew Cline says

    The thing I find interesting in the "Notice of Allegations" with regards to Cooper: you'd think that it'd either say "the Cooper who signed those documents really is the Cooper who filed the lawsuit" or "the Cooper who signed those documents is a different Cooper than the one who filed the lawsuit". The only (non-fraudulent) scenario I can come up with for why they wouldn't specify is that they don't know the identity of the Cooper who signed the documents (which would match up with their claim to be "investigating"). But that would only make sense if Steele has dropped off the face of the Earth and he's the only one who knows the identity of Cooper-the-signer (in which case I guess the "investigation" would consist of hiring a private-detective to track down Steel).

  24. nlp says

    Just in case there were any Federal Judges left who weren't already suspicious of Prenda claims. . .

  25. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Bear – one could make they case they did infact just buy email lists.
    $350 + ISP lookup fees might be higher than the normal rate paid however.

  26. Delvan says


    After careful analysis and subpoenas issued to, and, their expensive unlisted software that never fails and provides no evidence found Alan Cooper, CEO was using the IP to issue his requests. A request for discovery against the "owners, operators and anyone who has visited since January 1st, 1967" is expected to be forthcoming from Prenda soon. :)

  27. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Joe Pullen – DTD is very good with the poetry… but I think some of the graphics are often overlooked.

  28. ksj says

    "Mr. Cooper has a pecuniary interest in his allegations by virtue of a lawsuit he filed against Plaintiff."

    Isn't this a circular reference?

    Mr. Cooper is alleging that his name was forged. Mr. Cooper shouldn't be believed because he filed a lawsuit alleging that his name was forged.

  29. JR says


    From the times I spent eating popcorn at it seems most 411/419 scams are processed through Western Union. Shiver and the other scam baiters would have more information than I about what forms of security are used and any flaws scammers take advantage of.

    They also have the most unusual trophy room I've ever seen.

  30. David Schwartz says

    To be fair to Prenda Law (I can't believe I just typed that) there's nothing unusual about investigating an allegation one knows is false. If someone alleged to a court that I was a rapist, an allegation I know is false, you can bet I'd still investigate it. I'd investigate who made it, why, what information they based the allegation on, who they got that information from, and so on.

  31. Sue says

    Is it illegal to file an allegedly forged Copyright Assignment Agreement with the Copyright Office? Also, if one signature has allegedly been forged, what proof is there that the signature allegedly representing Heartbreaker Films has not also been forged?

  32. Kevin says

    Has anyone considered the possibility that the Prenda crowd are now frantically scrambling to find and recruit a guy named Alan Cooper willing to claim the signatures as his?

  33. Waldo says

    Re Alan Cooper's signature, I recall he testified that the signatures were not his because he uses his middle name or middle initial (or something like that). It's never been clear to me whether the Alan Cooper signatures on the copyright assignments bear any resemblance to the real Alan Cooper's signature. In other words, we know they're not the Minnesota Alan Cooper's signature based on his testimony. But, do we know whether the copyright Alan Cooper's signatures appear similar to the real Alan Cooper's signature?

  34. AlphaCentauri says

    @Joe Pullen: Thanks for that link! I love it!

    @Waldo: The signatures I saw were nothing alike, but I don't know the provenance of the image I saw.

  35. AlphaCentauri says

    @Sue: I was wondering the same thing. Of course, I don't know if the film they allege was pirated even exists, let alone the original copyright holder. But since the logical thing for all these reporters and investigators and doe-lawyers to do would be to ask they guy who made the film who he sold the copyright to, I wonder if we're not hearing about any interviews because no one has established that he exists, either.

  36. Matthew Cline says


    Of course, I don't know if the film they allege was pirated even exists,

    Well, doing some Googling, it looks like the movie referenced in the deposition does exist. On the other hand, the movie not existing how they were able to "buy" it for a grand sum of $0.

  37. Delvan says

    A different question we've been talking about in another thread, is whether the torrent that hash refers to is the film they claim it is. You can see how it would be difficult for anyone other than the plantiff to verify that legally…

  38. Nik B. says

    I notice that Prenda, in the dismissals, is requesting that the defendants they named ought to be responsible for their attorney fees. Frankly, that's preposterous given the situation.

  39. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Nik B. you've discovered their entire operational guideline…

  40. Kathryn says

    Here is a similar scam based on claiming copyright infringement on a photo posted on many Creative Commons sites as public domain. After a lot of small magazines used this piece of stock photography, the attorney who claims to be the photographer filed suit and sent sent shakedown letters for $1500 to over 70 publications.

    Persephone Magazine is trying to raise money for a legal fund. I was wondering if Popehat et al. could do them (and their colleagues) right.

  41. says

    @Kevin "Has anyone considered the possibility that the Prenda crowd are now frantically scrambling to find and recruit a guy named Alan Cooper willing to claim the signatures as his?"

    At which point the whole production turns into one big modernization of Meet John Doe…

    Would that make Steele Barbara Stanwick?

  42. says

    @Kathryn — Wow. That looks like a good case for the Popehat Signal. Sigh. It's a good thing I'm already an utter misanthrope.

  43. anonymous says

    Duffy's argument that only the assignor needs to sign the assignment to be legally enforceable is correct. What is incorrect is his statement of fact. If you take a look at the assignment of copyrights that Alan Cooper signed, the copyrights were never assigned to AF Holdings, but to a different entity AF Films, LLC. (Available at Thus, AF Holdings committed a fraud upon the court, like Righthaven, by prosecuting infringement actions when it never owned the copyrights.

  44. says

    BTW: There's a similar effort by a "Copyright Holdings Group" claming ownership on YouTube.

    I get notified, via Google, that a company has found infringing material in videos that I recorded personally of me playing pieces by Bach, Mozart, and Chopin, for example, at home on my own piano.

  45. Lucy says

    When I looked at the signatures, it looked to me like the ending of John was strikingly similar to the ending of Cooper. I would go so far to say it looks like John was the one who signed the name Cooper. I am not an expert, just a busybody stating an opinion.

  46. Anglave says

    I'm curious, should those involved in the Predna scam be sanctioned and/or dis-board, what are the actual consequences to them?

    Would any of this prevent them from forming different shells, buying up other worthless copyrights to embarrassing materials, and hiring themselves a lawyer who likes money and doesn't ask too many questions, to represent them in their extortion letters?

    "Oh no, your honor. I didn't represent myself to be a lawyer, nor did I personally bring any copyright infringement suits.
    I am, yes, one of the unnamed beneficiaries of a trust which owns an LLC that hired a lawyer to threaten copyright infringement suits. But I fail to see how that relates to the noticed topics."

  47. AlphaCentauri says

    You can perpetrate their scam with fake names and fake law licenses, like "David Blade III." I suspect we'll hear from them again. They don't seem capable of carrying out any legal enterprise, since telling the truth is a skill they never acquired growing up.

  48. Lucy says

    A funny thing about narcissism is that they would pass lie detector tests on the bull that is obvious to everyone. They are pathological liers because they see the world very differently than everyone else. Their truth is plain as day to them from their perspective of their own greatness, intelligence, brilliant execution of grand schemes in maximising on loopholes…

    They honestly believe the shit they are telling themselves. These guys DO believe they are smarter than the judges, the internet, everyone. If you're not in the crosshairs of one of these creatures, it really is entertaining to watch.

    They will claim those signatures are perfectly legal long after the clang of cell doors has echoed to a dusty silence. Not because someone might believe them someday, but because they really believe it.

  49. Malc says

    @Lucy while it is true that they would pass lie detector tests, the reason is not their mad sociopathic skills, but the LIE DETECTORS DON'T WORK.

    Never have, never will. So never agree to take one in any matter where you need to prove your innocence.

    [ This is fact: in test after test, the "polygraph examiners" detect lies less often than tossing a coin would — "Tails you lie!". The reason that they sometimes get results is that people admit things believing that the machine can detect something. So "On March 1st, did you kill Jane?" "No!" "Hmmm…. stopping the machine. Are you sure? There's something here… let's try again; machine on. Did you kill Jane?" "No… well, only that one time, on Feb 28th…." ]

  50. says

    @That_Anonymous_Coward: That's _exactly_ the company that's doing it! Except in my case, where it's my own recording of me playing Mozart on my piano, there isn't even any sort of valid copyright claim anyone could have. The scam is you ignore it and they get to run ads on your video. Why does Google tolerate this?

  51. says

    Not to rain on the parade, but I'll be more impressed when some judge issues an OSC to attorneys for robo-signing banks or prosecutors who use the testimony of lying cops or their surrogates to get to the bottom of those kinds of scandals.

    Prenda Law is vulnerable because they are not establishment types.

  52. Anonymous says

    The Alan Cooper mystery has stolen the spotlight, but what about the Paul and Peter Hansmeier signatures that are suspiciously similar? This came up in Paul Hansmeier's deposition, but without a visual aid and context I'm sure most people missed how damning it is.

    Old news, here's an article from May 2011, and of course the courts haven't bothered to take notice until now (and even with Wright prying Prenda open, the Paul/Peter Hansmeier signature issue did not come up on Monday).

    It sure looks an awful lot like someone took the "Paul" signature, masked out the "aul" and copy and pasted it. There are even some dots, maybe photocopying artifacts, that match in both signatures. I would love to hear an explanation for this, and I wonder if their lawyers have been clued in on this one yet.

    This has been filed in perhaps hundreds of cases nationwide. Brett Gibbs has filed it many times, including in this case. If they can't find a way to make this whole situation go away (lol) the magnitude of the fraud that unravels will be spectacular.

  53. Rob says

    Re: Hansmeier's sig, there was a part of the marathon Hansmeier deposition that was asking about signatures. I didn't look at the exhibits that went with it, so I don't know if the one linked above is what they were asking about. But Pietz, Ranallo, and Judge Wright are certainly aware of the issue.

  54. Anonymous says

    The filings claiming that the copyright transfer is valid, since only the assignor signature needs to be genuine, is extremely misleading.

    The real issue is copyright registration. If the registration involves forgery (falsely using a different person's name), fraud (e.g. using a made-up name) or is otherwise flawed, the registration is defective.

    That changes the possible recovery from a statutory maximum $150K, to actual damages. Which might be approximately $0, based on what AF Film/Holdings/* "paid" for the rights.

    A lawyer at arms length might be able to claim they missed the defect in registration before filing. But in this case it appears that everyone, or at least S&H and Prenda/Duffy, were in on the fraud/forgery/scheme.

  55. El says

    Wow, yes. The Peter & Paul signatures are more alike than I would expect two people (even if they were identical twins) to sign.

    I'm not a forensic handwriting expert (I'm not certified to give expert testimony and therefore all this is just my own inexpert musings- I feel I should make that disclaimer lol), but I've studied it as part of a forensic science course.

    When a person writes their signature there is a degree of natural variance within it, there could be a little more variance between the two signatures (even considering the 'aul' and allowing for variance over time) and still accept it as a genuine signature (consider how much your own signature varies when you sign it repeatedly). That in mind, I would say there is a very strong probability (we scientists never talk in absolutes lol) that they were made by the same person.

    However, they don't come from one source, by which I mean they're not both photocopied from the same place, and neither is the one without the 'aul' a photocopy of the other with it whited out, as the measurements are slightly different (both on the lettering and the relative position of the dots) between the two and there's a slightly different slant, that said, it doesn't rule out the possibility that it's a photocopy from a different source (impossible to say without getting it under a microscope etc).

    As for the dots, it's just as likely that they're printer artifacts if the documents were printed on the same machine (as mentioned, at least one of the dots is a mm difference in distance relative to the line under it (formed by the elongated horizontal stroke of the H) and ~2mm further to the right of the down stroke of the H – I wasn't able to get a good read on precise measurements for both dots due to the glare from the screen lol). It's also possible that they're something that is peculiar to the person doing the signing, a way of attempting to forgery-proof their signature.

    I couldn't tell you anything more, or anything with real certainty (eg as to whether one (or both) is a photocopy or if they're both handwritten, if one is an attempt at copying based off the other, etc etc), without being able to examine the originals under magnification (and that's just for a start).

    Without such techniques available, and since my comments aren't something that has any legal baring/standing: If they weren't dated I would be inclined towards saying, due to the apparent confidence in both that signatures (but Paul especially), that "Paul" is the normal signature from which the second (Peter) was adapted for use, whether deliberately or otherwise (indeed it looks enough like a natural shift in how one person might sign their name over several months apart – especially if they were having to sign it a lot). However, what then makes me wonder about any deliberate act of adaptation is that they've obviously not felt confident enough to attempt to sign it as 'Peter' in the way the other is signed 'Paul', that in itself speaks volumes.

    (again, these are just my opinions/musings as someone who studied a bit of this stuff once and thus it's a not statement of fact nor is it an allegation of illegal acts)

    Have the two men appeared in court together?

  56. En Passant says

    Joe Pullen wrote Mar 15, 2013 @7:42 pm:

    In case no one has seen it – a really funny take off of the age old poem The Jabberwocky Prenda style here

    Well, here's another I found somewhere, somewhat more current:

    The Judge and the Nominal Stakeholder

    (With deepest humble apologies to Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)

    Demands flew out from Prenda Law,
    The settlement checks were super.
    "You pirated Alan Cooper's porn,
    We've found you with our snooper."
    And this was very odd because,
    There was no Alan Cooper.

    Offshore, the banks filled up with cash,
    Unseen by I-R-S.
    An endless trail of holders
    With paperwork all blessed,
    Led 'cross the land and o'er the sea.
    Whoever would have guessed?

    Until one day, defendants
    With responsive pleadings beckoned,
    "We'll meet you in the courtroom of
    Judge Otis Wright, the Second."
    So Prenda sent some counsel there.
    "This should be quick", they reckoned.

    But also came a humble man,
    Who wished to tell his tale.
    He took the stand, and tell he did,
    As counsels' faces paled:
    "I was Alan Cooper born. I own no rights
    To porn." Their scheme thus failed.

    Judge Wright brought down his gavel,
    With report heard 'cross the land.
    He summoned principals to his court
    (This hadn't gone as planned).
    His Order to Show Cause went out
    To each and every man.

    So each and every one of those,
    Who claimed to have a client,
    Must show and tell just why this ruse
    To law was not defiant.
    (Else, as every 1L knows,
    Jail awaits the non-compliant.)

    Now, as time creeps in petty pace
    Toward hearing day, the hunch
    Is that Judge Wright will fricasee,
    And eat them all for lunch,
    Or perhaps refer to D-O-J
    The whole scrabotulent bunch.

  57. MattS says

    The Jabberwocky / Prenda law spoofs are funny, but a spoof on "Casey at the Bat" would be more appropriate, for when all is said and done there will be no joy in Prendaville.

  58. Matthew Cline says

    The real issue is copyright registration. If the registration involves forgery (falsely using a different person's name), fraud (e.g. using a made-up name) or is otherwise flawed, the registration is defective.

    Does the registration have to be re-done when the ownership changes hands?

  59. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Lucy – if they believed it and were not worried why did they file lawsuits to silence their biggest critics who have been recording every little problem? They are terrified but are to committed now stop.

    @Reuven – Because the DMCA and ContentID work on the flawed premise of only corporations can hold copyrights and they would never lie. There is no penalty for wrongly doing it, but there are HUGE possible penalties for daring to question it before doing it.

    @MattS – careful they will claim your use of the word bat was a veiled threat against them.

    @Matthew Cline – They need to update the record in the catalog. The catalog answers the legal question of who owns this content, if you wanted to license it you'd contact the party listed. It also lets you verify it is still under copyright protection and any other claims on the content you might not be aware of. Mr. X might own the rights to a movie, but you might also need to contact Mr. Y for clearance if he owns the rights on the screenplay depending on your desired use for the content (well beyond fair use).

    @El – I dunno if they ever appeared together, but then for a while I was convinced that Duffy had passed away and was now a mannequin with someone stamping his name to paper. It appears I was incorrect about the mannequin part… the 2nd part the Jury has yet to see and hear the evidence.

  60. Myk says

    @Anonymous @El – yes, it is very suspicious. I'll go a step further and suggest it IS fake, as I managed to duplicate the signature that appears for "Peter Hansmeier" using the "Paul Hansmeier" signature in less that 5 minutes in Photoshop – 1) Enlarge Paul's signature slightly. 2) Erase the "…aul" 3) Bring the two parts together 4) Vertically scale around -20% and <a href="; title="it's done."

    The similarity between the two suggests to me that it's not a stamp, as the lines are too clear. I left some artefacts at the base of the 'P' to show that it did originate from the top image; possibly Paul's signature was scanned from somewhere else and inserted into the document, which would make it even easier to alter it to become "Peter's".

  61. Anonymous says

    I realize the Paul and Peter signature issue has been brought to the court's attention, the reason I drew specific attention to it is because the Alan Cooper apparent forgery has stolen the show.

    This mystery has yet to either be solved or completely blow up in their faces as Cooper has, but I believe the Declaration of Peter Hansmeier bearing that signature was used in cases going back at least a few months before AF Holdings started filing lawsuits, and was filed in cases brought on behalf of Prenda's real clients as well (back in the days when they had real clients).

    So the potential fallout from the Peter/Paul identity crisis, while it will overlap with many cases affected by the Cooper assignment agreement, could greatly expand the number of cases filed by Prenda attorneys that smell of fraud and forgery.

    I have no idea how much they have admitted to their attorneys, but at this point it would probably be in their best interest to dismiss absolutely every case with any of their or their shell companies' names on them.

    That said, there are ongoing reports that Mark Lutz has continued to make dunning calls on behalf of Guava, LLC in the wake of Monday's hearing, and that the caller ID information allows people to easily connect the caller to the Anti-Piracy Law Group (Prenda's next new name, apparently). Of course they have tried to present Lutz as an independent mastermind, and he has not lawyered up with the rest of Prenda or apparently at all, but someone should probably tell that guy to stop.

  62. Someone says

    I also wanted to take a whack at the Peter/Paul forgery. Yes, we all know Photoshop is nothing new or special and some people could spot that photoshop job from a mile away, but it's still pretty fun to see it unfold before your eyes.